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Inside Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts





Superior A N O T H E R





©Cucciaioni Photography 2015

I choose to live life with a purpose.

In March 2016, I went for what I

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It turned out to be the beginning of my cancer journey.

At Orlando Health UF Health

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When longtime pals Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen speak their minds, audiences can join the conversation.

Now entering its 26th season, the Orlando Philharmonic is as adventurous as ever.

By Randy Noles with Darryl E. Owens

By Michael McLeod with Randy Noles and Laura Stewart




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 buy tickets any time, visit, or call the Bill & Mary Darden Box Office between 10 a.m. WHITE LOGO (dont inclu and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, or between noon and 4 p.m. on Saturday. DATE




7 p.m.

MAY 5/1

StarterStudio Demo Day

Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater


Orlando Ballet: Contemporary Wonders, with Live Music Featuring Sisaundra Lewis

Walt Disney Theater Showtimes Vary


Con El Agua Hasta El Cuello, Presented by Producciones Contraparte

Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater

Showtimes Vary


Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra’s 61st Season Finale

Bob Carr Theater

4 p.m.


Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra: 25th Anniversary Concert: Yo-Yo Ma & Colin Jacobsen

Bob Carr Theater

8 p.m.


Patti LaBelle

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


OUC Speakers at Dr. Phillips Center: An Evening with Bill Nye the Science Guy

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


The Inaugural Concert of The Peacock Wind Ensemble, Presented by Band Preservation

Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater

2 p.m.


The Ramblers & Dixielanders in Cotton Club Classics, Presented by Band Preservation

Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater

8 p.m.


Orlando Health AMP’d at Dr. Phillips Center: Thomas Wynn and the Believers

Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater

7:30 p.m.


Morgan Stanley Moments: August Greene Featuring Common, Robert Glasper and Karriem Riggins

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


Hello Again, Presented by Day Star Theatre Arts

Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater


2018 State of the County Address

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


Orlando Ballet: Fast Forward

Bob Carr Theater


Bubble Guppies Live: Ready to Rock

Walt Disney Theater 2 p.m.


Park Maitland School 6th Grade Performance of Beauty and the Beast

Walt Disney Theater 7:30 p.m.


Annie: The Musical, Presented by Unity Players

Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater

Showtimes Vary


Leggz Dance Academy Recital

Bob Carr Theater

5 p.m.


Dancer’s Pointe Presents Out on the Town

Bob Carr Theater

1 p.m.


2018 Applause Awards Showcase

Walt Disney Theater 7 p.m.


FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando™: Rent: 20th Anniversary Tour

Walt Disney Theater Showtimes Vary


Morgan Stanley Moments: David Blaine Live, in Association with Live Nation

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.

7:30 p.m.

7:30 p.m.



artsLife | SUMMER 2018

Performances subject to change






World Beauty WBFF Spectacular Presents Orlando Spectacular

Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater

5 p.m.


AC2: An Intimate Evening with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


Haitian Academy Awards

Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater


An Evening with Chelsea Handler

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


We Don’t Play Fight, Presented by Conquer Pro Wrestling

Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban™ in Concert with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra

Walt Disney Theater Showtimes Vary


Eddie B Teachers Only Comedy Tour, Presented by Stage Therapy Entertainment

Bob Carr Theater


Bring It! LIVE

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


PechaKucha Night Orlando V23

Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater


Donny & Marie Summer 2018 Tour

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.

4:30 p.m.

8 p.m.

8 p.m.

6 p.m. & 8 p.m.

JULY 7/6

Dan and Phil World Tour 2018: Interactive Introverts

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


Erasure World Be Gone Tour, in Association with Live Nation

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


PAW Patrol Live! The Great Pirate Adventure

Walt Disney Theater Showtimes Vary


Encore Cast Performing Arts Presents Monty Python’s Spamalot

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


Into the Woods

Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater


Darci Lynne and Friends, in Association with Outback Concerts

Walt Disney Theater 7 p.m.


My Brother, My Brother and Me, in Association with Outback Concerts

Showtimes Vary

AUGUST Walt Disney Theater 7 p.m.

SEPTEMBER 9/21–9/22

Orlando Jazz Festival 2018, Presented by Steel City Jazz

Seneff Arts Plaza


David Byrne: American Utopia Tour, with Special Guests Tune Yards, in Association with Live Nation

Showtimes Vary

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


The Best of The Second City

Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater


Lewis Black: The Joke’s On Us Tour, in Association with Live Nation

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


Opera Orlando: The Tales of Hoffman

Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater


Disney in Concert: Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas

Walt Disney Theater 8 p.m.


FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando™: Jersey Boys

Walt Disney Theater Showtimes Vary


FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando™: Hello, Dolly! Starring Betty Buckley

OCTOBER Showtimes Vary

Showtimes Vary

NOVEMBER Walt Disney Theater Showtimes Vary

DECEMBER Opera Orlando: Hansel and Gretel

Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater

Showtimes Vary


Jane Lynch: Swingin’ Little Christmas

Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater

Showtimes Vary


FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando™: Irving Berlin’s White Christmas

Walt Disney Theater Showtimes Vary


Performances subject to change

SUMMER 2018 | artsLife


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16 8 p.m.


FUN Anderson Cooper describes the AC2 show that he and Andy Cohen take on the road as “like a conversation between two friends.” The duo first appeared at the Walt Disney Theater in 2016 to raise money for the One Orlando Fund.


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SUMMER 2018 | artsLife


No topic is off the table when Cohen (left) and Cooper (right) take the stage. That means the conversation can veer in unexpected directions, especially when audience members get to ask questions.


For most of his time in Orlando, Cooper broadcast from the Seneff Arts Plaza, which quickly emerged as a community gathering place for grieving and healing in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. So touched was Cooper that barely two weeks later he returned to the arts center to fundraise with his longtime compadre Andy Cohen, who hosts Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live and is executive producer for the ubiquitous Real Housewives franchise. Their informal stage show, AC2: An Intimate Evening with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen, sold out the Walt Disney Theater — and hauled in more than $240,000 for the OneOrlando Fund. A year later, Cooper aired The Pulse of Orlando: Terror at the Nightclub. The special revisited first-responders, families and survivors of what he called “a sickening as14

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sault on the LGBT community.” Now Cooper and Cohen — who also cohost CNN’s New Year’s Eve Live — are coming back, but this time without a breaking news event as the impetus. AC2’s just-for-fun return engagement is slated for July 16, 2018, again at the Walt Disney Theater. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are priced starting at $64.75. “Andy and I had been doing this silly show,” Cooper says of the earlier Orlando appearance. “And then we realized that we’d never done a benefit. So, although we made a statement about Pulse at the beginning, we wanted it to be primarily a night of laughs.” And indeed it was, as 2,700 Central Floridians had an opportunity to interact with two of the smartest, wittiest and most effortlessly entertaining raconteurs who’ve ever stood before a TV camera. The duo showed film clips from their careers, told sometimes ribald stories about their trav-


nderson Cooper, anchor of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360°, has seen it all and covered it all. But in the hours and days following the Pulse nightclub massacre in 2016, the normally unflappable newsman often found himself overcome with emotion. “I understand the language of loss,” says Cooper, who as a child lost his father to heart disease and his brother to suicide. “Tragedies change us. Barriers that keep us apart dissipate. I certainly saw that happen in Orlando.” Cooper, 50, earned kudos for his empathetic interactions with those impacted by the unfathomable attack — including survivors and family members of victims — that took place just blocks from the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

Cooper, whose button-down image contrasts with that of the often-outrageous Cohen, says audiences are sometimes surprised to discover that he has a sense of humor. The pair are shown laughing it up on Jimmy Kimmel Live! (above) and counting down the minutes until midnight on CNN New Year’s Eve Live (right).

