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Your weekend arts forecast: A holiday cabaret with ‘Marie’ and ‘Rosetta’

Bill DeYoung



Onstage in "Marie and Rosetta," Jan. 2020: Illeana Kervin, left, and Hillary Lewis. Photo: Thee Photo Ninja.

Marie and Rosetta, together again at last.

Singer/actresses Illeana Kirwin and Hillary Lewis played gospel music legends Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Marie Knight, respectively, in the last show produced by freeFall Theatre before the pandemic brought everybody’s curtain down in the spring of 2020.

Tonight, the two stars of Marie and Rosetta – who, it turned out, live 45 minutes from one another in Central Texas return to the freeFall stage for a one-time-only musical program called When You Believe.

“It’s basically a mix of Christmas and inspirational songs,” explains Lewis, who’s been in town for a few weeks – she’s in the cast of the current freeFall show, The Night Before.

“Holiday songs that are Illeana’s favorites, and my favorites. We put together this cabaret that’s filled with little stories from our lives, about the holidays and what it means to us to be together with family.”

Lewis will share piano-playing duties with her Night Before co-star, Michael Raabe. “It’ll be a really fun, inspirational, high-energy night of music,” she says.

The Night Before, continuing through Dec. 24, is a warm-and-fuzzy, song-filled Christmas show – with a wickedly comedic edge. “Even our first read-through, we were crying laughing, it was so funny,” Lewis says. “And then getting it up on its feet … we’re having a blast.”

Tickets for When You Believe

Tickets for The Night Before

Katharine McPhee

Foster and McPhee

Record producer, composer and pianist David Foster is playing a Friday concert at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Foster’s not a singer – he has a trio of soloists handling those duties on this tour. Listed as “special guest” is Foster’s wife, singer, dancer and actress Katharine McPhee, of TV’s American Idol, Smash and Scorpion. Tickets and additional details.


Gettin’ all Christmassy

A couple of our local top-notch musicians have special holiday shows this weekend: A Blues Christmas (Friday at the Palladium) puts the spotlight on wailing harmonicat T.C. Carr, joined onstage by Kid Royal, Gayle Trippsmith, Josh Nelms, Vinnie Seplesky and Joey Interrante. Tickets.

Saturday brings Christmas Around the World to thestudio@620. This is a multi-lingual jazz celebration with Orilla (singer Ona Kirei and bassist Alejandro Arenas), featuring Christmas (and winter) songs from different parts of the world: Spain (in Spanish, Catalan, and Euskera), Colombia, Venezuela, Germany, and even one from Egypt (in Arabic). Tickets.

And still more

It’s Handel’s Messiah weekend, as it must be every year. Combining Michael Francis and The Florida Orchestra with the mighty Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, this holiday tradition continues Friday, 8 p.m. at the Straz Center, Saturday 8 p.m. at the Mahaffey Theater, and at 2 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall. All tickets are here.

At Studio Grand Central: actress Amanda Ladd is doing four performances of St. Pete playwright Bill Leavengood’s The Azure Sky in Oz this weekend. See today’s story for details.

Old Yeller, aka comedian Lewis Black, has a Friday evening show at the Mahaffey. Here’s our interview with Mr. Black from earlier this week.

St. Petersburg Opera Company’s alternately warm, wintery and slightly wacky Holiday Sparkle continues Thursday and Saturday (8 p.m. both days) at Opera Central, and at North Straub Park Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets.

The Florida Orchestra’s brass and percussion sections will be in full holiday spirits Saturday, for the Holiday Brass show (2 p.m.) at the Palladium Theater. Tickets.

The sensory overload, arena-filling rock-band powerhouse Trans-Siberian Orchestra is back with its annual December spectacular, Christmas Eve and Other Stories, Sunday (shows at 3 and 7:30 p.m.) at Amalie Arena. Tickets.

Also at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Canadian comic Kim McVicar is taping a TV special in the smaller Murray Theatre Saturday. Info and tickets.

Please add us to your mailing list – send all press releases and event info to bill@stpetecatalyst.com.








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