Arts Entertainment Events

November-December 2019 A&E Guide

Inside "Enchant Christmas," the world's largest Christmas light maze.
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Through 11/17
Drawing Water. Nathan Beard, known for abstract, almost mathematical imagery, is also a painter of gorgeous landscapes. His show at the Brooker Creek Preserve’s Environmental Education Center taps into both impulses.

Ordinary Days at StageworksA musical celebrating the big impact of small moments, set in that city full of small towns — New York City, that is — and starring four very big talents: Alison Burns, Ricky Cona, Heather Krueger and Tron Montgomery. Performances Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., matinees Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m.

Shakespeare in the City: The Taming of the Shrew. New York City may have Shakespeare in the Park, but St. Pete has Shakespeare in the City — and it’s free! Thanks to The Studio@620’s Bob Devin Jones and St. Petersburg Shakespeare Festival’s Veronica Matthews, Williams Park’s outdoor stage has become the setting for free performances of the Bard on a regular basis, often with a creative fillip or two — as in the all-male cast in their production of Shakespeare’s problematic comedy Taming of the Shrew opening Thursday. Not sure if that choice will upend the play’s innate misogyny — Shakespeare’s casts were all-male, after all — but it ought to be fun to see who comes out on top when Petruchio and Kate’s battle of the sexes involves only one sex. 11/14-17, Thurs.-Sun., 7:30 p.m., Williams Park, St. Petersburg,

The Thanksgiving Play. A troupe of terminally “woke” artists attempts to honor Native American Heritage Month and Turkey Day at the same time in a comically doomed Thanksgiving pageant. A satire by Larissa FastHorse, directed by the multi-talented Kari Goetz and starring Giles Davies, Caitlin Eason, Adam Workman and Dana Mauro.

Once on This Island. The Tony®-winning revival of the lilting musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime, Anastasia) about a fearless Caribbean peasant girl in search of her place in the world.

Silent Sky. Lauren Gunderson’s affecting romantic drama about the pioneering Harvard astronomer who refused to let her gender stand in the way of scientific discovery.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze. A seasonal treat combining Cirque-style athleticism with a Broadway-show vibe, combining the usual leaps and bounds with flying penguins and snowmen and Christmas carols galore.

John Oates. Is his kiss still on your list? Well, as one half of the best-selling musical duo of all time (some guy named Oates was the other half), his music probably is. Lately he’s been branching out from pop into Americana, and he’s touring to Ruth Eckerd in support of his sixth solo album,

Festival of Trees.
A delightful display of trees and wreaths splendidly decorated by local volunteers, returning for its 35th year to Clearwater’s Long Center. Everything’s available for purchase, and special events along the way include a gala premiere night on the 22nd. The best part: Proceeds benefit The Arc Tampa Bay and its programs for the support and empowerment of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Decanting: The Process of Transference.  A group exhibition at the Venus gallery in St. Pete featuring works by the students of USF Tampa’s “Real World” class, which teaches undergraduates to identify diverse opportunities and begin sustaining their creative careers. “Decanting” serves as a metaphor for improvement, as these students move into a new vessel, leaving another behind. A group of 29 artists will present work in a range of media, including video, printmaking, photography, painting, and sculpture in this pop-up exhibition. Under the guidance of instructor Jay Giroux, they are exploring methods to engage entrepreneurship as an extension of their creative practice, as they move into the professional realm. Opening reception Fri. 11/22, 6-10 p.m.; panel discussion with Giroux, students, and special guests at 7:30 p.m., exploring ways to apply creativity and thrive as an artist in real-world practice. The exhibition runs through Nov. 30. Venus St. Pete, 244 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N., St. Petersburg. More info on Facebook.

Enchant Christmas. Five words: World’s. Largest. Christmas. Light. Maze. And St. Pete’s Tropicana Stadium (the usual home of the Rays) is only one of three U.S. venues to host it this year, along with arenas in Seattle and Washington, D.C. “The Great Search” is the theme, and the objects of the search are Santa’s reindeer. An elf named Eddie leads visitors on a search for all nine reindeer through the 90,000-square-foot maze (we bet one of the nine will have  a blinking red nose). Other Enchant-ing attractions include a light-adorned ice skating trail (bring your own skates), a locally curated food and Christmas Market, live entertainment, and much more.

Steven Wright. The influential comic whose hilarious non sequiturs established him as sui generis from the moment he opened his mouth on The Tonight Show nearly 40 years ago plays the Cap.

The Lion in Winter. The epic (and at times comic) battle between Henry II and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, for the future of the throne of France is freeFall’s seasonal offering (it’s set at Christmas-time).

