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  1. Stage

Stage Planner: Becca McCoy reflects, Dave Koz coming to Ruth Eckerd Hall

Ruth Eckerd Hall has opened ticket sales for a Dave Koz holiday concert. One of the most prolific and accomplished saxophonists in jazz, Koz has been nominated for nine Grammy awards and topped Billboard's contemporary jazz albums charts seven times.

This year's Dave Koz Christmas Tour features Dutch saxophone star Candy Dulfer and R&B virtuoso guitarist Jonathan Butler, both of whom have appeared with Koz before. The tour's newcomer is Bill Medley, who co-founded the Righteous Brothers with Bobby Hatfield.

Koz started playing professionally right out of UCLA. He played with Bobby Caldwell and Richard Marx in the 1980s and released his first solo album in 1990. He's a generous collaborator and has worked with Barry Manilow, Luther Vandross, Stevie Nicks, Herb Alpert, Stevie Wonder, Burt Bacharach, Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, U2 — you get the idea.

His album Hello Tomorrow debuted at No. 1 both on Billboard and iTunes charts and was named iTunes' Best Smooth Jazz Album of 2010.

The Dave Koz Christmas Tour 2015 starts at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 29 at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. $35 to $100. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.

With the birth of a daughter in 2008, Becca McCoy faced a challenge. She and her husband, who both worked in theater, needed both their incomes to survive in Chicago.

For years, McCoy, 37, had performed in a half-dozen or more shows a year, including at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and numerous musicals. That wouldn't work with an infant to watch, and the high cost of day care knocked out that option, too.

So, they moved to Palatka, a tiny town east of the Ocala National Forest where the family could survive on one income.

The performer whose legal name is Rebecca McCoy Engle has since turned the experience into a one-woman cabaret show, which she will perform this weekend in the upstairs lobby at American Stage in St. Petersburg. The Pearl in the Hogwaller narrates her journey from disaffected transplant to becoming comfortable in her new hometown. McCoy bought a house in Gulfport in 2014 but said she remains fond of the town she left behind.

"I don't just trash Palatka for an hour, I swear," she said.

McCoy is a native of St. Petersburg who graduated from Eckerd College. She also is a singer whose rich mezzo-soprano and four-octave range had helped her get regular work in Chicago, a city with public transportation and lively neighborhoods. Moving would be difficult.

"Almost any place on Earth was set up for failure," she said.

Their quiet street in Palatka offered the shade of oak trees and the occasional gator but not much companionship, unless you count the neighbor woman who kept track of her movements.

She turned to Facebook to record her moods, many of them "very dark and oversharing."

"Looking back, I can see it," McCoy said. "I pull from those Facebook posts and quote parts of them (in the show) in order to reflect."

Interspersed with those reflections are 20 or so songs from musicals (Show Boat, Big River, some Sondheim tunes) or popular groups (the Indigo Girls), accompanied on the piano by James Weaver.

The show's title comes from Hog Waller —Palatka's 6-acre mud pit and mecca for four-wheelers — and a presumed change of heart.

Those years in Palatka brought "very powerful life lessons, and that's why it's a story worth telling," she said.

McCoy has performed The Pearl in the Hogwaller at the Palladium, Eckerd College and Davenport's Piano Bar Cabaret in Chicago.

The show starts at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at American Stage, 163 Third St. N. $15, $12 in advance. (727) 823-7529. americanstage.org.

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