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A+E Holiday Guide

Celebrate by giving the gift of arts and entertainment. There’s something for everyone.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. December 14, 2016
  • Arts + Culture
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The holiday season is upon us. It can bring great joy, but of course, there’s always the unavoidable stress. It’s better to give than to receive, and finding something for everyone is easier said than done. Luckily, Sarasota is a hotbed of arts, entertainment and nightlife — and the holidays are no different. We’ve put together a list of our favorite events — with enough variety to satisfy everyone on your list. 


For the Traditional One

‘Carols and Classics’
The Powel Crosley Theater

When: Through Dec. 23

Where: The Powel Crosley Estate, 8474 N. Tamiami Trail

Tickets: $15 to $25

Info: Call 722-3244.


Looking for an old-fashioned holiday celebration? Look no further. Immerse yourself in history at the Powel Crosely Estate. “Carols and Classics” features a series of holiday vignettes, which guests can soak in as they travel from room to room in the mansion. Vignettes include “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens; “The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus” by Ogden Nash; “A Visit From Saint Nicholas” by Clement C. Moore and “Hershel and The Hanukkah Goblins” by Eric A. Kimmel.


For the Brewmeister

A Very Prairie Christmas

When: 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 23

Where: Mr. Beery’s, 2645 Mall Drive


Info: Call 343-2854.


It’s the most wonderful time for a beer. Mr. Beery’s hosts this hoppiest of holiday events, featuring a tap takeover by Prairie Artisan Ales. The Sooner-state brewery is known for serving up some seriously strong suds, like its Christmas Bomb imperial stout. At 11% ABV, it’s more than strong enough to tide you over while family is in town. Mr. Beery’s staff will tap several kegs, including one of the potent aforementioned varieties that has been aged for two years.


For the Singer-at-Heart

‘A Christmas Carole and A New Year’s Yves’

When: 7:30 p.m. 

Saturday, Dec. 17

Where: The Historic Asolo 

Theater, 5401 Bay Shore Road

Tickets: $45

Info: Call 306-1200.


It’s more than just a clever name. Although, clever wordplay never lost any points in our book. Cabaret singers Carole J. Bufford and Eric Yves Garcia team up with pianist Matt Baker for Artist Series Concerts’ third pops concert of the season. 

Bufford, known for her bluesy voice, and Garcia, a smooth singer and pianist, will pool their talents for this holiday show, which features popular Christmas favorites, including “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Some imagination required.


For the One with Expensive Taste

Balanchine’s ‘Jewels’
The Sarasota Ballet

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17

Where: The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail

Tickets: $30 to $110

Info: Call 359-0099.


OK. So these might not be actual jewels, but this production by the Sarasota Ballet is a rare holiday gift all its own. Performing this ballet, which was created by iconic choreographer George Balanchine in 1967, is a rare opportunity and is considered a crowning achievement for a ballet company. Consisting of three pieces — “Emeralds,” “Rubies” and “Diamonds” — the ballet is only performed in its entirety with special permission from the George Balanchine Trust. Noted for being technically difficult and one of the first abstract multi-act ballets, “Jewels” is a rarely seen gem and a perfect way to celebrate the holidays. Diamonds are forever — this opportunity comes but once.


For the Nostalgic

‘Christmas Belles of ‘45’
Plump Sisters Productions

When: 9:30 p.m. Dec. 15 through 17, 22 and 23 and 4 p.m. Dec. 24

Where: The Starlite Room, 1001 Cocoanut Ave.

Tickets: $15 to $25

Info: Call 702-5613.


Ah, the holidays. It’s the best time of year for giving, catching up with loved ones — and reminding kids today just how great things used to be. Let’s face it: They just don’t make performers like they used to. If Robert is the last Kardashian you caught up with, it might be time to turn back the clock with Plump Sisters Productions. This newly formed drag duo, created by Parker Lawhorne and Kelly Leissler, puts the blast in blast-from-the-past. Featuring original music, jokes and choreography, they call back to the days when Judy Garland and Carol Burnett reigned supreme. Set in World-War-II-era Germany, this double-entendre-heavy duo hosts a Christmas show sure to leave you laughing.


For the One on the ‘Naughty’ List

Black Diamond Burlesque: ‘Unwrapped’

When: 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18

Where: McCurdy's Comedy 

Theatre, 1923 Ringling Blvd.

Tickets: $35

Info: Call 925-3869.


As it turns out, Santa really does keep a list. Maybe you’ve found yourself on the not-so-nice list this year. Why turn back now? Don’t despair; Black Diamond Burlesque has made sure you’re not doomed to a lump-of-coal-Christmas this year. Its holiday-themed performance, “Unwrapped,” celebrates the season’s festivities in its own tantalizing, Vaudevillian-style burlesque show. Special guests Margaux Royale, Mr. Incredible and Paddy O’Chair will add some heat to the holidays.


For the Dreamer

‘It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play’
The Manatee Players

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15; runs through Dec. 18

Where: Manatee Performing Arts Center, 

502 Third Ave. W., Bradenton

Tickets: $26

Info: Call 748-5875.


Imagination is at the crux of this Christmas classic from the get-go. At the urge of his guardian angel, George Bailey, who is convinced his life has no purpose, is forced to imagine what his hometown of Bedford Falls would be like if he’d never been born. The Manatee Players takes it a step further with Joe Landry’s adaptation, which stages the story as a 1940s radio broadcast. Actors read the script in their respective characters’ voices, tasking the audience with filling in the details. It’s a parable of an everyday hero with a happy ending — and it’s a holiday staple for a reason.


For the Spiritual One

Langston Hughes’ ‘Black Nativity’
Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe

When: 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 23

Where: Westcoast Black Theatre, 1646 10th Way

Tickets: $42; $30 for students and active military

Info: Call 366-1505.


In 1961, poet, playwright and social activist Langston Hughes re-imagined the Nativity story through the African American lens, incorporating gospel, jazz, blues and modern and African dance to tell the biblical story in a new way. It has since become a Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe holiday tradition. The story takes an African American perspective, but its high-energy, soulful storytelling and message of unity make it a show for everyone.


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