Shout! The Mod Musical is at the Straz in Tampa

Think about your favorite parts of flipping through a magazine meant for young women. The quizzes, the advice columns, the ads for new makeup – and their tips… this is what the five characters in Shout! are using to bond over while singing their way through the ’60s in England.

At the Straz Center this month, enjoy a local production of the 2006 production that is full of hit songs. At the same time, get a glimpse of how life has advanced (or not…) for women since the mid ’60s and early ’70s. I was able to attend thanks to two complimentary tickets I received from Tampa Bay Bloggers.

The show is running now through March 22, 2020, and stars mainly local favorites. You may recognize Chelsea Hooker’s Orange Girl from Jobsite’s “Othello,” or Julia Rifino’s Red Girl from American Stage in the Park’s production of “Mamma Mia!”

Kick back in the Staz Center’s Jaeb Theater, where there are four chairs to each small table on the lower level and the small balcony above – there’s not a seat in the house that’s far from the stage. Bring your bar drinks and snacks with you for the 90-minute, uninterrupted production.

I guarantee you will be bopping along to songs like “Downtown,” “Son of a Preacher Man,” “Wishin’ and Hopin’” “These Boots were made for Walking,” and many, many more! Roughly 30 songs make up the soundtrack. At points the stars bust out a show-stopping number, and you suddenly remember you’re in the audience at the Straz and not just hanging out in a friend’s living room.

TICKETS START AT $24.50. Get yours here.

Spymonkey’s “Hysteria” at the Straz

Last night I was treated to an evening of British surreal and slapstick humor at the Straz Center’s Jaeb Theatre.

spymonkey hysteria comedy tampa florida

The Jaeb is a laid-back theatre with tables and chairs instead of traditional theatre seating. I had a great center seat about three rows back, and came ready for an evening of laughter. I received two free tickets from The Straz Center in exchange for my honest review as a member of the Tampa Bay Bloggers.

Hysteria” has a bit of mystery, a dash of song and dance, a spooky mansion, a lot of slapstick comedy and a touch of nudity. It has been running for nearly 20 years in the UK under the name “Cooped,” and the Straz Center in Tampa, Florida, is hosting its American premiere.

I thought I knew British humor from the likes of Mr. Bean and Monty Python, but this show was a bit more like the seventh grade hallway my office happens to be located in.

In “Hysteria,” Laura du Lay arrives at a remote mansion in Northumberlandshirehampton and uncovers murder, love and mistaken identity. Is the handsome Forbes Murdston insane? Is his mysterious manservant Klaus who he says he is? Are Laura’s terrible dreams a warning of further tragedy?

The crowd around me often roared with laughter during this show. You can expect crazy costumes, stupid injuries, physical comedy, fart jokes, incongruity, absurd situations and the like.

If you want a tiny bit of a spoiler, there is a promo video here.

“Hysteria” is showing at the Straz Center through November 3, 2019. If you go, I hope you enjoy Aitor Basauri’s coy smiles for the audience as much as I did!

Rock of Ages now in Tampa

The 10th Anniversary tour of the ’80s rock show “Rock of Ages” is playing June 11 – 15, 2019, at the Straz Center in Tampa, Florida. You may have seen the movie with Julianne Hough, Alec Baldwin and Tom Cruise, but the Broadway show came first! It’s a boy meets girl story that takes place on L.A.’s Sunset Strip in the late ’80s and is sprinkled with ’80s rock tunes and ballads you’ll want to sing along with from your seat.

I love that the show doesn’t take itself seriously, it ain’t nothing but a good time. Bands featured include Whitesnake, Pat Benatar, Poison, Journey, Starship and REO Speedwagon – among others. The story is light, humorous and shallow, and it’s OK to sing and clap along. You may find jazz hands are encouraged. It’s not quite as boisterous as a rock concert – this is the Straz after all – but most of the audience is over 45 anyway, so they have some decorum.

This is a restaging of the show, so if you have seen it before don’t expect the same production. The set is multi-leveled, and concert road boxes are used in fun ways – making rooms pop up out of nowhere. And then there’s the bathroom scene…

Feel free to come in costume or your old Bon Jovi concert T-Shirt with a leather mini skirt. There’s a lot of 80s cosplay going on in the audience.

The singing in this production is fantastic! Every side character seems to be able to belt to the hills. I was especially astonished by the voice on Kristina Walz as Regina and the hysterical performance by Sam Harvey.

Sam Harvey as Stacee Jaxx i Rock of ages, tampa, Florida
He’s a cowboy, on a steel horse he rides…

My only warnings for you are that there is adult language and strobe lights – but, like, whatever. The only thing I would have changed was Sherrie’s wig.

And because I know you want it, here’s a video montage of the show so you can see and hear for yourself:

Get your tickets today! Prices start at $25.

Are YOU ready to rock??!

Thank you Straz Center and Tampa Bay Bloggers for #hosting me at this show. I received 2 free tickets in exchange for my opinion.

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