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December in the arts: Gifts for the taking

Bill DeYoung



"Lucid Dreaming Covidid" by Eileen Goldenberg is in the Mize Gallery exhibit "Something 2020," opening Dec. 4.

Oh, the weather outside is … pretty typical for this time of year. What’s new and exciting is that 2020 is entering its final month; we’ve still got a ways to go (everybody, please be safe out there) but whatever’s in store, it sure will be nice to put this particular year in the rear view mirror, don’t you agree?

Although protocols remain in place for keeping communal events socially-distanced, there are a good number of concerts, plays and art shows to look forward to in December:

The ever-fruitful professional artists who call Gulfport home band together this weekend (Dec. 5 and 6) for the latest ArtJones Studio and Gallery Tour, a self-guided walk through the city’s creative sites. This being the year of Covid, masks and distancing, et al, the artists aren’t actually opening their studios, but will be set up outside to say hello and answer questions about the work. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday; there’s a map and info here.

That other famous rock ‘n’ roll band from Jacksonville, .38 Special, plays a spaced-and-distanced concert Dec. 9 at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Only founding singer, songwriter and guitarist Don Barnes remains from the “classic” iteration of the band, but his presence is key: Barnes wrote and sang “Caught Up in You,” “Hold on Loosely,” “If I’d Been the One” and other hit songs from the catalog.

December’s Second Saturday ArtWalk (on the 12th) will include a new and intriguing installation at thestudio@620; Sheila Cowley has written and produced a short interdisciplinary film, Happy New Year, in collaboration with choreographer Paula Kramer, composer Tom Sivak and other local creatives. Saturday’s pop-up presentation includes an exhibit of work from the three visual artists in the film – Carrie Jadus, Ana Maria Vasquez and Tony Wong Palms. The film will screen all day; the visual art exhibit requires reservations here.

The Dec. 11 ticketed event at the not-yet-open Factory St. Pete, a fundraiser for Keep St. Pete Lit, is sold out. The Factory’s Dec. 12 “first look” festival, an all-day-Saturday outdoor event, is admission-free. There’ll be art on view, live music and a maker’s market, among other things, from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. More on this in the coming days.

The Florida Orchestra’s season of socially-distanced concerts in the Mahaffey Theater (approximately 500 seats available for each performance) includes the evergreen Holiday Pops concert five times between Dec. 11 and 13. “Coffee Concerts” Dec. 16, 17 and 20 consist of holiday-ish music from some of the most towering classical composers. All the info is here.

The “live drive-in concert experience” at freeFall Theatre, A Christmas Carol: In Concert, opens Dec. 11 (just five days after War of the Worlds vacates the parking lot stage). The show runs through Christmas Eve.

And David Middleton, who’s directed a community theater production of A Christmas Carol at St. Petersburg City Theatre since, like, forever, has adapted the story for a new one-act version, with 10 actors performing more than 40 roles. Stefanie Maiya Lehmann directs the show for a properly socially-distanced audience Dec. 11-13. Details here.

Stageworks Theatre and ThinkTank Theatre’s offbeat musical comedy Holiday Festivus Variety Show Spectacular happens Dec. 12 and 13 at Stageworks, on E. Kennedy in Tampa. You can see it live, or stream it, and it’s got a cast including Ned Averil-Snell, Kidany Camilo, Chelsea Hooker, Summer Kiesel and others. Georgia Malloy Guy directs. All info is here.

St. Petersburg Opera Company’s “Pop-up” shows this month (Dec. 13, 18 and 20) will be mobile versions of the company’s beloved Holiday Sparkle. Details are forthcoming; Opera Tampa takes over the Straz Center’s Jaeb Theater Dec. 18-20 for Home For the Holidays.

It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play is on the American Stage calendar for Dec. 18-27. Although the company hasn’t released a lot of information yet, it will most likely be all-streaming, with some live, and some recorded availabilities. Watch this space.

Comedians Tom Cotter, Mitch Fatel, Mark Riccadonna and Aaron Berg will perform Dec. 18 at the Mahaffey Theater.


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