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Florida Spotlight: August 2009

I Remember Mamma! logo
The touring cast of Mamma Mia!
(© Carol Rosegg)
Bright, boisterous and nostalgic are the watchwords for this month's touring shows. Theatergoers can take a chance on Mamma Mia! and its lovesick soundtrack of ABBA hits at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach (August 4-9) or the Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater (August 11-16). Later in the month, the current revival of Grease hits the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center (August 18-23) and Orlando's Bob Carr Performing Arts Center (August 25-30), bringing 2006 American Idol Taylor Hicks along to sing "Beauty School Dropout" as the dreamy (literally) Teen Angel.

Contemporary classics abound in August, especially in the Miami area. The Adrienne Arsht Center plays host to gangsters and raucous reggae with The Harder They Come (August 28-September 13), the Theatre Royal Stratford East / UK Arts adaptation of the hard luck-and-fast times film starring Jimmy Cliff. Meanwhile, The Gable Stage at the Biltmore closes out their season with satire in Speed-the-Plow, David Mamet's wry send-up of Hollywood culture playing in Coral Gables August 15-September 13. Also in Coral Gables, things get a tad more traditional with the New Theatre's season opening production of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew (August 27-September 27).

North to Fort Lauderdale, enjoy Tommy Femia as Judy Garland Live! as the multiple award-winning impersonator channels the singer through an evening of cabaret with pianist Gary Lawrence at the Rising Action Theatre (August 12-23). And in Boca Raton, a Civil War family of slaves finds challenges and contradictions in their adopted Jewish faith in the Caldwell Theatre Company's staging of The Whipping Man, Matthew Lopez's historical drama (August 12-30).

In Orlando, the Greater Orlando Actors Theater continues its first season in their new performance space with a production of Closer (August 28-September 19), Patrick Marber's anti-romance about Londoners, lies, and betrayal. West to Tampa, the Jobsite Theatre turns Shakespeare up to 11 with their staging of Pericles: A New Rock Musical at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center (August 6-23). Rocker Joe Popp provides the script and the punk-edged soundtrack for this adaptation that reworks the Bard's globetrotting intrigues into a modern mafia setting. Traveling south to Bradenton, we find softer melodies in the Manatee Players' production of Crazy For You (August 20-September 6), where a New York city slicker woos a small-town theatre girl to the tune of Gershwin classics.

In Sarasota, it's Neil LaBute's biting comedy Fat Pig presented by the Banyan Theater Company (FSU Center for the Performing Arts, August 6-23), a play that finds love and friendship at war when a big city professional falls for a plus-size librarian. Further south, Theatre Conspiracy stages What the Butler Saw at the Alliance for the Arts (August 21-September 5), Joe Orton's farce of randy psychiatrists and their equally lascivious wives. Nearby, the Venice Theatre packs a sizable chunk of the Chairman's legacy into My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra (August 28-September 13), featuring 56 songs from Sinatra's career. And finally, the Cultural Park Theatre Company in Cape Coral pits roommate against roommate in the female version of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple (August 7-16).

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