by Monica Chamness
Looking for a little bit of drama this month? Here’s a look at what’s happening on local stages.
• Florida Community College at Jacksonville puts on a spin on the Shakespearean classic tale of sibling rivalry, “As You Like It” Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m. The New York- based theater troupe performing the show, simply called The Acting Company, will be staging its comedy/drama at the school’s Wilson Center for the Arts.
“Each director has their own interpretation,” said Milt Russo executive director of FCCJ’s Artist Series. “They’re trying to make Shakespeare more accessible to people. The traditional play is a little tedious for audiences today. This will be a new production of Shakespeare’s story of love and exile but it won’t change much except in the presentation.”
FCCJ will also be presenting the Broadway musical “The Full Monty” at the T-U Center through Sunday. Originally written as a book, the story has been adapted to the big screen and now the stage. The storyline involves six out-of-work friends who attempt to make a buck as male strippers despite the fact that they lack exceptional good looks.
• Opening Feb. 21 at the Orange Park Community Theater is a dark comedy called “Sockdology.” With the show revolving around actors who are all suspects in “the crime of the century,” each character creates mayhem in their attempt to avoid the questions of the inspector. Showtime is 8 p.m. Feb. 21-22 and 3 p.m. Feb. 23.
• First Coast Theatre Arts in Riverside will present the comedy “Star-Spangled Girl” by Neil Simon Friday and Saturday. The plot revolves around two guys who write for a protest magazine in the early 1970s and their new neighbor, an all-American, Southern-bred Olympic swimmer. Despite their differences, a love triangle ensues.
“Critics did not like the play,” said Bill Kroner, the play’s director. “Line-for-line I think it’s one of Simon’s best. I think it’s better than ‘The Odd Couple.’ It’s fast-paced fun, a laugh a minute.” All shows start at 8 p.m.
• Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre presents “Blessed Assurance” Feb. 20-22, 27-28 and March 1, 6, 7 and 8 at 8 p.m. There’s a matinee March 2 at 2 p.m. The plot centers around the controversy generated in a small Southern town in the 1950s when a woman attempts to exercise her right to vote. Her courage in the face of threats adds character to this drama.
• Limelight Theatre in St. Augustine presents “Hospitality Suite” Thursday through Sunday until March 8 with Sunday matinees Feb. 23 and March 2. This comedy/drama casts four salesmen attending an industry convention in a hotel suite where timeless questions of character, principles and honesty are brought to light. The playwright adapted the piece for the silver screen under the title “The Big Kahuna,” starring Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito. Warning: there is explicit language in the play. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. for Sunday matinees.
• “Fiddler on the Roof” opened Friday at the Alhambra Dinner Theatre. The classic tale of a Jewish milkman in 1905 czarist Russia follows one family’s struggle as they break from tradition. Set in a small Ukraine town on the eve of the Russian Revolution, the performance promises to be a tear-jerker. It runs through April 5.
• Jacksonville University showcases a production of “Hedda Gabler” Friday and Saturday and Feb. 21-22 at 8 p.m. with 3 p.m. matinees Sunday and Feb. 23.
Written in 1898 by Henrick Ibsen, the story addresses social issues of women in a time when they lacked rights or respect. Hedda is a modern woman trapped in an unhappy marriage who gave up her true love for a marriage promising economic stability.
“What makes it so relevant today is not necessarily the female context,” said Deborah Jordan, JU professor of theater and the play’s director. “It’s for anyone in a situation where they feel they do not have control.”
The play parallels the life of the author — a person desperate to escape a Victorian society permeated by rigid rules of behavior. The director is using an English translation written by Los Angeles-based playwright Jon Robin Baitz for actress Annette Benning.
“Most versions are 100 pages long,” said Jordan. “This one is 70 so it’s more accessible to modern audiences. It’s very sharp and to-the-point — not so British and stuffy. We stripped it down to the bare minimum. This is going to be a very different Hedda than most are used to.”