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Stage: Hot Ticket

By JOHN FLEMING

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 5, 2001


Claudia Shear has been a toilet cleaner, a brunch chef, a hat-check girl, a nude model, a proofreader on Wall Street, a receptionist in a whorehouse -- 64 jobs in all, chronicled in the solo play she wrote and starred in, Blown Sideways Through Life.

Claudia Shear has been a toilet cleaner, a brunch chef, a hat-check girl, a nude model, a proofreader on Wall Street, a receptionist in a whorehouse -- 64 jobs in all, chronicled in the solo play she wrote and starred in, Blown Sideways Through Life.

Because Shear was just over 30 when her play made its debut off Broadway in 1993, obviously some of the jobs were of "unusually short duration." The shortest, at a restaurant in Manhattan, lasted 10 minutes, just enough time for her to drink an iced coffee and be scolded by the manager for making a personal phone call.

Today, Shear is a dramatist in demand. Her most recent play, Dirty Blonde, about Mae West, was a Broadway hit a year ago.

Carol A. Provonsha stars, above, in the Southeast premiere of Blown Sideways Through Life. It's a production of Stageworks, Anna Brennen's theater company that has performed in many venues through the years. Now it is in Shimberg Playhouse, the smallest theater at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. The play opens Friday and continues through July 22. Tickets: $10-$15.50. (813) 229-7827 or (800) 955-1045.

Street-corner symphony

Before the show winds up an intermissionless 11/2 hours later, the cast has employed matchboxes and Zippo lighters, pots and serving spoons, plumber's plungers, a metal tape measure and a saw, among other things -- all in the name of rhythym

Creators Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas are a pair of Brits who first worked together as buskers. Their street-corner symphony is not a perfect piece of theater, with its non-verbal narrative. At times it threatens to degenerate into something like one of those interminable drum solos that bog down heavy metal concerts. But not for long.

Chekhov may be spinning in his grave at the thought of Stomp as the theater of the future, but he also has to be tapping his toes.

Stomp, making its fourth appearance in the area, opens Tuesday and continues through July 15 at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Tampa. Tickets: $15.50-$49.50. (813) 229-7827 or toll-free 1-800-955-1045.

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