A Super Sunday for arts in Bradenton area

February 2, 2014 

You may not be aware of us, but we walk among you, silently, trying to be inconspicuous.

There are more of us than you know.

We are people who don't like football. We don't care about the Super Bowl. A lot of us don't even know what teams are playing.

We think a 60-minute game that takes five hours to play is going to be boring, even if it turns out to be the bimonthly "game of the century." We don't understand the announcers who jabber on about the flat-screen split-end weak-knee double-nickel north-side machine gun hatchback defense, or whatever. We're annoyed by the panel discussions at halftime where some idiot named Coach says stuff like, "One thing the Fighting Squirrels don't want to do is fumble."

Believe it or not, some of us don't even care about the commercials, even the Budweiser commercial with all the horses and puppies..

So while you're clustered in living rooms watching the game, we have the rest of the world to ourselves. There's some great stuff happening in theaters and performing arts venues around these parts on Super Bowl Sunday, and it's all ours.

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe has one last performance of "The Whipping Man" on Sunday. The intense and inventive drama, by University of South Florida alumnus Matthew Lopez, has become one of the most popular plays in regional theaters around the country in the past few years. The WBTT production, featuring Taurean Blacque of "Hill Street Blues," is superb. The last show is at 2 p.m. Tickets are $29.50. To order tickets or to get more information, call 941-366-1505 or go to www.wbttroupe.com.

Florida Studio Theatre has three different shows. Two are music-heavy: a revue, "Poems, Prayers and Promises,"

about the singer-songwriters of the '60s and '70s, and "The Prima Donettes," a fictional look at girl groups of the '50s and '60s. But the surest bet is "Thurgood," a riveting one-man show about the civil rights lawyer and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Shows on Super Bowl Sunday are at 3 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $18-$32. Call 941-366-9000 or go to www.floridastudiotheatre.org.

At the Historic Asolo Theatre, the Ritz Chamber Players, an acclaimed contemporary classical ensemble, performs at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $40 and $45. 941-359-5700, www.ringling.org.

Virtually next door, at the Mertz Theatre at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, the Sarasota Ballet has a program with works by Balanchine and Ashton, plus the world premiere of a piece by Will Tuckett. Performances on Sunday are at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. 941-359-0099 ext. 101, www.sarasotaballet.org

St. Petersburg Opera opened its production of the Carlisle Floyd "Susannah" on Friday. There's a matinee on Super Bowl Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Palladium. Other than "Porgy and Bess," "Susannah" is the most popular American opera. The buzz says that the production is incredible. Tickets are $64.50, $49.50, $34.50, $21.50. Call 727-822-3590 or go to www.stpeteopera.org.

Larry Kramer's semi-autobiographical AIDS play "The Normal Heart" isn't produced these days as much as it used to be, but everyone who has seen the current staging at freeFall Theatre in St. Petersburg says it's still riveting. There's a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday. $39. Call 727-498-5205 or go to www.freefalltheatre.com

American Stage is in the midst of a years-long August Wilson project, and its current production is Wilson's "2 Trains Running," directed by Bob Devin Jones. There's a performance at 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $29-$49. 727-823-1600, www.americanstage.org.

That's the kind of stuff we'll be doing on Super Bowl Sunday while you're watching a bunch of guys beat the stuffing out of each other, and an over-produced lip-synched half-time show of pop music that everyone will complain about for the next six months. We'll be experiencing profound works of art, explorations of beauty and intellect.

Enjoy the game.

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.

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