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Tampa Bay stage events this week: Mike Epps, Rob Schneider, ‘Carmen’

Plus, Rick Steves and Eric D’Alessandro appear in Tampa, the Florida Orchestra does James Bond music and ‘Morningside’ opens at Stageworks.
Catherine Daniel will star in Opera Tampa's production of "Carmen" at the Straz Center this weekend. [Courtesy of the Straz Center]
Catherine Daniel will star in Opera Tampa's production of "Carmen" at the Straz Center this weekend. [Courtesy of the Straz Center]


For its 25th season, Opera Tampa is leaning into crowd-pleasers, including The Pirates of Penzance and Aida in the spring. But first it’s Bizet’s Carmen, one of the best-loved and most-performed operas of all time. The story of free-spirited siren Carmen and the men vying for her affections is famous for arias that even non-opera fans can hum, such as Habanera and the Toreador Song, and it hasn’t been performed by Opera Tampa since 2014. $95.50 and up. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N W.C. MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 229-7827.


When asked in an interview what it was like playing opposite Eddie Murphy in the recent film Dolemite is My Name, Mike Epps said, “It was a party, man.” Who’s willing to bet that touring on his Fabulously Funny Comedy Festival feels like a party, too? It comes to Tampa this weekend, with fellow laugh riots Sommore, Gary Owen and Lavell Crawford. $59 and up. 8 p.m. Friday. Yuengling Center, 12499 USF Bull Run Drive, Tampa. (800) 745-3000.


The last time Rob Schneider came to Tampa, he was opening for his pal Adam Sandler at Amalie Arena. Now the Sandman’s off winning raves for his movie Uncut Gems, and Schneider’s back in clubs. No disrespect, of course. The man has also acted in a number of non-Sandler projects, his daughter Elle King is a huge music star, and you might even still hear the Richmeister in your head when you’re makin’ copies at the office. Eventually he’ll pop back up in another Sandler movie, but for now, you can catch him up close and personal at the Imrpov. $30 and up. 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Improv, 1600 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. (813) 864-4000.


The name is Francis. Michael Francis. And this weekend, the Florida Orchestra’s music director will slip on a tuxedo and embrace his British roots by leading the orchestra through the music of James Bond, from Goldfinger to Live and Let Die to Skyfall. Before becoming a conductor, Francis played double bass in the London Symphony Orchestra, performing on scores to blockbuster franchises including Star Wars, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Bond fits right into that world. “The music’s amazing,” he said. “Being British and very biased, I thought it’d be a fun, great evening, and the songs are incredible.” Don’t be shocked if he busts out a mean Sean Connery impression from the podium. $18 and up. 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg; 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. (727) 791-7400.

Conductor Michael Francis leads the Florida Orchestra during a dress rehearsal for Opening Night at the Straz Center in 2019 in Tampa. [Times (2019)]


Take a group of Southern women, drop them at a baby shower, throw in a case of bubbly and watch the claws come out. That’s the premise of Morningside, opening Friday at Stageworks Theatre. Things get dicey when everyone’s perfect facade begins to erode in the Atlanta neighborhood of the title. Playwright Topher Payne seeks to carry on the tradition of banter among generations, a la Steel Magnolias. $15-$50. 1120 E Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. (813) 374-2416. For showtimes, visit


Rick Steves has made an enviable career of traveling the world for his PBS show and series of travel books. He brings his good-natured personality to the Tampa Theatre to discuss his trips across Europe, Central America, Asia and the Middle East. But more significantly, he’ll discuss the importance of traveling with the mind-set of being an ambassador of the planet, spreading good stewardship across the world. He’ll outline how you can plan a trip to maximize making the world a better place. Gosh, he’s so nice. There will be a Q&A with the audience after the discussion. $25. 6 p.m. Monday. 711 N Franklin St., Tampa. (813) 274-8981.


There’s a new theater company in town. TheatreOne has staged a few events in Gulfport and the Tampa Bay Theatre Festival (where founder Stephen Bell won Best Short Play for Breaking Up), but it just launched its first production in its own space in Clearwater. Directed by Bell, David Ives’ Venus In Fur deals with a power clash between a theatrical director and actress, a psychosexual drama that should suit the intimate space. $28 and up. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 16. 13625 50th Way N, No. 23, Clearwater. (727) 835-8900.


“Fame-ish” is a good name for Eric D’Alessandro’s comedy tour. If you don’t follow him on social media, you might not think of him as famous. If you do, he’s definitely a star, as his many characters and impressions have gone plenty viral and brought him hundreds of thousands of followers. Like a lot of YouTube and Instagram comics, he’s parlaying that fame into a theatrical career, which will bring him to the Straz Center’s Jaeb Theater at 8 p.m. Feb. 12. $25 and up.

Eric D'Alessandro will perform at the Straz Center in Tampa on Feb. 12. [Courtesy of Dave Giordano]
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