els, expounded upon their sturdy friendship, and dished about newsmakers and pseudostars orbiting in the reality-TV galaxy. They also took questions from the audience — some serious, others not so much. “Over the years, a lot of people have told Andy and me that they’d just like to hang out with us,” Cooper says. “So we try to make our shows like a conversation between friends. It’s not a heavy evening about politics and world events. I talk about those kinds of things all day. Besides, Andy is one of the funniest people I know.” Cooper and Cohen aren’t romantically involved; an early attempt by well-meaning friends to set up a blind date for the two went awry. They discovered their chemistry on stage during a 2014 appearance at New York City’s 92nd Street Y to discuss Cohen’s gossipy bestseller, The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year. “My manager was in the audience, and she said, ‘Hey, you guys should take this on the road,’” says Cooper, who’s also a correspon-

dent for 60 Minutes. “That had never occurred to either of us. We were just having fun.” Since then, the two have done about 40 shows. There haven’t been more because both men are so immersed in their respective careers. “We go out when we can,” says Cooper. “It’s really not work to talk to your best friend for a couple of hours — and have people actually show up to listen.” Cooper, whose button-down image contrasts with that of the often-outrageous Cohen, says audiences are sometimes surprised to discover that he has a sense of humor — albeit more droll than that of Cohen. “Everyone expects Andy to be the funny one,” he says. “But people say that the show reveals the best version of me that you’ll ever see.” Still, even when he lets his silver hair down, Cooper is the more reserved of the two. When they arrive in a city, he says, Cohen likes to SUMMER 2018 | artsLife


“suss it out” and visit local hotspots. “Whenever we go, Andy already seems to know everybody,” Cooper adds. “Nobody I know loves being a celebrity more than Andy.” Cooper and Cohen are at the top of their games professionally. Cooper has earned multiple Emmys, an Edward R. Murrow award and helped pilot CNN’s Peabody Awardwinning coverage of Hurricane Katrina. His 2009 book, Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival, topped The New York Times’ bestseller list. Cohen, 49, is also an Emmy and Peabody Award winner. He spent a decade as vice president of original programming at Bravo, where he helped shape the Real Housewives franchise and steered other networkdefining programs such as Project Runway, Top Chef, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, The Millionaire Matchmaker and Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List. “We know what’s interesting about each other,” says Cooper, who fully anticipates that Cohen will grill him about his ratingsshattering 60 Minutes interview with adult-film star Stormy Daniels. “So it’ll be very much like eavesdropping on a friendship.” 

Cooper has earned multiple Emmys, an Edward R. Murrow award and helped pilot CNN’s Peabody Award-winning coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Cohen is also an Emmy and Peabody Award winner. He spent a decade as vice president of original programming at Bravo, and is still executive producer of the popular Real Housewives franchise.

GET YOUR TICKETS EVENT: AC2: An Evening with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen DATE/TIME: Saturday, June 16, 8 p.m. VENUE: Walt Disney Theater NOTES: The two longtime friends talk with one another about their lives and careers during a free-form evening of laughs and, sometimes, revelations. They also take questions from the audience. TICKETS: Priced starting at $64.75 844.513.2014 •

DID YOU KNOW? In 2011, Cooper was the narrator for the Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, starring Daniel Radcliffe. In 2015, SiriusXM launched a new radio channel curated by Cohen, known as Radio Andy. It features two programs hosted by Cohen: Andy Cohen Live and the music program Deep and Shallow.


artsLife | SUMMER 2018



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t was 1962 when America got its first look at Yo-Yo Ma. The concert, an intimate one, was in the library at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The young cellist was introduced by Leonard Bernstein, then conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and former President Dwight Eisenhower were among the luminaries in the audience. The performer was all of 7 years old, impeccably dressed in a dark suit and tie, flawless in his execution of a classic French concertina. He was dwarfed by his 11-year-old sister, who accompanied him on the piano — and was just barely taller than his own instrument.


Since he became music director of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra three years ago, Eric Jacobsen has exposed local music lovers to an array of styles. The orchestra recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, and has announced a typically expansive program for the coming season.

SPRING 2018 | artsLife


These days, Ma, now 62, is larger than life. The 18-time Grammy winner, Presidential Medal of Freedom winner and global humanitarian has become arguably the most beloved and influential classical musician in the world. When he steps onto the stage of the Bob Carr Theater to perform Brahms’ Double Concerto in A minor for cello and violin with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, it will mark the first time he has ever appeared in Central Florida. Ma, alongside violinist Colin Jacobsen, older brother of Music Director Eric Jacobsen, will co-headline the orchestra’s 25th Anniversary Concert, which is slated for May 8 at the arts center’s satellite venue. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are priced starting at $100. The celebratory concert will likely have passed by the time you read this edition of ArtsLife — but the focus on Ma remains relevant, since his influence has suffused Orlando’s classical music scene ever since the younger Jacobsen became the orchestra’s musical director three years ago. It was only fitting, then, that a concert featuring Ma — Jacobsen’s musical mentor — marked the culmination of the orchestra’s yearlong silver anniversary celebration. “These are the two people who are my

idols — my brother and Yo-Yo Ma,” Jacobsen says. After such a grand finale, what can he possibly do for an encore? For one thing, he’ll continue to channel Ma’s expansive musical worldview during the orchestra’s 26th season — which runs from September 2018 through April 2019. There’ll be five concerts in the FAIRWINDS Classics Series and five programs of two concerts each in the Pops Series. Performances will take place at the Bob Carr Theater. The Focus Series will include five concerts at The Plaza Live theater, where the orchestra is headquartered. Summer programs will be announced later. Ma won’t be among the performers in the coming season. But the inclusiveness he champions — and passed along to Jacobsen — will be on full display.


The Jacobsens were among the first American musicians to become part of the Silk Road Ensemble, a cutting-edge collective of a dozen musicians that Ma brought together in 1998 to foster global, cross-cultural artistic collaboration — particularly between East and West. The project is named after the historic Silk Road, an ancient network of trade routes


Cellist Yo-Yo Ma will join violinist Colin Jacobsen, older brother of Eric Jacobsen, music director, to headline the orchestra’s 25th anniversary concert on May 8. That concert may be over by the time you read this issue of ArtsLife. But Ma’s influence will continue during the orchestra’s upcoming season.


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FAIRWINDS Credit Union has committed to continuing its support for the orchestra’s Classics Series, which is held in the Bob Carr Theater, through the 2020-21 season. “We’re so grateful for the past and future support,” says Chris Barton, the orchestra’s executive director. “It helps us enrich the community, inspire our audiences and build our organization to serve Central Florida for the next 25 years.”

that connected Japan and Korea to the Mediterranean. Born to Chinese parents who lived in Paris and moved to New York when he was a child, Ma grew up trying to sort out his cultural identity. In a moment from The Music of Strangers, a documentary about the Silk Road Ensemble’s 2015 global odyssey to collaborate with musicians from Syria, Spain, Iran, China and France, Ma says: “I’m always trying to figure out, at some level, who I am and how I fit in the world — which I think is something that I share with 7 billion other people.” Jacobsen, too, is convinced that music’s highest purpose is connecting others — and understanding ourselves. Though a cellist himself, when asked about how Ma has influenced him, he speaks not of technique, but of attitude. “Yo-Yo is just such a humble person,” Jacobsen says. “All he wanted to do with the Silk Road Ensemble was to go out into the world and find the best musicians, so we could all learn from them.” Jacobsen, for his part, has tried to make Orlando a Silk Road way station in its own right. Indeed, his avant-garde tendencies were obvious when he auditioned for the orchestra job. He and four other finalists each conducted a program during the 2014-15 season, allowing subscribers and board members to see who best matched up musically.

