Welcome to one of my favorite months of the year! I love how brisk the air feels and I love that there are so many shows to see in Central Florida! This month we have comedy legends as well as music legends performing here, in addition to up-and-coming acts and even local theatre productions. There are so many entertaining shows that will be performed here in February. Let me tell you about a few of them!

Wed. Feb. 1-Sun. Feb. 26: Long before Dorothy Gale arrives in the Land of Oz, two girls meet and grow up, eventually becoming two distinctly different witches. The Broadway phenomenon Wicked continues its stint in Central Florida with a month-long engagement at the Straz Center in Tampa. Wicked is part of the Bank of America Best of Broadway Tampa Bay series. (evening and matinee performances; starts at $52.50; strazcenter.org)

Fri. Feb. 3 & Sat. Feb. 4: The comedy troupe The Tenderloins, consisting of four fortyish best friends from Staten Island, has achieved a significant level of fame as they star in truTV’s hottest television show, “Impractical Jokers.” So significant, in fact, that the gentlemen will be performing in arenas for the first time! They will stop in Tampa at Amalie Arena, and then the next night at Hard Rock Live Orlando. (8 p.m. in Tampa, 7 p.m. in Orlando; starts at $49.50; amaliearena.com and hardrock.com/live/locations/orlando)

Sat. Feb. 4 & Wed. Feb. 8: Quite a lot can be said about comedic legend Lily Tomlin. Whether you know her for Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, or for her movie roles such as Nashville or 9 to 5, or for her current starring role in Grace & Frankie, I bet you dollars to donuts that she made you smile and laugh. Now she will be bringing her one-woman show “An Evening of Classic Lily Tomlin” to the Dr. Phillips Center in Orlando and the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota. (8 p.m. both dates; starts at $35; drphillipscenter.org and vanwezel.org)

Mon. Feb. 6: He’s never gonna give you up! Soulful English crooner Rick Astley may have earned two #1 hits in the ’80s, but now he may be better known today for the Internet prank “Rickrolling” (if you don’t know, ask your friends). The popular trick rejuvenated his career, and now he’s touring Florida for the first time since 1989! You’ll be sure to have a fun time when you attend his all-new show at the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater. (7:30 p.m.; $35, $45 and $59; rutheckerdhall.com)

Mon. Feb. 6: Sometimes a woman’s best friend is a gay man. Who else is going to commiserate over romance troubles and tell you an outfit looks terrible? The show Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man is a hilarious take on that straight-talking BFF who lets you know what’s up about love and sex. Whether you are the BFF or you have one, everyone can relate to this show. When you may think “Don’t go there!”…they do. As they should! Catch the show one night only at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota. (8 p.m.; $26-$56; vanwezel.org)

Fri. Feb. 10-Sun. Feb. 12: Rossini’s classic opera La Cenerentola gives a distinctly Italian spin to the fairy tale of Cinderella. Sneaking into a lavish party for her step-sisters, she falls in love with the Prince’s valet. Neither of the two are who they say they are, but both of them are madly in love. Not many people think of comedy when they think of Cinderella, but they will once they see this treasured opera performed at the Straz Center in Tampa. (evening and matinee performances; starts at $83.50; strazcenter.org)

Sun. Feb. 12 & Tue. Feb. 14: Dionne Warwick knows the way to San Jose, and she also knows the way to Central Florida, having first performed here 50 years ago this year! The soul diva, known for her hits such as “Walk On By”, “I Say a Little Prayer”, “Alfie”, “Déjà Vu”, and more, will perform two shows here, one at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg and one at the Dr. Phillips Center in Orlando. (3 p.m. in St. Petersburg, 7:30 p.m. in Orlando; $52.50-$143.50 in St. Petersburg, starting at $39.50 in Orlando; themahaffey.com and drphillipscenter.org)

Fri. Feb. 17: The Queen of Country Music and America’s most famous “coal miner’s daughter”, Loretta Lynn has ruled over the genre for over 50 years, releasing 60 albums and boasting four Grammys and sixteen #1 songs. Her most recent album Full Circle consisted of duets with other legends such as Willie Nelson and Elvis Costello. Catch her performing from her extensive songbook at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. (8 p.m.; $35.50-$65.50; themahaffey.com)

Fri. and Sat. Feb. 17-18: This month we are very grateful to see productions of three musicals from the legendary composer Stephen Schwartz. Once you’ve seen Wicked, take a chance on Pippin. Full of extraordinary acrobatics, wondrous magical feats and soaring songs, Pippin will be sure to leave you all smiles. Make sure you get tickets for one of three performances at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota. (8 p.m. with a 2 p.m. performance Sat.; $56; vanwezel.org)

Fri. Feb. 24-Sun. Feb. 26: The Stephen Schwartz trifecta ends at the Dr. Phillips Center in Orlando with a production of Godspell, performed by Encore! Cast Performing Arts. A hip retelling of Jesus Christ’s parables, Godspell is well-known for hits such as “Day By Day”, “By My Side”, “All for the Best”, and more. The audience will be left feeling the universal emotions of love and kindness. (evening and matinee performances; starts at $25; drphillipscenter.org)

Sat. Feb. 25-Sun. Mar. 26: Have you ever heard of Ira Aldridge? He was an American who was the first black actor to play the title role in Othello on the stage at Covent Garden in London. This was in 1833, mind you, and the United Kingdom had recently abolished slavery. The revolution outside the theater doors and the revolution inside are both chronicled in Red Velvet, an all-new play making its Central Florida debut at freeFall Theatre Company in St. Petersburg. (opening night 8 p.m.; $25-$52; freefalltheatre.com)

Mon. Feb. 27: She should hear how I talk about her, because I have rave reviews! I’ve had the chance to see singer-songwriter Melissa Manchester in concert before, and her gentle-yet-strong voice is still as beautiful as ever. In her show, she makes sure to perform every single one of her greatest hits. So yes, do “cry out loud” in enjoyment as she takes the stage at the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater. (7:30 p.m.; $45 and $55; rutheckerdhall.com)

Tue. Feb. 28: Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun are the two guys behind Fueled By Ramen’s latest hit group, Twenty One Pilots. The duo has earned three #1 hits on the U.S. alternative charts: “Stressed Out”, “Ride” and “Heathens”, the latter from the Suicide Squad soundtrack. After last year’s successful tour, the group embarks on another arena tour of North America. Amalie Arena in Tampa will be the venue for their Central Florida stop. (7 p.m.; $35.75 and $45.75; amaliearena.com)

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Mike Halterman
Mike Halterman has been the editor of Hotspots Central since its launch in July 2016. He joined the Hotspots Media Group family as editor of Hotspots' South Florida magazine in June 2013. A former "40 Under 40" honoree in The Advocate magazine, Mike lives in the Tampa Bay area.