The Jaeb TK21 Cruiser is on the launchpad

I can’t believe it’s already preview for Return to the Forbidden Planet. It feels like it could have been yesterday when in fact it was about a year and a half ago when I sat in Straz president Judy Lisi’s office, meeting new chief programming and marketing officer Georgiana Young for the first time and discussing ways that the Straz and Jobsite could be better partners. The Jaeb has always been a space that Jobsite has wanted to grow into as resident theater company.

Trivia: my first show at the Straz after my return to Tampa in 1998 was also in the Jaeb, also a musical, and also sci-fi themed: an adaptation of Mac Wellman’s Whirligig. I got to play alongside Kissy Simmons before her Broadway turn in The Lion King, college pal Mad Adams, “ranney,” Stephanie Shippae and her horde of female huns with two bands on stage (The Fallopian Tubes to the left and Joe Popp with Erin Kant and Brian McCabe to my right).

Jonathan Harrison and Amy E. Gray in Jobsite's Return to the Forbidden Planet. (Photo by Crawford Long.)

It didn’t take long for us to settle on Return to the Forbidden Planet as a first venture in the Jaeb. It’s a musical that’s got something in it for all generations, and for me it’s a blend of two of my favorite things: Shakespeare and sci-fi. It just makes sense on both sides.

Fast forward ahead to the past month and I’ve been witness to something pretty special. Two dozen artists of all stripes coming together to make some real magic happen. I’ve been told that this is one of the biggest sets (if not the biggest) that’s been on that stage. From our end there are certainly no two ways about it: it’s simply the biggest show we’ve ever done. It’s technically sharp, musically shreds, and features a pack of performers who are crushing this thing like a Death Star trash compactor.

I’d love for you all to make it out this week, it would mean ohsomuch. For us to be successful with a show like this it requires a different way of thinking and of doing than working next door. Packing out opening week, not leaving a single seat empty, is a big part of that. We’ve just stepped up from 99 seats to 320. We’re also doing 8 public performances this week — meaning we have more seats available in this one week than we do for most entire runs of a play in the Shimberg. Your help in picking up a ticket for this week instead of waiting until later could go a long way in helping us reach our goals with this show, which will hopefully in turn open up more opportunities for us in the Jaeb in future.

I’m told opening night (June 12) is now sold out, but we also have shows Friday and Saturday at 8, and Saturday and Sunday at 4. Preview tickets (half-off, just $14.50) for tonight and tomorrow are still available as well. If you’re a season ticket holder to Jobsite, don’t forget to ask for your discount when you call (813.229.7827) to order!

Hope to see you soon! This show is a BLAST, and I cannot wait to share it with each and every one of you! It runs just under two hours and, to stress this one more time, is suitable for all ages (a rarity for us, we know). You won’t regret it!

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