Best Of



Florida Culture for the Week of April 4, 2016 by Josh Garrick

FINAL PERFORMANCE -- April 5 – Mozart’s Magic Flute

Begin with music by Mozart conducted by ‘Maestro Magic’ Eric Jacobsen; toss in a host of human, and magical characters; add a Hero on a quest and a Soprano singing the ‘Sounds of Music;’ and you have some idea of the fun Mozart created in Die Zauberflöte. Today ‘The Magic Flute is considered ‘high’ opera, but Mozart considered it a form of for-the-Public musical comedy created to deliver that all-important message, “LOVE CONQUERS ALL.”  In FINAL performance at the Orchestra’s new home at Plaza Live at 425 North Bumby in Orlando, call 407.770.0071 or visit orlandophil.org for tickets.

FINAL WEEKS -- to April 17 – Epic Eugene O’Neill at Mad Cow Theatre

THE masterwork of one of America’s iconic playwrights, Long Day’s Journey Into Night fuses drama, psychological autobiography, and poetry into one of the greatest plays of the 20th century. Family patriarch James Tyrone denies the reality of his wife’s drug addiction, his eldest son’s alcoholism, and his youngest son’s imminent death in this drama that laughs morbidly at the American pursuit of wealth while ripping off the masks of propriety that allow us to act as if all is well, and THIS is happiness. Call 407.297.8788 or visit madcowtheatre.com

NOW to April 23 – Winter Park Playhouse produces Jerry Herman’s Showtune!

The much-loved Jerry Herman’s hit Broadway shows sing and dance on the Winter Park Playhouse stage in Showtune!, an internationally popular musical revue of Jerry Herman’s music and lyrics. Recipient of the 2009 Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the theater, Jerry Herman wrote the hit Broadway musicals Hello Dolly!, Mame, La Cage aux Folles, and more. Call 407.645.0145 or visit winterparkplayhouse.org

NOW to May 1 – Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike

Playwright Christopher Durang won the 2013 Tony Award for BEST PLAY for this quirky play, and fortunately you do not have to be familiar with the Chekhov plays to enjoy this one. References abound, however, as Vanya and his adopted sister Sonia live a quiet life in a rural farmhouse. Suddenly their movie-star sister drops in for a surprise visit with her 20-something ‘boy-toy,’ and the weekend takes on a mix of Chekhovian sensibilities and modern ‘awkwardness’ that gives us “three siblings and one hot mess.” Call 407.447.1700 or visit orlandoshakes.org

NOW to May 15 – Junie B. Jones – The Musical at Orlando Rep

Back with an all-new show, its Junie B’s first day of first grade and several things have changed for Ms. Junie B.  Her friend Lucille does not want to be her best pal anymore, and on the bus, Junie B. makes friends with Herb, the new kid at school. Also, Junie B. has trouble reading the blackboard and her teacher, Mr. Scary, thinks she may need glasses. Throw in a ‘Top-Secret Personal Journal’ and you understand the level of first grade excitement. (Production length – 1 hour) Visit orlandorep.com or call 407.896.7365

April 5 to 10 – Sun ‘n Fun International ‘Fly-In and Expo

In this annual event, the 2nd largest of its kind in the world, the six-day event represents all things that FLY including jet teams, aerospace exhibits; educational sessions, aircraft displays; daily air-shows, aerobatics, aircraft fly-overs, performers, vendors, student/youth activities, souvenir shops and on-going entertainment for visitors from more than 80 countries. Held at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in Lakeland, Florida, air traffic for the event makes the airport the ‘busiest in the world’ for one week. With a $64 Million economic impact on the I-4 corridor, this event annually augments public education and scholarship programs in Polk County. Visit sun-n-fun.org

April 7 to May 7 – “ELEPHANT & PIGGIE in a MUSICAL!”

Based on his much celebrated children’s books, Mo Willems has created a new musical for BFF friends Elephant and Piggie, who sing and dance their way through the mystery and suspense of life’s fundamental questions. Can you share ice cream?  Can two friends play with one toy?  Songs get sung and questions get answered – with audience participation. Arrive with your young ones one half hour before the show, and join cast members to ‘Shake Out The Sillies.’ That pre-show shaking can mean more enjoyment for the whole family. At the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, call 407.447.1700 or visit orlandoshakes.org

April 8 to 10 – The Tampa Bay BLUES Fest 2016

For three days, the beautiful Vinoy Waterfront Park in St. Petersburg becomes the ultimate BLUES Festival experience. With 3-day packages from $95 to 3-day VIP packages at $450, these ‘BLUES enthusiasts’ know how to ‘PARTY,’ and the view alone at the Park is worth the experience.  Starting at noon Friday, the music continues daily until 10 pm – when the after-parties kick in at venues around St. Pete. Names like Biscuit Miller, Victor Wainwright, Curtis Salgado, Aaron Neville, Cash Box Kings, and Walter Trout are set to rock your world. On the Festival grounds you’ll find seafood, BBQ, and Cuban cuisine alongside vendors, artists and craftsmen selling hand-made souvenirs. Gimme a hallelujah and visit tampabaybluesfest.com

April 9 at 5 pm – ‘Jill’s Cashbox’ in FREE Concert at Dr. Phillips Center

The first FREE spring ‘Florida Blue Concert’ features Jill’s Cashbox, a 6-piece band with a ‘deep love’ of rock/country music. Telling the stories of their lives through their music, “Jill’s Cashbox is an absolutely fantastic live ensemble,” cheers Today & Tonight Magazine, “returning to what the root of country music is…’story tellin’ and painting a picture about life down South, good lovin’ country music that’s good for the soul!” The concert is FREE – no tickets required.