Rather than playing it safe, though, Jacobsen invited Silk Road Ensemble artist Wu Man to perform Concerto No. 2 for Pipa and Orchestra by Chinese composer Zhao Jiping. A pipa is a traditional Chinese instrument similar to the lute. Audience reaction to hearing new music — played on an unfamiliar instrument — convinced Jacobsen that Central Floridians were open to outside-the-ordinary experiences. He got the job — and local music lovers have now seen a little bit of everything. Last year Jacobsen booked Silk Road Ensemble collaborator Kayhan Kalhor, a kamancheh player, to perform with the orchestra. (The kamancheh is an Iranian bowed string instrument.) Kalhor is returning for the 26th season — which is stocked, now more than ever, with multicultural offerings. For example, Puerto Rican-born composer and multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón will be composer in residence for the season. The orchestra will perform her compositions and arrangements on four programs — including a world premiere — during the season. FAIRWINDS Credit Union — also sponsor of the arts center’s Broadway in Orlando Series — has committed to continuing its support for the Classics Series through the 2020–21 season. “We’re so grateful for the past and future support,” says Chris Barton, the orchestra’s executive director. “It helps us enrich the community, inspire our audiences and SUMMER 2018 | artsLife


Puerto Rican-born composer and multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón will be composer in residence for the upcoming season. The orchestra will perform her compositions and arrangements on four programs — including a world premiere — during the season.

build our organization to serve Central Florida for the next 25 years.”


The Classics Series opens with Ottorino Respighi’s 1924 Pines of Rome (September 29), a dreamy tone poem that will feature guest vocalist Maria Laetitia, a Puerto Rican-born soprano. That’s followed by Gustav Holst’s The Planets (November 3), a seven-movement orchestra suite written in 1914 that will spotlight Kalhor, the previously mentioned kamancheh player. He’ll join the orchestra to perform the epic astrological masterpiece, which he previously recorded with the Silk Road Orchestra. There’ll also be a program of sensual tangos — called, appropriately, Tango! (January 19, 2019) — followed by Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A major (February 23, 2019), a work written between 1811 and 1812 and described by the composer himself as one of his best works, The Classics Series concludes with a symphonic bonbon, French Soirée (April 27), which will feature works by Georges Bizet, Gabriel Fauré, Olivier Messiaen, Maurice Ravel and Camille Saint-Saëns — with vocals from the University of Central Florida Chorus. 22

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The Pops Series salutes American music in an array of genres, including a seasonopening performance by singer/songwriter Rhiannon Giddens (October 13), best known as a founding member of the old-time string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Giddens’ Grammy-nominated solo debut album, Tomorrow is My Turn, blends gospel, jazz, blues and country. She won the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Bluegrass and Banjo in 2016. Her most recent album, Freedom Highway, was released last year. Home for the Holidays! (November 24), conducted by Albert George Schram, will celebrate the season with the orchestra and an assortment of choirs and guest artists. It has become arguably the region’s most popular holiday concert event. Feel like partying? Then you won’t want to miss Mardi Gras in New Orleans (March 9, 2019), conducted by internationally renowned trumpeter Byron Stripling. It will showcase steamy jazz and belting blues popularized by Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino and Mahalia Jackson, among others. Bring your own beads. Whose Line is it Anyway? star Colin Mochrie will preside over The Second City Guide to the Symphony (February 2, 2019), an evening of music and musically themed come-

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Guest artists during the upcoming season include trumpeter Byron Stripling (above), improvisational comedian Colin Mochrie (far left), kamancheh player Kayhan Kalhor (left), and singer-songwriter Rhiannon Giddens (below), best-known as a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, an old-time string band.


artsLife | SUMMER 2018

dy. It’s a humorous celebration of symphony orchestras, offering a satirical — but loving — analysis of the players, the conductors, the composers and even the audience. In 2016, the Washington Post described the Second City show as “remarkably selfaware in its duty: both to poke fun at the symphony and to pitch why it should matter to people who have largely never seen a symphony orchestra before.” George Albert Schram returns to conduct the program, which was developed by the Chicago-based comedy theater and served as a launching pad for such superstars as Dan Ackroyd, John Belushi, Stephen Colbert, John Candy, Tina Fey, Mike Myers, Martin Short and dozens of others. The Pops Series concludes with a salute to legendary conductor John Williams with Star Wars and More: The Music of John Williams (April 13, 2019). Williams is known for composing the scores to, well, just about every major motion picture you can name. Conducted by Michael Krajewski, music director of the Philly Pops and a conductor of the Jacksonville Symphony and the

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the program features music from the ever-expanding Star Wars franchise as well as familiar portions of scores from Jaws, Schindler’s List and several Harry Potter films. Not to be overlooked are the five Focus Series programs at The Plaza Live. Focus Series concerts begin with Schumann and Schumann (October 8). That is to say, Robert Schumann, the great German Romantic composer, and his wife Clara, a distinguished pianist and composer — and a mother of eight. Among the other programs are Tchaikovsky & Mozart (November 19), Gustav Mahler’s Song of the Earth (January 14, 2019), Mozart’s Symphony No. 33 (March 18, 2019) and Mendelssohn’s Italian (April 8, 2019). The Focus Series will spotlight the orchestra’s own musicians as featured soloists, including Rimma Bergeron-Langlois (violin), Jamie Strefeler (oboe) and Robert Carpenter (tuba) performing a concerto by Orlando composer Benoit Glazer. Visit for more information about the orchestra’s upcoming season. 

2,658 devoted donors | 1⁄3 of the arts center to build 98.5% to construction goal | $9 million to make it happen

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You’ll impact Central Florida’s culture, economy and community for generations to come. You’ll make history with Steinmetz Hall and The Green Room. And you’ll make Arts For Every Life® a reality. All by becoming a Dr. Phillips Center donor. So join us. Become a donor. We’ve got an arts center to complete and a community to inspire—together. 407.992.1743 |

SUMMER 2018 | artsLife



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Erasure, a synth-pop band featuring Andy Bell (left) and Vince Clarke (right) have expanded their focus beyond the dance-friendly anthems that propelled them into the spotlight in the 1980s. Their current tour features new music along with the hits that have helped them to sell more than 25 million albums worldwide. SUMMER 2018 | artsLife


Erasure’s album World Be Gone was reimagined as World Beyond, which was recorded with the Brussels-based ensemble Echo Collective.




rasure’s longevity would be impressive enough if the British cult-favorite synth-pop duo was merely milking the dance-friendly anthems that propelled them into the spotlight in the 1980s. Instead, singer Andy Bell and keyboardist Vince Clarke continue to evolve, boldly releasing the understated World Be Gone in 2017. In early 2018, they followed it with World Beyond, a showcase for new orchestral arrangements of World Be Gone material. To reinterpret the 10 songs of World Be Gone for World Beyond, Erasure collaborated with the Brussels-based classical ensemble Echo Collective, which also produced the new album. It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Classical Albums and Classical Crossover Albums charts. Classical? It just goes to show that Bell and Clarke are nothing if not versatile. You can see for yourself when Erasure brings its World Be Gone Tour to the Walt Disney Theater on July 8. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are priced starting at $34.50. Echo Collective won’t be there. But Welsh singer Bright Light Bright Light — otherwise known as Rod Thomas — will be. In 2015, Thomas toured with Elton John, who appears as a guest vocalist on his most recent album, Choreography. Bell and Clarke are rightfully proud of World Beyond, although its sound can’t be replicated live without a full complement of musicians. Still, expect them to deliver 28

