At Ruth Eckerd Hall, three weekend performances of 'The Sound of Music,' Florida Orchestra plays to 'Home Alone'

Ruth Eckerd Hall The Sound of Music features Lauren Kidwell, left, as the Mother Abbess and Jill-Christine Wiley as Maria.
Ruth Eckerd Hall The Sound of Music features Lauren Kidwell, left, as the Mother Abbess and Jill-Christine Wiley as Maria.
Published Dec. 19, 2018


As a student at Bishop Larkin Catholic School in Port Richey, Jillian Rossi, right, always loved seeing the musicals at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Now the New Port Richey native is performing in one while also serving as understudy to the lead.

"It's really special we're going to Clearwater where I fell in love with theater as a kid, and now I get to perform in that venue," said Rossi, 25, who plays one of the nuns and the housekeeper Ursula in The Sound of Music. She's also prepared to play Maria, a role made famous by Julie Andrews. The production, reimagined by three-time Tony-winning director Jack O'Brien, is more than a feel-good musical. At the start of the performance scene before the military brass, three huge Nazi banners unfurl from the top of the curtain. Soldiers scan a graveyard looking for the Von Trapps, their flashlights sweeping through the audience.

"I have chills now thinking about it and every single night," Rossi said. "As artists and storytellers, it is important to make people feel something."

Rossi lives in New York but said, "Florida will always be my home."

$35 and up. 8 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. (727) 791-7400.


This is becoming a thing. The Florida Orchestra performs the soundtrack to Home Alone as the 1990 Christmas film plays on a high-def screen. The orchestra has had good luck with the concept, playing to screenings of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Star Wars. Assistant conductor Daniel Black conducts the John Williams score for musicians and the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay. Macaulay Culkin in a breakout role stars as a boy accidentally left behind on a family vacation. $31.50 and up. 7:30 p.m. Friday at Ruth Eckerd Hall. (727) 892-3337.


The Charles Jones adaptation of A Christmas Carol, around since 1976, goes for the emotional center of the Charles Dickens story about a miser who finds joy. It's creepy enough to get a taste of 19th century London in all of its elegance and filth. It's also loaded with color and warmth and familiar carols (Greensleeves; God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; Wassail Wassail, Away in a Manger; The Boar's Head; and more). $29 and up. 7 p.m. Thursday at Ruth Eckerd Hall.



Both Freefall and American Stage typically offer free pre- and post-show audience briefings or discussions throughout a run. Timothy Saunders, Freefall's dramaturg, will lead talks following shows Friday and Dec. 28 for Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and Then Some!).

"We encourage people to attend, even if they've seen the show on a separate night," said Freefall outreach coordinator Matthew McGee. The theater anticipates holding more discussions during Perfect Arrangement (Jan. 26-Feb. 24), every Friday in February, plus two "Freefall Foreword" talks on dates to be arranged.

While post-show "chatbacks" have concluded at American Stage for Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, below, ticket holders can catch a "Prologue" 30 minutes before each show through Dec. 30.

Planning your weekend?

Planning your weekend?

Subscribe to our free Top 5 things to do newsletter

We’ll deliver ideas every Thursday for going out, staying home or spending time outdoors.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

"The prologue is a primer," said Stephanie Gularte, American Stage's producing artistic director. "The purpose is not to give away the play, but to give a dramaturgical context, to make the experience a little bit richer."

Contact Andrew Meacham at or (727) 892-2248. Follow @torch437.