More Mayoral Theatrics

Picture this: A shouting match at a street dance in downtown St. Petersburg between Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker.

Actually, it’s a scripted exchange from an upcoming musical comedy, “Crossing The Bay,” that plays next month (Jan. 25-30) at Tampa’s Falk Theatre. The play, which is filled with local history from both sides of the bay, features Mayors Iorio and Baker in cameo roles (opening night only) that underscore — in a good-natured way — the historic, inter-county rivalries and prejudices.

“Crossing The Bay,” which will debut in St. Petersburg Jan. 5, is a production of St. Pete-based LiveArts Peninsula Foundation, a 3-year-old organization whose mission is to preserve and celebrate Florida’s heritage through the stories of its past. A previous LiveArts production was a reprise of the acclaimed “Webb’s City: The Musical.” In fact, “Crossing The Bay” is by Bill Leavengood and Lee Ahlin, the writer-composer/lyricist team who created “Webb’s City.”

“Crossing The Bay” is based on Jane Austin’s comedy-of-manners classic, “Pride and Prejudice,” and is reset in the post-Civil War Tampa Bay area. The playwright draws parallels between British middle class and aristocracy clashes in the 1800s and conflicts between rural Southerners and wealthy Northern industrialists. The vehicle for such conflicts is the competition to bring the railroad to Florida’s West Coast.

“I’ve lived here all my life,” says Leavengood, 44, “and I didn’t know some of the history between the counties. We’re bringing that to life. And ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is just so much fun to adapt – it’s full of fabulous characters and subtext.”

Tickets may be purchased through the website: www.liveartspen.com . Information is available at the box office (813) 426-3416.

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