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intervals of more contemplative material, such as “Still It’s Not Over,” which recalls the struggle for LGBTQ acceptance. “When Vince started working on the music for the album (World Be Gone), I felt like it sounded like a film soundtrack,” Bell says. “I was thinking, ‘How am I going to put lyrics to this?’” It was Clarke’s idea to return to the studio and record orchestral versions with Echo Collective — a process that resulted in Bell recording new vocal tracks as well. “The collaboration has given elements of the album a whole new feel, and Andy’s vocals remain as powerful and uplifting as ever,” Clarke adds. “Also, we have an incredible following of fans, and it’s good to keep them happy.” Erasure and its happy fans have accounted for sales of more than 25 million albums worldwide. Since the duo formed in 1985, Bell and Clarke have scored 17 Top 10 singles and five No. 1 albums in the United Kingdom. Before Erasure, Clarke had already contributed to the foundation of 1980s’ electronica as a short-lived founding member of Depeche Mode and as half of the likeminded duo Yazoo. When Bell turned up for a vocal audition for his next project, Clarke immediately sensed a spark. “We auditioned about 40 people before I heard Andy,” he says. “A lot of good singers, but nobody really had the right character. When Andy opened his trap, it was instant. His renditions were just outstanding.” Erasure didn’t explode overnight. The band’s 1986 debut album, Wonderland, received lackluster reviews and yielded poor sales. Then, powered by the single “Sometimes,” a 1987 sophomore album, Circus, reached No. 6 on the British charts. Erasure hit No. 1 a year later with its third album, The Innocents, which yielded the duo’s first two hits in the U.S.: “Chains of Love” and “A Little Respect.” That slow ascent ultimately contributed to the band’s success, Clarke says: “We decided that if radio wasn’t going to play our music, the only way to get it across was to play it live. So, we set out on touring, playing universities and clubs. It was us against the world. It

really helped to bond our relationship.” On stage, Bell became a flamboyant force, a kinetic presence attired in outlandish costumes that included rubber leotards. By comparison, Clarke looked almost expressionless, strumming his guitar. “Andy started trying different costumes on from the very beginning — and I thought it was really fantastic,” Clarke says. “There were only four of us onstage, so we didn’t have a guitarist leaping around. Andy was larger than life with all this gear on. It just fit us really well.” Bell went public with his diagnosis as HIVpositive in the early 1990s, at a time when

there were fewer treatment options for the disease. “In the beginning, it was really scary,” Bell says. “Not many people survived. I had always been a heart-on-my-sleeve kind of person, so I just wanted to put my cards on the table. I was expecting more of a roller coaster, but I was quite taken aback by the amount of love that came from it.” On its current tour, Erasure aims to return that love. The duo may have mellowed, but they’re still fun to watch — and they still like to get the crowd up and moving. “It’ll be some theatricals and some dancing from him,” Clarke says, “and me looking stern.”


MAY 14

Thomas Wynn and the Believers have rock ‘n’ roll in their DNA. Tom Wynn, father of siblings Thomas and Olivia Wynn, was the original drummer for Cowboy, which toured with the Allman Brothers and released four albums on the Capricorn label. The Believers have a new album, Wade Waist Deep, recorded in Nashville and released by Mascot Records.

Thomas Wynn and the Believers, sibling-led Southern rockers fronted by the brother-andsister duo of Thomas and Olivia Wynn, won “Best Rock Act” and “Best Country/Folk Act” honors for seven straight years from readers of the Orlando Weekly. If you’ve seen them perform, you’ll know why. Their live shows are heightened by searing guitars and soaring harmonies. In addition, rock is in their DNA: Tom Wynn — Thomas and Olivia’s father — was the original drummer for the rock band Cowboy, which toured with the Allman Brothers Band throughout the 1970s and released four albums on the Capricorn label. SUMMER 2018 | artsLife


The group will make a believer out of you — if you aren’t a believer already —- at the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater on May 14 at 7:30 p.m. It’s the final act in the AMP’d at Dr. Phillips Series, sponsored by Orlando Health to showcase some of the region’s best musical performers in an array of genres. Tickets are priced at $15. In addition to Thomas and Olivia, the band consists of David Wagner (bass), Ryan Miranda (drums), Chris Antemesaris (harmonica) and Colin Daniel Fei (keyboards). Reax Magazine recently wrote of Thomas Wynn and the Believers: “For once, you have a Florida band that is truly Florida. They look like Florida, they sound like Florida — with a touch of Molly Hatchett, The Band, Neil Young and The Black Crowes.” The group’s most recent album, Wade Waist Deep, was released by Mascot Records in May of last year. It was recorded in Nashville under the guidance of Grammy-winning producer Vance Powell, who has worked with Chris Stapleton, Jack White and Martina McBride, among others. “Vance is really, really good,” says Thomas. “A great thing about Vance that he told us was, ‘I’m going to make you sound like the best version of yourselves, but no better.’ Nothing is fake. We played and sang everything. We played it until we got it right, and felt something with it. There are things on the record that may not be perfect, and that’s perfect. It has emotion.” In Thomas Wynn and the Believers, Powell had some extraordinary brother-sister vocal chemistry with which to work. “Being in the [church] choir, we learned how to mold and meld voices together,” recalls Thomas, who originally started a band with his brother, Jordan, called the Wynn Brothers. However, it wasn’t until Olivia joined her siblings that the band truly found its signature sound. “She just made us sound really good,” adds Thomas. “As time went on, Jordan moved on to do other things, and Olivia and I kept going. I just sing and do what I’m going to do, and Olivia, almost without hesitation, knows where I’m going and is able to be where she needs to be because of it.” 

DR. PHILLIPS CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS w o u l d l i k e t o t h a n k o u r 2 0 1 7– 2 0 1 8 s e a s o n s p o n s o r s


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David Byrne, rock ‘n’ roll’s Renaissance man, is a writer and a visual artist as well as a performer. He also delivers lectures extolling the power of grass-roots activism.


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t’s a fertile time for songwriters consumed with the political and social upheaval that seems to multiply with every 24-hour news cycle. But that’s only part of the influence behind American Utopia, the first solo studio album in 14 years from ex-Talking Heads front man David Byrne. The Scottish-born Byrne — who became a joint U.S.-U.K. citizen in 2012 — has been vocal about his growing distaste for the political situation in America. But he has cautioned against anyone expecting the new album to be some sort of manifesto. Instead, the 10 tracks offer a mixture of cynicism and hope, combining whimsical lyrics, irresistible rhythms and old-school rock muscle to create a hybrid that compares favorably to his best work. The New York Times calls the compilation — which debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 — “a cheerful dystopia,” while Rolling Stone opines that Byrne has thrown “a weird party in his mind” where light and dark elements mingle. Byrne will perform some of those intriguing new songs — plus older material from his Talking Heads days — when he brings his American Utopia Tour to the Walt Disney Theater on September 28. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are priced starting at $54.50.

Tune-Yards, an indie-pop band fronted by Merrill Garbus and Nate Brenner, will open for Byrne, who with his former Talking Heads bandmates was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. During the induction ceremony, the pioneering new wave foursome reunited to play four tracks, including “Psycho Killer” and “Burning Down the House.” The tour will be as interesting visually as it is musically. There’ll be a 12-piece band — heavy on percussion — playing against the backdrop of a simple chain curtain with which light and shadow effects are created. Amplification will be wireless, so the musicians will be “untethered” from their instruments. If you haven’t seen Byrne since his Talking Head days, you should know that he’s ditched the oversized suits he wore in his youth and is now a very dapper, white-haired gentleman of 65. Which, of course, doesn’t mean that he won’t rock the house. Talking Heads helped to pioneer new wave music by integrating elements of punk, funk and art rock. The band was the subject of an acclaimed 1983 concert film, Stop Making Sense, directed by Jonathan Demme, and continued to tour and record until calling it quits in 1991. SUMMER 2018 | artsLife


Byrne sported an iconic oversized suit in 1983’s Stop Making Sense, a critically acclaimed Jonathan Demme film featuring Talking Heads in concert. The band, founded by Byrne, pioneered new wave music by integrating elements of punk, funk and art rock.

