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Inside the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts






Superior A N O T H E R







©Cucciaioni Photography 2016

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I choose Orlando Health. Orlando Regional Medical Center Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies UF Health Cancer Center – Orlando Health Dr. P. Phillips Hospital Health Central Hospital South Seminole Hospital South Lake Hospital Orlando Health Physician Associates Orlando Health Physicians

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The arts center’s second phase will feature a hall designed for unplugged performances.

Summer programs at the Dr. Phillips Center Florida Hospital School of the Arts offer real-world guidance.

Morgan Stanley Moments presents a constellation of stars, all of whom will make memories to last a lifetime.

By Dana S. Eagles

By Randy Noles

By Randy Noles



CONTACT US Physical Address: 445 S. Magnolia Ave. Orlando, FL 32801 Box Office Hours: Monday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Saturday, noon - 4 p.m. 844.513.2014


Administrative Address: 155 E. Anderson St. Orlando, FL 32801 407.839.0119






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To keep up with what’s new, be sure to check To purchase tickets, WHITE LOGO (dont inclu visit the website or call the box office at 844.513.2014 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and between noon and 4 p.m. on Saturdays. DATE





In the Mood, Presented by Artbeat Inc.

Bob Carr Theater

2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.


Zora Neale Hurston: A Theatrical Biography

Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater

8 p.m.


Performers with a Purpose, Featuring The Edge Effect

Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater

2 p.m. and 7 p.m.


Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, in Association with AEG Live

Walt Disney Theater 7:30 p.m.


Morgan Stanley Moments: Spend the Night with Billy Crystal, with Special Guest Bonnie Hunt, in Association with Larry Magid Entertainment

Walt Disney Theater 7:30 p.m.


The Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra Plays the Beatles, Keith Lockhart, Conductor, Sponsored by Fidelity Investments

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


An Evening of Classic Lily Tomlin

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


Fábio Porchat: Na Comedia Fora do Normal

Bob Carr Theater


Shen Yun 2017: Experience a Divine Culture

Walt Disney Theater 7 p.m.


FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando™: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder*

Walt Disney Theater Showtimes Vary


VFW Post 3282 Presents Dionne Warwick, with Special Guest Myles Savage’s Motown Party Tour

Walt Disney Theater 7:30 p.m.


OUC Speakers: Deepak Chopra: The Future of Wellbeing

Walt Disney Theater 7:30 p.m.


Upright Citizens Brigade Touring Company

Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater


An Evening with The Piano Guys, in Association with AEG Live

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live

Walt Disney Theater 7 p.m.


Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone™ in Concert with the Orlando Walt Disney Theater Showtimes Vary Philharmonic Orchestra


Joe Bonamassa, in Association with JR Affiliates

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


Encore! Cast Performing Arts Presents Godspell

Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater


Orlando Ballet: A Tribute to Harriet — Best of Broadway

Walt Disney Theater 7 p.m.


Terry Fator, in Association with AEG Live

Walt Disney Theater 7:30 p.m.


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Walt Disney Theater 7:30 p.m.



artsLife | SPRING 2017

9 p.m.

7:30 p.m.

Showtimes Vary

Performances subject to change





8 p.m.


Celtic Woman — Voices of Angels, Presented by Madstone Productions

Bob Carr Theater


Morgan Stanley Moments: Smokey Robinson

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


Orlando Philharmonic: Irish Romance

Bob Carr Theater


An Evening with Tony Bennett

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando™: Theater Under the Stars Production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid*

Walt Disney Theater Showtimes Vary


Norah Jones Day Breaks World Tour, in Association with Beaver Productions

Bob Carr Theater

8 p.m.


Orlando Jazz Festival, Presented by Empowerment Inc.

Seneff Arts Plaza

Showtimes Vary


Brain Candy Live! with Adam Savage and Michael Stevens, Presented by 35 Concerts

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


Pilobolus: Shadowland

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


Orlando Philharmonic: Rimma Plays Tchaikovsky

Bob Carr Theater


Orlando Ballet: Masterworks

Walt Disney Theater Showtimes Vary


Orlando Opera: Don Giovanni

Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater

Showtimes Vary


Tango Lovers: The Best Musical Show of the Year, Presented by COPA Airlines and TL Tango Lovers Organization

Bob Carr Theater

8 p.m.


Brian Wilson Presents Pet Sounds: The Final Performances, with Special Guests Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin, in Association with AEG Live

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


Steve Miller Band, in Association with AEG Live

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.

2 p.m. & 8 p.m.

8 p.m.


Orlando Philharmonic: A Tribute to Marvin Hamlisch

Bob Carr Theater

2 p.m. and 8 p.m.


The Price is Right Live!

p.m. and Walt Disney Theater 3:30 7:30 p.m.


Orlando Philharmonic: Mahler 2 — Resurrection

Bob Carr Theater

8 p.m.


Orlando Philharmonic: The Final Frontier

Bob Carr Theater

2 p.m. and 8 p.m.


Chris Rock Total Blackout Tour, in Association with Live Nation

Walt Disney Theater Showtimes Vary


Morgan Stanley Moments: Bernadette Peters, with Music Director Marvin Laird

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


The Festival of Bacon

Seneff Arts Plaza


Alton Brown Live: Eat Your Science

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


Morgan Stanley Moments: Sheryl Crow

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions, Produced by Princeton Entertainment

Walt Disney Theater 2 p.m.

11 a.m.

MAY 5/5-5/7

Orlando Ballet: A Cinderella Story

Walt Disney Theater Showtimes Vary


FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando™: Matilda — The Musical

Walt Disney Theater Showtimes Vary


Julianne and Derek Hough: Move — Beyond — Live on Tour

Walt Disney Theater 7:30 p.m.


FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando™: Finding Neverland

Walt Disney Theater Showtimes Vary


PAW Patrol Live! Race to the Rescue, a VStar Entertainment Production, Presented by Pedigree

Walt Disney Theater Showtimes Vary


Performances subject to change

SPRING 2017 | artsLife



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artsLife | SPRING 2017



Using state-of-the-art acoustics technology and a system of hydraulic lifts, Steinmetz Hall will be able to host a ballet or a symphonic performance one night and a gala cocktail reception or sit-down dinner event the following night. SPRING 2017 | artsLife


Steinmetz Hall will sit adjacent to the current arts center complex, on what was previously a grassy mall along South Street. The site plan (below) indicates where the hall and other projects are slated to be built.


teinmetz Hall, the new acoustical theater taking shape at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, will complete the original three-theater vision for the downtown complex. The 1,700-seat venue will provide a home for unplugged performances, such as symphonic music, that rely on the fidelity of sound. In addition, through use of a sophisticated hydraulic system, the stage may be reconfigured or recessed, and the floor may be changed from angled to flat. That means the hall will be able to host an array of non-performance special events as well. Construction will begin early this year on the state-of-the-art facility. It will border South Street and tie into the existing building, which encompasses the Walt Disney Theater (about 2,700 seats) and the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater (about 300 seats). Steinmetz Hall, along with several other amenities in the arts center’s much-anticipated Phase 2, is expected to open in 2020. “Having a hall that can showcase local arts organizations as well as national and international groups is going to bring even more people to what’s already a great place to be together,” says Kathy Ramsberger, the arts center’s president and CEO. Here are answers to questions that arts center guests often have about the project: How will the new theater be used? Steinmetz Hall has been designed specifically for acoustic performances, although it will be adaptable for special events of 12

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all types. Listeners seated anywhere in the venue will be able to hear what’s happening onstage without amplification, making it ideal for musical and theatrical presentations in which the purity of sound is important. The arts center’s existing performance spaces rely on amplified sound. So does the 2,500-seat Bob Carr Theater, an arts center venue located on West Livingston Street, about a mile north of the downtown complex. How did it get the name Steinmetz Hall? The theater has been named for Chuck Steinmetz and Margery Pabst-Steinmetz, the couple who donated $12 million. Chuck Steinmetz, who founded and then sold sev-

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eral pest-control companies, serves on the arts center’s executive committee. Margery Pabst-Steinmetz is a philanthropist, an expert on caregiving issues and a member of the advisory council for the Dr. Phillips Center Florida Hospital School of the Arts. The couple has a passion for classical music, jazz and ballet, so the investment was a natural for them. But Chuck Steinmetz says their gift was also intended to create momentum — and to stimulate more donations. “It was very important for something to happen so that money would start coming from other sources,” he notes. “We felt that making this commitment would serve the community.” Steinmetz has lived in the Orlando area for 47 years, and has been working on the arts center for the past 12. “I remember when it was just a concept,” he says. “It’s been a very exciting trip to get to this point.” What will make it such a good place to hear music? With 1,700 seats on the floor and in three tiers, Steinmetz Hall will allow everyone to sit reasonably close to performers, says Damian Doria, a partner in New Jersey-based Stages Consultants, who helped design the building’s acoustics. Using a moving shell and towers, the stage can be hydraulically lengthened, shortened or even lowered to create a flat floor. “I think what’s being done may be unique in the country, and maybe the world,” adds Doria. Visit if you’re a visual learner, and watch the architectural flythrough video. It uses digital animation to show the room reconfiguring itself to accommodate various performance genres and special events for which there is no stage required. Every component of Steinmetz Hall, from the foundation to the water pipes, will isolate vibration from external sources so that audiences hear only the sound of the performers. Who will perform in the new theater? For starters, it will be home to the Orlando Ballet and the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, the arts center’s resident companies. The Philharmonic is now playing its subscription concerts at the Bob Carr Theater, but Music Director Eric Jacobsen is eager to move. “For members of the Philharmonic to have a home in Steinmetz Hall — and for Orlando to have a performing arts venue of this magnitude — is a total game changer for the local 14

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arts community,” says Jacobsen, a cellist who became the orchestra’s conductor in 2015. “The Philharmonic musicians and I can’t wait to perform in this hall,” he adds. “I can tell you that the caliber of music we’ll be able to present is going to look and sound incredible.” Robert Hill, the ballet’s artistic director, says he wants to use live music as much as possible for his company’s performances. So, having use of a venue designed with sound in mind is, understandably, an exciting prospect. “I think it’s the same consideration for us as it is for the Philharmonic,” he says. “If you have a live orchestra, traditionally that means being placed in a hall that’s acoustically appropriate.” Hill adds that completion of the project will allow performing arts groups to select the space most appropriate for each production. “When you have those three really different venues available, you can have quite a variety of presentations going on at the same time,” he says. “It’s a win-win for audiences and performers.” Ramsberger expects Steinmetz Hall to host a variety of genres in addition to orchestra and ballet. Guests can anticipate “unplugged” concerts, operas and other types of performances that demand acoustical sophistication, she says. Will it be used for other kinds of events, too? Yes. Steinmetz Hall will be a versatile, “multiform” facility that can be used for a variety of social, educational and creative functions. Because the floor will convert from angled to flat, the space will be suitable for special events other than performances. For example, as many as 1,000 people could mingle at a cocktail party, or as many as 688 people could be seated for a banquet. Phase 2 will also include a kitchen to serve events in Steinmetz Hall and elsewhere at the arts center. And there’ll be The Green Room, a flexible rehearsal and performance space named for donors Joyce and Judson Green, who recently added $4 million to an earlier gift of $1 million. The Green Room, which will have its own entrance from South Street, has been designed to accommodate a wide variety of performances and can be reconfigured to suit particular events. For example, 175 to 200 people could be seated cabaret style.

A $12 million donation from local philanthropists Margery Pabst-Steinmetz and Chuck Steinmetz helped jump-start construction of the hall that’s now named in their honor.

