Even if you haven't thawed the Thanksgiving turkey yet, it's not too soon to think about Christmas. The area's popular holiday shows get under way while the fridge is still stuffed with leftovers, and the following weeks are packed with festive offerings.
There's something for everyone, whether you've got money to spend at the theater or you just want to hear some holiday tunes or take a evening stroll along a decorated downtown street.
Here's what this season brings:
Pasco Christmas Glitz
Richey Suncoast Theatre, Nov. 25-27, Dec. 2-4
The Christmas show always includes big laughs and heartwarming songs — this year with a nod to the good deeds inspired by the bad economy. The play is about a girl who organizes a school pageant as a fundraiser, to help people who are behind on their mortgages and schools that need supplies.
"It's all done by one little girl who decides life was too grim with these economic problems we have today, and she says what we need a little glitz in our life," said theater president Charlie Skelton, who wrote the script.
Of course there's a wrinkle in things when a rich doctor agrees to finance the play only if his peculiar daughter gets a musical role. But in the spirit of holiday cheer, of course, all ends well.
Shows are at 8 p.m., except Sundays at 2:30 p.m., at the theater, 6237 Grand Blvd., New Port Richey. Tickets are $17, reserved seating. Box office is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and an hour before each show. Call (727) 842-6777.
A Joyful Noise
Show Palace Dinner Theatre, Nov. 24-Dec. 25
A self-involved pop star finds himself at the pearly gates on Christmas Eve, the victim of some outdoor arena mishap, and learns his earthly deeds won't grant him admission into heaven. But he's given 24 hours to earn his wings. His mission, with the help of St. Genesius, the patron saint of entertainment, is to shape up the worst choir in Detroit: St. Andrew's Church.
Think Glee meets Sister Act at The Bells of St. Mary's.
The show, the fourth installment in the Show Palace's Angel Series, has more than 40 holiday hits plus commentary on current politics and pop culture. "My ad-libs are guaranteed to change each night depending on the news of the day," said Show Palace artistic director Matthew McGee, who wrote the show and plays the wisecracking St. Genesius.
Shows are presented matinees and evenings at the theater, 16128 U.S. 19, Hudson. Dinner and show, $49.50; show only, $38.45, plus tax and tip, for adults, $24.95 and $19.95 for ages 12 and younger. Call (727) 863-7949 in west Pasco; toll-free elsewhere at 1-888-655-7469.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Arts in Motion youth theater production at Eleanor Dempsey Performing Arts Center, Nov. 25-27
This play-about-a-play begins with a new director taking the reins of the annual Christmas pageant. Then some troublemaking kids join the cast — only because they heard there's free candy at Sunday school — and chaos ensues for the remaining children who scramble to learn their new roles.
At the end of this family-friendly comedy, though, "they learn about the true meaning of Christmas," said Arts in Motion publicity chair Brenda Cesa.
The production also includes a musical revue called "Home for the Holidays." Shows are at 7 p.m. Nov. 25; 2 and 7 p.m. Nov. 26; and 7 p.m. Nov. 27 at the performing arts center inside Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School, 13651 Hays Road, Spring Hill. For information, call (352) 588-0277 or visit ArtsInMotionPasco.org.
Every Christmas Story Ever Told
Tarpon Springs Cultural Center, Dec. 8-11
In this fast-paced, ambitious comedy, three actors forgo the usual performance of A Christmas Carol, and instead string together a show with every Christmas story ever told. The play weaves together Christmas traditions from around the world, over the centuries, and somehow works in every carol known to man.
Shows are 8 p.m. Dec. 8-10 and 2 p.m. Dec. 11 at the cultural center, 101 South Pinellas Ave., Tarpon Springs. Tickets $16, $14 for members. Call (727) 942-5605 or visit tarponarts.org.
Two local dance companies will provide productions of Tchaikovsky's classic fairy tale ballet.
America's Ballet School of Tampa presents The Nutcracker at 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 10 at the Center for the Arts at Wesley Chapel, 30651 Wells Road. Tickets are $20. Call (813) 794-8772 or (727) 774-8772.
Expressions, the Dance Company, presents The Nutcracker at 7 p.m. Dec. 16 at the Center for the Arts at River Ridge, 11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey. Tickets are $15 for adults; $12 for children 10 and under and seniors 65 and up. Call (727) 505-6211.
