American Stage Theatre Company in St. Petersburg, FL is seeking two African-American actors for August Wilson’s TWO TRAINS RUNNING, directed by Bob Devin Jones. WEST: Black man, 60s. The undertaker. He is dressed all in black, except for a white shirt. He wears a pair of black gloves. Since his wife’s death he has allowed his love of money to overshadow the other possibilities of life. WOLF: Black man, 30s. Wolf is a man who enjoys his notoriety and popularity as the community’s numbers runner. While he manages to keep money in his pocket and a decent pair of shoes on his feet, his inability to find secure female companionship is the single failure that marks his life. Both roles must be non-AEA; pay is $250/wk. Day time rehearsals begin December 31, starts previews January 22, opens January 24, and closes February 23. We do have the opportunity to house actors from our of town. Send all materials (to include video) to Todd Olson

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American Stage Holiday Season

A Marvelous Party - The Noel Coward Celebration 04-webAmerican Stage is proud to announce its 2013 holiday shows! We start off the winter season with A Marvelous Party! The Noël Coward Celebration. Imagine a party as sparkling as a newly-popped bottle of champagne, a scintillating evening of ravishing melody and witty repartee—all courtesy of that personification of British wit and sophistication, Noël Coward. Drawn from his songs, plays, and journals, this effervescent revue is a whimsical, lighthearted romp featuring 33 songs and a bevy of sketches, anecdotes, writings and musings. The perfect holiday treat for everyone! The play stars Larry Alexander, Melissa Bayern, Lizzie Hagstedt, and Matthew McGee.

We are also announce that A Marvelous Party! will include on-stage seating available to add to the holiday festivities. On stage seating is limited to 20 seats per show, so be sure to buy your ticket in advance before they’re all gone!


A Marvelous Party! runs from November 20th until December 22nd, but we’ll be keeping the holiday spirit alive with our next show, Santaland Diaries.  The show follows the tale of Crumpet, the unemployed, chemically dependent writer who takes a job as a “helper elf” at Macy’s Santaland in NYC! His tale of mass marketing, stressed out sales clerks, drunken Santas, screaming kids and the general insanity of the holidays is hilarious and meant for mature audiences only. A favorite of NPR, and award-winning author of such books as “When You Are Engulfed in Flames,” Sedaris’ cutting, sardonic wit is on full display with this one-man show starring local favorite Brian Shea (Othello & August: Osage County and ART). A must see hit for anyone who views the holiday season a little differently from what the television wants us to believe. The show runs from December 15th to 29th.


There is no better way to enjoy our productions than with a Holiday Flex-4 Pass. That’s 4 flexible tickets to any of our 2013-2014 shows, for only $165! Plus it includes one free general admission lawn ticket to see our production of The Wiz and our Subscriber Rewards Program Card. This Holiday Flex-4 Pass makes the perfect gift for any theater lover that they can enjoy all year.




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The Birds Have Landed At American Stage

The Birds 01

(left to right) Roxanne Fay, Richard B. Watson, and Gretchen Porro
Photo by Chad Jacobs

A suspenseful thriller, The Birds opened our 2013-2014 season here at American Theater. Based on the same story that inspired the cult classic Alfred Hitchcock film. This gripping tale is perfect for those who are ready to get in the Halloween spirit with a good old fashion thriller.

 Imagine this; you live in a small seaside town. Normally quite, peaceful even, until one day everything changes with the weather…. Suddenly herds of birds are violently attack people and for no apparent reason. You are forced to take refuge with strangers in an abandoned cottage. No electricity and very little food, survival seems all but a futile hope. This is the scene set during Conor McPherson’s adaptation of the classic short story.

The reviews are in… “Impressive…American Stage successfully tackles ‘The Birds’” Raves Walt Belch of the Tampa Bay Tribune, “the first play of American Stage’s new season is a well-acted, cleverly staged psychological thriller…a fitting selection as a prelude to Halloween…During the first scenes of “The Birds,” the terror is outside. After the intermission, the terror moves inside…The play touches on fear, paranoia, end-of-times doomsday and survival of the shrewdest…an enjoyable experience with an ending that stimulates discussion.”

“Fun beneath the grim” writes Steve Persall of the Tampa Bay Times, “McPherson keeps the birds outside while trapped people figuratively peck each other toward death…spookily adorned by scenic designer Jeffrey W. Dean. The front door splattered with bloody feather pulp is a nice gruesome touch…Olson’s sound design regularly fills the small theater with angry squawks and flutters, and backstage hands thump the scenery, mimicking the sound of kamikaze crows…a nearby farmer played by Joseph Parra…a genuine terror element…with a druggy gleam and grunts punctuating each suspicion. In a single scene Parra roars menace that intentionally amuses.”