Where is it being built? Steinmetz Hall will be on land that was set aside on the arts center’s nine-acre campus in downtown Orlando. The construction site is the former grassy mall along South Street, between the existing arts center and First United Methodist Church. When the new hall is tied into the current complex, visitors will be able to enter all three theaters from the main lobby. Whiting-Turner will serve as construction manager, and the work is expected to take 36 months. Why wasn’t an acoustical theater included in the original construction? Such a theater was always a key component of the complex, Ramsberger explains. But its construction was deferred in 2008 because of the economic downturn, which put a crimp in Orange County tourist-tax revenue used to fund much of the project. Construction was then divided into two phases, with the Walt Disney Theater and the multipurpose Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater opening as part of Phase 1 in late 2014.

Although Steinmetz Hall will have fewer seats than the Walt Disney Theater, it will be more expensive to build because of its acoustical demands, Ramsberger says. How much will the second phase cost? The projected cost is about $203 million. Of that amount, more than $51 million will come from philanthropic donations, while $143 million has been pledged from Orange County tourist taxes, which visitors pay on lodging. A series of local government votes late last year provided a $45 million increase in tourist-tax funding for the project, allowing construction to begin. The cost of the arts center as a whole is expected to total about $570 million. “It took determination and focus to get it done,” Ramsberger says of the years of planning, fundraising and negotiating that have resulted in the start of work on the second phase. “Our board, our donors and our elected leaders raised the money and stayed the course. Orlando is worthy of having something exceptional, because this is an exceptional city.”  SPRING 2017 | artsLife




entral Floridians have waited decades for a concert space with the acoustical sophistication of the soon-to-be-built Steinmetz Hall. But perhaps no one has been more patient — or more eager — than California architect Barton Myers. Myers’ design for Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts originally encompassed three theaters. But then the Great Recession hit, meaning the complex had to be built in phases. The arts center opened in November 2014 with two theaters and an adjacent tract set aside for a third, which would be built when the economy recovered and funds were available. “It’s like the building was built and somebody cut my shoulder and right arm off,” Myers says by phone from Santa Barbara, where at 82 he still leads the architectural firm that bears his name. Yet Myers leaves no doubt that the new hall will have been well worth the wait when it opens in 2020. “From Day 1, there were always great ambitions for this,” says Myers, an internationally renowned architect whose portfolio includes performing arts centers in Newark, New Jersey; Portland, Oregon; and Cerritos, California. “Steinmetz could be one of the most ambitious rooms in the world.” A Virginia native, Myers studied architecture at the University of Pennsylvania and practiced in Toronto before moving his firm’s headquarters to Southern California. He has won major architecture awards in the U.S. and Canada, and has lectured around the world. Myers is quick to point out that his enthusiasm for the 1,700-seat venue should take nothing away from the value of the larger Walt Disney Theater or the more intimate Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater. Each of those spaces, 16

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he says, serves an important purpose. Myers notes that Steinmetz Hall is a modern interpretation of the traditional horseshoe-shaped concert hall. But this “multiform” theater can be adapted for other uses — without acoustical compromises — via a floor that can change from pitched to flat. “You can’t afford to do a pure concert hall anymore,” says Myers, noting that cities demand versatility from their performing arts centers. But, Myers adds, the utilitarian aspects of the hall need not detract from its aesthetics or its integrity as a world-class performing space. Liberal use of light cherry wood will make the room beautiful as well as acoustically “warm,” he notes. “You can have a lovely acoustic room, but if it’s cold, the acoustics aren’t good,” Myers says. “Somehow, a wooden room has the warmth required. These rooms are like very fine-tuned instruments — like a violin or cello.” The opening of Steinmetz Hall will complete an architectural vision based upon the principle that a performing arts center should reflect the ambiance of the city in which it’s located. “A performing arts center should be truly part of the city,” Myers says. “It should bring people together.” That’s certainly been true of the arts center. In addition to the three indoor theaters, the sweeping Seneff Arts Plaza was designed to serve as a location for outdoor concerts and festivals. However, the plaza played another, even more significant role when it emerged as a community gathering place — a place for grieving and healing — in the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub shooting. Another design goal, Myers adds, was to create a complex that pays architectural homage to the city’s past and “tells us something about ourselves.” For example, most Florida homes built

Architect Barton Myers leaves no doubt that Steinmetz Hall will have been well worth the wait when it opens in 2020.

prior to the advent of air conditioning featured spacious porches as places to escape summer’s sweltering heat. So, in designing the arts center, Myers reinterpreted the front porch with “a big shed roof.” The arrival experience is a critical component of any public building, Myers says. The use of glass and dramatic lighting from within are intended to make the building as transparent as possible. “We want people to think: ‘That looks like fun. I want to be

there,’” he adds. Myers, whose firm has designed everything from homes to large mixed-use developments, plans to have a representative on site during construction to help implement the details of the Steinmetz Hall design. There’s a lot at stake for his firm, and for the community. But for Myers, it’s also about his legacy. “I believe,” he says, “that this is the best thing I’ve ever done.” — Dana S. Eagles SPRING 2017 | artsLife














w w w. u m i w i n t e r p a r k . c o m 1/2 block from Rollins College next to 7/11 525 S. Park Ave. Winter Park, FL 32789

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YEAR-ROUND JESS T. DUGAN (American, b. 1986) Betsy (detail), 2013 Archival Inkjet print Purchased with funds provided by the Diversity Council, Rollins College


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CIRCLE OF ANTHONY VAN DYCK (FLEMISH, 1599–1641) Portrait of Henrietta Maria, ca. 1640s Oil on canvas Gift of the Myers Family, Mr. and Mrs. John C. Myers, Jr. ‘42 and June Reinhold Myers ‘41, in memory of John C. Myers, Sr.



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SUMMER PROGRAMS WHITE LOGO (dont include black square)




Summer programs at the Dr. Phillips Center Florida Hospital School of the Arts encompass singing, dancing, acting and playing musical instruments. SPRING 2017 | artsLife



he philosophy of combining fun with a serious sense of purpose runs through the Dr. Phillips Center Florida Hospital School of the Arts Summer Programs, which offer professional instruction for young people in genres ranging from dance to acting to musical theater performance. There’s also a Jazz Music Intensive Week for serious players, and an inclusive Theater Week for specialneeds students. “Our team of industry professionals create an immersive environment for character development, skill training and expanding your performance potential,” says Dana Brazil, the arts center’s director of education. “Prepare to be challenged, thrilled and inspired as you grow your talent through technique.” The weeklong sessions last all day, Monday through Friday, and culminate with performances for invited friends and family members at one of the arts center’s venues. There’s an hour break for a brown-bag lunch, which students should bring.

Weekly tuition starts at $275, although full or partial scholarships based on financial need are available through the School of the Arts scholarship fund established by the Kiwanis Club of Orlando Foundation. Prospective students or their parents may request a scholarship application by sending an email to Simply spending five intensive days training at a world-class performing arts center gives students a sense of how professionals work, and the variety of skills they need to learn and master. But it’s the high-profile faculty — a mix of local and visiting artists from a variety of genres — that really sets the experience apart. 22

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For example, the “Take it From the Top” Broadway Week session will be run by veteran stage performer Paul Canaan (Kinky Boots), who’s back for the third year, along with visiting professional actors and casting directors whom Canaan recruits. Distinguished bassist Rodney Whitaker, who directs the renowned jazz studies program at Michigan State University, will also return, along with his A-list squad of premier players, to run the Jazz Music Intensive Week. Because class size is strictly limited, make reservations now by visiting schoolofthearts. More information about the summer program may be found on the following pages.

Students of all ages are encouraged to express their talents in an immersive but supportive environment (left). Broadway’s Paul Canaan (Kinky Boots) is back for the third year, joined by an assortment of actors and casting directors. These seasoned pros become mentors as well as instructors.



AGES: 7-12 DATES/TIMES: June 5-9, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Final Showcase, June 9, 7 p.m. TUITION: $275 ($300 after May 19) CAPACITY: 50 During Theater Arts Week, students learn to create a world using a script and their imagination. In a nurturing and supportive environment, they explore improvisation, drama, theater games and script work with an emphasis on personal expression, imagination, confidence and socialization. Final Showcase is in the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater.

AGES: Section A (10-14); Section B (15-18) DATES/TIMES: June 19- 23, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Final Showcase, June 23, 7 p.m. TUITION: $275 ($300 after May 19) CAPACITY: 25 per section Theater Week teaches students to develop their own acting techniques by diving into a script, sharing their creativity with a scene partner and incorporating energy from an audience. Student actors will grow in skill, craft and artistry. Final Showcase is in the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater.

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TAKE IT FROM THE TOP BROADWAY WEEK AGES: Pre-teens (10-13); Teens (14-20) DATES/TIMES: June 12-16, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Final Showcase, June 16, 7 p.m. TUITION: $425 ($450 after May 19) CAPACITY: 40 pre-teens; 40 teens Take It From the Top Broadway Week offers students a rare opportunity to learn from a talented team of Broadway veterans and casting directors. Paul Canaan (Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde, Thoroughly Modern Millie, La Cage Aux Folles, and Miss Saigon) and Tony nominee Laura Bell Bundy (Legally Blonde, Wicked, Hairspray and Ruthless) designed the program, during which students explore the “triple threat” of singing, dancing and acting. Industry pros — who become mentors to their students — also discuss auditioning, casting and rehearsing. Prepare a 32-bar cut of an age-appropriate musical theater song, and bring sheet music for a first-day placement audition. Final Showcase is in the Walt Disney Theater. Dana Brazil, the arts center’s director of education, has a message for incoming students: “Prepare to be challenged, thrilled and inspired.”


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MUSICAL THEATER WEEK AGES: 7-12 DATES/TIMES: June 26-30, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Final Showcase, June 30, 7 p.m. TUITION: $295 ($320 after May 19) CAPACITY: 50 Musical Theater Week teaches students to grow their vocal and performance abilities. Vocal technique is established by working on classic show tunes and exploring modern styles. Developing the story of the song and the motivation of the character brings musical theater acting to life. Final Showcase is in the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater.   

JAZZ MUSIC INTENSIVE WEEK WITH RODNEY WHITAKER AGES: 13-Adult DATES/TIMES: July 10-14, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Final Showcase, July 14, 7 p.m. TUITION: $425 CAPACITY: 55 Jazz Music Intensive Week is directed by Rodney Whitaker, an internationally renowned bassist and Mack Avenue recording artist. Whitaker is a professor of jazz bass and director of jazz studies at Michigan State University, where he built one of the leading jazz degree programs in the U.S. and assembled an elite faculty of performers. A committed jazz educator, Whitaker has presented numerous master classes, and consults with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on development of its jazz education department. He has also served on the faculties of the University of Michigan and Julliard Institute of Jazz. Jazz Music Intensive Week wraps up with two performances; a faculty showcase and a student big-band showcase in the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater.

VOCAL PERFORMANCE WEEK AGES: Section A (10-14); Section B (15-18) DATES/TIMES: July 17-21, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.; Final Showcase, July 21, 7 p.m. TUITION: $295 ($320 after May 19) CAPACITY: 25 per section Vocal Performance Week teaches students to integrate technique with passion and creative interpretation. This collaborative and confidence-building experience teaches interpretation principles, vocal techniques and storytelling — all brought together with a sense of musicality. Final Showcase is in the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater.   

DANCE WEEK AGES: Section A (9-12); Section B (13-18) DATES/TIMES: July 24-28, 9-4 p.m.; Final Showcase, July 28, 7 p.m. TUITION: $275 ($300 after May 19) CAPACITY: 25 per section Dance Week emphasizes technique, vocabulary, leaps and creative choreography. Students with a passion for dance explore modern, contemporary, jazz, hiphop and ballet-based styles, learning to marry intention with movement. There will be a placement audition on the first day. Final Showcase is in the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater.   