Byrne has since explored various musical genres, releasing critically praised albums — most recently collaborations with Brian Eno, Norman Cook and St. Vincent — and appeared as himself on an episode of The Simpsons. He has also made forays into theater and film, and scored a ballet with acclaimed choreographer Twyla Tharp. He has worked on numerous film soundtracks, most notably with Ryuichi Sakamoto and Cong Su on Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor, which won an Oscar in 1987 for Best Original Score. In 2005, Byrne and Fatboy Slim wrote Here Lies Love, a disco-style operetta about the life of Imelda Marcos, the controversial former First Lady of the Philippines known for her massive collection of shoes. Here Lies Love was originally released as an album that featured vocals by Byrne along with Tori Amos, Steve Earle, Cyndi Lauper and Natalie Merchant, among others. A stage version premiered off-Broadway at the Public Theater in New York City in 2013. In 2006, Byrne published a book of diagrams and pencil drawings called Arboretum, which he describes as “mental maps of imaginary territory.” The collection contains essays, snatches of poetry and pencil sketches — mostly in the form of trees — mapping everything from the roots of philosophy to the tangles of romantic destiny to the ecosystem of the performing arts. His most recent book, 2012’s How Music Works, intersperses autobiography with music theory. In 2008, Byrne released Big Love: Hymnal, the soundtrack to season two of Big Love, the award-winning HBO drama series. He has also contributed songs to an array of compilation and tribute albums, including five albums that benefited AIDS research. In 2016, Byrne wrote another musical, Joan of Arc: Into the Fire. He was attracted to the story, he says, because “it’s about the power of the individual to make a difference and, for me, the hubris and sometimes oversteps that often go along with that. In other words, it’s completely relevant.” 34

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Like Here Lies Love, the show premiered off-Broadway at the Public Theater. Most critics liked the thoroughly modernized Maid of Orléans, who wore black leather pants and sported a blonde punk mullet as she belted out Byrne’s inspirational power ballads. Last year, rock ‘n’ roll’s Renaissance man launched a website called Reasons to be Cheerful, on which he explores real-world solutions to such social and political issues as incarceration, climate change, arts education and urban renewal. He describes the project as “a quasi-therapeutic collection of pieces of good news that reminded me, ‘Hey, there’s actually some positive stuff going on.’” He has also given lectures on ways in which grass-roots activism has been successful at the community level. Byrne’s stated goal of bringing joy back into a world that seems to grow more joyless by the day is reflected in American Utopia. Take, for example, the song “Every Day Is A Miracle,” which examines the world through

the eyes of a chicken. Yes, a chicken. Now the chicken imagines a heaven, Full of roosters and plenty of corn. And God is a very old rooster, And eggs are like Jesus, his son. The song also examines the contemporary world from the perspectives of a tongue and a cockroach. Perhaps only a quirky genius like Byrne could make these oddball allegories work. A video of the album’s first single, “Everybody’s Coming to My House,” was a collaboration between Byrne and students at the Detroit School of Arts. Byrne also released a short documentary, American Utopia: Detroit, which describes the project. Broadcast royalties from the video will go to the school. The lyrics reflect Byrne’s upbeat attitude these days. And likely they also reflect his hope for what will almost certainly be a string of sellouts during his current tour: Now everybody’s coming to my house, And I’m never gonna be alone. And everybody’s coming to my house, And they’re never gonna go back home.  — Jim Abbott and Randy Noles

Byrne, at 65, has settled into a role as a rock ‘n’ roll elder statesman. But his new album, American Utopia, compares with some of his best work. It has been described by The New York Times as “a cheerful dystopia,” with 10 tracks that offer a mixture of cynicism and hope, reflecting Byrne’s typically unique view of the world.

GET YOUR TICKETS EVENT: David Byrne: American Utopia Tour DATE/TIME: Friday, September 28, 8 p.m. VENUE: Walt Disney Theater NOTES: The founder of Talking Heads, a man of many talents, is touring behind his new album, American Utopia, and will perform new material as well as hits from his days as a new wave pioneer. The Tune-Yards will open the show. TICKETS: Priced starting at $54.50. 844.513.2014 •

DID YOU KNOW? In 2008, Byrne, an avid cyclist, designed a series of bicycle parking racks in the form of images corresponding to the areas in which they were located, such as a dollar sign for Wall Street and an electric guitar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

SUMMER 2018 | artsLife




20 2 p.m.

Bubble Guppies Gil and Molly (above) invite their fans to visit them in — you guessed it — Bubbletucky, where aquatic characters sing, dance and embark upon inspirational and educational adventures. Bubble Puppy, Deema and Nonny (below) perform a fin-tastic tune that gets kids up and dancing. Even Ozzy Osborne is a fan of the show’s rollicking music.


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hat time is it? It’s time for — Bubble Guppies! If you have a preschooler, you’ve undoubtedly seen the computer-animated Nickelodeon TV show, which follows the adventures of six inexplicably fish-tailed kids — Molly, Gil, Oona, Deema, Nonny and Goby — who live underwater (in Bubbletucky) and interact with non-hybrid sea creatures. You can probably also sing the bouncy earworm of a theme song: “Bubble Guppies, Bub- Bub- Bubble Guppies, Bubble Bubble Bubble Guppies!” The show ran for five seasons — it ended in 2016 — but continues to delight young fans with an inventive stage show. So put on your water wings and jump into a swimsational adventure with Bubble Guppies Live! Ready to Rock, which drenches the Walt Disney Theater on May 20. Showtime is 2 p.m. and tickets are priced starting at $20. Infants up to 11 months of age, who sit on a parent’s lap, are admitted free — but advance check-in at the box office is required. A VIP meet-and-greet package is available for $95. It includes premium show seating and a pre-show photo opportunity with two Bubble Guppies Live! characters, Gil and Molly. The live show consists of colorfully cos-

tumed actors, most of whom wear large fabricated heads that look like their TV counterparts. They perform to a rock ‘n’ roll-style soundtrack — even the dialogue is recorded — and cavort on vibrant sets that will appear familiar to viewers. In fact, the live show faithfully replicates the cartoonish look and the happily rollicking vibe of the televised one — which has won two Emmys, in 2011 and 2013, for Outstanding Preschool Animated Program. And not all the show’s fans are preschoolers. Heavy metal rocker Ozzy Osbourne guest starred in 2015, voicing the character of slimespraying Sid Fishy, a green blob of a creature with a gold tooth and a red mohawk. Bubble Guppies fans, you know the drill. Every episode starts with pink-haired Molly, who appears onscreen to announce that “it’s time for …” She’s invariably interrupted by blue-haired Gil, who sets up the theme of the episode. The subject might be starting school, moving to a new house, losing a tooth, going to the doctor or even anticipating a new baby brother or sister. There’s always plenty of music and interaction, as the characters ask questions and pause for shouted answers from young viewers. The importance of friendship, curiosity, responsibility and problem-solving SUMMER 2018 | artsLife


Living underwater doesn’t prevent Goby from playing some hot licks on the electric guitar.

— are skilled at evoking a suspension of disbelief and happily play along with it all. The Bubble Guppies will leave no stone unturned — and no bubble unpopped — until they find Bubble Puppy and get the show on the road. It’s probably not a spoiler to suggest that everything ultimately works out. And by the way, if you’re asking why these strange mere creatures exist and how they can breathe underwater, then you’ve grown too old and jaded to appreciate children’s entertainment. Bubble Guppies Live! is produced by Koba Entertainment and VStar Entertainment Group, which also produced PAW Patrol Live!, a preschool hit at the arts center last year.  — Randy Noles

GET YOUR TICKETS EVENT: Bubble Guppies Live! Ready to Rock DATE/TIME: Sunday, May 20, 2 p.m. VENUE: Walt Disney Theater are reinforced. In Bubble Guppies Live!, the gang is getting ready to perform some totally fin-tastic tunes when they realize that rambunctious Bubble Puppy, a dog-fish hybrid, has gone missing. With a little help from Mr. Grouper, a schoolteacher who’s all fish, the search gets underway. Mr. Grouper is portrayed by an actor who totes a large, balloonish construction made of vinyl. A Greek chorus of giggly Little Fish are also carried by actors. But kids — some of whom dance in the aisles during the show

NOTES: The animated Nickelodeon TV series, Bubble Guppies, is now a live stage show featuring adorable mere-person preschoolers who learn important life lessons through their adventures in Bubbletucky. TICKETS: Priced starting at $20; lap-sitting infants 11 months of age or younger are admitted free. VIP meet-and-greet package is $95. 844.513.2014 •

DID YOU KNOW? Voice actor Franklin Wendell Welker, Bubble Puppy in the Bubble Guppy TV series, has for nearly 50 years been the voice of both Fred Jones and Scooby-Doo in the popular cartoon franchise, which follows the adventures of the goofy great dane and his teenaged pals.


artsLife | SUMMER 2018

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Saturday & Sunday


23 & 24 7:30 p.m. & 1 p.m., 6:30 p.m.

