Summer theater offerings in the Bradenton area are slimmer, lighter, but still solid

June 9, 2013 

People always talk about summer movies, summer concerts, summer television. There's a different kind of character to entertainment offerings in the summer. There are blockbuster action movies, major concert tours and festivals, but (traditionally at least) not much new stuff on TV.

For some reason, you rarely hear about summer theater.

Theater in the summer has a different flavor than during the rest of the year. There are a lot of reasons for that, including that in most of the country summer's the most pleasant time of year and theater companies take a break.

It's hard enough for a theater company in, say, Ohio, to attract audiences during the cold months, but it's harder still to draw people indoors during the few months of warmth.

Even though the opposite is true in Florida -- with the heat, rain and hurricanes the summer's the time we seek indoor comfort -- theater companies tend to slow down or go on hiatus starting around this time of year.

There's still plenty of theater happening around the Bradenton area this summer, though.

If your tastes run toward weighty fare -- touring productions of Broadway musicals that come to Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall or the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa -- well, those pickings are slim. So you might have to adjust your sites to find good theater, but it's there, and the emphasis is almost always on comedy.

Manatee Players don't have any new shows scheduled until they start their 2013-14 season with "Les Miserables" in August. Down in Sarasota, however, the Players have a great four-show summer season that includes the classic comedy "The Sunshine Boys" (June 13-30), a revue of '70s songs called "More Than a Feeling" (June 20-July 20), a wonderful, touching but funny play called "The Boys Next Door" (July 11-28) and a play titled "Thousand Oaks" (Aug. 8-11) that's set in Florida. "The Boys Next Door" should be the one to see if you're

going to see just one. Call 941-365-2494 orvisit www.theplayers.org for information.

Asolo Rep's season is winding down, with "Pulse," a refreshingcelebration of song and dance, winding up itsrun next week, and then just one show, a comedy called "My Brilliant Divorce" running June 23-July 14. Information: 941-351-9010, www.asolorep.org.

Florida Studio Theatre is more active than some over the next few months, with lots of light fare, including the current "The World Goes Round," a jukebox musical featuring songs by Kander and Ebb (through June 30); Steve Martin's farce "The Underpants" (July 2-28), and "South Beach Babylon," a satire of the Miami lifestyle (July 24-Aug, 18). Information: 941-366-9017 or www.floridastudiotheatre.org.

So, if you're looking for Ibsen or even Webber, you might have to wait until winter. But summer is a good time around here to get some quality laughs at the theater.

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.

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