April 11 at 10:30 am & 12 noon – Symphony Story Time – ‘The Tortoise & The Hare’

In a new program for children, presented by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, pre-school through 2nd graders are invited to ‘Symphony Story Time,’ a new series of short ORCHESTRAL concerts based on children’s stories including ‘The Tortoise & the Hare.’ The concerts feature actors, narrators, and Orchestra Musicians who invite Parents and children to arrive 30 minutes early to The Plaza Live Theatre at 425 N. Bumby Ave in Orlando for activities such as an “instrument petting zoo” where children can touch (and play) real instruments. Schools and groups call 407.896.6700 x232. Regular admission is $9. Call 407.770.0071 or visit orlandophil.org

April 15 at 2pm & 8 pm– Orlando Philharmonic Suggests, “Let’s Fall in Love”

‘Love is in the air’ as Rob Fisher conducts the Orlando Philharmonic with two of the greatest Broadway voices of all time. Joining the Orchestra for two performances of love songs from Broadway, are Multi-platinum-selling singer and Broadway star Ann Hampton Callaway and Orlando’s own ‘record-holder’ for most performances in the lead role of the ‘Phantom’ Davis Gaines. This evening of love songs will help you fall in love – all over again – with the greatest songs ever written Call 407.770.0071 or visit orlandophil.org

April 15 to 23 – HELLO DOLLY! by Rollins Theatre and Music

I can’t wait to see the Rollins College Theatre and Music Departments take on one of the BIGGEST, GRANDEST BROADWAY MUSICALS of all time. Having watched this department over time, the bigger their ambition, the more they grow. We all hope for great things as we enjoy the story of the beloved matchmaker Dolly Levi who has hatched a plan to marry Horace Vandergelder, the famous “half a millionaire.” The stage action is about HOW Dolly gets what she wants and, along the way, we hear Broadway classics including “Before the Parade Passes By,” “Put on Your Sunday Clothes,” and the unforgettable “Hello Dolly.”  Call the Annie Russell Theatre Box Office at 407.646.2145 or visit annieboxofficea[at]rollins.edu

April 16 at 2 pm – Central Florida Ballet's "9/11 An American Moment"

As we approach the 15th Anniversary of 9/11, the Central Florida Ballet Studio Company will present CFB’s original production “9/11 An American Moment.” Capturing the American patriotism, resolve and pride in response to the World Trade Center attack, the House of Representatives in Washington D.C. has recognized the Central Florida Ballet as ”the only company in the nation to have created a ballet based on this fateful day in American history.” Presented at the ME Theatre at 1300 La Quinta Drive in Orlando, purchase $10 advance tix at 407.849.9948 x10 or visit centralfloridaballet.com

Photo Credit:  Virginia Trudeau and Deedee Sherman.

April 16 – The American Cancer Society Cattle Barons Ball

‘Party with a purpose’ at the American Cancer Society Cattle Baron’s Ball on April 16 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in a ‘fun-raiser’ evening including live music and dancing, gourmet cuisine and cocktails, and live and silent auction items. The Blue Stone Circle Band will rock the stage with dancing till the cows come home. Every dollar raised at Cattle Barons Ball helps the American Cancer Society save lives. Since its inception, the event has raised $3 million in the fight against cancer. Call Dyan Goodman at 407.581.2503 or visit CattleBaronsBallOrlando.com

April 16 at 7:30 pm & April 17 at 3 pm – Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9

Universally considered the greatest musical work of all time, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 extols the elusive concept of the brotherhood of man. Hear the music performed in the idyllic setting of the Knowles Chapel at Rollins College, performed by a community choir of dedicated singers celebrating the 25th season Music Director John Sinclair has led the group. Is it possible for this sublime performance to be enhanced? YES – as the Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra also perform the world premiere of "Music, Awake!" from Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul Moravec. Note: two performances only. Call 407.646.2182 or visit bachfestivalflorida.org

April 17 – Ice Cream Social (Public Invited) for Ronald McDonald House

Bring your ‘favorite’ friends and family to a celebration full of ice cream and sweets to benefit the families served by Ronald McDonald House Charities. From 1 pm to 5 pm on April 17 guests of all ages will enjoy an assortment of ice cream creations along with live entertainment, face painting, a cake walk, games, prizes, a silent auction and more.  All this sweetness helps provide a ‘home away from home’ for 1,700 families who stay at Ronald McDonald House to be close to their critically ill children. Tickets on sale at both Ronald McDonald Houses in Orlando: $6 advance / $8 at door / children under 3 free.  Call 407.677.1552

Columnist Scott Maxwell and son scooping for Ronald McDonald House

Current -- Heart of Florida United Way’s Annual Women’s Leadership Luncheon = Results

What could a long-distance swimmer, the first person to ever complete the 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida, have to do with the literacy of children in our local public schools?  The answer is that on March 17, Heart of Florida United Way hosted its 9th Annual Women’s Leadership Luncheon with Diana Nyad as keynote speaker. Ms. Nyad made that historic swim in 2013, and in 2016 she spoke at the Luncheon at which more than $178,000 was raised to increase literacy in local schools. CONGRATULATIONS to Ms. Nyad; to the Women’s Leadership Council; to Heart of FL United Way, and to all the school children whose lives will be enriched because they will read and comprehend at a new level thanks to this remarkable gift.

Pictured: Women’s Leadership Council Steering Committee

Josh Garrick is the Florida Arts Editor for Wandering Educators






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