“Left me on the edge of my seat time and time again…Fear Takes Flight: American Stage Show Captures Story’s Dark Essence…As the stage lights came on and the cast took their final bow to a standing ovation, a woman in the row before mine exclaimed, “What a wonderful evening at the theatre!” And, after mentally digesting everything the opening night of American Stage Theatre’s The Birds—directed by Todd Olson—had to offer, I couldn’t agree more. The cast was phenomenal. The set, eerie. And the storyline, captivating. A spectacular display of local talent and a fantastic start to American Stage’s new 2013-2014 season, The Birds was dark, moving, full of emotion and very appropriate for the time of year; an evening at the theatre you definitely won’t want to pass up. And luckily, you have until October 27 to catch it! Don’t miss out.”, Alexis Chamberlain

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The 2013-2014 Season Is Here!

13-14-AMERICAN-STAGE-SEASON-WOur 2013-2014 season has kicked off! And we’re taking a new approach to things this year. As art director Todd Olson puts it, “We found our theme for the season in a quote by August Wilson where he described something as ‘All you need in the world is love and laughter. That’s all anybody needs. To have love in one hand and laughter in the other.’ Five years into a Recession and after a long election cycle, I want to laugh more, I know our patrons want to laugh more, and we will!”

We are proud to present seven plays this year, which we believe embody this new approach. From the dark humor that can be found in our adaptation of The Birds, the love that can be felt in Steal Magnolias, or the overtly funny show God of Carnage. There is something for everyone to enjoy this season.

People are talking about our changes as well! Click here to hear what the Tampa Bay Times has to say, and also be sure to check out Art Director Todd Olson’s interview with Studio 10.

And that’s not all that has changed this year. We have now made it easier then ever to see all our plays when you buy your season subscription. Check out our different offers!

This season we have an exciting verity of plays and there is sure to be something for everyone to enjoy. The Birds, based on a short story that inspired the classic Alfred Hitchcock film, opens our season. An emotional thriller, this play follows the strand events that take place in a seaside town when masses of birds begin to erratically attack at high tide. Read more about the birds here.

The festivities in November begin with  A Marvelous Party! The Noel Coward Celebration. Imagine a party as sparkling as a newly-popped bottle of champagne, a scintillating evening of ravishing melody and witty repartee—all courtesy of that personification of British wit and sophistication, Noël Coward. Drawn from his songs, plays, and journals, this effervescent revue is a whimsical, lighthearted romp featuring 33 songs and a bevy of sketches, anecdotes, writings and musings. The perfect holiday treat for everyone!

We’ll be kicking off the New Year by presenting the 7th installment of our August Wilson Cycle; 2 Trains Running. This fabulous play is noted as being one of Wilson’s most comedic pieces yet. The play is set in 1969 to the backdrop of Dr. King’s assassination and the rise of the black power movement. The play follows young Stirling and his time spent at the Memphis Lee’s diner; a place were people have gathered for decades to share their struggles, faith, and hopes. But this diner has been slated for demolition in the city’s new redevelopment plan, and what unfolds is Wilson’s most compassionate and humorous work about lives in transition, evolving social awareness, and spirits rising.

The month of March will bring along the play adaption of French writer Jules Verne famous book Around the World in 80 Days. An exciting tale of stampeding elephants, raging typhoons and runaway trains, you won’t want to miss this thrilling tale of one of the greatest adventure of all time!

We are proud to bring back our 29th Annual American Stage in the Park Performance this year with our adaptation of The Wiz! A musical treat that the whole family is sure to enjoy, The Wiz tells the classic tale of Dorothy’s trip though the Land of Oz but with a twist of some rock, gospel and soul. The winner of 7 Tony Awards, this will be a production you definitely do not want to miss as this musical takes you on a multi-cultural journey.

Steel Magnolias continues our season into may, and is destined to be the feel-good hit for the summer. Shelby’s wedding day nears, so the beauty shop ladies of Chinquapin Parrish, Louisiana – delicate as magnolias but tough as steel – have a lot to talk about. From the new assistant who announces, “I promise that my personal tragedy will not interfere with my ability to do good hair”, to the town matron who declares, “I’m not crazy…I’ve just been in a very bad mood 40 years!”…Steel Magnolias is alternately hilarious and touching. 

And finally, our season will wrap up with hilarious show by French playwright Yasmina Reza, God of Carnage.  When two 11-year-old boys have a playground fight, their parents come together for cocktails, hoping to discuss the situation civilly – to “practice the art of co-existence” rather than “slaughter each other with insurance claims.” But the veneer of polite society quickly falls away, and the evening deteriorates into a laugh-out-loud train wreck of finger-pointing, tantrums, and tears. And that’s before they break out the rum. Winner of the 2009 Tony for “Best Play”, the hilarious God of Carnage is the ultimate comedy of manners without manners!