The Next Generation Ballet’s Nutcracker.
If Sugar Plum Fairies and Nutcracker Princes are your cup of nog, this production offers an extra frisson: It’s a chance to see the upcoming young dancers of Patel Conservatory’s ballet program strut their stuff before they jeté off to become stars.

The Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas Rocks Tour. Brian Setzer brings his Orchestra’s big-band dynamics and his own virtuoso guitar for their 16th annual holiday visit to Ruth Eckerd, with music from their Rockin’ Rudolph album and from the Stray Cats’ 40 — their first new album in 26 years.

The Guitar Masters Showcase. “Masters” is apt: This showcase at the Blue Note in Seminole Heights stars Alejandro Rowinsky, a virtuoso classical guitarist who’s played everywhere from Walt Disney World to HBO’s The Righteous Gemstones; the blisteringly fast finger-style guitarist Shaun Hopper; and Steve Arvey, considered one of the top cigar-box guitarists in the world. More info on Facebook.

Through November
Sweater Weather at MIZE. The name of MIZE Gallery’s new exhibition may sound like wishful thinking, given our not-very-autumnal hot spell, but the concept is cool: Each of the more than 60 participating artists has created a new work on a provided wood cutout of a sweater. 689 Dr. MLK Jr. St., St. Petersburg, opening Fri. 6-10 p.m.,

Holiday Classics
at Tampa Theatre: Miracle on 34th Street.
The 1947 heart-warmer kicks off this annual series with a ho-ho-ho at 3 p.m. Guests are invited to a pre-screening meet-and-greet with you-know-who and the chance to pose with him for a free 4×6 commemorative photo, courtesy of series sponsor Bank of America.

Jingle Ball. The name’s Christmasy and not much else, but iHeart Radio’s annual extravaganza at the Amalie promises some of pop’s sweetest treats, including the hottest act of the moment, Lizzo, along with Sam Smith, Normani and more.

Through 12/1
Environmental Impact II at the James. 
It’s the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art (italics mine), and this traveling exhibition of contemporary paintings, photographs and sculptures is designed to remind us of the fragility of our world — including our wildlife. The showpiece: a 16-foot-long, 6-foot-wide hanging installation of a blue whale made of recycled plastic objects, aluminum armature, wire and cable ties.

Dave Koz & Friends.
The silvery sax man’s 22nd annual Christmas tour hits Ruth Eckerd with a stellar group of “friends,” including Melissa “Don’t Cry Out Loud”

12/4-6, 18-20
A Motown Christmas. 
The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s original revue of holiday hits and R&B classics by Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, and The Jackson 5 plays the Sarasota Opera House for two weekends.

Celtic Angels Christmas. Holiday favorites with a Celtic twist and no shortage of Irish accents in a program that includes vocal and instrumental music, world-champion dancers and songs like “Christmas in Killarney” as well as familiar carols.

Tony Bennett. The ageless wonder is still going strong at 93 and still showing off his remarkable chops.

Sutton Foster.
The star of the acclaimed TVLand series Younger is also a two-time Tony®-winning Broadway musical actress, an irresistible performer who can handle everything from Carole King to Oklahoma! with panache. Capitol Theatre.

Tampa Theatre Late-Night REWIND Series: Bad Santa. Billy Bob Thornton as a sex-addicted alcoholic department-store Santa who robs shopping malls at night with his elf sidekick? Now that’s a Christmas movie! Screens at 10:30 p.m.

The Florida Orchestra: Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (“Pathetique”).

Nick Offerman: All Rise. Don’t know which Nick I cherish more: Nick as the gloriously dour Ron Swanson on Parks & Recreation, Nick as the slightly off-center crafts guy on Making It, or Nick and wife Megan Mullally making the neighbors nervous with salacious-sounding invitations on those TV ads for Sling TV. Let’s hope all these and more show up at the Straz (and can we wish for Mullally, too?).

John Prine. The award-winning composer of such classics as “Angel from Montgomery” and “Hello in There” and occasional Gulfport resident returns to Ruth Eckerd in support of The Tree of Forgiveness, his first album of original material in over 13 years.

Holiday Classics
at Tampa Theatre: Elf.
Will Ferrell, that lovable lug, stars in this 3 p.m. screening.

A Tuna Christmas.
“A two-man, 20+ character pageant” set in the third-smallest town in Texas (that would be Tuna), where comic mayhem threatens to upend the annual yard display contest. 

12/12-15, 19-22
St. Petersburg Opera: 
Holiday Sparkle.
St. Pete Opera’s annual songathon at Opera Central, where that human sparkler Maestro Mark Sforzini will no doubt come up with some holiday hijinks as well as conducting a cast of marvelous singers.