Holiday roller skating extravaganza
Spinnations Skating Center, Dec. 11
The 14th annual holiday show by the Florida Skating Academy includes performances by national champion skaters Eric Hadley and Siobhan Boismier, U.S. silver medalist Alex Poland and junior U.S. silver medalists John Burchfield and Tabatha Clark. Doors open at 1 p.m., show begins at 2 at 8345 Congress St., New Port Richey. Advanced tickets are $10 for adults, $6 for children and can be purchased between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at Spinnations through Dec. 3. For information, call (727) 207-4071.
What in the Dickens Happened to Scrooge
The Bridge Christian Life Center, Dec. 17-18
This comedic satire is based on Charles Dickens' holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, and is presented by Live Oak Theatre Company, a nonprofit division of Youth With a Mission. There will be three showings at the Bridge Christian Life Center, 7279 Pinehurst Drive, Spring Hill. The first performance is at 3 p.m. Dec. 17; doors open at 2 p.m. for a Victorian arts and crafts fair and visits with Santa. The evening showing is at 8 Dec. 17; doors open at 7 p.m. with a dessert bar. The final showing at 3 p.m. Dec. 18 will include a Victorian tea party with a variety of tea biscuits, treats and teas (please bring your own tea cup and saucer).
Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for children 13 and younger; $10 student rush price for students who present their high school or college ID a half-hour before show time. For information or to order tickets, call (352) 593-0027.
Take a stroll
• Symphony in Lights, Saturday through Dec. 31 at the Shops at Wiregrass, 28211 Paseo Drive, Wesley Chapel. This holiday tradition comes with more than 250,000 lights, 2,000 watts of sound and 10 tons of holiday decor. Starts at 5 p.m. daily. A special performance by the Wesley Chapel Wind Ensemble will be at 8 p.m. Dec. 3.
• Magical Night Christmas Parade, 7 p.m. Dec. 2 in downtown Dade City.
• Festival of Lights and Parade, 2 to 9 p.m. Dec. 3 in downtown Zephyrhills. Parade is at 6 p.m.
• Winter Wonderland, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 3 at 1350 East Lake Road, Trinity (corner of Trinity Boulevard and East Lake Road). Children's crafts, a live animal nativity, holiday gifts, vendors, food, music, bounce house, games and more.
• Riverlights Boat Parade, 6:30 p.m. Dec. 3 at Sims Park and Main Street in downtown New Port Richey. Visit nprmainstreet.com.
• Tree Lighting Ceremony and concert, Dec. 4 at Florida Hospital Zephyrhills, 7050 Gall Blvd., Zephyrhills. Tree trimming from noon to 4 p.m.; evening events at 5:30 p.m. feature a performance by the Wesley Chapel Wind Ensemble and fireworks.
• New Port Richey Main Street Holidays, Dec. 9-11 in downtown New Port Richey. Visit nprmainstreet.com.
• Walk through Bethlehem, Dec. 9-11 at Richland Baptist Church, 40443 Stewart Road, Zephyrhills. A guided tour that takes visitors on a journey through a re-creation of first century Bethlehem. Starting each night at 6 p.m.
• Traditions on the Green, 9 a.m. Dec. 10 at the Land O'Lakes Community Center, 5401 Land O'Lakes Blvd. Breakfast with Santa, children's crafts, puppet shows, outdoor holiday concerts by local schools and Saturday Market with vendors and artisans. Canned food donations will be accepted for Metropolitan Ministries.
• Country Christmas Stroll, 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 10 in downtown Dade City. Entertainment on four stages, carolers, horse-drawn wagon rides, children's winter wonderland featuring Santa, snow, pony rides and bounce houses. Stores and restaurants open late.
• Church Street Christmas, 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 21-23 along historic Church Avenue, Dade City. Enjoy decorated homes, life-size Christmas cards, choral singers and more.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Expressions, the Dance Company, is putting on the Dec. 16 production of The Nutcracker at the Center for the Arts at River Ridge. Tickets may be purchased by calling (727) 505-6211. The original version of this article had incorrect information about the name of the dance company and the phone number for buying tickets.