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Celebrating Theater in the Tampa Bay Area!

ttb-awardsTheatre Tampa Bay recently celebrated its third annual awards ceremony, honoring this season’s productions in nine regional theatres of the Tampa Bay Area. Founded in 2010, the organization strives to bring attention to and support for local professional theatres. For the review, a panel of experts is chosen by the artistic directors of the eligible theatres and their votes are cast.

This year, thirty-five productions were nominated for almost twenty categories. American Stage did very well in a multiple of them, taking the majority of the nominations for categories like outstanding play, lead actress, set design, and lighting design. The Amish Project was a huge success as well, winning four of American Stage’s six awards. Here’s to another great season full of great performances and productions throughout our community.

Click here for the full list of nominees and recipients.

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Busy “bees” at American Stage

Things are buzzin’ around here at American Stage.

There are two shows running on the Main Stage.


When The World Was Green (A Chef’s Fable) by Sam Shepard and Joseph Chaikin is a hauntingly lyrical memory play about an old man – once a superb chef – and the young reporter who comes to interview him in the prison…where he has been locked up for a mysterious act.  See it before it closes on April 21st.

Read the reviews.


The Amish Project by Jessica Dickey Starring Katherine Michelle Tanner runs through May 12th and has been getting rave reviews.  “Powerful” “Spellbinding” are just a few of the praises so far.  The play deals with some timely and difficult issues and we have scheduled several post performance talkbacks.

Then there is the 2013 Gala Under The Stars to start off this season’s American Stage in the Park production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee presented by Bank of America.

And we’ve announced our 2013-2013 Season of Love and Laughter

And school is almost out so it’s time for Summer Theatre Camps.





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August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson has Finally Arrived!

Featuring Sati Word, Tanesha Gary, and Bryant Bentley

Featuring Sati Word, Tanesha Gary, and Bryant Bentley

The first preview came in today from John Fleming with Tampa Bay Times. Read more about the director, the play and why it’s going to be one of our top productions of the year!

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Honoring Bud and Enez Hart & Beth Houghton and Scott Wagman

American Stage Theatre is pleased to announce two very special naming honors for our performance stage and concession stand:

“Bud and Enez Hart Performance Stage”
and the
“Beth Houghton & Scott Wagman Concession Stand”

Thank you to our very special friends!

 Bud and Enez recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary and have always been travelers, theatre and art patrons.  After selling their department store in New Kensington PA. and relocating to Florida, Bud and Enez have dedicated their retirement years support the arts.  As founders of American Stage Theatre’s Travel Club, The Trippers, they started the trips as a way to travel with a group of friends, share the places they have discovered and raise money for the theatre. They stared with trips to beginning with NYC, DC and London and grew and grew doing as many as 2 trips per year to Europe with 4-5 trips a year. Enez was on the American Stage board for many years always having group dinner party’s at her home and all proceeds went to American Stage. Bud and Enez had several New Years Eve parties as fundraisers at the old theatre that Enez, a gourmet cook with a flair for French cuisine, did all the cooking for up to 75 people! Previously, Enez used to organize all of the volunteers that gave out Shakespeare in the Park tickets and provide meals for the acting company.

Beth and Scott are very active supporters of American Stage in many ways.  Scott is a current board member, Gala Committee chair for many years, and former board chair.  His support started with some cans of paint many years ago and has grown into a family affair with his wife Beth Houghton and their grown children.   Their generosity has been significant, sponsoring many plays through the years, and this most recent naming gift.   We appreciate and cherish their involvement, and look forward to honoring them when we unveil the new signage.

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Read the Review and Why Not to Miss A Doll’s House

The reviews are in for A Doll’s House and prove that this timeless classic is still as relevant today as it was nearly 150 years ago. Experience the life of one woman needing to break free from what is demanded of her and  the effects of those around her.

“Powerful…rare…sensual…Katherine Michelle Tanner is utterly, enchantingly right as the girlish housewife and mother in a gilded cage…well-etched performances by Lauren Wood and Steve Garland. John Woodson is a fine, florid Dr. Rank. Director Seth Gordon’s staging is faithful to the period.” -John Fleming,Tampa Bay Times

“Welcome to the Doll’s House…Katherine Michelle Tanner plays Nora…Wonderful impersonation. Torvald, impeccably portrayed by Christopher Swan. John Woodson seems to have stepped right out of Ibsen’s Norway as Dr. Rank. Top-notch are also Jill Davis’ set and Frank Chavez’s period costumes. … Can still shock and illuminate.” – Mark E. Leib, Creative Loafing