OCA THEATER WEEK Serving Students with Special Needs DATES: July 31-August 4 In this community outreach program, the arts center’s education staff partners with OCA (Opportunity, Community, Ability) for a weeklong theater camp. Specialneeds students participate in all aspects of the creative process, from writing a play to building sets to staging a performance during which everyone is on stage in some way. Parents and caregivers report that students show growth in speech and language, confidence and social skills. Final Showcase is in the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater. For more information or to register for this camp call 407.808.7837 or email 


Irish Romance Sat., March 4 at 2 & 8 p.m.

Experience a musical immersion into the dramatic culture and rich history that is Ireland. The Orlando Philharmonic and Trí-The New Irish Tenors transport you to this land of beautiful landscapes and legendary love stories with live music, showcasing tunes like “Danny Boy,” “Red is the Rose” and “The Rocky Road to Dublin.”

The Final Frontier Sat., April 15 at 2 & 8 p.m.

Join us for an exciting voyage and experience live sci-fi and space-themed music from Star Wars, Superman, E.T., 2001: Space Odyssey, Star Trek and more! Narrated by none other than Commander William T. Riker of the Starship Enterprise, Jonathan Frakes. CONCERT SPONSOR


Presented at the Bob Carr Theater | 407.770.0071 407.770.0071 | SPRING 2017 | artsLife





8 p.m.

Alan Cumming, one of the most versatile entertainers imaginable, is a star of stage and screen. But he’s also winning raves for his eclectic cabaret show.


artsLife | SPRING 2017



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Cumming's characters (left to right): Eli Gold in The Good Wife, the Emcee in Cabaret, and Nightcrawler in X2: X-Men United.


lan Cumming is described as “a bawdy countercultural sprite” by The New York Times and “one of the most fun people in show business” by Time magazine. The Scottish-born actor, author and activist is certainly one of the most versatile performers imaginable — endearingly strange, but endlessly fascinating. And he boasts legions of fans who can’t wait to see what he tries next. Turns out, it’s a New York-style cabaret show. Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs offers locals a bite of the Big Apple on Saturday, March 4, at the Walt Disney Theater. Showtime is 8 p.m., and ticket prices start at $35. You likely know Cumming from his role as the blunt but astute campaign strategist Eli Gold on the CBS legal and political drama The Good Wife. But he’s also an extraordinarily entertaining concert artist, as discerning New Yorkers found out in 2015.

Sappy Songs premiered at the legendary Café Carlyle on the Upper East Side, where it drew packed houses of both celebrities and everyday aficionados eager to see the Emmy nominee and Tony winner in a cabaret setting. Cumming has since taken the show on the road, touring extensively throughout the U.S., Canada and Australia. Last February, he brought Sappy Songs back to New York and sold out Carnegie Hall. That show was recorded and released as a live album. “I’d wanted to do my own show for a very long time, but I’d been terrified at the prospect of singing without the veil of a character,” Cumming told an interviewer. “Every now and then when I was very brave, or had been emotionally blackmailed, I would sing a song at a gala or an event as myself, and 28

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really was amazed by the connection I felt between me and the audience.” Cumming pulled his first full concert together in 2009, when he was invited to take part in the American Songbook Series at New York’s Lincoln Center. He dubbed the show I Bought a Blue Car Today, and in it he talked about deciding to become an American citizen. (“I bought a blue car today” was the sentence he had to write during his naturalization test to demonstrate his mastery of the English language.) Several weeks after the Lincoln Center show, he performed I Bought a Blue Car Today in Australia at the Sydney Opera House. Later that year, he released an album of the same name, and opened the show on London’s West End. A highly suc-


cessful U.S. tour followed. Between filming episodes of The Good Wife, Cumming continued his concert appearances, including the memorable Alan and Liza at the Palace, featuring old friend Liza Minnelli, at the Cherry Grove Beach Hotel’s Ice Palace nightclub on Fire Island. The show later moved to Town Hall in New York, where another live album was recorded. Cumming continued to occasionally take I Bought a Blue Car Today on the road, and put together a new show titled Alan Cumming: Uncut, which was staged in New York, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Fort Lauderdale and San Francisco. In 2015, he developed Sappy Songs for a two-week stint at the Café Carlyle. That’s the quintessential New York supper club where for 37 years legendary pianist Bobby Short was in residence, and where a clarinet-wielding Woody Allen still regularly jams with the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band. Sappy Songs, which Cumming described as his most personal and intimate show to date, was recorded and released as a live album. It was a bona fide Manhattan happening, with celebrities routinely showing up to see what the frenetic entertainer was up to. During the show’s run, Cumming shared the stage with Kristin Chenoweth — with

whom he co-hosted the 2015 Tony Awards broadcast on CBS — and the New York Gay Chorus. The song selection was eclectic, ranging from Miley Cyrus to Stephen Sondheim. “All these songs mean something to me,” he warned, “so get your hankies ready.” Cumming, 52, has acted in a number of London stage productions, perhaps most notably in Bent, a harrowing account of the treatment of two gay men in a Nazi concentration camp. On Broadway, he has appeared in The Threepenny Opera, Design for Living and in a one-man adaptation of Macbeth. His performance as the bizarre master of ceremonies in a revival of Cabaret won him a Tony in 1998. Jennifer Jason Leigh played Sally Bowles, the cabaret singer, in that production. Cumming has also appeared in numerous films. Among them was 1996’s Emma, in which he played the Reverend Elton opposite Gwyneth Paltrow, and 1997’s Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, in which he played Sandy Frink opposite Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino. He also had a role in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (1999). In 2001, Cumming collaborated on the ensemble comedy-drama The Anniversary Party, in which he and Leigh, his former Cabaret co-star, played a troubled Hollywood couple. The film, which The New York SPRING 2017 | artsLife


Cumming's achingly honest autobiography, released in 2014, recalls how he overcame a brutal upbringng and came to terms with a dark family secret.

Times described as “articulate and acutely observant,” premiered at Cannes and garnered two Independent Spirit nominations and a National Board of Review award. Cumming then tackled the superhero genre, appearing in 2003’s X2: X-Men United as Nightcrawler, a mutant who possesses superhuman agility, the ability to teleport, and adhesive hands and feet. He went on to star in and direct Suffering Man’s Charity, a comedy-horror film released in 2007 as Ghost Writer. On TV, Cumming introduces Masterpiece Mystery! for PBS and has been nominated for three Emmys, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and a Golden Globe Award

for his role on The Good Wife. Although The Good Wife ended last year, CBS is developing a new vehicle for Cumming. In Dr. Death, based on the upcoming book of the same name by James Patterson, he’ll play a former CIA operative who’s coaxed back into his old life when the NYPD needs his help to stop a serial killer on the loose. The multitalented Cumming has also written a book of fiction, Tommy’s Tale: A Novel of Sex, Confusion and Happy Endings (2006), and an autobiography, Not My Father’s Son, A Family Memoir (2014), a noholds-barred exploration of his damaged childhood and his fraught relationship with his violently abusive father. A talented journalist and essayist — is there anything this man can’t do? — Cumming has also penned articles for publications such as Newsweek, Modern Painters, Out, Black Book and The Wall Street Journal. He served as a guest editor of Marie Claire, and has written introductions and prefaces to various books. A tireless champion for LGBT rights and HIV/AIDS awareness, Cumming serves on the board of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. He has been awarded the Great Scot and Icon of Scotland awards, and has had his portrait unveiled at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. 

EVENT: Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs DATE/TIME: Saturday, March 4, 8 p.m. VENUE: Walt Disney Theater NOTES: The multitalented actor, author and activist is touring the country with a critically acclaimed cabaret show. TICKETS: Prices start at $35 844.513.2014 •

DID YOU KNOW? In 2005, Cumming released an award-winning fragrance called “Cumming,” and a related line of scented bath lotion and body wash. A second fragrance, called “Second (Alan) Cumming,” was released in 2011, with all proceeds going to charity.


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BO BARTLETT: AMERICAN ARTIST JANUARY 27 – MAY 5 BO BARTLETT: AMERICAN ARTIST presents large-scale figurative oil paintings that are psychologically imbued, beautifully rendered, and wonderfully sublime by one of the most significant American Realist painters working today. Bo Bartlett, School of Charm, 2010, oil on linen, 86 x 100 inches. Collection of Stacy and Jay Underwood.

ALICE AYCOC K NOW – SEPTEMBER 2017 The Mennello Museum inaugurates Grounds for Exhibitions with two large-scale twin works, Waltzing Matilda and Twin Vortexes, by American sculptor Alice Aycock installed in our lakeside Sculpture Garden.






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Friday & Saturday


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7:30 p.m & 2 p.m.



Gabriel Preisser, executive director of Opera Orlando, is broadening the company's audience with inventive productions.


artsLife | SPRING 2017

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Opera Orlando's Don Pasquale featured (left to right) David Margulis, Peter Strummer and Dennis Jesse.


ne thing you don’t expect to hear from an opera star is understatement. But that’s a fair description of how a booming young baritone by the name of Gabriel Preisser characterizes his first year as artistic director of Opera Orlando. “This has all happened much faster than I anticipated,” he says. No kidding. Since the Apopka native took over the helm, the grassroots, volunteer organization has gone into overdrive, beginning with a slate of four productions, most of them sellouts, in the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater. That includes a double bill encompassing The Impresario by Mozart and Les Mamelles de Tirésias by Poulenc, as well as Don Pasquale, a three-act operatic comedy by Donizetti. Amahl and the Night Visitors, the Gian Carlo Menotti holiday favorite, packed the house in December. For the season finale, the company returns to the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater with Mozart’s magnum opus Don Giovanni. Due to themes of promiscuity, murder and retribution — the opera is, after all, subtitled The Libertine Punished — parents are advised to leave the kids at home. Preisser performs the title role in Don Giovanni, which will seduce local audiences — musically, at least — on March 24 and 25 at 7:30 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on March 26. Ticket prices start at $29. 34

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“We might be better off calling this production Don Juan Goes to College,” says Preisser, noting that Mozart’s work has been updated to place the notorious philanderer on a modern-day college campus. “The music is all Mozart, but we’re going to take this dramatic story into our own age,” he adds. “We feel it’s going to translate and resonate very powerfully.” Robert Neu, interim artistic director of Skylark Opera in St. Paul, Minnesota, will serve as stage director, while Robert Nelman, a renowned Metropolitan Opera bass-baritone, will make a special appearance as the Commendatore. Earlier in the season, the company orchestrated a benefit concert at the arts center in response to the Pulse nightclub tragedy. The production, which featured local and national bel canto vocalists, was held at the larger Walt Disney Theater. Opera Orlando has also staged several smaller productions in various locations — including a series of Opera in the Park performances in Winter Park — and organized its first-ever major fundraiser in honor of Bryce West, longtime philanthropist, arts center board of directors executive committee member and lover of opera. All of this happened within the space of a year after Preisser, a Florida State University graduate with a double major in vocal performance and commercial music, joined forces with a small band of diehard opera enthusiasts. Their ambitious goal: to build a full-fledged professional company over a three-year period, just in time to begin staging major operatic productions at the arts center’s Steinmetz Hall, the long-awaited acoustical theater that’s scheduled to be completed by then. Preisser may be a fresh face on Central Florida’s cultural scene, but otherwise the only thing new about Opera Orlando is the name — not to be confused with Orlando Opera. That was the name of a professional company that was founded in 1958, and at one time had 8,000 subscribers and a $2.7 million annual budget. In 2009, Orlando Opera declared bankruptcy after 41 years of hosting such major performers as Beverly Sills and staging elaborate productions of classic operas such as Madam Butterfly, Faust, the Mikado, Salome

Vincent Connor, general director of Opera Orlando, was previously director of the Opera Workshop program at the University of Delaware.

