CRITIC'S CHOICE: The Best of Tampa Bay 2013

BWW: "CRITIC'S CHOICE" - The Best of Tampa Bay- 2013

By Jimmy Ferraro

2013 was a marvelous year for theatre in Tampa Bay. There were stellar National Tours, Regional Theatre, and Community Theatre productions filled with 5 Star talent and production qualities. It is a real challenge to narrow down a listing for "CRITIC'S CHOICE". What follows is a brief look back at the stand-out productions of 2013 from five of the Bay area theatre companies.

1. The Straz Center presentation of the National Tour of "WARHORSE".

"It was thrilling to experience "theatrical magic", of the cinematically produced "War Horse", that is currently in full gallop, at Carol Morsani Hall, at the Straz Center in Tampa, through May 5th. Customarily, I would have no interest in seeing, or reading, (and certainly not experiencing), anything involving war or horses. After seeing this national touring production of "War Horse", I can no longer say that. It was both visually and emotionally... SPECTACULAR! "War Horse" is one of the most phenomenal, intense, visually and emotionally moving, pieces of theatre, that I have ever seen. And I have been around a long time. I thought I had seen everything. The high technical aspects of "WARHORSE", are so realistically threatening, that at times I found myself gasping and closing my eyes.

2. The American Stage presentation of "MY NAME IS ASHER LEV".

"American Stage Theatre Company has one again produced a stunning, ambitious production. How fortunate we are, to reside in the Tampa Bay area, to be able to experience professional, top quality, new productions (it is still running Off-Broadway) at a professional, top quality regional theatre, at an astonishing reasonable ticket price. You will "get all of this and more", at the American Stage Theatre Company's production of "MY NAME IS ASHER LEV". After experiencing this thought-provoking, enlightening, life-changing play, I have come to realize that "ASHER LEV" is our hero, and he lives in the heart of all of us artists, who stand up for the truth, and for our beautiful, unique, self. DON'T MISS THIS STUNNING PRODUCTION!"

3. The Carrollwood Players presentation of "LOST IN YONKERS".

Just when I thought that the productions couldn't possibly get any better, at Carrollwood Players...renowned playwright Neil Simon's, "LOST IN YONKERS" opens and it is simply, a TRIUMPH!~ This production exemplifies why we go to the theatre! DON'T MISS IT!

It is obvious that Director Frank Stinehour, has a finely tuned understanding of this piece, and has an amazing eye for casting. He has staged this seemless production to its fullest. His gentle hand moves the audience from comedy to drama, smoothly without a pause. Mr. Stinehour is equally at home directing the comedy, as well as the emothional demands of this play. I cannot imagine a more professional production of "LOST IN YONKERS".

This production is way beyond "community theatre". Need I say more?

4. The Eight O'Clock Theatre presentation of "THE PRODUCERS".

"Conductor, Emi P. Stefanov raises his baton. The LIVE orchestra begins. The curtain goes up on the forced prospective Shubert Theatre. The red uniformed usherettes and formal attired, well rehearsed ensemble, immediately transports the audience to Old Broadway. From the exquisite sets by master-set designer, Tom Hansen, the colorful costumes by Kathy Sutton and Shawn Ryan, and the innovative lighting design by DAlton Hamilton, we know that we are in for a smashing production of "The Producers". And the most appreciative audience was simply, WOWED! There were lots of Laughs and lots of Applause, because this production is Terrific! - a HUGE HIT!"

5. The Stage West Playhouse production of "LES MISERABLES".

"Kudos to Stage West for programming such an enormous and ambitious project. And the opening night performance was the BEST production I have ever seen at Stage West, - a Triumph! Stage West's theatrical barre is raised to an all time height with this production! BRAVO!

"Bravo!", to Director Barbara Everest, who streamlined this production, by clearly defining the many characters and locations. Her casting choices were impressive and her skillful hand was evident in each seamless scene, keeping the 3 hour musical moving at a brisk pace. The clean, well rehearsed, period choreography was by Toni Merchant. Musical Director Wayne Raymond and Vocal Director Roberta Moger did a fine job with the challenging score, coaching the singers and musicians to give their very best performance. And they did!

The opening night audience gave the cast a well-deserved standing ovation. DON'T MISS THIS SHOW!"

There is so much talent in the Bay area onstage and off. I am truly looking forward to another banner year, of theatre in TAMPA BAY for 2014.


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From This Author Jimmy Ferraro

Jimmy Ferraro is an Award Winning Actor and “Theatre Veteran”. His professional career spans over 40 years in every aspect of show business. Ferraro’s credits (read more...)