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Weekend arts forecast: That familiar holiday feeling

Bill DeYoung



Onstage at freeFall: "Miracle on 34th Street - A Live Musical Radio Play." Photo: Joseph Michael Kenneth.

Friday will be the 1st of December, and even though there’s probably still some leftover turkey and pie in the refrigerator, Thanksgiving has most certainly come and gone. December is when the major holiday shows – even some with the formerly un-PC word “Christmas” in the title – come out to play. And it’s joy to the world time.

At Stageworks: “The Great Christmas Cookie Bake-Off!” Photo: Stage Photography of Tampa.

This weekend, for example, brings the musical comedy The Great Christmas Cookie Bake-Off! to Stageworks Theatre. Opening Friday, Rick Hip-Flores’ story pits eight young chefs battling it out for a major pastry prize, to be awarded by “celebrity judges.”

The young cookie creators are played by theater students from Tampa’s Blake, Plant and Robinson high schools. It’s directed by Landon Green. Find tickets and other details here.

In St. Pete, freeFall Theatre in beginning its second weekend of Miracle on 34th Street – A Live Radio Musical, directed by Matthew McGee. It’s the well-worn tale of a certain “Kris Kringle” and his relationships with New York’s largest department stores … and the U.S. Post Office … with songs and stuff.

Find tickets and other details here.

Atlanta-based Destination Theatre is at thestudio@620 Saturday and Sunday (two performances daily) with The Greatest Christmas Story Ever Told by Two People, or … A Christmas Carol?, a two-person, improv-infused comedy adaptation of Dickens. Here’s our interview with Destination founder Corey Phelps, a former St. Pete guy.

The Florida Orchestra plays the James Horner score, live-to-screen, for Ron Howard’s 2000 live-action take on Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the one with Jim Carrey) Saturday at the Mahaffey Theater. Shows are at 2 and 7:30 p.m., with Joshua Gersen conducting as the movie projects in HD. Tickets are here.

The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay has a new chamber ensemble, MC Voices, and it debuts this weekend in collaboration with St. Pete Baroque – performing on period instruments – with music by Vivaldi, Bach, Corelli and other Baroque composers. It’s called Candlelight Baroque, and the MC is describing it as “festive,” so that works as a potential holiday show. Shows are 7 p.m. Friday at Hyde Park UMC in Tampa, and Saturday at 7 at The Cathedral Church of St. Peter in St. Pete. Find tickets here.

Watch this space Saturday for The Month of December in the Arts. There’ll be lots of holiday stuff in there, you can be sure.

Chelsea Cutler performs at The Pier as part of a “Rise Up St. Pete” show Friday. Publicity photo.

As for this weekend’s non-holiday programming …

American Stage’s drama acts of faith (read about it here) is in its second weekend.

At the Straz Center in Tampa, a Broadway touring company of the musical Funny Girl is in Morsani Hall nightly through Sunday (tickets); The Choir of Man continues at the Jaeb Theatre (tickets).

Tonight at the Seminole Hard Rock Event Center: Colombian pop vocalist Fonseca, winner of seven Latin Grammy Awards. At press time, this show was close to sold out. Tickets.

Gotta be Randy Rainbow. Friday at the Mahaffey Theater. Publicity photo.

That wacky musical parodist Randy Rainbow is back in town Friday, for a Mahaffey Theater concert. Tickets.

Direct from TV, the touring improv comedy show Whose Live Anyway? returns to the Capitol Theatre Friday. Tickets.

Magician/comedian Michael Carbanero has a date at Ruth Eckerd Hall Saturday. We spoke with him this week.

The Black Keys, along with Bleachers, Lovejoy and others play The Sound Amphitheatre Sunday. The 97X Next Big Thing concert starts at 12:30 p.m. Tickets.

Sunday at the Capitol Theatre, legendary rock vocalist Ann Wilson and her band Tripsitter perform at the Capitol Theatre. Tickets.

Back in the 1970s (around the same time Ann Wilson’s band Heart was charting for the very first time), jazz piano legend Dave Brubeck toured the world with his sons Dan (drums) and Chris (bass). Dave took five a long time ago, of course, but his sons are still playing – with another pianist, and a guitar player – as The Brubeck Brothers Quartet. The group is onstage at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Central Park Performing Arts Center in Largo. Tickets.

St. Petersburg’s own Helios Jazz Orchestra performs, with vocalist Fred Johnson, Friday at 7:30 p.m. on the outdoor stage at the Warehouse Arts District’s ArtsXchange. The ticket price includes a 6 p.m. roundtable discussion on food insecurity in South St. Pete. Find tickets here.

The Rise Up St. Pete concert series continues this weekend, on Spa Beach at the St. Pete Pier. Friday’s concert features dancepop artist Lauv and singer/songwriter Chelsea Cutler. On Saturday, the Pier performer is bizarro pop, dance and hip hop singer/songwriter Oliver Tree. Find all tickets here.

Jobsite Theater celebrates its 25th anniversary with a big fundraising bash and concert, Jobsite Rocks!, Sunday at New World Tampa Brewery. Info and tickets are here.

Gulfport’s 7th annual ArtJones Open Studio Tour is Saturday (10 a.m.-5 p.m.) and Sunday (11 a.m.-4 p.m.), with 28 professional artists at 11 stops. Gulfport’s art scene continues to expand: Of the participating artists, eight are making their ArtJones debut. Three of those are “emerging artists,” sponsored for the event by established Gulfport creators. Find details, and the tour map, here.

The Weekend Arts Forecast appears every Thursday in the Catalyst

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