December in the Arts • St Pete Catalyst
As the final month of 2021 approaches, the arts calendar heats up for a while – then, in mid-December, things cool as holiday week approaches (hopefully temperatures will follow a similar path. ).
Before dividing the four and a half weeks of the month, artistic event by artistic event, let’s highlight a few things that last more than a day at this precise moment. For the family:
St. Pete’s Pier is a fake winter wonderland until January 17th. Winter beach is centered on a real, very large outdoor rink (4000 square feet) (how do they do that?) there is a charge for skating, but everything else is free. Find out more here.
And Enchant Christmas took over Tropicana Field until January 2. You can also go ice skating here or take a stroll through the illuminated 90,000 square foot maze, complete with a 100 foot tall Christmas tree and a 25 foot diameter “smoke bubble tree”. The opaque dome of the Trop has been blackened for the occasion. Details here.
There’s ice skating, vacation sights, sounds and more at Curtis Hixon Park in downtown Tampa (on the river, behind the Straz Center and the Public Library). It’s called Tampa Winter Village, and it’s sponsored by the Tampa Bay Lightning organization. Until January 2. All information is here.
Then you have the interactive Festival of lights (and Santa’s Village) at Hillsborough County Fairgrounds, which you can read here.
One for Joe
Founder of Suncoast Surf Shop Joe Nuzzo, died in September at the age of 78, threw the biggest, loudest and busiest Christmas parties. This year, the man with a million friends is toast and celebrated by just about everyone, with a celebration of life on December 14 at the Treasure Island Yacht Club.
This five-hour poolside party is open to the public (entry is an unwrapped toy, or $ 5) and the musical entertainment is a prime sample of some of Nuzzo’s closest friends, including the Crazy beach group (with Pete Merrigan and TC Carr), Tom Gribbin and the Saltwater Cowboys (with TC Carr and Dennis Wallace) and Dennis Wallace and Freeforallus, plus Kirk Adams, Gale Trippsmith and thousands of guests). Cash bar and food bar during the event from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The late John Prine, a part-time resident of Gulfport, was extremely close to Nuzzo. Tommy Pray – John’s Son – performs two nights later (December 16) at the Hideaway Cafe.
Rock of Jannus
Some good things to Jannus Live in December. How about Dark Star Orchestra (bringing back the dead from the dead since 1991) on December 5, Wailers on December 16, Circle Jerks on December 17, legendary DJ Paul Oakenfold on December 18, Lettuce on December 30 and JJ Gray & Mofro December 31, New Years Eve. Yes my boy.
In the hallways
It’s starting to look like Christmas, Hanukkah and the rest Ruth Eckerd Room and the Capitole Theater, with A Johnny Mathis Christmas on December 3, A Peter White Christmas on December 7, Bowser’s Holiday Party on December 11 and Rockapella Christmas on December 18.
Non-holiday shows (remember, all are subject to last minute changes – hey, it happens) include the live edit of Who owns the line anyway (Dec 2), Buddy – The Story of Buddy Holly (December 3), actor Kevin James (December 4), Friends The Musical Parody (December 5), The Outlaws (December 10 and 11), Temptations and Four Tops (December 10), Ricky Skaggs (December 12), Sarah Brightman (December 15), David Foster (December 17), Hello Vienna (at Ruth Eckerd’s) and comedian Anthony Rodia (Capitol), both on New Year’s Eve.
Speaking of comedy, the man with the mouth, the eternally acerbic by Lewis Black, has an appointment at Mahaffey Theater December 17. Other Mahaffey shows worth noting include Champions of Magic (December 3), Martina McBride’s Christmas show (December 5) and that of British tenor Jonathan Antone ChristmasLand Live (December 23).
Let’s not forget that Jimmy Buffett has a date this weekend (December 3) at Arena Amalie.
Annual December performance of the St. Petersburg Opera Company, the feast Holiday burst, is presented on December 11 and 12 (at 3 p.m.) at Cage Brewing, on December 16 and 18 (8 p.m.) at Opera Central, and once again – with feeling, of course – on December 19 (at 3 p.m.) in North Parc Straub.
Florida Orchestra Holiday pops concerts, conducted by Bob Bernhardt, are all scheduled for the Straz Center (8 p.m. on December 10), the Mahaffey (2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on December 11) and Ruth Eckerd Hall (2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on December 12) . These are the orchestra’s best-selling events year after year.
Music Director Michael Francis is back on the podium for the annual performances of Handel’s Messiah, with the Tampa Bay Master Chorale, at the Straz Center on December 17th, at the Mahaffey on December 18th and at Ruth Eckerd Hall on December 19th. Ruth Eckerd’s concert is a morning; the others are evening shows.
Holiday brass is a TFO concert taking place on December 18 at the Palladium Theater, with Todd Craven conducting the brass and percussion sections on holiday favorites (It’s a morning, which means musicians have plenty of time to join the full group for the evening’s Messiah at the Mahaffey).
TFO’s first violin Jeffrey Multer and his Mile-High Trio (piano, cello and violin) are at the Palladium on December 8, for a music program by Shubert and Arensky. It’s not a vacation program per se, but the other Palladium events are: Guitarist Nate Najar’s Annual Event Jazz Holidays (December 10) with an all-star combo featuring singer Daniela Soledade and Bay Area blues harp master TC Carr with his group Bolts of Blue (December 17).
Several of our professional theater companies are associated with theatrical productions: there is the completely original musical FreeFall The night before (December 3-24), the American stage production of Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol (December 8-January 2). Non-holiday shows are The donor and The curious incident of the dog in the nighte (in rotation from the Tampa Repertory Theater, ThinkTank and Stageworks), and two works by St. Pete playwright William Leavengood at Studio Grand Central – Gulfport Sister-Mothers (Dec 2012) and The azure sky in Oz (December 16-19).
We must not forget, of course, the reassembly of Shocked stone to Jobsite, which ends its short rerun with the Saturday night show. It’s at the Jaeb Theater, which is part of the David A. Straz Center in Tampa. There is a road company of VSats at Morsani Hall (in the same complex) from December 7 to 12.
Also at Straz: Menopause the musical (3-5 dec.), Twas A Girls Night Before Christmas: The Musical (10-12 Dec.) And Million Dollar Quartet Christmas (December 22).
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