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All the must-see holiday shows in Sarasota this year

Treat your ears to a selection of happy, holy holiday music throughout the area

Choral Artists of Sarasota lift their voices in "Sounds of the Season." (Courtesy photo)
Choral Artists of Sarasota lift their voices in "Sounds of the Season." (Courtesy photo)
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The holidays are here. But before you can say, “Bah, humbug,” our area performing arts groups will be giving your ears a treat. From Motown to Mozart, their holly, jolly tunes take many forms. The following sampler is far from complete — and has one obvious omission. There are enough Nutcrackers in the area to start a small funk band, so we’re leaving them out.



The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe brings back its popular
The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe brings back its popular "A Motown Christmas" revue. (Courtesy photo)

‘A Motown Christmas’

Detroit is 3,302 miles from the North Pole, and Santa’s sled wasn’t made in the Motor City. But that doesn’t stop Westcoast BlackTheatre Troupe's Nate Jacobs from putting a Motown spin on this crowd-pleasing revue. The celebration combines timeless Christmas carols with secular holiday standards by The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, The Supremes, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder and other Motown legends.

When: 7:30 p.m. through Friday and Dec. 18-20

Where: Sarasota Opera House, 61 N. Pineapple Ave.

Tickets: $15-$75

Info: Call 366-1505.


With five sets of hands tickling the ivories,
With five sets of hands tickling the ivories, "Piano Grand IV: The Holiday Edition" is sure to put audiences in a holiday mood. (Courtesy: Barbara Banks)

‘Piano Grand IV: The Holiday Edition’

This concert boasts five Steinway concert grand pianos. The five grand pianists are Don Bryn,  Joseph Holt, Andrew Lapp, Tom Purviance and Michael Stewart. The keyboard compositions are a mix of classics and popular standards. Selections include Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite,” Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” and the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s “Messiah.”

When: 4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Sarasota Opera House, 61 N. Pineapple Ave.

Tickets: $20 - $55

Info: Call 306-1202.


‘Merry, Merry Sarasota’

Music Director Robert Vodnoy conducts this Chamber Orchestra of Sarasota combination of classical and contemporary holiday perennials. Selections include Niels Gade’s “Christmas Eve Suite,” Alessandro Scarlatti’s “Christmas Cantata,” Aaron Copland’s “Quiet City,” Haydn’s Symphony No. 26, (aka “The Christmas Symphony”) and Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.” Soloists include vocalist Johanna Fincher, trumpeter Aaron Romm and oboist Nicholas Arbolino.

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Church of the Redeemer, 222 S. Palm Ave.

Tickets: $15-$25

Info: Call 215-928-8665.


Guest conductor Michelle Merrill will guide the Sarasota Symphony through a collection of holiday favorites in its
Guest conductor Michelle Merrill will guide the Sarasota Symphony through a collection of holiday favorites in its "Sounds of the Season" concert. (Courtesy photo)

‘Sounds of the Season’ 

Guest conductor Michelle Merrill leads the Sarasota Orchestra in this heartwarming concert of holiday-themed short works. Classical favorites include selections from Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker,” Prokofiev’s “Troïka” and Bach’s “Sheep May Safely Graze.” Popular musical stocking stuffers include “Hanukkah Festival Overture,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “A Holly and Jolly Sing-a-Long.”

When: Dec. 11-15

Where: Holley Hall, 709 N. Tamiami Trail

Tickets: $42-$65

Info: Call 953-3434.


‘Sounds of the Season’

This joyful concert combines the voices of Choral Artists and soprano Adelaide Boedecker with organist Ann Stephenson-Moe and a brass and percussion ensemble drawn from local orchestras. Guest conductor Todd Craven, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s associate conductor and Sarasota Orchestra’s former principal trumpet, will lead a program featuring Daniel Pinkham’s “Christmas Cantata,” a series of Daniel Moe’s arrangements and the Sarasota premiere of James Grant’s “Eja! Eja!”

When: 5 p.m. Dec. 22

Where: Church of the Redeemer, 222 S. Palm Ave.

Tickets: $5-$38

Info: Call 387-4900.


Musicals and more

‘It’s a Wonderful Life: A New Musical’

George Bailey is having a very bad night. To make matters worse, it’s Christmas Eve. He has bad luck and an evil banker against him. But no worries, George has an angel and the whole town of Bedford Falls on his side. This musical adaptation features a book and lyrics by Keith Ferguson and music by Bruce Greer.

When: 8 p.m. through Dec. 22

Where: Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 Third Ave. W., Bradenton

Tickets: $27-$38

Info: Call 748-5875.


‘Deck the Halls: ’Tis The Season’

Elves sing and make magic; it’s what they do. In this new musical, five elves who hate cold weather leave the North Pole behind and celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah in Florida style. This interactive Children’s Theatre production includes all-new sketches and songs.

When: Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 28, special performances Dec. 22 and 24

Where: FST Bowne’s Lab, 1265 First St.

Tickets: $10

Info: Call 366-9000.


‘A Classic Crosley Christmas’

Inventor Powel Crosley Jr. made car radios affordable for millions. This merry musical tunes into three generations of his family at the mansion that bears his name. The Crosleys of the 1930s enjoy “A Christmas Carol.” In the fabulous 1950s, the family snaps their fingers to “Music Most Merry with the Mistletones.” The big 1980s see a stop from “The Polar Express.” All aboard!

When: Dec. 12-22

Tickets: $25.50

Where: Powel Crosley Estate, 8374 N. Tamiami Trail

Info: Call 748-5875.


‘A Christmas Carol’

The 20th anniversary of Venice Theatre’s original musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic features a book and lyrics by Scott Keys and music by E. Suzan Ott. Brad Wages will reprise his acclaimed portrayal of Scrooge, and Murray Chase will return as director. (Additional Music by Scott Keys, Jason Brenner and Eli Schildkraut.)

When: Dec. 13-21

Where: Venice Theatre, 140 Tampa Ave. W., Venice

Tickets: $15-$25

Info: Call 488-1115, or visit



Marty Fugate

Marty Fugate is a writer, cartoonist and voiceover actor whose passions include art, architecture, performance, film, literature, politics and technology. As a freelance writer, he contributes to a variety of area publications, including the Observer, Sarasota Magazine and The Herald Tribune. His fiction includes sketch comedy, short stories and screenplays. “Cosmic Debris,” his latest anthology of short stories, is available on Amazon.

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