Stockings filled with entertainment

Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker” will kick off the holiday entertainment season with shows at 3 and 7 p.m. Thursday at The Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center.

Be enchanted by “The Nutcracker” as ballerinas from Moscow’s Ballet grace The Sharon stage, jam out to Johnny Wild’s Christmas Spectacular at Savannah Center or sing carols with tenor Fernando Varela and his family. It’s the most wonderful time of the year for holiday entertaiment in The Villages. In fact, there are more than 20 professional, resident and local entertainment holiday shows to choose from. “Holiday entertainment is a wonderful way to celebrate this festive season,” said Elizabeth Constant, booking coordinator at The Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center. “It’s all about memory making. I hope it becomes tradition for families and friends to attend ‘The Nutcracker’ or hear their favorite hymns and carols performed by the Villages Philharmonic Orchestra.”

If you’re looking for ways to get into the holiday spirit, The Villages Entertainment has you covered.

To view a full list of shows and ticket prices or purchase tickets for any of the shows listed in this article, visit thevillagesentertainment.com or any Villages Box Office location.

“We hope everyone has a magical and warm holiday season no matter how you choose to celebrate,” Constant said. “We love that we can present various genres that have become a staple to the winter season from dance, to orchestral to vocal concerts.”

Fine Arts, But Make it Festive

Lovers of the fine arts have a range of dance and musical holiday shows to choose from.

Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker”opens the holiday entertainment season this year with shows at 3 and 7 p.m. Thursday at The Sharon.

“It’s a great company, directly from Russia,” Constant said. “Their costumes, scenery and ballet are top-notch. We are proud to host them each year.”

The Villages Philharmonic Orchestra will have two festive concerts: a Messiah concert at 7 p.m. Nov. 25 and a holiday concert at 7 p.m. Dec. 11 and 12 at The Sharon.

“The Messiah is a magical tradition,” Constant said. “Conductor Pasquale Valerio brings not only his full orchestra on stage, but also a full choir.”

Four guest artists and the choir will sing part one of George Frideric Handel’s classic “Messiah.” 

“The last song is the ‘Hallelujah Chorus,’ and the lyrics and music are printed in each person’s program,” Constant said. “The orchestra encourages the audiences to sing along.”

The holiday concert features popular guest artists like Julie Batman, Sean Stork and Marcella Richardson, who will sing well-known holiday tunes backed by the orchestra.

Celebrate With The Community

Those looking for more laid-back holiday programs have lots to choose from, too.

People can support local entertainers or step into the spotlight themselves at the next “Don’t Tell Nonnie” open-mic night at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9 at The Sharon.

Hosted by The Sharon’s artistic director, Whitney Morse, and accompanied by resident music director Gary Powell, attendees can bring their own sheet music or peruse The Sharon’s collection and perform holiday favorites.

Whether you sing or not, everyone who attends is encouraged to dress festively.

“I’d love people to come dressed for holiday success,” Morse said. “I know I will be decked out. I’m sure I’ll also sing a few holiday songs as well, so if folks want to come ready to celebrate, that would be ideal. Of course, I’d also love any music people would like to share. A holiday spin is not required.”

Enjoy a peaceful and meditative concert at 5 p.m. Dec. 1 at New Covenant United Methodist Church.

Best friends Angie Rose and Ryan Loeckel will present “A Quiet Christmas,” which features Angie Rose on piano and vocals and Loeckel on violin and vocals.

“There will be things that not only a churchgoer will be able to enjoy, but also secular Christmas favorites that everyone enjoys and loves,” Angie Rose said. “The Christmas season gets so crazy, but this experience will be one where you can sit back, relax and really take the time to center yourself.”

There will be both instrumental and singing sections of the concert. Audience members can expect to hear hits like “White Christmas,” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and even a premiere of a brand new song written by Angie Rose.

“Because we have been performing together so long and our friendship started with being musical colleagues, there’s such a level of emotional communication when we’re performing music together,” Loeckel said. “It’s an amazing experience and I think the connection is communicated to audiences.”

Local band Johnny Wild and the Delights will deliver “Johnny Wild’s Christmas Spectacular” at 7 p.m. Dec. 21 at Savannah Center.

The show is a retro take on holiday entertainment and will include everything from “Jingle Bell Rock” to “Run, Rudolph, Run” performed by Johnny Wild, his nine-piece band and a few special guests.

Concerts To Put You In the Holiday Spirit

You can choose to jam out to your favorite holiday tunes performed in your favorite genre.

Orlando tenor Fernando Varela is going all out with “Believe: A Family Christmas Concert with Fernando, Susan, and Zeke Varela” at 4 p.m. Dec. 2 and 4 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3 at The Sharon.

The family will perform a variety of holiday music backed by The Villages Philharmonic Orchestra.

“We’ll do everything from the big stuff like ‘Frosty the Snowman’ to ‘Holly Jolly Christmas,’” Varela said. “Zeke is very excited to sing ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.’”

Zeke is Varela’s nine-year-old son, who recently performed with his family on the big stage for the first time a few months ago.

“He loved it,” Varela said. “He ate it up and is so excited to come back out. Of course, The Villages audience was so amazing, loving and warm with him.”

The first performance of “Believe” takes place on the night of the Spanish Springs Tree Lighting Festival, and Varela recommends seeing the show before going to the festival for the ultimate holiday experience.

At 5 and 8 p.m. Dec. 2, an Irish vocal quintet will entertain audiences at Savannah Center with “Celtic Angels Christmas.”

The show includes vocal and instrumental seasonal and Irish hits as well as Irish dancing.

Audiences can expect to hear songs like “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day,” “O Holy Night,” “Christmas in Killarney” and more.

At 5 and 8 p.m. Dec. 18, country fans can see “Merry Country Christmas” at Savannah Center, a concert in which Christmas songs will be presented in authentic Nashville country style.

Jazz piano legend David Benoit will perform “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at 5 and 8 p.m. Dec. 20 at Savannah Center.

The show features the music of Vince Guaraldi, songs from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and a few of Benoit’s own originals.

The Ten Tenors will perform holiday hits at 7 p.m. Dec. 20 at The Sharon.

“The Ten Tenors come to us from Australia and have been performing for 17 years to sold-out audiences all over the world,” Constant said.

Senior writer Kristen Fiore can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5270, or kristen.fiore@thevillagesmedia.com.