and Pagliacci at the Bob Carr Theater. Shortly following that company’s demise, about a dozen local opera aficionados formed a nonprofit called Florida Opera Theatre, which survived on a combination of private donations, small grants and dogged enthusiasm. Florida Opera Theater began hiring a mix of local students and professionals with Florida ties. It staged small operas and concerts in private homes, most often the lakefront home of boosters Steve and Kathy Miller of Winter Park. “We just couldn’t let go of opera,” says Kathy Miller. “It feeds our soul.” Fueled by that need, the Millers and other devotees continued to seek a more sustainable solution. “They were doing all they could to keep grand opera alive in Orlando,” says Preisser. “They were the keepers of the flame. When I heard about them, I got in touch and offered my help.” If you’re an opera buff, then you know that Preisser makes a powerful ally. His extensive resumé includes more than 40 operatic and musical theater roles, including Danilo in The Merry Widow with the Utah Festival Opera, Billy Bigelow in Carousel with the Minnesota Orchestra, Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia with the St. Petersburg Opera, Escamillo in Carmen with the Lyric Opera of the North, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore with the Shreveport Opera, Albert in Werther  with the Minnesota Opera, and Silvio in Pagliacci with Opera Naples. One of Preisser’s first suggestions: Start fresh, and change the company’s name SPRING 2017 | artsLife


from the more generic Florida Opera Theatre to the more specific Opera Orlando. “People need to know who we are,” he says. “And that we’re here to stay.” His next move was to call a former FSU classmate with directing experience and local ties: Winter Park High School graduate Vincent Connor, who was head of the Opera Workshop at the University of Delaware. Preisser — along with Connor's Winter Park family — joined forces to coax him to return home and take up the post of general director for the fledgling but ambitious local company. “Suddenly, we had these two wonderful young men with a lot of connections and a lot of talent,” says veteran opera enthusiast Rita Wilkes, former president of the Opera Gala Guild of the Florida Symphony Orchestra, which disbanded in 1993. “It’s been amazing.” Preisser knows that the top priority is building a following — and on that front, significant progress is already being made. He has noticed, for example, that audiences thus far tend to consist of two groups. There are, of course, veteran fans who remember the lavish Bob Carr productions. But there are also growing numbers of curious millennials who are intrigued by the updated style that he and Connor have grafted onto their productions. “The key is to give a good variety,” says Connor. “We’re adding a lot of contemporary touches, livening it up with inventiveness. We’ve got Disney World here, so people expect more high-concept staging. We have to maintain a balance with traditional opera — but, on the other hand, we’re going to be part of the Fringe Festival.” Opera is, not surprisingly, one of the most expensive art forms in the world, with its emphasis on elaborate sets, lavish costumes and thoroughbred performers. Attorney John Wettach, Opera Orlando board president, says that establishing the financial infrastructure to hire a paid staff and

cover production costs is his first priority. “I think what we need to do is put together a formal strategic plan that includes expanding the board with additional community leaders,” he says.“We’ve been very pleased so far with the reception we’ve gotten from [Orange County Mayor] Theresa Jacobs and [United Arts President and CEO] Flora Maria Garcia.” Another important ally is Bryce West, the opera-loving philanthropist whose passion for the art form goes back to his childhood: “The only radio my parents would let me listen to when I was a youngster was opera,” he says. Not long ago, seeking to foster greater communication and coordination among local arts groups, West invited representatives of Opera Orlando, Orlando Symphony Orchestra, and Orlando Ballet to lunch. Rather than staying to chat, West gave the waiter his credit card information, told his guests to have a constructive conversation — and walked out the door. “I think everybody’s cooperating,” he says. “The city is motivated. The county is motivated. And Opera Orlando needs to be the opera company in this town.” 

EVENT: Opera Orlando’s production of Don Giovanni DATE/TIME: March 24, 25 (8 p.m.) and 26 (2 p.m.) VENUE: Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater TICKETS: Prices start at $29 NOTES: Opera Orlando wraps up its inaugural season with Mozart’s magnum opus about the nefarious activities of Don Juan, the fictional libertine. The music is all Mozart, but the setting is on a modernday college campus. 844.513.2014 •

DID YOU KNOW? Don Juan (or Don Giovanni, in Mozart’s opera), is, of course the epitome of libertinism. He was first given literary personality in El burlador de Sevilla (The Seducer of Seville), written in 1630 by the Spanish dramatist Tirso de Molina. Over hundreds of years — and through countless works of art and literature — he would endure as the ultimate amoral cad.


artsLife | SPRING 2017

“On behalf of Dr. Phillips, Inc. and its Board of Directors; our Chairman, Jim Ferber and I would like to welcome you to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts for our third season.� - Kenneth Robinson, President & CEO

Dr. P. Phillips and his wife Della were committed to enhancing the arts in Central Florida. The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is a continuation of the Phillips family 100 year history of touching lives and promoting the arts. We are pleased to honor the Phillips Family legacy and look forward to enjoying outstanding performances with the residents of Central Florida.

D r.

s Phillips Charitie

2 ways to enjoy benefits Presale Tickets


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7:30 p.m.


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Like many entertainers, Terry Fator travels with a colorful entourage. Sometimes, it's difficult for them to keep their mouths shut.



SPRING 2017 | artsLife


The ramshackle Wrex is a crash-test dummy "whose life is a head-on collision with the 18-wheeler of fate," says Fator.


f you think you work with a bunch of dummies, consider the case of Terry Fator. As a ventriloquist, Fator works with dozens of dummies — including ones that look and sound like David Bowie, Elvis Presley, Bing Crosby and, a recent addition, Donald Trump. “I just love what I do,” says Fator, who’s escorting his puppet pals to the Walt Disney Theater on February 26. Showtime is 7:30 p.m., and ticket prices start at $39.50. “I think the joy and the love for what I do comes across on stage.” Although Fator is technically classified as a ventriloquist, he thinks of himself as an all-around entertainer. A singer, impressionist and comedian, he uses ventriloquism as a means to share his many talents. In fact, when Fator talks about how, as a literally Bible-toting fifth grader in Dallas, he began performing, he makes it sound like choosing to become a junior voice-thrower was almost accidental.

“I knew I wanted to be an entertainer,” Fator recalls. “And as a little kid, I’m thinking: ‘If we have a school talent show, I’m the only one who’s going to be doing ventriloquism.’ So it really wasn’t anything more remarkable than that.” But Fator’s act had an unexpected personal upside. “I was always awkward with girls,” he confesses. “So I let the puppet flirt with girls, which I couldn’t do myself.” Fator’s big professional break came in 2007, when he took first place on the second season of America’s Got Talent. The show helped catapult him from obscure wannabe to Vegas star with a long-term gig at the Mirage Hotel. His act at the gigantic resort and casino has been seen by more than 1 million people and counting. 40

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Although Fator occasionally uses a Trump dummy, his act isn’t political. It’s just plain fun — sometimes poignant, sometimes silly and sometimes outrageous. Plus, there's just a dash of PG-13 naughtiness thrown in for good measure. One of his dummies, for example, is the flamboyant Berry Fabulous, a puppet that does a dead-on Barbra Streisand impression. Another is Vicki the Cougar, a (perpetually) 49-year-old lounge singer who chases younger men. Fator doesn’t work only with wooden dummies, as traditional ventriloquists usually do. Some of his puppets are wooden, but others are made of felt or latex.“Whatever the character requires,” he notes. One of Fator’s most-requested routines in-

Fator, who is a singer himself, describes Maynard Thompkins (top right) as “the world’s greatest Elvis impersonator who doesn’t actually know any Elvis songs.” Julius (bottom right) is a legendary performer from the Apollo Theater whom Fator says is “much cooler I am.”

volves a mask with a remote-control mouth. He puts the mask, a wig and a glitzy gown on a volunteer from the audience — typically a man, and invariably a good sport. Then, following some show-biz banter, the two appear to sing “I Got You, Babe” as Sonny & Cher, with Fator providing both voices. “I’m always looking for new ways to entertain,” says Fator, whose mainstay impressions include Elton John and Michael Jackson. “I’m always creating new puppets and new characters.” Fator promises that his Orlando show will be much more than just a collection of funny routines. “My road show is really a story of how I went from being a janitor to headlining my own show in Vegas,” he explains. “It’s a phenomenal thing!” Phenomenal for Fator and his fans — not to mention that big bunch of dummies he works with.  EVENT: Terry Fator DATE/TIME: February 26, 7:30 p.m. VENUE: Walt Disney Theater NOTES: The celebrated singercomedian-impressionist-ventriloquist, now one of the most popular entertainers in Las Vegas, presents a multifaceted show that tells the story of his life and introduces an array of characters. TICKETS: Prices start at $39.50 844.513.2014 •

DID YOU KNOW? The Greeks called ventriloquism “gastromancy,” referring to the use of the diaphragm to project a voice without apparent lip movement. Greek ventriloquists were thought to be relaying messages from the underworld.

SPRING 2017 | artsLife




30 2 p.m.

Cute and cuddly Pikachu is one of the most popular PokĂŠmon characters. You'll see video clips of him and many of his 720 friends and foes during a symphonic performance of music from the video game series. Many fans wear PokĂŠmon attire to the shows.



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t last count, there are 802 Pokémon, which is a romanticized translation of the Japanese phrase for “pocket monster.” Among the curious creatures are Pikachu (a chubby, rodent-like Pokémon covered in yellow fur) and Charizard (a winged, dragon-like Pokémon with a fanged grin and a flaming tail). Others have names like Bulbasaur, Caterpie, Mewtwo, Jigglypuff and Snorlax. You get the idea. But even non-gamers know that Nintendo’s Pokémon empire — as well as its cast of characters — is bigger than ever with the introduction last year of Pokémon Go, the augmented-reality game in which players download an app and use their mobile devices to actually “find” Pokémon in real-world locations. Just how pervasive is Pokémon? More than 200 million Pokémon video games have been sold since 1995, and the brand, through its various platforms, grossed at least $2.1 billion in 2015 alone. The Pokémon Go app, which debuted last July, has been downloaded more than 500 million times. It was, in fact, the most downloaded app in the world in 2016. Music from the video game series has been adapted into an orchestral extrava-

ganza called Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions. That show, which packed the Walt Disney Theater in 2015, will likely do so again on April 30 at 2 p.m. Ticket prices start at $26. The encore performance is produced by Princeton Entertainment. Evolutions will again showcase the 66member Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, who’ll play as game imagery is shown on a huge screen. Returning as guest conductor will be Susie Benchasil Seiter, who has SPRING 2017 | artsLife


A Pikachu Volkswagen Beetle packed with plushies greeted fans as they arrived for Evolutions when it was performed at the arts center in December 2015.

become widely known for orchestrating music for video games and related live productions. “Pokémon audiences are my favorites,” says Seiter. “A lot of them have never been to a symphonic performance before, so they don’t know the etiquette, and I love that. They’re cheering and laughing and having a great time. It’s such an honest reaction — and very energizing for me.” The Baltimore native conducted music written by her husband, Chad Seiter, for Star Trek: The Video Game. Her other video game credits include Aliens: Colonial Marines; God of War 4: Ascension; Batman: Arkham City; The Banner Saga; and Journey. She also has a slew of television and film projects on her resumé, including orchestration for the animated film Shrek 2. Orlando boasts a vibrant gaming community, and its denizens show up in force for video game-related concerts. In addition to 2015’s Evolutions show, video-enhanced symphonies based on another iconic Nintendo video game series, The Legend of Zelda, have played Orlando three times with nary an empty seat to be found. The first time was in 2012, when The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses raised the roof at the Bob Carr Theater. Then, in 2015 and 2016, The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses—Master Quest packed the Walt Disney Theater with fans eager to hear 44

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music based on newer releases. The Zelda shows were performed by the Orlando Philharmonic, along with the 24-voice Florida Opera Theater Chorus. There are several connections between Zelda and Evolutions. Most notably, Chad Seiter composed the symphonic versions of both. His talented spouse conducted several Zelda performances (although none in Orlando) before signing on with the Evolutions tour. “I kind of fell into this because of Chad’s interest in video games,” says Susie Seiter. “In the last year or so, I’ve really become a fan of Pokémon. I love the music, but Pokémon is a whole new world that I’ve discovered.” The Zelda and Evolutions symphonies were both based on music originally written specifically for the video games by Koji Kondo and Junichi Masuda, respectively. No, you’ve probably never heard of either man — but to video game devotees, they’re legends. “The audience is filled with people who were gamers in the ’90s as well as those, young and old, who are still aficionados of the video game culture,” says Mark Fischer, the Orlando Philharmonic’s director of artistic operations, “They’re intimately familiar with each musical theme. They know the music like a fan of opera knows Tosca.” Fischer says the orchestra includes some hardcore gamers. But, he says, you don’t

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Oboist Kristin Naigus, who sat in with the Orlando Philharmonic during the previous Evolutions concert, brought a friend to lend moral support.


