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Florida Spotlight: February 2011

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A scene from Billy Elliot the Musical
(© Michael Brosilow)
The toe-tapping Tony winner Billy Elliot the Musical leads off a jam packed February in Tampa, transforming the David A. Straz Jr. Center into a hard luck English mining town from February 2-20. Lee Hall's tale of a young lad's troubled road from boxing to ballet sports the same backstage mix that enchanted Broadway audiences, including a triumphant Elton John score. Still hungry for high kicks with a nice backdrop of urban angst? The classic gangs-and-girls musical West Side Story is also set to tour through Florida, stopping at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center in Orlando (February 1-6), Fort Myers' Barbara P. Mann Performing Arts Hall (February 8-13) and the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale (February 15-27).

Orlando is a favorite stop for touring shows this month, in fact. The Bob Carr will also welcome the Oz-inspired musical Wicked from February 23-27, flying monkeys and all. Meanwhile, it's razor-sharp English witticisms that will be flying between Elizabeth Bennet and the dashing Mr. Darcy at Orlando Shakespeare Theater's production of Pride and Prejudice (February 9-March 20), based on the beloved Jane Austen novel. The company will even be exporting a little talent this month as director Jim Helsinger takes last year's OST production of The 39 Steps on the road, bringing a little Hitchcock-flavored hilarity to the Florida Repertory Theater in Fort Myers, February 1-26.

Also in Fort Myers, the tall tales of a would-be adventurer take audiences to comic heights in Donald Margulies' Shipwrecked! An Entertainment: The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as Told by Himself) at Theatre Conspiracy (February 11-26). A more subdued side of Margulies' wit can be found in West Palm Beach at Palm Beach Dramaworks' production of Dinner With Friends (February 25-April 17), his Pulitzer-winning autopsy of a broken marriage. Nearby, check out some rising stars with Florida Stage's 1st Stage New Works Festival (February 3-6), featuring seven full productions from playwrights like Deborah Zoe Laufer and an interview with Broadway actress Frances Sternhagen. And at the Kravis Center, comedy lightning strikes with the Mel Brooks musical Young Frankenstein (February 1-6), also shuffling off to the Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater (February 8-13).

Fiery footwork lights up the boards in Miami with the arrival of the Ballet Nacional De España for the 2011 Flamenco Festival at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts (February 23-26), while the Dance Now Ensemble pirouettes a bit more left of center with Six Characters, their dance "remix" of Luigi Pirandello's absurdist classic Six Characters in Search of an Author at the Colony Theater (February 26-27). Meanwhile, the University of Miami polishes up two classic battles of the sexes with Aristophanes' Lysistrata and Big Love, Charles Mee's comic spin on Aeschylus' The Suppliant Women, both playing in repertory at the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre (February 16-27).

A wee crisis of body image leads to big questions at a men's support group in Martin Casella's The Irish Curse, playing at the Mosaic Theatre in Plantation (February 10-March 6). Nearby, it's an entirely different night with the guys in Next Fall, Geoffrey Nauffts' poignant dissection of love and faith in a gay couple's relationship at the Caldwell Theatre Company in Boca Raton (February 20-March 27). And at the Broward Stage Door Theatre, amoré blooms into song with the operatic Broadway musical The Light in the Piazza (February 25-April 10).

On the opposite coast, Asolo Repertory Theatre goes deep with their production of Henrik Ibsen's wistful The Lady from the Sea (February 22-March 13), a brooding tale of lighthouse love. Looking for some breezier romantic options? Take a spin around the ballroom with Belle in the touring production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, returning to Florida at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall (February 7-9).

Further north, the Hippodrome Theatre in Gainesville tries out a bold combination of puppetry, science and sexual tension with David Zellnik's Serendib (February 25-March 20), a chaotic look behind the scenes of a troubled nature documentary. Meanwhile, it's high-flying wirework and trapeze tumbling as Cirque Dreams Illumination lights up the Times-Union Center in Jacksonville (February 15-20).

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