“It delivers a compelling buildup to one of the most famous final scenes in theatrical history. Katherine Michelle Tanner as Nora Helmer, is playful and filled with energy and childish excitement…with utter conviction. A Doll’s House remains a potent statement… Often gripping…has a fresh and contemporary flavor. The theater’s wide stage is beautifully designed and decorated. A clear-eyed view of how, more than 140 years later, “A Doll’s House” still has some surprising things to say.” – Jay Handelman, Sarasota Herald-Tribune

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Get inside the mind of Seth Gordon, Director of A Doll’s House

American Stage Education sat down with Seth Gordon, Director of A DOLL’S HOUSE, opening on November 14 at American Stage.  Read on for some insight behind the director’s vision.

Why did you want to direct A Doll’s House?

I’ve never directed a play by Henrik Ibsen, who is considered, along with Shakespeare and the Sophocles, one of the greatest playwrights of all time. This play in particular is one that interests me now for two reasons. One is that most productions of it in this country are saddled by translations that tend to lean toward British dialects, and I’m hoping that our production, while set in the period, will have a contemporary American dialectic. I’m hoping it will make it easier for our audience to relate to the story and the characters.

I also consider the play to be particularly relevant today. It has things to say about the politics of marriage and the confluence of life choices made for passion and life choices made for necessity that I think will really speak to people.


What is your relationship to this play or to Ibsen’s work prior to being involved in this production?

Ibsen is among the most highly regarded of playwrights, and I’ve studied this play since high school. I’ve seen several productions and have thought much about how I might approach it over the years. This is my first opportunity to put all this to the test.

In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge of directing this play?

One of those challenges has already been largely met, as we have worked on a script that we hope will seem contemporary and domestic to our audience here in Florida. Making a play that takes place in Norway in the 1880’s reach out and touch today’s audience is our main challenge. We also have on our hands a classic play that many have heard of or seen in other productions or perhaps on television. Moving everyone’s preconceptions about the play out of their heads so that the audience can see the play fresh is also our challenge.

You are working with a classic text. What are the contemporary resonances of this play?

Without creating a spoiler alert, I’ll say that the event at the end of the play, momentous and controversial when the play was first staged, is something of a normal occurrence today. Having said that, many of the events that lead up to it are ones that our audience will recognize in their own lives, whether they have personally experienced these things in the same way or not.

While many women are now more emancipated than Nora, or perhaps they perceive themselves to be so, many relationships experience the same social and political inequality today. Many women continue to perceive themselves as economically dependent on their significant other, and it has a direct effect on the life choices they make. And many marriages continue to take place in one form of a doll’s house or another, where the fabric of the marriage is essentially a fallacy both participants have independently chosen to believe.

How will you approach or underline the central ideas of the play?

Part of my job is to facilitate a production that allows the actors and designers to illuminate the play’s central ideas, and to eliminate the barriers they may face as they strive for excellence in their work. Mr. Ibsen has done a marvelous job in telling a story with very compelling ideas. I have helped create an adaptation that best helps our audience understand the play in the language they speak, and I hope we have created a world on the stage of American Stage Company, through our choices for the set, the furniture, and the clothes the actors wear, that best illuminates the characters’ wants and desires.

In terms of illuminating the play’s central ideas, they come from clarifying Nora’s emotional journey through the play, and that journey belongs to the marvelously skilled and talented Katherine Tanner. I hope I’m able to be her third eye and help her take the audience on that ride.

What inspires you as a director?

As I’ve already suggested directing a play involves telling stories, solving problems and removing the barriers my colleagues might face toward doing their best work. I am also the person who, as my title suggests, provides the direction everyone will take, so we’re all moving toward the same goals.  As I am meant to provide the leadership and inspiration for everyone else, I look to the script I’m working on for my own inspiration.

I enjoy working on a production the most when there are two goals achieved. One is finding a script that involves characters whose journeys are affected by world events I wish to share with an audience. They can’t affect the world events, but they strive with vigorously to overcome them. The other goal is to find colleagues to work with who challenge and inspire me, and whose company I truly enjoy. I’ve achieved both goals with this project.

As a director, what is your preferred rehearsal process?

I try to tailor how a schedule is created for rehearsal to the needs of the script. In this case the main goals will be to make sure the play is staged in a way that best illuminates the story and the emotional journeys of the characters, and to make sure that Katherine Tanner, who is playing Nora, best executes her characters’ trajectory through the play.

I also work toward creating an atmosphere in rehearsal that allows for collaboration, where everyone contributes, the actors feel a sense of ownership of the decisions that go into their performances, and what’s left onstage are the best ideas we came up with, regardless of their origin.

Seth Gordon, Director for A Doll's House

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