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have to be an expert in Pokémon to appreciate — or to play — the music, which he describes as comparable in its complexity and emotional impact to that of Stravinsky, Prokofiev or John Williams. “The music is very clearly defined in terms of the character that should be portrayed, not unlike any Brahms or Mahler symphony,” he says. “In a way, performing Pokémon is like performing an opera to a time code.” These days, Fischer notes, classical musicians are accustomed to syncing their playing to a click track they follow via headphones or ear buds. “It’s very much like performing a fast-paced opera with the music and visual elements combined,” he adds. Actually, the Pokémon universe in all its nuances is pretty complex. Essentially, the franchise is centered on the idea of humans capturing creatures — some cute, some creepy — and training them to battle one another. But, hey, it’s all in good fun; defeated Pokémon usually just faint. Evolutions provides a powerful musical retrospective spanning two decades and all six “generations” of games, including compositions from Red, Blue and Yellow; Gold, Silver and Crystal; Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald; Diamond, Pearl and Platinum; Black and White; and X and Y. By all accounts, even the most avid gamers are, indeed, giving Evolutions a big thumbs up. “Diehard fans will relish in seeing their beloved childhood memories played out in front of them,” according to Game Music Online. To Seiter, it’s as much about the families who flock to the performances as the music. “We’ve been getting a lot of kids coming with their parents,” she says. “We do an autograph session after the show. I love meeting and talking to members of the audience. It shows me that Evolutions is something that families enjoy experiencing together — and I think that’s a beautiful thing.” 

Guest conductor Susie Benchasil Seiter has orchestrated music for numerous video games and related live productions.

EVENT: Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions, with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, produced by Princeton Entertainment DATE/TIME: Sunday, April 30, 2 p.m. VENUE: Walt Disney Theater NOTES: It’s a return engagement for this multimedia symphonic extravaganza based on the Pokémon video game series and featuring the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. TICKETS: Prices start at $26 844.513.2014 •

DID YOU KNOW? If you’re a Pokémon Go player, you may already have discovered that the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater is the site of a Pokémon gym. Pokémon gyms are places you can go to battle and train your Pokémon. Once you’ve reached a high enough level (meaning at least level five), you’ll be able to join one. SPRING 2017 | artsLife


Friday & Saturday


10 & 11

4 p.m. & 12:30 p.m.

David Sanborn's blend of jazz, pop and R&B has earned him six Grammys in a career that has spanned more than 40 years.


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ome of the biggest names in jazz, including saxophonists David Sanborn and Boney James, will transform the Seneff Arts Plaza into the epicenter of the smooth-jazz universe during a two-day musical mash-up in March. The Orlando Jazz Festival is scheduled March 10 and 11 on the outdoor plaza fronting the arts center. Gates open at 4 p.m. on the 10th and at 12:30 p.m. on the 11th. Single-day passes are priced starting at $63.75, and the show goes on rain or shine. But anywhere jazz of this caliber is being played, the forecast is going to be cool — at least metaphorically. Just ask the folks in Birmingham, Alabama, where the annual Steel City Jazz Festival is held. Empowerment Inc., a Birmingham-based nonprofit, stages the Steel City Jazz Festival, and is taking the concept to a different city for the first time.

Producer Cedric Allen, founder of Empowerment Inc., says he chose Orlando because it’s a diverse community with plenty of jazz fans. Plus, he was impressed by the arts center’s striking architecture and vibrant urban setting. “It’s a great, centralized place,” Allen says. “We expect that the city will embrace what we do.” The Orlando festival will feature about 20 artists, including some heavy-hitting headliners. Sanborn, for example, has released two dozen albums and has won six Grammys since his first compilation, Taking Off, was released in 1975. His most recent album, 2015's Time and the River, "makes clear that while Sanborn hasn’t abandoned his signature sound, he continues to find new and intriguing musical avenues to explore," according to Jazz Times. SPRING 2017 | artsLife


The soulful James released his debut album, Trust, in 1992. His most recent compilation, futuresoul, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Albums chart. It contains 10 songs produced and written or co-written by James, who has four gold records to his credit. The Orlando Jazz Festival lineup also includes guitarists Marc Antoine and Norman Brown; pianist Alex Bugnon; saxophonists Kirk Whalum, Paul Taylor, Marion Meadows, Michael Lington and Najee; violinist Ken Ford; and singer-songwriter Maysa. The show will be emceed by radio personality and comedian J. Anthony Brown. Empowerment Inc. is a mentoring program that promotes education and personal development in young adults in and around Birmingham. Its programs include building community computer labs intended to overcome the digital divide between rich and poor. “We designed it with the idea of growing it,” Allen says of the Steel City event, which has drawn an average of 30,000 people to downtown Birmingham every year since its debut in 2014. Part of the proceeds from the Steel City Jazz Festival benefit Birmingham charities. Likewise, Allen says, the Orlando Jazz Festival will establish local charitable tie-ins. Along with the music, there’ll be plenty of food and drink from a wide range of vendors. Blankets and low-back lawn chairs will be permitted. Despite the festival’s size, its performers have a way of creating an intimate atmosphere. Notes Allen: “It’s almost as if they’re playing to you.”  — Dana S. Eagles

Boney James’ most recent release, futuresoul, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz Albums chart.

EVENT: Orlando Jazz Festival DATES/TIMES: March 10 and 11. Gates open at 4 p.m. on March 10, and 12:30 p.m. on March 11. VENUE: Seneff Arts Plaza NOTES: Stars of smooth jazz, including David Sanborn and Boney James, perform in a festival setting. The event is produced by the nonprofit organization responsible for the Steel City Jazz Festival in Birmingham, Alabama, which has drawn about 30,000 people each year since its debut in 2014. TICKETS: Single-day passes are priced starting at $63.75. VIP tickets and multiday passes also are available. 844.513.2014 •

DID YOU KNOW? Headliner David Sanborn was born in Tampa. As a youngster he suffered from polio, and began playing the saxophone on a physician’s advice to strengthen his weakened chest muscles and improve his breathing.


artsLife | SPRING 2017


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18 8 p.m.

Shadowland combines images project­ed on screens with chore­ography to create what the company calls “part shadow act, part dance, part circus and part concert.”


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f you ever played “shadow puppets” as a kid by shining a lamp on a wall and using your hands to create characters, then you already understand the basic technique the dancers of Pilobolus use in forming their astounding images. Although the idea may be simple, it takes a measure of artistic genius — and extraordinary athleticism — to turn it into an evening-length show with a story and music. Pilobolus, one of America’s most innovative dance companies, will do just that with Shadowland, which shrouds the Walt Disney Theater on Saturday, March 18, 2017 at 8 p.m. Ticket prices start at $29. Shadowland combines images projected on screens of various sizes with choreography in front of the screens to create what the company calls “part shadow act,

part dance, part circus and part concert.” A score by singer-songwriter David Poe helps drive the action. The central character of Shadowland, a teenage girl, longs for independence but is still regarded as a child by her parents. One night, she wakes to something larger than life behind her bedroom wall — her shadow. As darkness envelops her, she embarks on a most unusual adventure. “Along the way we meet all kinds of weird and wonderful creatures — cen­taurs, monsters, crazy chefs, a cowboy and his car, an elephant and a huge hand that transforms the heroine into a dog figure,” wrote Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald. The 45-year-old Pilobolus (named after a light-loving fungus) is known worldwide for peerless performances in which dancers SPRING 2017 | artsLife


The dancers of Pilobolus defy gravity, dazzling audiences with superhuman flexibility and fascinating forms that challenge the limits of the human body. The concept of Shadowland was born after the group did a car commercial in which they formed the silhouette of a Hyundai.

who’ve been described by The New York Times as “athlete-illusionists” twist themselves into outrageous sculptural shapes. The concept for Shadowland came about after the group did a car commercial in silhouette. Could shadow play drive a whole show? “We didn’t know if we could do it, so we just went into the studio and started fooling around with shadows,” says Mark Fucik, the Shadowland creative director who joined Pilobolus as a dancer in 2001 and has worked for the company ever since in various roles. Shadowland came together in 2009 in collaboration with Steven Banks, lead writer for the animated TV series SpongeBob SquarePants. It has toured the Middle East, 54

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Australia and Asia and spent four years traversing Europe. It’s now on its first North American tour. Dancing in shadow to tell a story is exacting work, Fucik says. Stacking bodies in just the right way — even standing at just the right angle — makes a big difference. “For the dancer, it’s learning how light reacts with your body. If I’m off by just half an inch, the whole image is wrong.” The illusions the dancers produce are both strange and thrilling. Pilobolus Executive Producer Itamar Kubovy explained the mechanics of shadow-dancing this way in a BBC interview: “When you walk away from the screen, you become larger in shadow, and when you walk toward a person, you become smaller in shadow, which is the opposite of what we normally experience. So when these artists are appearing to touch each other in shadow, they may be 5 feet away from each other.” The Times praised the effect in a review of the show’s 2015 U.S. premiere: “Visually and mechanically, Shadowland is deft, teeming with clever tricks of the body, scenery and light.” Poe’s music plays an important role in the show’s continuity. “It supports the movement and moves the story forward. It deepens the atmosphere that’s being built,” says Fucik, who recalls that Poe would come to

rehearsals of Shadowland and return with music that made the show better. “It was a real give-and-take.” Pilobolus, which was founded by a group of Dartmouth College students in 1971, is already presenting Shadowland 2 abroad with new characters. Fucik says a North American tour of that production is also planned. And he has some advice for American audiences new to the Shadowland experience: “Come to the show with an open mind and a sense of awe.”  — Dana S. Eagles

EVENT: Shadowland DATE/TIME: Saturday, March 18, 2017, 8 p.m. VENUE: Walt Disney Theater NOTES: Pilobolus, one of America's most innovative dance companies, will present a program that combines images projected on screens of various sizes with extraordinary choreography and imaginative use of light, shadow and music. TICKETS: Prices start at $29 844.513.2014 •

DID YOU KNOW? Pilobolus is named after a phototropic fungus that founding member Jonathan Wolken’s father was studying in a lab at the time of the company’s creation. The fungus grows on cow dung, and propels itself with extraordinary strength, speed and accuracy.


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27 8 p.m.

Brian Wilson recorded most of Pet Sounds while the other Beach Boys were on tour. The album is today universally regarded as one of the greatest in rock 'n' roll history.