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) shows a darker side in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which some critics consider to be the strongest of the eight films based on J.K. Rowlings’ books.


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e’re just wild about Harry. More than two decades after the first Harry Potter book was published — Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 1997 — J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard retains a magical hold over audiences. Nowhere is that more true than in Central Florida, home of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, an entire theme park, which debuted in 2010 at Universal Studios Florida. Even though Rowling wrote her final book in the Potter series — Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — 10 years ago, fans of Harry and his Hogwarts classmates still enjoy reliving the original stories in new ways. Now there’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in Concert, which features a live orchestra performing the Oscar-nominated John Williams score while the 2004 film — the third of eight in the record-shattering Potter franchise — is shown in high definition on a 40-foot screen. “It’s important to the arts center to introduce young audiences to the value of live orchestral music,” says Kathy Ramsberger, the arts center’s president and CEO. “And what better way to do it than through a musical presentation related to a phenomenon in our culture?” What better way indeed? Only Voldemort

himself could fail to be wowed by such a spectacle. Hopefully, however, “He Who Must Not Be Named” won’t be in attendance when the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra — under the baton of guest conductor Justin Freer — casts its spell over the Walt Disney Theater with three shows on Saturday and Sunday, June 23 and 24, 2019. The Saturday show is at 7:30 p.m., followed by two Sunday shows at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tickets are priced starting at $45.50. “This will be another unforgettable event,” says Freer, who’s also founder and president of CineConcerts, which created the Harry Potter Film Concert Series. “It’s a once-in-alifetime cultural phenomenon that delights millions of fans around the world.” That certainly appears to be the case. In two previous Potter-themed concerts presented by the arts center, the 2,700-seat venue has been packed with fans, many of whom were outfitted in wizarding finery. In fact, that’s the case everywhere the series is presented. As the lavish film unfolds over roughly three hours — including a 20-minute intermission — attendees cheer or boo the entrance of each of the story’s myriad characters. And, invariably, they leap to their feet and cheer SUMMER 2018 | artsLife


The talented and inventive Justin Freer (right) is founder and president of CineConcerts, which created the Harry Potter Film Concert Series. He’ll again wield the wand — actually, the baton — for the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, which has played two previous Potter-themed concerts.

during the final credits. In Azkaban, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) — along with friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) — return for their third year of adventures at Hogwarts. Eventually, they encounter escaped prisoner Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), who was thought to have been a treacherous murderer but who is, in fact, an innocent man — and Harry’s godfather. They also learn to handle a half-horse, half-eagle creature known as a hippogriff, and to repel shape-shifting boggarts. In a climactic battle, Harry defeats soul-sucking dementors, saving Black from a fate worse than death. Harry Potter has certainly been good to the talented and inventive Freer, a native of Huntington Beach, California, who has been a guest conductor for many of the country’s leading symphony orchestras. In addition to his work with CineConcerts, he has composed music for independent films and the marketing campaigns behind such blockbusters as Avatar (2009) and 42

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The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008). He also composed and conducted the music for the 2011 and 2012 Major League Soccer Championship Cups in Los Angeles. As for Williams, if you’ve ever been to a movie — or, for that matter, watched TV — you’ve likely heard his work. The New York City native has enjoyed a 40-year collaboration with director Steven Spielberg, and has scored, among other Spielberg films, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan and all the Indiana Jones installments. In addition, Williams has scored seven Star Wars films — earning yet another Oscar nomination for Star Wars: The Force Awakens —

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as well as Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Superman, Born on the Fourth of July, Home Alone, Far and Away, Sabrina, Sleepers and Rosewood. He has written the music for more than 200 TV shows, including the instantly recognizable themes for NBC Nightly News and the network’s long-running Meet the Press. More recently, he has composed a new opener for the PBS arts showcase, Great Performances. Williams has served as music director and laureate conductor of the Boston Pops, and maintains artistic relationships with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The legendary composer’s shelves must be groaning under the weight of his awards. He has won the National Medal of Arts and the Kennedy Center Honor, as well as numerous Golden Globes, Grammys, Emmys and Oscars. In fact, his 50 Oscar nominations — with five wins — make him the second-most nominated person ever, after Walt Disney. As for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, has anyone here not seen it? Of course you’ve seen it — but maybe you haven’t seen it lately. And you certainly haven’t seen it like this. To date, Azkaban has earned more than $996 million worldwide — and is often


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regarded by critics and fans as the best of the eight-film series. The San Francisco Chronicle lauded its more mature tone, describing it as “darker, more complex, rooted in character.” The Hollywood Reporter called the film “a deeper, darker, visually arresting and more emotionally satisfying adaptation of the J.K. Rowling literary phenomenon.” Rolling Stone gave the film three-and-ahalf out of four stars: “Not only is this dazzler by far the best and most thrilling of the three Harry Potter movies to date, it’s a film that can stand on its own even if you’ve never heard of author J.K. Rowling and her young wizard hero.” In Azkaban, Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) is forced to allow dementors onto the grounds at Hogwarts to protect students from Sirius Black, who has just escaped from prison. But there’s something about Black that even Dumbledore doesn’t know.

Mark Fischer, director of artistic operations for the Orlando Philharmonic, points out that Potter isn’t a stranger to most of the orchestra’s players. There are the two prior Potter concerts, of course. But many also performed at ceremonies marking the grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — under the baton of Williams himself. The 85 players who’ll grace the stage for Azkaban will, as they did during previous concerts in the series, carefully listen to a click track for cues. They will have rehearsed only twice — the day before the show. “It’s always great music,” Fischer says. “But performing it live, with precision, over the course of a two-and-a-half-hour film keeps you sitting on the edge of your seat.”  — Randy Noles

GET YOUR TICKETS EVENT: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in Concert DATES/TIMES: Saturday and Sunday, June 23 and 24, 2019. The Saturday show is at 7:30 p.m.; the Sunday shows are at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. VENUE: Walt Disney Theater TICKETS: Priced starting at $45.50. NOTES: The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra plays the John Williams score while the 2004 film is shown in high definition on a 40-foot screen. 844.513.2014 •


Azkaban director Alfonso Cuarón assigned actors Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson to write essays about their characters. Grint didn’t turn his in. Recalls Cuarón: “When I questioned why, Rupert said, ‘Ron wouldn’t do it.’ So I said, ‘OK, you do understand your character.’”

SUMMER 2018 | artsLife





Showtimes Vary

Natalie Bishop (center) is the plucky title character in the Unity Players’ production of Annie. Tristan Bishop (right) — Natalie’s real-life dad — is the benevolent Daddy Warbucks, while Lisa Renée Johnson (left) is the evil Miss Agatha Hannigan.


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eaping Lizards! Annie: The Musical is coming to town, appropriately enough to raise money for a charity that helps support group homes for foster kids in Central Florida. A brand-new local not-for-profit, Unity Players, is producing this version of the Tony-winning tear-jerker. The optimistic carrot-topped waif — who wins the heart of audiences and, of course, Daddy Warbucks — will sing “Tomorrow,” “It’s the Hard Luck Life” and other familiar songs during five shows at the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater between May 24 and 27. Showtimes are at 8 p.m. each night, with a 2 p.m. matinee on May 26. Tickets are priced starting at $35. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the iPrevail International Foundation, an Oviedobased not-for-profit started in 2013 to funnel disaster aid to the Philippines following a series of deadly typhoons. iPrevail launched a subsidiary charitable organization, Foster Friends of Central Florida, in 2017. Unity Players was founded last fall by a Lake Mary couple, Tristan and Kierstyn Bishop. Tristan Bishop is a tech industry executive who, after graduating from the University of North Carolina in 1991, moved to San Francisco and joined an a capella quintet called the House Jacks.

