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Stage Planner: Comedy, Strauss waltzes on tap for New Year's Eve

A Salute to Vienna dancers.
Published Dec. 30, 2015

Dan Cummins rings in the new year at the Tampa Improv with his brand of smart and carefully constructed comedy. Cummins has appeared on late night shows, Showtime and Comedy Central and made it to the semi-finals of Last Comic Standing. He is headlining the Improv's dinner show and then a New Year's Eve celebration.

The Spokane, Wash., comedian was far less known in 2003 when another appearance at the Improv boosted his career. On the advice of his agent, Cummins entered and won a talent contest at the Ybor City club sponsored by Song, a low-cost offshoot of Delta Air Lines. At the time, Cummins didn't even know what he had showed up for. Fellow competitors included a Tampa Bay Buccaneers cheerleader, a man wearing leather and singing country songs, a drama student delivering a monologue from Death of a Salesman and a fake Ozzy Osbourne.

For his win, Cummins got a year's supply of Cinnabon rolls and a trip to New York. He also was booked as pre-flight entertainment for now-defunct Song's first Tampa flight in 2003. Cummins went on to write or help produce reality shows including Duck Dynasty on A&E, Porter Ridge on Discovery and Town of the Living Dead on SyFy.

The holidays could easily bring out Cummins' hatred of greeting cards. He has been proposing alternative messages for years, such as this one for his stepfather: "I got you a crowbar. I thought it would come in handy the next time you try to pry something apart, like you did our family."

The New Year's Eve Dinner Show starts at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and the New Year's Eve Celebration Show starts at 10 p.m. Cummins also performs at 9 p.m. Friday and 7:30 and 10 p.m. Saturday. 1800 E Eighth Ave., Tampa. $20-$45. (813) 864-4000. improvtampa.com.

Ruth Eckerd Hall celebrates New Year's Eve with a Salute to Vienna, a lineup of Strauss, selections from operettas such as Die Fledermaus and The Merry Widow, and dancers from the Kiev-Aniko Ballet of Ukraine. After a quick start 20 years ago, Salute to Vienna has become a popular concert series across North America, reminiscent of a Viennese tradition. The cast includes singers, dancers and a full orchestra. 8 p.m. Thursday. 1111 N McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. $35-$185. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.

One of the world's most enduring ballets comes to the Mahaffey Theater on Saturday, when the State Ballet Theatre of Russia presents Romeo and Juliet. The full-scale interpretation, choreographed by Michael Lavrovsky of the Bolshoi Theatre Ballet, has won accolades on numerous previous tours through the United States for capturing every nuance of Shakespeare's tragedy. Romeo and Juliet starts at 7:30 p.m. 400 First Street S, St. Petersburg. $32.50-$62.50. (727) 892-5798. themahaffey.com.

Do you have an a cappella group with smooth vocals and inventive harmonies? Think you could throw one together, like, really quickly?

Vocalosity, a new a cappella concert event, is looking for an opening act for its performance at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. The concert springs from the mind of artistic producer Deke Sharon, behind the Pitch Perfect movies and NBC's The Sing-Off.

The winning local group will open for Vocalosity and get free tickets to the concert. The deadline for entries is Sunday. To enter, just record your group singing a one- to two-minute arrangement of any contemporary song and upload it to YouTube. Then email the link to info@VocalosityOnTour.com. Vocalosity: the ACA-Perfect Concert Experience starts at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 16. 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $45-$55. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.

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