ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA (March 2, 2020) – In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge collapse, Gemini Arts presents the world premiere of “Mayday: Captain Lerro and the Skyway Bridge,” a one-act play by Bill DeYoung, at Opera Central, 2145 1st Avenue S., May 9 and 10.
Directed by Roxanne Fay, “Mayday” will debut at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 9 – 40 years to the day that a freighter collided with the bridge over Tampa Bay, sending 35 motorists plummeting 150 feet to their deaths.
A second performance is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday, May 10.
In this one-man drama, St. Petersburg actor Michael Horn stars as John Lerro, the Tampa harbor pilot at the command of the 20,000-ton M/V Summit Venture when it struck the bridge on May 9, 1980. Although he was fully exonerated by the courts – a rogue storm, undetected by weather instruments, was determined to be the cause – Lerro spent the rest of his life as a pariah in the community.
In “Mayday,” Lerro discusses the accident, in detail, and the deeply-felt sense of guilt that never left him. Just a year after his vindication, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and was unable to continue piloting. Lerro spent the last 10 years of his life living as an invalid, and haunted by the events of that day.
DeYoung’s play is based on his book “Skyway: The True Story of Tampa Bay’s Signature Bridge and the Man Who Brought It Down” (2013, University Press of Florida), a comprehensive examination of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge’s checkered history, the 1980 tragedy and its aftermath, and of pilot Lerro and others whose lives were forever altered by the worst ship/bridge disaster in world history.
Roxanne Fay is one of the Tampa Bay area’s most accomplished actors and has performed with Jobsite Theater, freeFall Theater and many others; as a playwright, her one-woman shows include “Thrice to Mine,” “Home Fires Burning” and “Dream Child: The Trial of Alice in Wonderland.”
With the Gulfport Community Players, Michael Horn portrayed legendary British scientist Alan Turing in “Breaking the Code,” and mysterious historical figure John Oldman in “The Man From Earth.”
Tickets for “Mayday,” $20, are available at www.stpeteopera.org, or by calling (727) 823-2040.
“Mayday: Captain Lerro and the Skyway Bridge” is sponsored by Gemini Arts, Sylvia Rusche and The St. Petersburg Group.