BALANCING ACT: PEKING ACROBATS
These acrobats juggle, soar on a trapeze, perform impossible balancing acts and amaze with color and costumes. Peking Dreams: National Circus and Acrobats from the People's Republic of China, coming Saturday to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, has won more than 20 gold and silver medals and other awards at international circus festivals. The group is big on pageantry, China's rich history and those death-defying stunts. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Ferguson Hall, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $35-$45. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.
YOU CAN FLY: PETER AND THE STARCATCHER
A bestselling novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, which turned into the top Tony winner in 2012 (five awards), is now a whimsical holiday treat at Freefall Theatre. J.M. Barrie's stage play, Peter Pan, appeared in 1904. Now, a lingering question — just how was it that this boy never grew up? — has been answered. Peter and the Starcatcher, one of the New York Times' top 10 shows of 2012, goes to great lengths to celebrate the child in us, with a dozen actors playing more than 100 characters. Eric Davis, Freefall's artistic director, directs. Peter and the Starcatcher runs Saturday through Dec. 24. Additional performances are at 7 p.m. Dec. 13 and Dec. 20. 6099 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $33-$48. (727) 498-5205. freefalltheatre.com.
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT: I AM PRODIGY
An arts program for at-risk children and teenagers couples its 15th birthday celebration with the opening of a brand new pavilion this afternoon. The I Am Prodigy Music Festival features guest musicians, plus performances from FS 88 Drum Line and Step Team of Prodigy Boys and Girls Club Brandon. The event is sponsored by the University Area Community Development Corp., which among other services provides instruction and space for the performing arts. The festival runs from 4 to 6 p.m. today at the University Area Pavilion, 14013 N 22nd St., Tampa. Free. (813) 558-5212. uacdc.org.
LOCAL TALENT: LARRY ALEXANDER
Noted actor Larry Alexander is known for his range, but he's taking it to new levels playing all of the characters in Stageworks Theatre's This Wonderful Life, playwright Steve Murray's take on the Jimmy Stewart movie, It's a Wonderful Life.
"The trick of it is finding different positions, subtleties to make it work as one character of another," Alexander said. "It might be a posture or turning of the head. It's all about focus and body positions." Karla Hartley, Stageworks' producing artistic director, directs the show. This Wonderful Life runs Friday through Dec. 20 at Stageworks Theatre, 1120 E Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. $30 (opening night $40). (813) 374-2416. stageworkstheatre.org.
HOLIDAY CLASSIC: MESSIAH
It's a stalwart celebratory concerto, sure to make countless appearances around Christmas or Easter. Yet the Florida Orchestra has not performed the entire Handel's Messiah with the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay since 2001. See it at 8 p.m. Friday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, 8 p.m. Saturday at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. $15-$45. (727) 892-3337. floridaorchestra.org.
THIS AND THAT: JOBSITE VARIETY SHOW
Jobsite Theater, the resident theater at the Straz Center, is holding its low-key version of a fundraiser Saturday. "Jobsite Rocks! Home for the Holidays: A Variety Show" promises music, improv, standup comedy and storytelling. The event could still use a raffle item or two. Contact [email protected] 8 p.m. Saturday (doors open at 7), New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Tampa. $5 minimum donation. (813) 229-7827. jobsitetheater.org.