Tampa Theatre Late-Night REWIND Series: Black Christmas. 
What better way to spend Friday the 13th during the Christmas season than with a classic 1974 slasher film? Black Christmas was the original “The caller is in the house!” movie and stars the likes of Margot Kidder, Olivia Hussey and Andrea Martin (?!) as sorority girls stalked by an unseen killer. A new remake is due — also on Friday the 13th — so if you’re a horror-flick completist you’ll need to see this first. 10:30 p.m.

The Florida Orchestra: Holiday Pops.
Billed as “a jolly good time for the entire family,” so expect singalongs — and maybe a Santa sighting?

 The Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Christmas Eve & Other Stories. Holiday favorites with the volume turned up to 11 and the spectacle turned up to eye-popping.

Holiday Classics
at Tampa Theatre: Sing-Along White Christmas.
Some may look forward to singing along with Bing when he starts dreaming about all his Christmases being white, but seems like it’d be a whole lot more fun to chime in with Vera-Ellen and Rosemary Clooney when they sing “Sisters,” with the immortal lyrics, “Lord help the mister/Who comes between me and my sister/And lord help the sister who comes between me and my man!” 3 p.m. both days.

Cirque Musica. 
Do you like your holiday celebrations to include rigorous athletic feats and a live orchestra? Then Cirque Musica is the holiday extravaganza for you, featuring “the spellbinding grace and daredevil athleticism of today’s greatest circus performers with the sensory majesty of a symphony orchestra.” You’ll never be able to listen to “Jingle Bells” the same way again.

Anne Hampton Callaway: The Linda Ronstadt Songbook. 
If there was ever a room made for cabaret, it’s Side Door at the Palladium. Low ceilings, round tables, a space so intimate you can be practically eye to eye with the performers — it’s the kind of room where a singer can connect with an audience, especially if she’s the kind of singer who can turn the lyrics of a pop standard into a conversation, whose voice can whisper as well as soar. That singer would be Ann Hampton Callaway, and the chance to see her up close and personal, accompanied by her legendary music director Billy Stritch, should not be missed. Better yet, she’s singing The Linda Ronstadt Songbook, and I can think of no one better equipped to match the range, the purity and the heartache of Ronstadt than AHC. Note: This concert is the first in a new cabaret series at the Side Door.

Florida Orchestra: Holiday Brass. Seasonal favorites ring out in Tampa Theatre, played by members of the orchestra’s brass and percussion sections.

Florida Orchestra. Handel’s Messiah. Performed with the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay at the Mahaffey on Dec. 20 and at churches in Lutz and Largo, respectively, on Dec. 19 and 21.

Disney’s Aladdin. The bumptious comic energy and brightly colored milieu of this Broadway/Disney confection ought to fit right in with a holiday mood, no matter which tradition you follow.

Tampa Theatre Late-Night REWIND Series: Eyes Wide Shut.
As Tampa Theatre rightly points out, this is a Christmas movie of sorts, but the parties in this notorious Kubrick/Cruise/Kidman vehicle do not involve caroling around the piano. 10:30 p.m.

Holiday Classics
at Tampa Theatre: It’s A Wonderful Life.
Of course. Screenings 7 p.m., 12/20; 3 & 7:30 p.m., 12/21-22; 7:30 p.m., 12/23.

The Family Blessing.
A holiday show with a difference from Artz4Life Academy and its dynamic founder Jai Hinson (the folks who created The Chocolate Nutcracker), The Family Blessing follows a young girl named Aliyah on her journey to find the true meaning of family, woven in with the vivid memories of her Grandma Zola. Hundreds of talented young area dancers will perform a range of styles including ballet, jazz, hip-hop, African, Mexican, Brazilian dance and much more.

Rockapella Christmas. The a capella superstars return to Ruth Eckerd with, you guessed it, a program of holiday favorites.

Through 12/22
Pivot at the Imagine Museum. Imagine’s first “open call” yielded work by 28 glass artists from all over the globe. The museum asked artists to submit work that reflected a pivotal moment in a career path, process and/or artistic direction — work that represented a new path of expression for the artist that could be communicated  to the viewer. The exhibition reflects the immense diversity in today’s studio glass movement, from the whimsical glass macarons of Nashville-based Meredith Edmondson to CLEO, the “Crystal Light Emitting Object” created by the robotics/glassblower team of Mike Soroka & Jeremy Sinkus. 

Through 12/24
Fall Exhibitions at Dunedin Fine Art Center. DFAC fall-into-winter shows include: Vista, a dedicated effort to bring home new and vivid visions from contemporary Native American artists and regional visionaries; Holly Wilson: On Turtle’s Back,  a contemporary multi-media artist (Delaware Nation/Cherokee) whose figures serve as her storytellers to the world; and ’Round the Wheel, a collection of artists from Tampa Bay and Sarasota exploring  the color wheel through various media and processes.

Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker.
Can’t get enough of that Christmas stuff? Get crackin’  over to the Mahaffey to see dancers from the land of Tchaikovsky show us how they do the Waltz of the Flowers.

Holiday Classics at Tampa Theatre: Love Actually.
Hugh and Keira and Colin and Emma and all those other lovable Brits chase each other around at Christmastime.

12/31: New Year’s Eve
First Night St. Pete. Unbelievably enough, it’s the 27th year for First Night St. Pete. In addition to all of the attractions we’ve come to love — the bubble stomp, the crazy hats, the flashing buttons and the fireworks — artists and organizations like LOST Creations, James Oleson, Zulu Painter, Creative Clay, NOMAD Art Bus (and more) will transform South Straub Park into an Interactive Arts Park. That’s on top of eight hours of music, interactive exhibits, puppetry, aerial arts, fire jugglers, street performers, scavenger hunts and so much more all over town. The ticket for entry into 10 of the venues requires the purchase of a custom-designed First Night St. Pete button, this year’s model designed by Carlos Culbertson, aka Zulu Painter. Buy buttons the night of or at

NYE@ MFA: Flights of Fancy. What would New Year’s Eve be without Champagne at midnight? That’s only one of the many temptations in store at NYE@MFA: Flights of Fancy at the Museum of Fine Arts. There’s magic all around, including (this is especially magical in Downtown St. Pete on New Year’s Eve) complimentary valet parking; open bar; admission to special exhibition galleries — and, if you choose to attend the dinner in the first half of the evening, entertainment by a world-renowned illusionist. Dinner + party (7 p.m.-1 a.m.) is $275 per person or $500 per couple, and includes cocktails & hors d’oeuvres in the MFA Garden, early fireworks viewing at dusk and a gourmet seated dinner, plus the party (9 p.m.-1 a.m.), which will feature unique desserts, music by DJ Curtis Carrasco, prime viewing of First Night St. Pete fireworks and that important midnight toast. (Party only: $150 per person, $250 per couple.)

Through 12/31
Women Are Beautiful. Works by the quintessential street photographer Garry Winogrand at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in downtown Tampa.

Through 1/5/2020
“The Grasshopper and the Ant” and Other Stories. At the Museum of Fine Arts, Jennifer Angus creates patterned “wallpaper” and intriguing tableaux using thousands of dried, exotic insects. A fascinating show with appeal for all ages refecting an environmentalist’s respect for the wonders of nature.

Robert Rauschenberg: America Mix-16 at the Tampa Museum of Art. A portfolio by the seminal American artist featuring pictures of found vignettes or objects he encountered during his travels around the U.S. He found beauty in the mundane, such as a dilapidated rag hanging from the gas cap of an abandoned truck or the inadvertent still life of discarded objects resting on the curb. Tampa Museum of Art,

William Pachner: Loss and Affirmation at the Florida Holocaust Museum. One of the most important artists to emerge in Tampa Bay in the post-WWII era, Pachner, who died in 2017 at the age of 102, came to the U.S. from Czechoslovakia in 1939. Learning after the war that his parents and brother had been murdered by the Nazis, he began creating powerful paintings and drawings that addressed man’s inhumanity to man, later turning to a focus on human connection. His children donated this collection of illustrations and drawings to St. Petersburg’s Florida Holocaust Museum. Florida Holocaust Museum, 55 5th St. S., St. Petersburg,

Deborah Masters: Spirits. Huge hanging sculptures make a haunting impact at the Leepa-Rattner Museum in Tarpon Springs.

Through 3/1
Beaches, Benches and Boycotts: The Civil Rights Movement in Tampa Bay.
The Florida Holocaust Museum sheds light on the shameful history of racial segregation in Tampa Bay during the Jim Crow era and the courageous response by Civil Rights activists. Opening reception Sat. 9/7,  7-9 p.m., open through 3/1. 

Through 3/20
The Making of a Museum: 100 Years, 100 Works.
Wait, what? The Tampa Museum of Art is 100 years old? Didn’t it just open in 2010? Or no, wait — that cube on the river is their second home, they opened first in 1979 in a building on the other side of Curtis Hixon, right? Think again. In fact, the museum has existed in multiple incarnations since 1920, when it was the Tampa Museum of Fine Arts, holding its first exhibition on the second floor of City Hall. The Making of a Museum: 100 Years, 100 Works is a representative selection of the collections it has amassed over the decades, including its renowned collection of ancient Greek and Roman art and increased acquisitions of modern and contemporary art.































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