Comedy, theater, live music, ballet, film, circus arts and more; there’s a lot to choose from in the world of local entertainment.
We’re here to help you start the new year off right with a roundup of some of the most interesting acts coming soon to a stage near you.
Here’s a preview of 11 notable shows headed to the Bradenton-Sarasota area in the first months of 2019.
Jim Belushi and The Board of Comedy
Comedy great and “Saturday Night Live” alum Jim Belushi is taking a different approach to stand-up with his current tour.
Belushi and a supporting cast of comics involve the audience from start to finish by taking suggestions from the crowd and getting audience members up onstage.
“It’s less a ‘show’ and more a party. At least it feels like one to me,” Belushi says of the act.
Details: 6:30 p.m. and 8:50 p.m. on Jan. 30. McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre, 1923 Ringling Blvd. Sarasota. Ages 18 and up. $56.
We the Kings
The Bradenton Area River Regatta is a massive festival in Bradenton and Palmetto featuring watersports, boat races, food, fireworks and two stages of live music.
Best of all, it is free to attend.
We the Kings, a pop punk band that got started in Bradenton, is coming home to headline the festival. Catch them on the Bradenton main stage at the Riverwalk Event Pavilion on Feb. 9.
Lots of other local talent will perform on the Bradenton and Palmetto stages; check bradentonarearegatta.com/music for the full line-up.
Details: We the Kings will perform at 5:15 p.m. on Feb. 9 at the Riverwalk Event Pavilion, 452 Third Ave. W. Bradenton. Free.
New Shanghai Circus
If you want to go the circus, Sarasota is the place.
Visiting international act New Shanghai Circus promises to be one of the most interesting circuses of the new year.
Packed with acrobatics and breathtaking costumes that hearken back to the Han Dynasty, it is sure to make for an unforgettable afternoon at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
Details: 3 p.m. on Feb. 10. Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. $22-$52.
Often called the best film ever made, “Citizen Kane” stands the test of time as a cautionary tale about the downsides of the American dream.
The movie follows the mysterious and tragic life of Charles Foster Kane, a character partially based on newspaper owner William Randolph Hearst and other real-life business tycoons.
There’s also a Florida connection. The movie was filmed in California and New York, but Xanadu, Kane’s astronomical estate, is set on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
It returns to the big screen for one night as a part of a special series hosted by the Sarasota Film Festival.
Two other classic movies will screen in January as part of the series; “The Maltese Falcon” will play at 6 p.m. on Jan. 12 and “Andrei Rublev” at 6 p.m. on Jan. 26.
Local film experts will introduce each film, and snacks, beverages and t-shirts will be available for purchase at the theater.
Details: 6 p.m. on Jan. 19. Sarasota Film Festival’s Cinematheque, 500 Tallevast Road #105, Sarasota. $10. Tickets available online and at the door.
The Amen Corner
In “The Amen Corner,” Sister Margaret Alexander’s pious life is turned upside down when her estranged husband comes home to die after spending his life as a traveling jazz musician.
Margaret fears losing her standing in her Harlem congregation and that her husband’s return will have a negative influence on her son David.
“The Amen Corner is a play about faith and family, about the gulf between black men and black women and black fathers and black sons,” according to Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe.
This dramatic tale, penned by James Baldwin and published in 1954, touches on issues of culture, family, religion and redemption that are still very relevant today.
Details: Jan. 23-March 3. Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, 1012 N. Orange Ave. Sarasota. $45. $20 for students and active military.
By George, I Think We’ve Done It!
The Pops Orchestra of Bradenton and Sarasota will highlight the works of four greats in the history of modern music: George Harrison, George M. Cohen, George Michael and George Gershwin.
The show includes tribute artist performances and violin and piano solos.
The concert is the grand finale of the Pops Orchestra’s 2018-2019 season.
Details: 3 p.m. on March 24 at Riverview Performing Arts Center 1 Ram Way, Sarasota, and at 7:30 p.m. on March 25 at Neel Performing Arts Center, 5840 26th St. W., Bradenton. $20-$30. $15 for veterans.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time
An investigation into the strange death of a neighbor’s dog opens up a world of mystery for a boy named Christopher Boone in this Tony award-winning play.
Adapted from Mark Haddon’s bestselling novel of the same name, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” invites audiences to consider the world from the unique vantage point of a 15-year-old with Asperger’s syndrome as he becomes an amateur detective.
Details: Jan. 23-March 23. Florida Studio Theatre’s Gompertz Theatre, 1265 First St., Sarasota. $29 and up.
Info: 941-366-9000. floridastudiotheatre.org.
I Hate Hamlet
The Island Players, Anna Maria Island’s community theater group, will stage Paul Rudnick’s “I Hate Hamlet” for the third offering of their 2018-2019 season.
This comic tale of a struggling actor who is forced to take a role in a Shakespeare play that he loathes is full of quirks and laughs.
Details: Jan. 10-27. The Island Players Theatre, 10009 Gulf Dr., Anna Maria. $20.
Info: 941-778-5755. theislandplayers.org.
An Improv to Murder
The murder mystery takes a different turn with every telling in “An Improv to Murder,” a new series of vignettes that will take place at the Powel Crosley Estate in Sarasota.
Shows including “Murder by Six Degrees of Murder,” “Murder by Death” and “Murder by Musicals” “invite guests to follow characters gathering clues as they solve an interactive murder mystery taking place throughout the estate.”
Details: Jan. 15-27. Powel Crosley Estate, 8374 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. $25.
Poetry and Liberty
Two very different ballets will share a program for two nights at the Sarasota Ballet this March.
“Apparitions” is a dark and poetic work that follows a poet as he pursues his muse, and it takes a supernatural turn.
“Stars and Stripes” is bold and patriotic display. Five campaigns are set to marches by American composer John Philip Sousa.
Details: March 8-9. Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. $30-$115.
Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center in Sarasota is a great place to discover new talent and hidden gems in the big world of music outside of the mainstream.
Badi Assad is a Brazilian singer, guitarist, mouth percussionist and rhythmic dancer who coalesces her musical talents into stunning performance.
Assad vocalizes in English and Portuguese and is recognized as a leading fingerstyle guitar player.
Details: 7 p.m. on Jan. 31. Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center, 525 Kumquat Court, Sarasota. $20 advance; $25 day of show.