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From ballet to wrestling: January in entertainment and the arts

Bill DeYoung



The Straz Center welcomes Dance Theatre of Harlem Jan. 23. Photo: Theik Smith.

We’re so rarely visited by top-drawer touring dance artists here in the bay area, the appearance of one of the most lauded such groups in the country is reason enough for a new month – and a new year – celebration.

Dance Theatre of Harlem will perform Jan. 23 at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. The Morsani Hall concert begins at 7:30 p.m.

Founded in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell, the first African-American principal dancer in a major ballet company (New York City Ballet), Dance Theatre of Harlem is today a multi-ethnic 18-member company that performs classics, works from George Balanchine and by present day artistic director Robert Garland, and contemporary, cutting-edge dance.

DTH is also a major presence in New York because of its training school and its arts education and community engagement program, Dancing Through Barriers.

Find tickets for Dance Theatre of Harlem here.

The State Ballet Theatre of Ukraine returns for its annual visit to St. Pete’s Mahaffey Theater Jan. 5 (that’s this Friday) with the two-act, family-friendly ballet Cinderella, with music by Prokofiev.

Find tickets for the production here.

“Ringling” heads to Amalie Arena Jan. 5-7, Photo: Feld Entertainment.

The 21st century version of what was known, for 150 years, as the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, sets down at Tampa’s Amalie Arena Jan. 5 through 7. There are no animals in the Ringling show, which is a totally re-imagined, high-tech production consisting of acrobatics, aerial stunts and trapeze work, high-flying BMX bike riders, music, comedy and more. It is NOT, producers stress, a circus. Find out all about Ringling in this Catalyst story, and buy tickets here.

Month’s end will bring another long-popular form of entertainment to our shores. From WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), the Royal Rumble, broadcast internationally as pay-per-view,  happens at Tropicana Field Saturday, Jan. 27.

Retired professional wrestler The Undertaker (a.k.a. Mark Calaway) will appear at the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater Sunday, Jan. 28, telling stories and taking questions from the audience. Tickets for that event are here.

Monday, Jan. 29 brings the “other” main event – WWE Monday Night RAW – to Amalie Arena. Big names in WWE-land including Cody Rhodes, Seth Freakin Rollins, Sami Zayn, Becky Lynch and Drew McEntyre are among the wrestlers confirmed for Monday Night Raw, which will be televised live on the USA Network.

RAW tickets are here.

Here are more highlights for the arts, entertainment and in between for the month of January:

Elvis Costello returns to Ruth Eckerd Hall Jan. 11. Photo: Shore Fire Media.


Styx and .38 Special share the bill Jan. 5 (this Friday) at The Sound, Clearwater’s Coachman Park amphitheater. Each of these bands still includes one of its original lead singers.

Rise Up St. Pete returns to the St. Pete Pier Jan. 6 (this Saturday) with a hip hop extravaganza including the duo Atmosphere (a.k.a. Slug and Ant) along with Brother Ali, RJD2 and others. Doors at 5 p.m. Piano player, songwriter and record-maker Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness is headed Rise Up way Jan. 20.

Elvis Costello is back Jan. 11 at Ruth Eckerd Hall, with the Impostors.

Tommy Stinson, guitarist for the legendary Minneapolis band the Replacements, turns up Jan. 11 for a show at the St. Pete Shuffleboard Club.

Singer/songwriter Karla Bonoff will perform Jan. 12 at the Ruth Eckerd Hall’s Murray Theatre.

Singer/songwriter and wildly eccentric performer Nellie McKay makes a return visit to the Palladium Theater Jan. 12.

Back on the road after a nasty motorcycle crash, followed by a car fire, Jay Leno seems to be living proof that – as Readers Digest always insisted – laughter is the best medicine. The former Tonight Show host takes the stage Jan. 13 at Ruth Eckerd Hall.

Jan. 13 at the Capitol Theatre: Canadian guitar icon Jesse Cook.

Rock ‘n’ roll’s Tesla has two nights, Jan. 16 and 17, at the Seminole Hard Rock Event Center.

Folk legend Judy Collins returns to the Capitol Theatre Jan. 18.

Singer-songwriter Bonnie “Prince” Billy (a.k.a. Will Oldham) visits the Palladium Theater’s Side Door Café Jan. 19.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Kansas (original members: 2, the drummer and the guitarist) is at Ruth Eckerd Hall Jan. 20.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson will speak Jan. 25 at the Straz Center’s Morsani Hall.

And another returning stage hero: That deftly crooning clown, Puddles Pity Party, back at the Capitol Theatre Jan. 26.

Jazz guitar virtuoso Al DiMeola makes one of his periodic Capitol Theatre stops Jan. 27.


Classical music

The Florida Orchestra concerts this month: If you’ve recently watched Maestro, the Leonard Bernstein biopic, TFO has the show for you this weekend (Jan. 6, Mahaffey Theater; Jan. 7, Ruth Eckerd Hall). The program includes Bernstein’s On the Waterfront Symphonic Suite, along with Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 and Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres) by Missy Mazzoli.

The Jan. 13 and 14 program, Sci-Fi Spectacular, includes music from the Star Wars universe and more; Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 anchors the Jan. 19/20 concerts; the month closes out with an all-out celebration of George Gershwin’s birthday.

Some concerts also take place in Morsani Hall, at the Straz Center.

The Palladium Chamber Players return Jan. 17 with a program of Schumann and Brahms (that’s the Palladium Theater).

The latest craze in stage shows, screening a beloved movie while a live orchestra performs the score along with it, takes new form Jan. 20 at Morsani Hall in the Straz Center. The film at the center of this one is Tim Burton’s 1989 actioner Batman, with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. The music is by longtime Burton collaborator Danny Elfman. But will Prince’s “Batdance” make an appearance?

In “Batman” (1989). Michael Keaton, left, and Jack Nicholson. Photo: Warner Bros.

On theater stages

Pinellas County playwrights William Leavengood and Constantine Grame have collaborated on Gaspar! The Musical, Jan. 4-7 at the Palladium Theater.

The Straz Center’s Broadway-tour series opens 2024 with Stephen Sondheim’s Company Jan 9-14, in Morsani Hall.

Jobsite Theatre breaks the seal on the new year with Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night Jan. 17-Feb. 11 in the Straz Center’s Jaeb Theatre. As is Jobsite’s wont, it’s an adaptation of the Bard’s classic comedy, with original music.


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