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henever serious popular music aficionados are asked to name the greatest album in rock ‘n’ roll history, almost invariably they’ll end up trying to choose between Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band, by the Beatles, and Pet Sounds, by the Beach Boys. Here’s one knowledgeable fan making a compelling case for the supremacy of Pet Sounds: “It blew me out of the water. I’ve just bought my kids each a copy for their education in life. I figure no one is educated musically until they’ve heard that album. It certainly is a total classic that’s unbeatable in many ways. I’ve often played Pet Sounds and cried.” That fan happens to be Sir Paul McCartney, who with John Lennon listened to Pet Sounds prior to its 1966 release and real-

ized instantly that the Beatles would have to step up their game creatively. The Lads from Liverpool responded less than a year later with Sgt. Pepper, their own art-rock adventure. “McCartney and Lennon both told me later that Pet Sounds had inspired Sgt. Pepper,” says Brian Wilson, the enigmatic genius who masterminded the project, co-writing most of the songs and concocting the intricately orchestral arrangements while his bandmates were on tour. “I just wanted to do something different.” Now, more than 50 years after Pet Sounds was released, Wilson is on the road with Brian Wilson Presents Pet Sounds: The Final Performances. The 74-year-old Beach Boy, backed by a crack 10-piece band, will ride a wave of nostalgia into the Walt SPRING 2017 | artsLife


The Pet Sounds album cover was photographed, appropriately, at the San Diego Zoo. Shown (left to right) are the original Beach Boys: brothers Carl, Brian and Dennis Wilson; cousin Mike Love; and friend Al Jardine.

Disney Theater on March 27. Showtime is 8 p.m., and ticket prices start at $49. The show has been packing venues around the world, in part because it’s a rare opportunity to see arguably the most innovative rocker who ever lived replicate his most enduring contribution to the genre. Mostly, though, it’s just fun, fun, fun (‘till her daddy takes her T’bird away). The Final Performances is not, strictly speaking, a Beach Boys concert. The Beach Boys name is owned by co-founder Mike Love, a cousin of Wilson’s who now tours with a different configuration of the band. But Pet Sounds was not, strictly speaking, a Beach Boys album. In 1965, with the rest of the band touring Japan, the angst-ridden 23-year-old Wilson — inspired by the Beatles’ Rubber Soul — challenged himself to create “the greatest rock album ever made.” It would mark a significant departure from the band’s feelgood formula, which Wilson had come to view as constricting. Given an apparently unlimited budget and complete creative control by Capitol Records — now that’s clout for you — Wilson brought in members of the famed “Wrecking Crew,” an informal cadre of top session musicians. 58

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He also concocted symphonic “wall of sound” arrangements of the type pioneered by producer Phil Spector, whom he idolized, and added such unusual instruments as harpsichords, vibraphones and accordions. Soda cans, water jugs and bicycle horns were also employed. The result, after 10 months in the studio, was rock ‘n’ roll’s first concept album. It walked listeners through a tumultuous relationship, starting with the hopefulness of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and ending with the heartbreak of “Caroline, No.” “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times” reflected Wilson’s sense of social isolation, while the plaintive “God Only Knows” was famously praised by McCartney as “the greatest song ever written.” When the touring Beach Boys returned, they added backing vocals to Pet Sounds. But their attitudes ranged from skeptical to critical. Capitol Records was aghast and fans were lukewarm, eventually pushing Pet Sounds to only No. 10 on the Billboard 200. Only later did the album attain iconic status. In 2004, Pet Sounds was preserved in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Rolling Stone has ranked it second on its list of the

500 Greatest Albums of All Time. In fact, just about every such “greatest albums” compilation has Pet Sounds at or near the top. The Beach Boys have had their highprofile ups and downs — but Wilson’s singular genius has been universally acknowledged. As a member of the band, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and received the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. He was a Kennedy Center honoree in 2008. The Final Performances features Pet Sounds performed in its entirety, as well as timeless Beach Boys hits such as “California Girls;” “I Get Around;” “In My Room;” “Surfer Girl;” “Surfin’ USA;” “Fun, Fun, Fun;” “Barbara Ann;” Help Me, Rhonda;” and, of course, “Good Vibrations.” Wilson is backed by Al Jardine, an original Beach Boy, and Blondie Chaplin, who joined the band in 1972. Jardine’s son, Matt, is also in the ensemble, and seamlessly picks up those familiar falsetto harmonies that Wilson knows better than to try for. The tour comes as interest in Wilson’s life and career is reaching a crescendo. There was the 50th anniversary of Pet Sounds, of course, plus a well-reviewed biopic, 2014’s Love and Mercy, which was nominated for two Golden Globes. Wilson had little involvement with Love and Mercy. But he has told his own story in a 2016 autobiography, I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir (Da Capo Press). It’s a candid account of his dysfunctional childhood — his father-cum-manager was abusive — and of dark periods in his emotional life. “It took a lot of work to get the sound just right for the live show,” says Wilson, whose incomparable ear, according to Bob Dylan, needs to be preserved in the Smithsonian Institution. “But we’re really proud of how it turned out. It’s an inspiration to be out doing it — and to have the music still making people happy after 50 years.”  — Randy Noles

Interest in Wilson’s life and career was heightened by Love and Mercy, a 2014 biopic. Wilson liked the movie, but chose to tell his own story in an autobiography released late last year.

EVENT: Brian Wilson Presents Pet Sounds: The Final Performances DATE/TIME: March 27, 8 p.m. VENUE: Walt Disney Theater NOTES: One of the most influential creators in the history of rock ‘n’ roll performs his groundbreaking 1966 album, Pet Sounds, along with other timeless Beach Boys hits. TICKETS: Prices start at $49 844.513.2014 •

DID YOU KNOW? The barking on Pet Sounds comes from Wilson’s own dogs: Banana, a beagle, and Louie, a Weimaraner. But Wilson had something more elaborate in mind. On session tapes, he can be heard asking engineer Chuck Britz: “Hey Chuck, is it possible we could bring a horse in here if we don’t screw anything up?”

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Deepak Chopra, a New Delhi-born physician, became the face of the New Age movement in the ’90s, attracting legions of enlightenment-seeking fans. Today, he’s as popular as ever.


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ealth and happiness — and how to attain them — are topics that interest just about everybody. That fact, among others, explains the continuing popularity of Deepak Chopra, whom Time magazine once dubbed “the poet-prophet of alternative medicine.” But Chopra is much more than that. He’s also an international celebrity whose sometimesprovocative packaging of science and spirituality has inspired millions to seek higher levels of consciousness and to tap the healing power within themselves. Now a pop-culture icon, Chopra first came to prominence in the early ’90s when his book, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind (Harmony), became a New York Times bestseller and landed him on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

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Among the celebrities attracted to Chopra’s work are Oprah Winfrey, whose television show helped catapult him to national prominence. Winfrey is one of many celebrities who seek Chopra’s guidance and value his friendship.

More than 85 books and countless standing-room-only personal appearances followed. Chopra ultimately became the face of the New Age movement — and created an empire in the process. The world’s most high-profile proponent of mind-body healing will bring his message of integrative medicine and personal transformation to the Walt Disney Theater on February 15. Chopra, who’s part of the OUC Speakers at Dr. Phillips Center series, begins his presentation at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices start at $45. During his talk, entitled The Future of Wellbeing, the New Delhi-born Chopra promises to outline “a road map for higher health” based on the latest research in both mainstream and alternative medicine. “The healthier you are, the healthier communities and societies will be,” said Cho62

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pra during a panel discussion at last year’s Aspen Festival of Ideas. “And that’s the only way we can ultimately create a more peaceful, just, sustainable, healthier and happier world.” To Chopra, “total wellbeing” combines both physical and intellectual components. Achieving an elevated spiritual state, he contends, not only promotes healing but also enhances the capacity for intuition and creativity. “You must find the place inside yourself where nothing is impossible,” he often says. It certainly seems as though nothing is impossible for Chopra, a board-certified internist and endocrinologist who became chief of staff at Boston’s New England General Hospital (now Boston Regional Medical Center) in 1980, when he was just 35. However, Chopra soon became disen-

chanted with Western medicine, which he believed relied too heavily on prescription drugs that often did more harm than good. While visiting New Delhi in 1981, he began investigating Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems. Four years later, after meeting transcendental meditation guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, he quit his job and changed his approach. By the early ’90s, Chopra had relocated to Carlsbad, California, where he launched the Chopra Center for Wellbeing and, later, the nonprofit Chopra Foundation, which funds research into the links between spiritual and physical healing. His extraordinary output of books — dealing with such wide-ranging topics as genetics, leadership, relationships, religion, happiness and weight loss — actually accelerated, registering sales in the millions and keeping him in the public eye. Consequently, the indefatigable Chopra attracted legions of enlightenment-seeking adherents, including such celebrities as Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson, with whom he developed personal friendships. (These days, he’s a spiritual advisor to 50 Cent, Kim Kardashian and Lady Gaga.). But hobnobbing with celebrities hasn’t prevented Chopra from tackling the most important questions imaginable in his most recent book, You Are the Universe: Discovering Your Cosmic Self and Why It Matters (Harmony). The intellectually weighty but highly accessible tome, cowritten with physicist Menas C. Kafatos, theorizes that the cosmos is defined not by matter but by human consciousness. Many scientists — typically not Chopra fans — disagree. But they’re nonetheless praising the book for challenging conventional paradigms. “There are no extra pieces in the universe,” Chopra says. “Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle.” 

Chopra’s most recent book contends that the universe is defined and driven by human consciousness.

EVENT: OUC Speakers at Dr. Phillips Center Presents Deepak Chopra SHOWS/DATES: February 15, 7:30 p.m. VENUE: Walt Disney Theater NOTES: The physician, philosopher, author, lecturer and entrepreneur shares his philosophies and discusses ways to achieve “higher health” using both mainstream and alternative medicine. TICKETS: Prices start at $45 844.513.2014 •

DID YOU KNOW? Deepak Chopra released an album, A Gift of Love, in 1988. It featured Chopra — along with friends Demi Moore, Martin Sheen, Blythe Danner, Goldie Hawn, Debra Winger and Madonna — reading the poems of Jalaluddin Rumi, a 13th-century Muslim mystic.

SPRING 2017 | artsLife





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comedy icon, a Motown legend, a Broadway diva and a singer-songwriter with nine Grammys to her credit are part of the new Morgan Stanley Moments at Dr. Phillips Center series. The global financial services firm, which last year sponsored the arts center’s jazz series, has this year shifted focus to present an eclectic lineup of performers across genres. There’s Billy Crystal (February 1), Smokey Robinson (March 3), Bernadette Peters (April 21) and Sheryl Crow (April 29). They’re about as divergent in style as you can imagine. But all are consummate performers known for delivering unforgettable “moments” when they’re onstage. And that’s exactly the point, says Steve Freeman, complex manager and executive director of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management’s Central-North Florida Complex. “When we took a look at what we helped give audiences last year, and sought to broaden our appeal, we realized that we landed on the common theme of unparalleled moments that go beyond one genre,” Freeman says. Because the performers are so eclectic, Morgan Stanley Moments is not a subscription series. Each concert is individually ticketed on the assumption that each artist will, for the most part, draw from his or her own unique fan base. 66

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Such variety certainly achieves the company’s goal of attracting broader audiences. As for those once-in-a-lifetime moments? You can expect to experience them in abundance — whether you see just one show or all of them. Crystal, a Tony- and Emmy-winning actor, producer, writer and director whose roots are in stand-up comedy, has likely already performed by the time you read this issue of ArtsLife. So here’s a look at the stellar trio still to come.

Motown legend Smokey Robinson was once dubbed “America’s greatest living poet” by Bob Dylan — high praise indeed from a Nobel Laureate. Robinson is a member of both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

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Bernadette Peters, known as “The Queen of Broadway,� has also been successful on TV and in films. Her interpretations of songs by Stephen Sondheim are considered definitive by no less an authority than Sondheim himself.

