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New Year’s Eve weekend stage shows: Jim Gaffigan, ‘Drag Queen Christmas’

Say hello to 2020 with Moscow Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker,’ comedy shows and more.
Jim Gaffigan will perform at Tampa's Yuengling Center on Dec. 31. [Courtesy of Robyn Von Swank]
Jim Gaffigan will perform at Tampa's Yuengling Center on Dec. 31. [Courtesy of Robyn Von Swank]
Published Dec. 24, 2019

FAMILY FIRST: JIM GAFFIGAN

Here’s hoping Jim Gaffigan is treating his family to a holiday vacay at Disney World. Why else would he headline an arena show in Tampa on New Year’s Eve? The hugely popular comic, actor, author and commentator will usher fans into 2020 with his trademark observations on aging, food and family. That last part has been a huge focus of Gaffigan’s life in recent years, as his wife and collaborator, Jeannie Gaffigan, has battled a brain tumor, putting more of the child-rearing load squarely on dad’s shoulders. The Gaffigans have gone through their battles in public, with Jeannie recounting a lot of it in her recent memoir When Life Gives You Pears. New Year’s Eve will just be another chance for the family to see how far they’ve come together. $39 and up. 7 p.m. Dec. 31. Yuengling Center, 4202 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. (813) 974-3004. yuenglingcenter.com.

NEW YEAR’S EVE: COMEDY COUNTDOWNS

Jim Gaffigan isn’t the only comic counting down to 2020 in Tampa. At the Improv, mononymous stand-up Godfrey, a longtime presence at New York’s Comedy Cellar and actor from shows like Louie and 30 Rock, performs several shows: 8 p.m. Friday, 7:30 and 10 p.m. Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 and 10 p.m. Dec. 31. $17 and up. Improv, 1600 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. (813) 864-4000. improvtampa.com.

Meanwhile, over at Side Splitters, after Dusty Slay headlines Thursday through Sunday, club favorite Happy Cole takes the stage for shows at 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Dec. 31, before returning Jan. 2-4. The New Year’s Eve shows are $20-$30; the others are $10 and up. 12938 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. (813) 960–1197. sidesplitterscomedy.com.

Godfrey will perform at the Tampa Improv from Dec. 27 to 29 and Dec. 31. [Innovative Artists]

WALTZ OFF: SALUTE TO VIENNA

Clearwater is pretty much the Vienna of the Americas, right? Okay, maybe not. But it sounds that way every New Year’s Eve, as Ruth Eckerd Hall transforms into an Austrian concert hall for Salute to Vienna, a symphonic salute to the traditional New Year’s Neujahrskonzert performed at each year’s close. The show features the Strauss Symphony of America performing selections from waltz master Johann Strauss and his family and countrymen, with singers and ballroom and ballet dancers on stage. $35 and up. 8 p.m. Dec. 31. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.

MOSCOW BALLET’S ‘GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER’

Given that Tchaikovsky was Russian, it’s little wonder that Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker, coming to the Mahaffey Theater this weekend, is such a spectacle. It boasts hand-painted trompe l’oeil backdrops, 10-foot puppets, giant Matryoshka dolls and dazzling costumes. While that part is visually stimulating, what people really come for in the fluid dancing, soaring choreography and timeless score. $34.50-$109.50. 7 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 3 p.m. Friday. 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 300-2000. themaffey.com.

The Moscow Ballet, shown here in 2013, will return to St. Petersbug's Mahaffey Theater on Dec. 26 and 27 with "Great Russian Nutcracker." [Moscow Ballet]

HALLELOO: DRAG QUEEN CHRISTMAS

It’s gonna be fierce up in the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts’ Ferguson hall this weekend when RuPaul’s Drag Race all stars bring A Drag Queen Christmas: The Naughty Tour. It’s hosted by Season 11′s Nina West, who recently released a Christmas album. Songs on The West Christmas Ever include Jingle Juice, which features the lyric, “It’s five o’clock on Santa’s Sleigh.” Expect that kind of cheeky humor and witty catchphrases from all the performers, dressed in elaborate holiday costumes, complete with back up dancers. If you need to be reminded, the show is full of adult content. $41.73 and up. 7 p.m. Sunday. 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.

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  11. Broadway, film and TV star Bernadette Peters will perform with the Florida Orchestra at their annual fundraising gala Feb. 1 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg.
  12. Katrina Stevenson stars as Puck in Jobsite Theater's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in Tampa.
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