Constantine Maroulis in Rock of Ages
(© Joan Marcus)
Constantine Maroulis in Rock of Ages
(© Joan Marcus)
Looking for something a little harder (and hairier) than Jingle Bell Rock this holiday? Rise up and gather round for the first Florida visit from the '80s metal musical Rock of Ages, coming to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale from December 28-January 9. The touring production of the tongue-in-cheek Broadway hit stars American Idol's Constantine Maroulis as rock-n-roll dreamer Drew.

Other touring hits this month include the Monty Python spectacular Spamalot, questing for Holy Grails and belly-laughs at Pensacola's Saenger Theatre (December 21), the Marina Civic Center in Panama City (December 22), the Lakeland Center (December 23) and West Palm's Kravis Center for the Performing Arts (December 26). Also making its way down the state is the new production of Fiddler on the Roof, coming to the Phillips Center in Gainesville (December 7), the Peabody Auditorium in Daytona Beach (December 8), Tallahassee's Leon County Civic Center (December 9) and the David A. Straz Center in Tampa (December 11-12). And returning to Florida for another visit is the "monster" Mel Brooks musical hit Young Frankenstein, coming to the Barbara P. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers, December 28-January 2.

Other south Florida options include The Fantasticks, a time-honored flight of romantic fantasy that opens up the season at Theatre Zone in Naples December 2-12. Venice Theatre offers more heartwarming fare with their production of Ted Swindley's Always, Patsy Cline (December 3-11), based on the true story of the singer's correspondence with a fan. And in Fort Myers, The Santaland Diaries returns for another seasonal visit to the Florida Repertory Theatre (December 9-23) with a snarky take on the holidays based on writer David Sedaris' woeful day job as a Macy's Christmas elf.

More reverent Christmas fare can be found at Jacksonville's Times Union Center with the latest stop on the Radio City Christmas Spectacular tour (December 2-12), featuring the high-kicking Rockettes. Elsewhere, see toy soldiers and gingerbread men spin off the tree and across the stage in the elegant and acrobatic Cirque Dreams Holidaze, coming to Sarasota's Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall (December 14-15) and the David A. Straz Jr. Center in Tampa (December 17-19).

Meanwhile, it's a hootin' hollerin' holiday at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center in Orlando with Chaps! A Jingle Jangle Christmas (December 1-26), featuring singing cowboys. And ornaments won't be the only things hanging around Central Florida: the Orlando Puppet Festival ramps up its performances December 3-12, with local and international puppeteers pulling the strings at venues including Mad Cow Theatre and the Gallery at Avalon Island.

In Sarasota, check out a humorous spin on a Hitchcock classic with Florida Studio Theatre's production of the spies-and-lies comedy The 39 Steps (December 8-February 6). And the revisions don't stop there -- Charles Ross brings his One-Man Star Wars Trilogy, a frenetic solo take on a sci-fi sacred cow, to the Asolo Repertory Theatre (December 28-29) and Fort Myers' Theatre Conspiracy (December 30-31).

On the east coast, see Faustian moral struggles put to song and transplanted into a boy's prep school in John Mercurio's Academy at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre (December 7-19), a new show that's riding plenty of buzz from workshops in New York and South Korea. Nearby, catch another premiere at the Florida Stage in West Palm Beach with Karen Hartman's Goldie, Max and Milk (December 15-January 16), a quirky but touching comedy about a single mother on the brink and the woman who comes to her rescue. Meanwhile in Coral Springs, the Stage Door Theatre aims for a nostalgic groove with the '50s musical revue A Taffeta Wedding (December 3-January 16).

Finally, the Miami area has no shortage of song and dance, with the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts hosting both the latest edition of the White Way send-up Forbidden Broadway (December 14-26) and the touring production of the Disney fairy tale Beauty and the Beast (December 28-January 2). Plenty of premieres here too, with the southeastern debut of two shows: Coral Gables' New Theatre has Rogelio Martinez's cola-wars comedy Fizz (December 3-19), while Jane Prowse's A Round-Heeled Woman comes to the Gable Stage at the Biltmore Hotel (December 30-January 30) with Emmy Award winner Sharon Gless in the role of a love-starved schoolteacher.