SMOKEY ROBINSON March 3 Once dubbed “America’s greatest living poet” by Bob Dylan — high praise indeed from a Nobel Laureate for poetry — Robinson is a Grammy Living Legend and a Kennedy Center honoree as well as a member of both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Robinson, a native of Detroit, was the founder and front man of the Miracles, churning out hit after hit for Berry Gordy’s Motown Records between 1955 and 1972, when he temporarily retired from performing to become a Motown vice president. In late 1960, the Miracles recorded “Shop Around,” which became Motown’s first million-selling single. Between 1960 and 1970, Robinson wrote and produced 26 Top 40 hits with the Miracles, including “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “I Second That Emotion,” “The Tracks of My Tears” and “The Tears of a Clown,” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. During his stint at Motown, Robinson also wrote hits for the label’s other artists, including “The One Who Really Loves You,” “You Beat Me to the Punch” and “My Guy” for Mary Wells; and “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” “My Girl” and “Get Ready” for the Temptations. The Beatles covered “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” in 1963 on their U.K. release, With the Beatles. But Robinson couldn’t stay away from performing for long. He returned as a solo artist in 1973, and after a slow start, eventually scored Top 10 solo hits such as “Cruisin’” (1979), “Being With You” (1981) and “Just to See Her” (1987). A notable recent release was 2014’s Smokey & Friends, an album of duets with admirers such as Elton John, Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor. In 2009, Robinson received an honorary doctorate — along with Ronstadt — and gave a commencement speech at Berklee College of Music in Boston. In 2015, he was given a BET Lifetime Achievement Award. Then, late last year, he was presented the Library of Congress’s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in recognition of his lifetime contributions to popular music. “His velvet falsetto and incomparable mastery of lyrical verse have created a tapestry of hits that have transcended generations and become a mainstay in Ameri-

can pop music,” the Library of Congress said in a statement. “As a producer, record executive and visionary, Robinson helped lead a musical revolution called the Motown sound.” The Gershwin Prize is awarded to a living songwriter who exemplifies “the standard of excellence associated with George and Ira Gershwin, by promoting the genre of song as a vehicle of cultural understanding; entertaining and informing audiences; and inspiring new generations.” Past winners include Willie Nelson, Billy Joel, Carole King, the songwriting duo of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon. Robinson performs March 3 at the Walt Disney Theater. Showtime is at 8 p.m., and ticket prices start at $55.

BERNADETTE PETERS April 21 Bernadette Peters feels equally at home doing theatrical films, television shows, cabaret-style concerts and musical theater productions. But there’s a reason why the multifaceted performer with the soaring voice and trademark headful of curly locks has been nicknamed “The Queen of Broadway.” Peters, through a career that’s spanned five decades, has been nominated for seven Tonys (winning two), three Golden Globes (winning one), and nine Drama Desk Awards (winning three). Although she has been nominated for three Emmys, she hasn’t won one (yet). However, the four Broadway cast albums on which she has been featured have all won Grammys. And three of her solo albums earned Grammy nominations. Perhaps most notably, Peters is generally regarded as the foremost interpreter of the works of Stephen Sondheim, the composer who has been described by Frank Rich of The New York Times as “the greatest and perhaps best-known artist in the American musical theater.” In 2013, Peters appeared in A Bed and a Chair: A New York Love Affair at Manhattan’s City Center. The show featured Sondheim’s songs with new music by jazzman Wynton Marsalis. What did she think of singing those classic lyrics over more footloose arrangements? SPRING 2017 | artsLife


“I loved it,” says Peters. “Steve is usually so specific about how his music is to be performed. This is the first time I ever heard him say, ‘Hey, just do it however you feel it.’ I sort of felt like I was being a bad girl.” Perhaps her favorite Sondheim song, she adds, is “No One is Alone” from Into the Woods — which she didn’t sing in the show, but usually does sing in concert. “Because Steve writes both music and lyrics, he says exactly what he wants to say,” says Peters of her affinity for the composer’s work. “And he writes about important things. I choose these songs because they’re beautiful and because of the message.” Sondheim, not surprisingly, is one of Peters’ biggest fans. “Like very few others, she sings and acts at the same time,” he has said of her. “Bernadette is flawless, as far as I’m concerned.” In addition to Into the Woods, Peters’ 37 Broadway credits include Sunday in the Park with George, Song and Dance, The Goodbye Girl, and revivals of Annie Get Your Gun and Gypsy. She replaced Catherine Zeta Jones in a 2010 revival of A Little Night Music, winning even more critical kudos. The Times’ Frank Rich, again, was effusive: “For theater lovers there can be no greater current pleasure than to witness Bernadette Peters perform the show’s signature number, ‘Send in the Clowns,’ with an emotional transparency and musical delicacy that turns this celebrated song into an occasion of transporting artistry.” Playbill was typically pithy, unambiguously declaring Peters to be “the most talented comedienne working in musical theater today.” Peters’ film credits include Pennies from Heaven and The Jerk — both of which paired her with then-beau Steve Martin — as well as The Longest Yard, Silent Movie and Pink Cadillac. She won a Golden Globe for her role as Eileen Everson, a schoolteacher turned prostitute, in Pennies from Heaven. And on TV, she has popped up in guest roles on a slew of network series over the years — including just about every variety

show or talk show imaginable — and won Emmy nominations for appearances on The Muppet Show and Ally McBeal. Now she has a regular role in a web series, Mozart in the Jungle, a smart comedydrama produced by Amazon Studios in which she plays Gloria Windsor, president of the fictional New York Symphony, where the backstage drama is often as compelling as anything the audience sees. Peters has also been cast in a new series, The Good Fight, a spinoff of the CBS-TV series The Good Wife. She’ll appear periodically as Lenore, the mother of a young lawyer named Maia Sindell, played by Rose Leslie of Game of Thrones fame. Have we forgotten anything? Oh, yes, there’s also recording. In addition to the aforementioned Grammy-winning Broadway cast albums, Peters has released six solo albums, including a live concert at Carnegie Hall and salutes to Sondheim and Rogers and Hammerstein. Given that Peters can do just about everything, what can fans expect from her in a concert setting? Of course, she’ll do show songs — including a selection of her favorite Sondheim compositions — as well as some classics and some standards. And she’ll banter with the audience about her life and career. “My goal is to entertain,” she says. “The audience and I have an experience together. There’s no fourth wall between us.” If Peters’ concerts elsewhere are any indicator, it’ll be a lovefest in Orlando. A smitten reviewer for The Sydney Morning Herald, after seeing Peters perform, wrote: “Perhaps it is a matter of personality as much as voice: a natural warmth and an instinct for never exaggerating the emotional content of a song. Whatever the case, it is easy to see and hear why, for 30 years, Bernadette Peters has probably been musical theatre’s finest performer.” Peters performs on April 21 in the Walt Disney Theater. Showtime is 8 p.m., and ticket prices start at $55.

“Like very few others, she sings and acts at the same time. Bernadette is flawless, as far as I’m concerned.” — Stephen Sondheim on Bernadette Peters 70

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SHERYL CROW April 29 Whether you like rock, folk or country music, Sheryl Crow has a song for you. The nine-time Grammy winner has sold more than 35 million albums worldwide, and has performed with such artists as Sting, Mick Jagger, Kid Rock and Michael Jackson. Johnny Cash, during one of his final recording sessions, covered Crow’s 1996 protest song, “Redemption Day.” She had previously contributed accordion and vocals for Cash’s 2000 album American III: Solitary Man. Now, that’s range. And that’s one reason why, in addition to the nine Grammys already on Crow’s shelf, she has been nominated for an astonishing 27 more. She has released eight studio albums and a quadruple-platinum greatest-hits collection. Crow, who was born in Missouri, majored in music education at the University of Missouri in Columbia. After graduating in 1984, she worked as an elementary school music teacher in St. Louis before moving to Los Angeles, where she began recording advertising jingles for national companies. She also became an in-demand backup singer, and in 1987 joined Jackson’s Bad world tour. She later sang backup for Stevie Wonder, Belinda Carlisle and Don Henley before collaborating with the so-called “Tuesday Music Club,” an informal collective of pickers and singers that included the late songwriter Kevin Gilbert, whom she was dating. The ad hoc group, fronted by the charismatic Crow, recorded an album in 1993 for A&M Records called The Tuesday Night Music Club. While the release initially received little attention, its third single, “All I Wanna Do,” became a breakout hit — and Crow’s solo career was on its way. Tuesday Night Music Club yielded two more hit singles, and went on to sell more than 7 million copies. It earned Crow three Grammys: Record of the Year, Best New Artist and Best Female Vocal Performance. Her self-titled second album won two more Grammys: Best Female Rock Vocal Performance and Best Rock Album. The Globe Sessions, her third album, won two more Grammys: Best Rock Album and Best Female Rock Performance. A subsequent live album, Sheryl Crow and Friends: Live From Central Park, featured guest ap72

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pearances by Sarah McLaughlin, Stevie Nicks, the Dixie Chicks, Keith Richards and Eric Clapton. Crow became politically outspoken in the early 2000s, publicly opposing the 2003 invasion of Iraq but supporting U.S. troops by taking her guitar to Walter Reed Army Medical Center and singing for soldiers injured in the war. In 2006, after a stubborn commercial lull, Crow released “Always on Your Side,” a duet with Sting, which won a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Collaboration. However, the good news was tempered by a breast cancer diagnosis later that year. Thankfully for Crow, the disease was detected early, and she has been cancer-free since a lumpectomy and radiation treatment. She adopted a son, Wyatt, in 2007, and a second son, Levi, in 2010. Crow, who moved to Nashville following her illness, embraced country music in 2013, releasing a laid-back album on Warner Music Nashville called Feels Like Home. Its first single, “Easy,” became a hit on country radio. Crow opened for George Strait during the singer’s 2014 tour, and later that year toured with Rascal Flatts. “I feel like I’ve finally figured out what I’m doing and have hit my stride as a performer,” she recently told The Telegraph. “In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been better.” Crow performs on April 29 at the Walt Disney Theater. Showtime is 8 p.m., and ticket prices start at $49.50. 

EVENT: Morgan Stanley Moments at Dr. Phillips Center SHOWS/DATES: Billy Crystal (February 1, 8 p.m.), Smokey Robinson (March 3, 8 p.m.), Bernadette Peters (April 21, 8 p.m.), Sheryl Crow (April 29, 8 p.m.) VENUE: Walt Disney Theater NOTES: Morgan Stanley sponsors a series of genre-spanning concerts that will provide memorable moments for a broad cross-section of patrons. Each show is individually ticketed. TICKETS: Prices start at $55 for Crystal, Robinson and Peters; $49.50 for Crow 844.513.2014 •

Sheryl Crow has nine Grammys already on her shelf, with an astonishing 27 additional nominations. The hard-to-categorize singer has released eight studio albums and a quadruple-platinum greatest-hits collection.

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Disney’s The Little Mermaid boasts spectacular staging, with elaborate settings and underwater effects that make cast members appear to float as if they were underwater.

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t’s been a wild ride for theatergoers during this season’s adventurous FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando™ series, which is presented in collaboration with Broadway Across America and the Florida Theatrical Association. Audiences have been dazzled by mindreaders and magicians (The Illusionists — Live from Broadway), intrigued by a young mathematical genius on a quest to solve a mystery (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), charmed by a dance-happy stage adaptation of an Oscar-winning film (An American in Paris), and wonderstruck by feuding witches in the land of Oz (Wicked). A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, a wacky farce that won a 2014 Tony for Best Musical, is slated for February 7-12. A Gentleman’s Guide will have finished its run by the time this issue of ArtsLife reaches most readers. 76

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But the 2016-17 Broadway in Orlando series isn’t over yet. After A Gentleman’s Guide, there are still three shows to go: Disney’s The Little Mermaid (March 7-12), Matilda — The Musical (May 9-14); and Finding Neverland (June 6-11). An event unveiling the 2017-18 series was held on February 2, just after this issue of ArtsLife went to press. Look for details about all the new shows, including interviews and production histories, in the spring issue. In the meantime, here’s a quick look at what’s coming up as the current series enters the home stretch: n  Disney’s The Little Mermaid (March 7-12). Based on a Hans Christian Andersen fantasy and the classic animated film, Disney’s The Little Mermaid remains a swimmingly beautiful love story for all ages. Plucky Ariel, King Triton’s youngest daugh-


In Matilda — The Musical, a precocious little girl whose gifts include telekinesis finds a mentor and a kindred spirit in her teacher, and allies in her classmates. All ultimately prevail over their tormentors, including a horrific headmistress. The show has been showered with awards, including four Tonys.


