Crossing the Bay, a new play from the team that wrote a musical about St. Petersburg drugstore magnate Doc Webb, premiered Thursday and runs for three weeks. The musical is an adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, but set in 19th century Tampa and St. Petersburg. It stars Jennie Eisenhower, granddaughter of Richard Nixon and great-granddaughter of Dwight Eisenhower. The play is at the Janet Root Theatre at Shorecrest Preparatory School, 5101 First St. N, St. Petersburg, through Jan. 23. It then moves across the bay to Falk Theatre at the University of Tampa Jan. 25 through Jan. 30. $27-$30. (727) 490-7367 or www.liveartspen.com. For other new shows hitting area stages, see the Weekend Calendar on Page 3E.
PATRICK WILSON HEADS BENEFIT
Hometown star Patrick Wilson (most recently of the Phantom of the Opera movie) takes the stage with his family to raise money for hurricane victims on Monday. Wilson will perform hits from The Full Monty and Oklahoma!; he was nominated for a Tony Award for his roles in both shows. The benefit starts at 8 p.m. Monday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater. $20-$40. (727) 791-7400.
COMIC RESHAPES HIS MATERIAL
Ralphie May, who gained fame on TV's Last Comic Standing, often punctuates his act with fat-guy jokes, but his shtick may be changing. The 480-pound comic just had gastric bypass surgery, and his next TV gig is as a contestant on Celebrity Fit Club, premiering Sunday on VH1. May performs at 8 and 10:30 p.m. today-Saturday and 7 and 9:30 p.m. Sunday at the Improv Comedy Theater, 1600 E Eighth Ave., Tampa. $16-$20. RSVP (813) 864-4000.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN . . .
The ringmaster, a former Army captain, makes his debut. The animal trainer backflips over a Bengal tiger. Married daredevils are shot from a double-barreled cannon. It's all part of the action as the newest edition of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus debuts here before hitting the road for a two-year tour of the country. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. today; 11:30 a.m., 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday at the St. Pete Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. (813) 301-2500 or www.ringling.com. $12-$60.
CURES FOR THE BLUES
For boogie-woogie blues, check out Marcia Ball at 8 p.m. Friday at Skipper's Smokehouse in Tampa. $20. (813) 977-6474. Or for a little Blue Velvet, Bobby Vinton plays Clearwater's Ruth Eckerd Hall at 2 p.m. Sunday. $30-$50. (727) 791-7400.
RACHMANINOFF: KEYS TO THE HEART
Rachmaninoff's piano works are sometimes dismissed as too romantic, kitschy even, but Florida Orchestra music director Stefan Sanderling wants to know what's wrong with honest romance and sentiment. He conducts the orchestra Saturday and Sunday in the first of a three-part Rachmaninoff concert series, continuing through January. The guest pianist this weekend is Lilya Zilberstein, who, like Rachmaninoff, is from Russia. The concerts are at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. $15.50-$50.50. (813) 286-2403 or toll-free 1-800-662-7286; www.floridaorchestra.org.
For more weekend highlights, see PAGE 3E or go to WWW.SPTIMES.COM/CALENDAR.
_ WILMA NORTON, Times staff writer