Billed as “a rock band without instruments,” the House Jacks toured the world, not only singing but also vocally imitating instruments such as trumpets, guitars and harmonicas. They pioneered the use of the “beat box” for percussion and performed mostly original music. In fact, the House Jacks are still performing — only without Bishop, who left in 1997 because he grew weary of the group’s grueling schedule. Still, he has only fond memories of his years on the road, and participates in occasional reunion concerts. “We played as many as 200 shows a year,” he recalls. “Along the way, we opened for Ray Charles, James Brown, the Temptations and many other luminaries. It was a terrific time. It was an honor being part of something like that.” Bishop — who couldn’t entirely leave performing behind — then became involved in community theater. In 2107, he appeared in The Music Man at Mount Dora’s acclaimed Ice House Theater. Bishop sang bass in the comically befuddled barbershop quartet, while his talented 10-year-old daughter Natalie — who’ll appear as Annie in the upcoming production at the arts center — played Amaryllis, one of the juvenile leads. SUMMER 2018 | artsLife


It’s an old show business adage that kids and dogs will always steal the show — and Annie, of course, has both. The dog who plays the plucky orphan’s canine companion, Sandy, performed the same role in a 2017 Garden Theatre production of Annie. His offstage name is Joey.

“I was having fun auditioning with Natalie and working with her on shows,” says Bishop, who’ll appear as Daddy Warbucks. “I had the idea for doing this show at church one night. The plot aligns with an issue that Kierstyn and I care about — so I decided to take a gamble.” Lending their expertise are Andrew and Lisa Renée Johnson, a Clermont couple who started Premiere Youth Theater, which operates workshops for young performers. The Johnsons had auditioned and trained preteen actors for The Music Man, and are doing the same for Bishop’s production of Annie. Lisa Renée Johnson is also portraying the evil Miss Agatha Hannigan, who runs the orphanage from which Annie escapes. Bishop says he needs to sell about 900 tickets to recoup his costs and donate funds to iPrevail. Capacity for the five-show run is about 1,500. But interest has been strong, thanks in part to the fact that many cast members are community theater veterans with strong local followings. Activists in the foster care community have rallied behind the effort as well. Plus, the story remains irresistible. After all, the original 1977 Martin Charnin and Thomas Meehan musical ran for more than six years

on Broadway and won a Tony for Best Musical. It’s now produced at least 800 times per year around the world, according to estimates from The New York Times. Who couldn’t pull for a spunky little girl who truly believes that the sun will come out tomorrow? You can bet your bottom dollar.  — Randy Noles

GET YOUR TICKETS EVENT: The Unity Players Present Annie: The Musical DAYS/TIMES: Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 24, 25, 26 and 27. Showtimes are 8 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee added on Saturday VENUE: Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater NOTES: A local not-for-profit is staging this production of the hit Broadway musical, now a staple of community theater, to benefit iPrevail and its program to assist Central Florida foster homes. TICKETS: Priced starting at $35 844.513.2014 •

DID YOU KNOW? In the Little Orphan Annie comic strip, Daddy Warbucks lost his fortune due to a corrupt rival and ultimately died from despair at the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Following World War II, he reappeared — the explanation being that he had only been in a coma.


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“On behalf of Dr. Phillips, Inc. and its Board of Directors; our Chairman, Jim Ferber and I would like to welcome you to Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts for our fourth 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

become a Member to enjoy benefits like: > contributing to Arts For Every Life® > early access to show tickets > discounts with your Member card

407.839.0119 (press 2)

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ou just never know what’s going to happen when an unlikely competitor steps up to the microphone on NBC’s America’s Got Talent. For example, in 2017, during the show’s 12th season, a waiflike 12-year-old girl emerged from the wings toting a ventriloquist’s dummy — a fluffy, cartoonish rabbit clad in a pink tutu. They both looked adorable. But for judge and executive producer Simon Cowell, adorable just isn’t enough. Then the rabbit — that is, the girl, who introduced the rabbit as Petunia and herself as Darci Lynne — belted out a bluesy version of George Gershwin’s “Summertime” that brought down the house. “I saw an act before you that I won’t remember tomorrow,” said the often-caustic Cowell. “You, I’ll remember for weeks and months and years. You’ve just changed your life tonight.” Former Spice Girl Mel B, another judge, pressed her Golden Buzzer, which allowed a tearful Darci to go straight to the quarterfinals. She went on to win the competition — and the hearts of America — with her extraordinary talent, innate showmanship and huggable demeanor. The sweet-natured seventh-grader from Oklahoma City — whose full name is Darci Lynne Farmer — told Parade magazine that she just wanted to buy her mom new kitchen appliances with her $1 million in prize money. There’ll be plenty more where that came from, considering the sellout crowds that have greeted Darci, now 13, on her first national tour. She brings along Petunia, of course, as well as a stuttering Motown mouse named Oscar, a sassy cowgirl named Katie, a snooty fox named Scarlett, an intellectual bird named Nigel, a naughty old woman named Edna and an Elvis-impersonating duck named Okie — another others. Darci Lynne and Friends stops at the Walt Disney Theater on July 28. Showtime is 7 p.m. and tickets are priced starting at $29.95, with a meet-and-greet available

America’s Got Talent winner Darci Lynne may be just a kid, but she has been called by Las Vegas headliner Terry Fator, a fellow ventriloquist, “one of the most talented human beings on the planet.” SUMMER 2018 | artsLife


for $99.75. The opening act will be Pelican 212, a peppy Pensacola-based combo consisting of seven singing siblings — including twin 12-year-old trumpet players. Darci may be just a kid, but she’s already a seasoned entertainer. Before auditioning for America’s Got Talent, she entered — and usually won — local and regional talent competitions. In the process, she refined her technique and developed keen comedic timing for her onstage banter. After her America’s Got Talent triumph, she immediately got to headline a show at the Planet Hollywood Casino & Resort in Las Vegas — an extra date was added due to ticket demand — and later to perform in a benefit concert at Madison Square Garden. Darci has also appeared on such national TV shows as Ellen, NBC Today and Entertainment Tonight. Not bad for a girl who says she decided to learn ventriloquism at age 10 as a way to overcome shyness. Yes, shyness. “I had a hard time talking to people, making eye contact and things like that,” Darci said before her life-changing national TV debut. “Ventriloquism helped me find my voice.” Darci’s idol, she says, is ventriloquist Terry Fator, a Las Vegas headliner who won America’s Got Talent during the show’s second season. She performed “Anything You Can

Do” with Fator on the show’s finale, with Darci singing as Petunia and Fator singing as Winston the Impersonating Turtle. Fator has said of Darci that she’s “one of the most unbelievable, perfect ventriloquists I’ve ever seen, and she’ll only get better.” He has also called her “one of the most talented human beings on the planet.” 

GET YOUR TICKETS EVENT: Darci Lynne and Friends DATE/TIME: Saturday, July 28 VENUE: Walt Disney Theater NOTES: The 13-year-old ventriloquist rocketed to fame after winning season 12 of America’s Got Talent. She’s now on her first national tour, selling out venues across the country and wowing audiences with her technical skills, comedic timing and outsized singing voice. TICKETS: Priced starting at $29.75; meet-and-greet $99.75 844.513.2014 •

DID YOU KNOW? A video of Darci Lynne’s first America’s Got Talent performance, during which she voiced “Summertime” for Petunia the rabbit, was named by YouTube as its No. 4 Viral Video of the Year, notching nearly 20 million views.


