Performing arts centers and theaters are useful places during the holidays because they have shows that are ideal for family get-togethers (or non-family, in the case of some shows). Here are some good choices for the time between now and New Year's.
John Fleming, Times performing arts critic
Ruth Eckerd Hall
Avenue Q is one of the freshest musicals to come down the pike in a long time. Inspired by Sesame Street, it is known for its bawdy puppets, and they are a blast, but its real charm comes from the witty score. Where else can you hear such clever songs as Schadenfreude, the German word that means happiness at the misfortune of others, or a ballad in praise of Internet porn?
if you go: 3 and 8 p.m. Fri., 2 and 8 p.m. Sat., 2 and 7 p.m. Sun. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $37-$57. (727) 791-7400; rutheckerdhall.com.
The Flying Karamazov Brothers
Largo Cultural Center
The Flying Karamazov Brothers are jugglers, comedians and musicians who aren't actually brothers. Deadheads will be familiar with their percussion skit during a famous filmed Grateful Dead concert from 1981. They've also appeared in an episode of Seinfeld and the movie The Jewel of the Nile. Nowadays, the vaudeville foursome has added computer technology to the act. Their latest show is 4Play.
if you go: 2 and 8 p.m. Sat. Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Drive. Advance tickets, $35 VIP, $30. Day of show, $35, $20 student. (727) 587-6793; fkb.com.
Defending the Caveman
Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center
Defending the Caveman is designed for women to take their theaterphobic husbands or boyfriends to. Written and originally performed by Rob Becker, it tracks the differences between men and women from a guy's point of view. Exhibit A: How do men and women differ when it comes to refilling a bowl of potato chips and dip? Michael Osch stars as the caveman.
If you go: 7:30 p.m. Fri., 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sat., 4 p.m. Sun. Ferguson Hall at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. From $39.50. (813) 229-7827; tbpac.org.
The SantaLand Diaries
Had enough holiday cheer? The SantaLand Diaries is the perfect antidote, a stage adaptation of David Sedaris' mordant take on the season. Brian Shea is Crumpet in the one-man show about an actor who dreams of being in a soap opera but winds up as a Christmas elf at Macy's.
If you go: 10:30 p.m. today-Sat., 7 p.m. Sun. American Stage, 211 Third St. S, St. Petersburg. Pay-what-you-can, all performances. (727) 823-7529; americanstage.org.
Van Wezel Hall
Oliver!, Lionel Bart's musical based on Dickens' Oliver Twist, has some of theater's greatest songs: Consider Yourself, Where Is Love?, Food, Glorious Food, It's a Fine Life. Plus, the cast is loaded with kids to play Fagin's crew of pickpockets.
If you go: Bring a canned food item to the box office when purchasing a ticket and get $5 off. 7:30 p.m. Mon., 2 and 7:30 p.m. Tue. Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. $45-$60. Toll-free 1-800-826-9303; vanwezel.org.