Here's a quick look at what's been happening in the world of arts and entertainment in the area.
Fame of Hall
There's a ton of play writing talent in the Bradenton area, as anyone who has witnessed any of the local the new play festivals will attest. Not too many local writers have had as much national and international success as Philip Hall of Anna Maria Island.
A couple of years ago, he had two plays running in New York City at the same time, including his full-length musical "Life on the Mississippi," which got great reviews from New York critics.
He's a one-act play specialist, though, and one of his short plays just took first place in the King's Shorts Festival of 10-Minute Plays. The festival's based at the King's Theatre, a professional theater in Nova Scotia. (Stageworks in Tampa also presented "The Shoe Department" as part of its "TampaWorks" series right around the same time.)
It's the second time in three years that Hall has taken first place in the King's Theatre play festival. He won with "The Business Plan" in 2013.
Whereabouts of Woolf
Not too long ago, Bradenton (and much of America, it seemed) was gripped by Woolfmania, the fanatical adoration of local singer songwriter Sam Woolf, who made it almost to the top on "American Idol." The mania has pretty much passed, but Woolf is still solidly building his career. Every user review on Amazon of his debut EP "Pretend" gives it five stars, and he's playing a New York City show on Aug. 1, opening (along with his best bud from "Idol," Alex Preston) for a rock band called the Como Brothers. But before then he'll be here in town, playing a free show at 5 p.m. July 23. His performance is part of the grand opening celebration for Gettel Hyundai of Lakewood, 5921 E. State Road 64, Bradenton. So you can see an "American Idol" finalist and buy a foreign car all at the same time.
More at Mahaffey
The Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg has added several shows for the summer and beyond.
Soulful chanteuse Jill Scott is scheduled to perform in concert Aug. 9. Tickets are $70.50-$106.50. Keith Sweat, the R&B
superstar whose output includes six multi-platinum albums, and whose radio show "The Sweat Hotel" airs five nights a week locally on 95.7 The Beat, will be at the Mahaffey Sept. 5. Tickets are $35.50-$65.50.
"Tango Lovers," which features 20 of South America's finest dancers, is set for Sept. 18. It was recently named "The Best Musical Show of the Year" at the Latin ACE Awards. $33.50-$93.50.
Two of the best guitarists around team up for a Nov. 13 show. Guitar wizard Adrian Legg is a guitar player's guitar player, with an eclectic style that's completely his own. (Joe Satriani, who's no guitar slouch himself, calls Legg "simply the best acoustic guitar player I've ever heard.") David Lindley has been Jackson Browne's guitarist since the beginning of time, and he's got a great band of his own. El Rayo-X. This could be something special. $29-$49.
There's also been a postponement. Magician Drew Thomas was supposed to appear on July 11. There's no word on why, but the Mahaffey people say that date's off and Thomas will be there next summer instead.
Tickets for all those other shows are on sale now. Call 727-892-5767 or go to themahaffey.com.
By the way, the Mahaffey will be announcing its new season, with about 30 shows, on July 7, so stay tuned.
When you go to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa for Broadway musicals and concerts in the cavernous Morsani Hall, you pretty much have to walk right past the Shimberg Playhouse, the smallest of the theaters in the Straz. The company in residence there, Jobsite Theater, has been getting some major national attention of late. First, one of America's greatest playwrights, Israel Horovitz, approached the company and asked to work with them on one of his new plays. (The Jobsite people actually thought someone was goofing on them and at first didn't take Horovitz' communication seriously.)
Now American Theatre magazine, one of the most important national theater publications, has featured Jobsite's recent production of "Annapurna," in its recent issue. There's a two-page spread showing the set by longtime Jobsite designer Brian Smallheer. That's a pretty significant honor for a company that operates with a small budget out of a 100-seat theater here in the provinces.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919.