Nearby at the Florida Stage in Manalapan, a Miami mayor learns the ropes of big-time politics and gets tied up along the way in the world premiere of When the Sun Shone Brighter (May 12-June 20), the power-play drama by Christopher Demos-Brown. Meanwhile, the Delray Beach Playhouse pays tribute to a Broadway and film score legend with That's Entertainment! The Songs of Arthur Schwartz (May 31-June 9). And in Sarasota, Ginger Rogers gets her due with the musical biography Backwards in High Heels at the Asolo Repertory Theatre (May 7-30), celebrating the nimble silver screen dancer's victories both onscreen and off.
Central Florida becomes a melting pot for over 70 local, national and international theater groups this month, and adventurous gourmands can sample the stew when the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival takes over Loch Haven Park from May 20-31. Choose from surreal psychodrama, cabaret dance, ribald comedy and more offerings from the scheduled performers, and take in potluck shows and children's activities on the outdoor stage in between.
Tampa has just the spoonful of sugar for nostalgic musical fans at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts as they welcome the touring production of Mary Poppins (May 20-June 6), the umbrella-twirling adaptation of the Disney film. Somewhat less magical -- but no less musical -- life lessons fill the stage in Spring Awakening, the Tony award-winning rock adaptation of Frank Wedekind's controversial coming-of-age story. The touring show has Florida dates at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami (May 11-16) and Orlando's Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre (May 18-23).
In Fort Myers, it's The Big Bang at the Florida Repertory Theatre (May 7-23), the comic musical that recounts nothing less than the history of the world -- through the imaginations of two absurdly ambitious playwrights. And finally, Venice Stage presents John Patrick Shanley's gripping drama Doubt (May 4- 23), a battle of wills between a Catholic school principal and a scandalized priest.