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This weekend on Tampa Bay stages: ‘Aladdin,’ Handel’s Messiah

Plus, Lindsey Stirling, Fortune Feimster, ‘The Family Blessing’ and more.


Disney sure knows how to wring a dollar out of the same property over and over again. Aladdin was a box-office blockbuster in 1992, and its soundtrack was a Grammy-winning sensation. And the 2014 stage adaptation is already one of the 10 highest-grossing Broadway musicals of all time. (Look out, Lion King!) And like most things Disney does, the quality was also pretty high, with toe-tapping numbers like A Friend Like Me and Prince Ali getting fans dancing in their seats, and the show’s original Genie, James Monroe Inglehart, taking home a Tony. This year’s live-action film remake with Will Smith? Not as widely beloved, but it did make a hot billion worldwide. So now’s a pretty good time to catch the first live tour of the Broadway show, about the street urchin who falls for a princess, and the carpet-surfin’ misadventures that follow. For the parents and grandparents out there, the Tampa production will run for more than two weeks (Thursday to Jan. 5) over winter break and is suitable for ages 6 and up, running 2 ½ hours with intermission. $29 and up. David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 229-7827. For showtimes, visit


As a Mormon who attended Brigham Young University, of course Lindsey Stirling grew up watching the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s annual Christmas concert. “It’s an iconic, sit-around-with-your-family thing,” she said by phone recently. “I listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and I feel something. You can’t help but feel it. I definitely try to create that when people come to my shows.” The electropop violinist’s shows tend to be a lot livelier, but the connection makes sense. Stirling’s on her third holiday tour in support of her 2018 album Warmer in the Winter, which puts her distinct classical-pop spin on hymns and traditionals (like the glitchy, post-apocalyptic I Wander as I Wonder), pop standards (a twinkly take on Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah), novelty songs (an unexpectedly tender Santa Baby) and originals (the delightful Western swing of the title track). “I want them to walk away feeling something, because there’s no lyrics for most of the songs,” Stirling said of her fans. “So I just have to work with emotion.” $48.25 and up. 8 p.m. Friday. 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. (727) 791-7400.

Lindsey Stirling will bring her holiday tour to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Dec. 20. [ Courtesy of Cara Robbins ]


Related: A new anthem: Florida Orchestra’s Michael Francis becomes American citizen

Florida Orchestra music director Michael Francis is going home for the holidays. The orchestra’s weekend performances of Handel’s Messiah kick off at his church, Idlewild Baptist in Lutz, in what will be the British conductor’s first time at the podium since becoming an American citizen this month. It’ll be quite a hearty homecoming, with the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay joining the orchestra for a pumped-up performance of the great oratorio, which has become an all-time holiday staple. 8 p.m. Thursday at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, 8 p.m. Friday at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, 5 p.m. Saturday at Indian Rocks Baptist Church in Largo. $18 and up. (727) 892-3337.

Conductor Michael Francis leads the Florida Orchestra during a dress rehearsal at Tampa's Straz Center on Sept. 27. [ MONICA HERNDON | Times ]


It’s all about comedian Fortune Feimster lately. She’s confirmed to appear in Showtime’s anticipated reboot, L Word: Generation Q,; her first Netflix hourlong special, Sweet and Salty, drops on Jan. 21; and she’s currently in production co-starring with Jennifer Garner in the movie Yes Day for that streaming platform. And she and co-host Tom Papa recently started Sirius XM’s first live radio show, What a Joke, on the Netflix Is a Joke channel. So it’s kind of a big deal that she has time to appear at the Improv this weekend. $25. 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, 7:30 and 10 p.m. Saturday. 1600 E Eighth Ave., Tampa. (813) 864-4000.


Jai Hinson’s community production loosely based on The Nutcracker brings hundreds of young Tampa Bay dancers to the Mahaffey Theater this weekend, along with special guest artist Vivica A. Fox. The Family Blessing is based around a young girl named Aliyah, her dreams and her grandmother Zola’s memories that combine to spin a yarn about the true meaning of family. But the spectacle will be the dancing, in a variety of styles including ballet, hip-hop, African and Brazilian. $23-$45. 2:30 p.m. Saturday. 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 308-5100.


The holidays just wouldn’t be the same without a performance by Scott and Patti (Scott Daniel and Matthew McGee). The “mother-son duo” will serve up tons of holiday nostalgia, wit and sass with songs, dancing, comedy and special guests in their show Home for the Holidays at American Stage. They remind you to “don your gay apparel” and come enjoy the show. $25-$30. 7 p.m. Monday-Tuesday. 163 Third St. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 823-7529.