What with presidential candidates and TV presidents, rock gods and guitar heroes, Broadway and salsa and hauntings all around — plus another chance (or two, or three) for the Rays to make the World Series — it’s one exciting weekend.
Baseball! I’d hoped this item wouldn’t have to be in the Top Ten, counting on the Rays to seal the American League Championship Series last night with a sweep of the Astros. But no, the ‘Stros won 4-3, so we’re on to Game Five. And it’s early: Game time is 5:07 p.m. this evening (Thurs., Oct. 15) on TBS.
Bartlet! You get your choice of three kinds of politics tonight: Biden’s town hall in Philadelphia (8 p.m., ABC); Trump’s town hall in Miami (8 p.m., NBC); or Bartlet’s White House — President Jed Bartlet, that is, the fictional president on The West Wing. Most of the original cast of that much-missed series — including Martin Sheen, Allison Janney, Bradley Whitford, Richard Schiff and Rob Lowe — have reunited for A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote, an adaptation of the Season 3 episode “Hartsfield’s Landing” premiering tonight on HBO MAX. When We All Vote is a nonpartisan organization that aims to increase voter participation, and the episode is about, you guessed it, voting. Instead of commercial breaks, there’ll be guest appearances from the likes of Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton and Lin-Manuel Miranda, and music by West Wing composer W. G. Snuffy Walden and The Avett Brothers.
Turn the beat around! Had enough politics? Head to the Straz tonight for Latin Night on the Riverwalk. Celebrating the culmination of Hispanic Heritage Month, the event features Aramis Sol Caribe, a four-piece multicultural band playing salsa, merengue, cumbia and more, and Latin-inspired tapas and libations. Thurs., Oct. 15. Seating area opens and table service begins at 5 p.m. Performance begins at 7:30 p.m. Straz Center Riverwalk Stage. Buy tickets here.
Get lost! Sparkman Wharf is gettin’ all spooky again with its annual Haunted Wharf, an interactive spook-tacular maze on the waterfront featuring photo ops and other-worldly visitors roaming about. It’s for children and adults both, but it’s recommended that children under the age of 10 attend the maze before 6 p.m. because there’ll be extra-spooky things happening after 6. Thurs., 4-10 p.m.; Fri., 6-10 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m-10 p.m. Sparkman Wharf, 615 Channelside Drive, Tampa. Only 10 people at a time will be able to enter the maze. Purchase $10 tickets in advance.
Stream ‘n scream! The Victorian horror troupe Phantasmagoria returns to Tampa Theatre’s Nightmare on Elm Street lineup with its unique mix of storytelling, fire dancing, stage combat, puppetry, aerial arts and more, this year going virtual for the first time. The theme for 2020, aptly enough, is Plague Tales, featuring five tales of terror from the likes of Edgar Allan Poe and Robert Louis Stevenson. The program will be available to stream Thursday-Sunday, October 15-18; members of the cast will participate in a livestream Q&A at 9 p.m. Sat. Oct. 17. Tickets can be purchased here. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Heart Gallery of Tampa.
The Constitution! In the Tony-nominated What The Constitution Means To Me, actor/playwright Heidi Schreck draws on her experience as a teenager winning Constitutional debate competitions to tell a story about four generations of women and the founding document that shaped their lives. A film of the Broadway production premieres on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, and from the looks of the trailer the show is at once funny, moving and exhilarating.
Blame it on the bossa nova! The welcome return of (socially distanced) programming at the Palladium continues Saturday night with Bossa Nova Guitars, starring the wildly talented Nate Najar and Phill Fest trading licks on acoustic guitars, joined by a great rhythm section. Sat. Oct. 17, 8 p.m., Hough Hall at The Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N., St. Petersburg.
Broadway! The Broadway Ball at the Straz is always a highlight of the fall social calendar, a glittery fundraiser for the center’s educational and arts programs. Adapted for the Age of Covid, the ball goes virtual this weekend — an hour of performances by Broadway stars and Patel Conservatory students, plus silent and live auctions. Sat., Oct. 17. Pre-show at 7 p.m. Event begins at 7:30 p.m. Buy tickets here.
Byrne! The reviews for David Byrne’s American Utopia on Broadway verged on the ecstatic, which is no surprise to anyone who’s seen Byrne live (the Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense tour remains one of the highlights of my concert-going life). Now Spike Lee has captured the Byrne-on-Broadway experience in a film made during the sold-out show’s late 2019 run. It will premiere on HBO on Saturday, October 17, at 8 p.m. Here’s the trailer.
VOTE! In typically topical fashion, St. Pete’s MIZE Gallery is presenting an exhibition this month that couldn’t be more timely: Chad Mize invited artists to create pieces of art incorporating the word VOTE. On view through Nov. 3. Gallery hours 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 pm. Sunday or by appointment. 689 Dr. MLK Jr. St. N. Unit C, St. Petersburg, 727-251-8529.