In Finding Neverland, Scottish playwright J.M. Barrie is suffering from writer’s block and enduring an unhappy marriage to a shallow socialite. But he’s inspired to write Peter Pan after meeting a frail but beautiful widow, and bonding with her imaginative sons.

ter, is fascinated by humans, and wants to pursue the handsome Prince Eric — whom she had previously saved from drowning — on terra firma. So she bargains with Ursula, the evil sea witch, to trade her tail for legs. Ursula, Triton’s sister and his sworn nemesis, agrees to turn Ariel into a human for three days, during which time she must win a kiss of true love from Eric. If she succeeds, the transformation will become permanent; if she fails, Ursula will claim her soul. And there’s more: The mermaid must surrender her voice, which is transferred to Ursula’s magic nautilus shell. Undaunted, Ariel signs the agreement and swims to the surface. Not surprisingly, complications ensue, and she needs the help of Flounder the fish, Scuttle the seagull and Sebastian the crab to win Eric’s heart

— and to thwart Ursula’s schemes. The show, produced by the acclaimed Theatre Under the Stars in Houston, features such familiar songs as “Under the Sea,” “Part of Your World” and “Kiss the Girl,” along with new tunes by Oscar-winning Disney composer Alan Menken. The staging is also spectacular, with effects that make cast members appear to float above the stage as if swimming underwater. n  Matilda — The Musical (May 9-14). One of the most beloved family musicals in years, Matilda — The Musical is based on Roald Dahl’s novel about a precocious English girl, Matilda Wormwood, who’s treated poorly at home and school. But she decides to use her intellectual gifts — which include telekinesis — to take a stand and change her destiny. Matilda’s dad is a shady used-car salesman who refers to her as “boy,” since he SPRING 2017 | artsLife


wanted another son. Her mother is a shallow dance-contest aficionado whose philosophy is “looks, not books.” In fact, Matilda’s parents hold reading in contempt, and mock their daughter’s passion for books. The youngster finds a mentor in her empathetic teacher, Miss Honey. But Miss Honey, too, is oppressed. Her tormentor is Miss Trunchbull, the horrific headmistress whose motto is bambinatum est maggitum (children are maggots). Matilda, however, is no helpless victim. “Just because you find that life’s not fair, it doesn’t mean that you just have to grin and bear it,” she sings in “Naughty,” one of many gleefully subversive songs by musician and comedian Tim Minchin. The story of how Matilda — along with her classmates and Miss Honey — ultimately prevails over adversity is entertaining, irresistible and inspiring. “Matilda is one of those refreshingly smart children’s musicals that doesn’t talk — or sing — down to anyone,” wrote Peter Marks in The Washington Post. The musical, first produced in London, has been showered with awards around the world, including four Tonys for the Broadway production. Time named it the No. 1 show of 2013. n  Finding Neverland (June 6-11). Peter Pan has delighted stage and film audiences for generations. And now, the story of how the mischievous (and eternally young)

flying boy was created is doing the same. The musical Finding Neverland explores how Scottish playwright J.M. Barrie was inspired to write Peter Pan by the playtime adventures of four young boys: Jack, George, Michael and Peter. Barrie, suffering from writer’s block and enduring an unhappy marriage to a shallow socialite, meets the boys and is drawn into their world of make-believe. He’s also drawn to their mother, the frail but beautiful widow Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, in whom he finds an encouraging kindred spirit. Tapping into his inner child, an inspired Barrie tells his colorful producer, Charles Frohman, that he’s working on a new and surprising play. The American impresario replies that he doesn’t particularly like surprises. Nonetheless, he buys into Barrie’s vision, and works to secure backers. Peter Pan finally debuts, enchanting highbrow London theatergoers. Although it’s based on the 2004 Johnny Depp movie of the same name, the Broadway version of Finding Neverland is better in almost every way, wrote Richard Zoglin in Time: “It strikes me as the very model of a modern family musical. It’s briskly told, brightly staged, with a score (by British rocker Gary Barlow) as tuneful as one could expect from a show set in turn-of-the-century London that’s not by Gilbert and Sullivan.”

EVENT: 2016-17 FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando™ season SHOWS/DATES: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, February 7-12; Disney’s The Little Mermaid, March 7-12; Matilda — The Musical, May 9-14; Finding Neverland, June 6-11. VENUE: Walt Disney Theater NOTES: The 2016-17 FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando™ season has four shows to go. The 2017-18 season was announced on February 2, and will be covered in detail in the spring issue of ArtsLife. TICKETS: Individual tickets are on sale for A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love & Murder, Disney’s The LIttle Mermaid, Matilda — The Musical and Finding Neverland. Tickets may be purchased online at, by calling 844.513.2014 or by visiting the Dr. Phillips Center Box Office at 445 S. Magnolia Avenue, Orlando, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, or noon and 4 p.m. Saturday. Online and phone ticket purchases are subject to handling fees. For groups of 10 or more, email Group Sales at or call 407.455.5550. SPONSORED BY


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DR. PHILLIPS CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS would like to thank our 2016 - 2017 Season Sponsors

D R . P H I L L I P S C E N T E R R E S TA U R A N T PA R T N E R S Members and Series Subscribers receive 15% off their entire bill at our partner restaurants on the night of shows as well as discounts on each night’s stay at partner hotels.

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Henrietta & Marc Katzen Lilia & Kenneth Keitges RK & Faron Kelley Leslie J. Kelly Dr. H.C. & Joy Kessel Joe Kivett Lonnie & Stephen Kriebel Jeff Kruse & Andrew Chang Celia Kudro Sandy & Jeffrey Kuhlman Roseann Latta Matthew & Ashley Laubach Krista & Jonathan Ledden Kenneth Lee Meredith Level Dr. Henry & Pamela Levine Eleni & Robert Longwell Trena & Whaley Lorenz Tiffany Lytle Cynthia & Alex Mackinnon Sean Mahan Edward Mallory Sonia & Lester Mandell Edward Manning Joanna Markman Treva J. Marshall Monica & Scott Martin Carol Massey Kathryn & Stephen McClure Lee & Beverly McNeil Lois & Sean Mendez Catlin Dr. Larry G. Mills Sally A. Milton Jeffrey Moore Timothy Morris Kristy Murray & Susan Marcus Donna & Bruce Mylrea Teresa Nardozzi Margaret Nolan Kristiane Odenbach Dr. Michael O’Neill Robert & Jill Palmer Virginia & Jonathan Partain Mary Jo & Karl Pecht Gordon Penn Anonymous Vanessa Puleo Melissa & Sean Quinn Sandra Race Shawn Rader Fred & Jeanie Raffa Lynda Rago Kathy Ramsberger Cara Read Ralph R. Recht Thomas & Mary Lou Remenick Bill “Roto” Reuter Nikki & Daniel Roberts Ginger Robinson Elizabeth & Thomas Roehlk Dr. Steven & Celia Rosenberg Joan Ruffier Ladybird Academy of Debary

Scott & Cormia Architects & Interior Design LLC Dr. Marc D. Shapiro Paul Simons Barbara & Gary Sorensen Rusty Stoeckel Richard Straughn Maureen Sullivan Sundance Architectural Products LLC Shawn Swetmon Peggy Tepper Marjorie & Bryan Thomas J.R. Thorsen Ed Timberlake Dimitri Toumazos Law Office of Nathan L. Townsend Jackie & Steven Tye Kim & Jon Vollet Philip A. Wade Laima Warnecke Dr. Joe Warren Rob Webb & Stan Whittington TnT Weclew Kristine Westley Lawrence Wilker Bridget Willoughby Janet & Tom Wyatt Dr. Lisa L. Zacher, MD

ADVOCATE $500* Kelly Faulkner Roseann Harrington

* Membership level is no longer available.

LIST AS OF 1.9.17





Joel Schwalbe Vice President

Lisa Yeager Manager

Jay Cohen Senior Director

Mike Smith Manager

Michael Thompson Manager

Cecilia Kelly Chief Financial Officer

Dana Brazil Director

Nicholas Pascale Manager

Ken Ramsey Supervisor

Samuel Labban Senior Director

LaVon Bracy Davis Director

Ray Ulbano Supervisor

M. Patricia Saenz Lead

Keri Roman Manager

Cathleen Plazas Manager

Juan Quiñones Analyst

Sean Proctor Lead

Jason Copeland Analyst

Bethany Selage Administrator


Susan Lanning Lead

Nick Smith Analyst

Sarah Mock Coordinator

Marta Garmakani Specialist

Kayla Roopal Assistant



Jessica Kraemer Generalist

Jill Swidler Senior Director

Jennifer Russo Assistant

N. Meredyth Davis Senior Director


Marty Csercsevits Director

Katherine Ramsberger President & CEO Barbara Lanning Executive Assistant FINANCE

Sandy Bissell Vice President

Alexis Jackson Vice President

Beth A. Guba Schaan Senior Director Dustin Carpenter Director Jennifer Seppi Associate Director Tania Palkhivala Associate Director Jamie Mykins Manager Melanie Emmanuelli Manager Phillip Ileto Analyst Ana Eligio Concierge Brooke Cantwell Assistant EVENTS

Elanna Lugo Manager Tiffany Frison Coordinator

Foster Cronin Senior Director

Scott Jackson Vice President

Rachel Steele Director Robert Jones Director Alice Smetheram Manager Brittnei Krafzig Manager Christy Hammar Manager Ian Suárez Manager Maggie Soderholm Manager

Allison Focht Director

Isaiah Mervin Manager Lauren Petterson Supervisor BOX OFFICE

Lynne Norwood Director Richard Dotson Manager Carlos Rosales Assistant Manager Stephen Green Assistant Manager

Edward Rickey Engineer George Gomez Engineer Hector Garcia Engineer STAGEHANDS

Matthew McKim Head Carpenter Chuck Haigler Head Electrician Beth Wood Head Wardrobe Mistress


Jeff Wojciechowicz Director Andrew Beck Manager Anthony White Manager

Stagehands are represented by I.A.T.S.E. Local 631

Evett Vidot Manager Laura Segal Administrator OPERATIONS

Jim Badrak Vice President

Olivia Demarco Manager

Chris Savard Director

Natasha Stout Coordinator

Don Teer Director

Niaz Moshtagh Coordinator

Jorge Calderon Director

Tatiana Mondragon Assistant

Ande Deaton Associate Director - AS OF 1.05.17 -



“The Seal of Homebuilding Excellence” The Master Custom Builder Council is an organization that represents the area’s leading custom home builders who have pledged to maintain the highest professional standards in the home building industry, and dedicated themselves to using their craft to make Central Florida an even finer place to live.

Cahill Homes Charles Clayton Construction Dave Brewer DeLorenzo Homes Derrick Builders Farina & Sons Goehring & Morgan Construction

Hannigan Homes Hardwick General Contracting Issa Homes J. Richard Watson Construction Kelsey Custom Homes Legacy Custom Built McNally Construction Group

Phil Kean Design Group Posada Custom Homes Regal Classic Homes Silliman Cityside Homes Speer Homes Stonebridge Homes The Einheit Company Woodruff Construction and Development

P.O. Box 536732 • Orlando, Florida 32853 407.875.2121 •


Corporate Affiliates: Architecture by Phil Kean, LLC; Phil Kean Designs, Inc.; PKD Studio, LLC; Phil Kean Kitchens and Bath, LLC; Phil Kean Real Estate, LLC

AA26002050 / CRC1327855 / ID6290

Photo by James F. Wilson, courtesy BUILDER magazine

Award-Winning Architecture, Construction, Interiors, Kitchens and Bath, and Real Estate

ArtsLife Spring 2017  
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