Tickets to Bradenton-area summer shows make good gifts for Mom

May 11, 2014 

So it's Mother's Day. You forgot all about it again and you didn't get mom anything. You were just going to have a leisurely morning on your computer, but then you saw all the Facebook posts about Mother's Day and now you're freaking out.

You can order something online, but it won't get here for a few days. Or you can go to the mall and spend all day looking for that perfect gift that you might not find.

Here's another idea: You can get tickets to some really great theater that's coming this summer to the Bradenton area. (If you want to have something to actually hand her as gift, some of the box offices are open on Sunday. Or you can create and print out some fancy and official-looking certificate. She'll never know. Even if she does, she'll be too nice to say anything.)

There's a lot less theater in the summer, but there's a lot more than there used to be. And in Florida, it's a great time to see plays and musicals 'cause the weather is pretty much unbearable.

Here's a selective and subjective look at some plays and musicals coming up this summer that you might want to take Mom to. (Or just give her two tickets so she can go with Dad or a friend.)

Banyan Theater Company: Banyan produces shows only in the summer, which is a great idea. Local theater lovers have fewer shows to choose from and actors, directors and designers need work even more than usual. You can count on their productions being excellent.

This year, for its 13th season, Banyan is offering Arthur Miller's "The Price" (June 26-July 13), Philip Hayes Dean's "The Sty of the Blind Pig" (July 17-Aug. 3) and Donald Margulies' "Collected Stories" (Aug. 7-24).

They're all hugely acclaimed, venerable and even important plays. Time magazine called "The Sty of the Blind Pig" the best play of 1971. Dean, who's best known for the one-man play "Paul Robeson," died last month.

Banyan stages its shows at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts in Sarasota. Box office: 941-358-5330 or go to banyantheatercompany.com.

Manatee Players: Their 2014-25 season doesn't get under way until Aug. 17 when "Disney's Tarzan" opens. The show, with music by Phil Collins, got mixed

reviews, from raves to outright pans, for its Broadway run. The Manatee Players production promises to be a strong one, given the company's new-found affection for great aerial effects.

If Phil Collins and Tarzan aren't Mom's cup of theatrical tea, maybe she'll like Manatee Players' other summer musical, "Dames at Sea," which opens Sept. 11. Box office: 941-748-5875, manateeplayers.com.

Florida Studio Theatre: FST almost always has an energetic revue or two on its stages, but perhaps the most intriguing show of the summer is "Becoming Dr. Ruth," a one-woman show about the TV personality sex therapist. It's by Mark St. Germain, who wrote last season's "Freud's Last Session."

FST is also producing the U.S. premiere of "Taking Shakespeare," a new John Murrell play that got great reviews for its production at the Stratford Festival in Canada last year.

"Becoming Dr. Ruth" runs June 25-July 27. "Taking Shakespeare" runs July 23-Aug. 17. Box office: 941-366-9000, floridastudiotheatre.org.

Players Theatre: Players offers a "Summer Sizzler" series of three shows. By far the most interesting is "Talking With …, " a wonderfully written series of 10-minute monologues from 11 female characters, penned by the mysterious playwright who uses the pseudonym Jane Martin. It runs Aug. 7-17. Box office: 941-365-2494, theplayers.org.

You ought to be able to find something in this roundup that suits your mother, no matter what her tastes are. And chances are the tickets cost less than last-minute roses.

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

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