Art openings, the SunLit Festival, hockey playoffs, a blues fest, a mind-blowing magician, must-see theater, a little TV show you may have heard of — and, today, a chance to dine out and fight HIV. It’s the Weekend Of Weekends, or to coin an acronym, a WOW!
1) Dining Out for Life. If you’d like to contribute to the fight against HIV and AIDS, today — Thursday April 11 — is the day you can do so just by going out to eat. When you have breakfast, lunch, dinner or coffee today at participating Dining Out for Life restaurants in Tampa, Gulfport, Clearwater, St. Petersburg or Dunedin, at least 25 percent of your check will be donated to support the work of EPIC (Empath Partners in Care). Find the complete list of restaurants at diningoutforlife.com/city/tampa-bay.
2) SunLit Festival. Keep St. Pete Lit brings us its 5th annual celebration of all things literary, now bigger and more varied than ever. Kicking off with a party tonight (April 11) at the Chihuly Collection from 7-9 p.m., the “litertainment” continues for 17 days. This weekend alone there’s a 1K “Walk and Write,” in which participants will “travel in a pack from The Hangar Restaurant at Albert Whitted Airport to The Ale & The Witch, stopping at various points along the way for 15 minutes of free writing” (4/14, 1:30-4:30, $20); a Literary Walking Tour of Downtown St. Pete (4/13, 10-Noon, departs from City Hall, $10, free for members of Preserve the ’Burg); and the always-fantastic Ekphrastic reading, in which local authors respond to artworks, in this case the stunning exhibition Quest: A Celebration of Glass at Florida CraftArt (4/13, 2-4 p.m.). Get the full schedule at keepstpetelit.org.
3) Tampa Museum of Art: Abstract Expressionism: A Social Revolution, Selections from the Collection of Preston H. Haskell. Truly a stunner of a show, with 25 works by post-WWII painters who changed the way we think about art, including Helen Frankenthaler, Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, and Frank Stella. Colors you can dive into, passion that leaps from the canvas, and a thoughtfully curated presentation that shows not only the effects of Abstract Expressionism on the direction of visual art but how these artists’ collaborative, grass-roots approach influenced (and was influenced by) the social and intellectual ferment of the times. 4/11-8/11. tampamuseum.org. (Pictured above: Helen Frankenthaler (American, 1928-2011), February’s Turn, 1979. Oil on canvas. 48 1/8 x 108 1/4 inches.The Haskell Collection. © 2018 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)
4) Mamma Mia! Here we go again. You’ve seen it in the movies, you’ve probably seen it on stage, and you’ve definitely heard the music, because it’s ABBA, their irresistible pop songs wrestled into a “Who’s My Daddy?” plot set on an idyllic Greek island. While Meryl and Cher won’t be on hand, director Stephanie Gularte has assembled a cast of top local talents (including Alison Burns, Becca McCoy, James Sorensen and Larry Alexander) for American Stage’s annual outdoor musical. Bring your own chair or blanket for general admission or premium blanket seating, or reserve a chair. American Stage in the Park, Demens Landing, St. Petersburg. Pay-what-you-can preview, 4/11. Opening night gala, 6 p.m., Fri. 4/12. Continues through 5/12. americanstage.org/park.
5) Museum of Fine Arts: Theo Wujcik: Cantos. A celebration of the work of master printmaker and painter Wujcik (1936–2014), a fixture of the Ybor City art scene whose expansive practice engaged deeply with art historical tradition and the global contemporary art world. 4/13-6/2. mfastpete.org.
6) Tampa Bay Blues Festival. An all-star lineup plays St. Pete’s Vinoy Park, including Jonny Lang (4/12, 8:30 p.m.); Shemekia Copeland (6:30 p.m., 4/13); Boz Scaggs (8:30 p.m., 4/13); and a Louisiana Blues Experience on Sunday, 4/14, featuring (among others) C.J. Chenier & The Red Hot Louisiana Band (4:30 p.m.) and Tab Benoit (8:30 p.m.). 4/12-14, Vinoy Park, tampabaybluesfest.com.
6) Michael Carbonaro Live! He’s known for the hilarious and confounding comedy/magic videos on his TruTV series The Carbonaro Effect, in which unsuspecting civilians discover what he means when he says “There’s a thin line between that which is delightful and that which is… demented.” What will Mr. C. do to a live audience? Hard to predict, but we bet it’ll be pretty funny to watch. 4/11, 7 p.m., Mahaffey.
7) Roadside Attractions: A Solo Exhibit by April Seelbach. Inspired by a life-changing road trip, April Seelbach’s photos and prints incorporate ’60s and ’70s patterns, style and color schemes — a combination of road-trip nostalgia and her own “goofy enthusiasm.” Opens Fri. Apr. 12, 6-10 p.m. Continues through 4/28. Mize Gallery, 689 Dr. MLK Jr. St. N., St. Petersburg. facebook.com/mizegallery
8) Game of Thrones is back! The final season premieres on HBO on 4/14. Winter seems to have finally come! Here’s the Season 8 trailer.
9) The Stanley Cup Playoffs. The history-making Lightning got a rude reawakening to the realities of playoff hockey when the Columbus Blue Jackets cleaned their clocks in Game 1. The thrills (and agonies) continue this weekend on Friday in Tampa and on Sunday in Columbus, game times at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports Sun. nhl.com/lightning.
10) SEE ‘EM BEFORE THEY CLOSE ON SUNDAY
Dear Evan Hansen. See it. Not just because it won six 2017 Tonys, including Best Musical; not just because of songs gone viral like “You Will Be Found” and “Waving Through a Window”; not just because it’s rich in opportunities for bravura performances. See it because it’s about something: the loneliness of adolescence, the insidious power of the internet, the challenges of parenting, the question of how much we’re willing to sacrifice for the chance to fit in. See it because it will move you. And here’s another reason to check it out: The original star of the Broadway production, Ben Platt, got all kinds of kudos for his charismatic performance as Evan. I saw him in the role, and understood why he won his Tony. Yet Ben Levi Ross, the Evan in this national touring production, was to my mind more affecting. Where Platt’s bundle of nervous tics seemed so polished as to be as much about the actor as the character, Ross’s Evan feels more vulnerable, less obviously strung-out, so that his ability to win over and deceive the world (albeit inadvertently at first) seemed more believable, and his dilemma more heart-rending. And while he doesn’t have the rafter-ringing vocals of Platt, he’s definitely got the chops to make those big anthems soar. 4/11-14, Straz Center, strazcenter.org.
Crumbs from the Table of Joy. The buzz has been, well, joyful on this one. Lynn Nottage’s play is set in 1950s Brooklyn, where Godfrey, an African-American widower, has moved from Florida with his two teenaged daughters. Mix in an aunt with Communist sentiments and a new wife for Godfrey, a white German immigrant, and you’ve got the ingredients for a comedy/drama that’s been described by one critic as a cross between Tennessee Williams and Lorraine Hansberry. 4/11-14, freeFall Theatre Company, freefalltheatre.com.