Stage West's season is treat for all tastes

Published May 20, 2006

Stage West Community Playhouse has announced its 2006-07 season in the Forum, and, with a serious drama, a touching comedy and a new-to-the-area musical, it's doing the most theater-produced shows since its very active 2002-03 season.

This isn't to say the Forum has been empty. The 159-seat theater has had any number of children's performances, dance schools, traveling theater troupes, productions from neighboring theaters and even a fashion show, as well as its own shows from time to time.

But this year, it's announcing a full season for grown-ups, with season tickets at $25 for three shows: Edward Albee's powerful drama Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Oct. 13-22); the sweetly licentious comedy Same Time, Next Year (Feb. 17-25); and Dan Goggin's latest romp with the Little Sisters of Hoboken, Nunsensations, a musical that has the nuns doing a fundraiser in Las Vegas "in the Pump Room Lounge, high atop the third floor of the Mystique Motor Lodge in Sin City" (April 13-22).

The shows are a good balance with broad appeal, especially for those of us who enjoy serious drama or something we haven't seen before.

The Forum has had some great shows in the past - the star vehicle Master Class in 2004 with Jeanine Martin's bravura performance; the touching two-person drama Love Letters in 2003 with fine performances by the ever dependable Mary Eileen Ameigh and Harvey Lasky; and still more wonderful performances in the shocking Agnes of God and acerbic, funny The Gin Game in 2002, to name some of the most memorable.

Interestingly, though, the largest crowds came out for the quirky musical A ... My Name is Alice in early 2003, and that's probably why the Stage West board decided to include a musical in the upcoming season.

This edition of the Nunsense saga appears to have a lot going for it: a 1950s doo-wop song, a "T & A" number (as in "Talent & Attitude"), a dance number with the nuns in full Vegas headgear, a "Cirque du Blimp" takeoff on Cirque du Soleil, and a Village People disco number.

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Three local folkies are getting some wider recognition in the next couple of weeks.

New Port Richey's Dave Eichenberger has been invited to perform three 30-minute sets during the prestigious 2006 Florida Folk Festival in White Springs on Memorial Day weekend: at 11 a.m. May 26 on the Under the Oaks stage; and at 3 p.m. May 27 and 28 on the Tower Stage.

I don't think of Eichenberger as a folkie in the hootenanny sense of the word. He uses an electronic "looper" to record layers of New Age-like sound and weaves them together as he plays a live melody line over them.

In recent years, though, the Florida Folk Festival has expanded to mean almost any kind of music, dance, stories, crafts and food that are done anywhere in Florida, and there's lots of New Age stuff here for sure.

For the folk purists, Pasco County father-and-son team Mike and Ian Jurgensen will perform at 8 p.m. June 3 at the Tarpon Springs Cultural Center, 101 S Pinellas Ave. (Alt. U.S. 19) in Tarpon Springs.

Mike has been a prominent presence on the state's folk and pop music scene for a long time. He won the Best Florida Folk Song Competition held at the Will McLean Music Festival twice, first in 1998 and again in 2004 (the first-ever two-time winner) and has taken home several other accolades in that competition and elsewhere.

He's also an accomplished actor. His recent performance as Chris in Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art was terrific.

Ian played in several shows at Richey Suncoast Theatre and Mitchell High School - Dauntless the Drab in Once Upon a Mattress, Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, a Protean in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum - and has gone on to play major roles in productions at Flagler College in St. Augustine, including the lead role of Tommy Albright in Brigadoon.

Their folk music concert sounds like a don't-miss.