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Darci and the love-struck Edna Doorknocker charm Simon Cowell, the often-caustic America’s Got Talent judge (facing page). Darci was brought to tears when she was told that she had won the televised competition.

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Take It From the Top Broadway Week, led by veteran dancer and choreographer Paul Canaan, is one of an array of summer programs offered by the Dr. Phillips Center Florida Hospital School of the Arts. About 500 students participated in various summer programs last year.


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Jazz Music Intensive Week with Rodney Whitaker is a five-day workshop consisting of combos, improv, jazz history, studio work and big-band rehearsal. The week culminates with concerts from students and faculty members.


aul Canaan can identify with the hopes, dreams, fears and frustrations of the aspiring musical theater actors who eagerly sign up for Take It From the Top Broadway Week, a program he created a decade ago. With a maximum of 90 students, Take It From the Top is the largest of the Dr. Phillips Center Florida Hospital School of the Arts Summer Programs. But, not surprisingly, it’s also among the first to reach capacity. “I was one of these kids,” says the 41-yearold Canaan, whose resumé boasts six Broadway shows. “I was a theater kid who lived for these opportunities.” Canaan’s credits include Legally Blonde, Miss Saigon, Thoroughly Modern Millie, La Cage Aux Folles, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Tony-winning Kinky Boots, for which he served as dance captain. But these days, he’s more focused on educating the next generation of theater kids. And there are plenty of them in talent-rich Central Florida. 56

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Take It From the Top, which runs June 11–15, is designed for two age groups. Students between ages 10–13 and 14–19 can learn acting, music and dance from seasoned pros, such as Canaan. There are, as usual, a wide variety of summer programs being offered at the arts center. About 500 students participated last year, says Dana Brazil, senior director of education. New this year is a two-week Musical Theater Production program, during which up to 44 students will stage a full-scale musical in the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater. It sounds like an old Mickey Rooney movie come to life — but Mickey didn’t have a venue this nice. Tuition for summer programs starts at $275. Because class sizes are limited, registering early at is recommended. Scholarships based on financial need are available, and application information is at the website. Take It From the Top, which Canaan founded as a nonprofit organization with Broadway star Laura Bell Bundy (Legally Blonde, Hair-

The arts center’s summer programs aren’t just for kids who dream of careers in theater — they’re for anyone who likes to perform. Participating in collaborative creative projects can boost selfconfidence and teach the value of teamwork, which are beneficial across the board.

spray, Wicked), offers real-world training each summer in Orlando and at two arts centers in Michigan. Faculty members include Bundy and other experienced Broadway “teaching artists.” The team of instructors for the Orlando week will be chosen in the spring. “We do group numbers, individual coaching on vocal technique, dance technique, storytelling through movement and scene work on acting — including what goes into building a character,” Canaan says. As with other summer programs at the arts center, Take It From the Top culminates with a showcase for family and friends at the end of the week. But Canaan says he doesn’t want preparation for the performance to overwhelm the week’s instruction. “I want to focus on skill-building,” he says. “I want to celebrate students’ strengths, but also focus on where they’re not as strong, and work on improving those areas. The showcase offers a glimpse of what we’ve done throughout the week.”

Take It From the Top is appropriate for anyone who loves to perform, Canaan says — not just high school students who are on a theater career track or “the kids who sing Frozen every day to their parents.” The experience, he says, builds self-confidence and teaches life skills that are crucial for success in any endeavor. Brazil attributes Canaan’s success as a teacher to both ability and enthusiasm. “I’ve known Paul for a long time,” she says. “One of the things I’ve always admired about him — in addition to his crazy talent — is that he’s always upbeat and positive.” Canaan’s newest venture is The Original Production, a licensing company he formed with director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell to make original Broadway choreography available to school and community theaters. His Take It From the Top students will be among the beneficiaries: This summer’s curriculum will include the original choreography for “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from Hairspray. On the following pages are descriptions of the various summer programs offered.  SUMMER 2018 | artsLife


MUSICAL THEATER WEEK Musical theater is a form of performance that combines songs, dialogue, acting and dance to tell a story. Musical Theater Week will concentrate on vocal technique, character development, and dance and stage presence to help you bring the magic of musical theater to life. Friends and family will be invited to a Final Showcase. DATES/TIMES: June 4–8, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. FINAL SHOWCASE: June 8, 7 p.m., Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater AGES: 6–9 TUITION: $295 ($320 after May 18) CAPACITY: 50   

TAKE IT FROM THE TOP BROADWAY WEEK Take It From the Top Broadway Week offers a unique opportunity for you to learn from a team of experienced Broadway professionals and a professional casting director. The workshop is designed by Broadway veterans Paul Canaan (Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde, Thoroughly Modern Millie, La Cage Aux Folles, Miss Saigon) and Tony nominee Laura Bell Bundy (Legally Blonde, Wicked, Hairspray, Ruthless). Participants will explore the “triple threat” of music, dance and theater. Friends and family will be invited to a Final Showcase. DATE/TIMES: June 11–15, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. FINAL SHOWCASE: June 15, 6:30 p.m. (Section A); 8 p.m. (Section B); Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater AGES: 10–13 (Section A); 14–19 (Section B) TUITION: $425 ($450 after May 18) CAPACITY: 45 in each section   

ACTING INTENSIVE WEEK Acting Intensive Week allows you to delve into script analysis, scene work, monologues and content-less scenes, while exploring various acting methods. Learn how to share your creativity with a scene partner, and how to incorporate the energy of the audience into your performance. Friends and family will be invited to a Final Showcase. DATES/TIMES: June 18–22, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. FINAL SHOWCASE: June 22, 7 p.m., Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater AGES: 10–13 (Section A); 14–19 (Section B) TUITION: $275 ($300 after May 18) CAPACITY: 25 in each section 58

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Your kids can spend an unforgettable week this summer immersed in the arts. Among the programs are Take it From the Top Broadway Week, led by Paul Canaan (above), a New Yorkbased theater professional.

THEATER ARTS WEEK Theater is about the art of play. In a nurturing and supportive environment, you’ll explore script, improvisation, drama and theater games. With an emphasis on personal expression, creative imagination, confidence and socialization, Theater Arts Week makes the connection between the magical worlds of scripted theater and creativity. Friends and family will be invited to a Final Showcase. DATES/TIMES: June 25–29, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. FINAL SHOWCASE: June 29, 7 p.m., Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater AGES: 6–10 TUITION: $275 ($300 after May 18) CAPACITY: 50   

JAZZ MUSIC INTENSIVE WEEK WITH RODNEY WHITAKER Jazz Music Intensive Week is always hot under the direction of renowned bassist Rodney Whitaker, artistic director of the Jazz Orchestra at Dr. Phillips Center, and a roster of jazz education greats. This five-day workshop consists of combos, improv, jazz history, studio work and big-band rehearsal. The week wraps up with two performances: one from faculty and one from students. DATES/TIMES: July 9–13, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. FINAL SHOWCASE: July 13, 7 p.m., Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater AGES: 13–adult TUITION: $425 ($450 after May 18) CAPACITY: 55

MUSICAL THEATER PRODUCTION This 10-day program will culminate with a full-scale musical performed live onstage. The first day will consist of auditions. The following days will encompass blocking, choreography, character development and vocal and tech rehearsals. There’ll be four performances, all of which will be open to the public. Tickets can be purchased for $15 each, and each participant will receive two complimentary tickets. DATES/TIMES: July 16–29, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. (with a break July 21 and 22) PERFORMANCES: July 27, 7:30 p.m.; July 28, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; July 29, 3 p.m.; Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater AGES: 12–19 TUITION: $700 ($725 after May 18) CAPACITY: 44   

OCA THEATER WEEK SERVING STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS In this community outreach program, the arts center’s education staff partners with OCA (Opportunity, Community, Ability) in a weeklong theater camp. Specialneeds campers participate in all aspects of the creative process, from writing a play to building sets and creating characters — with every participant being on stage in some way. OCA Theater Week culminates in a performance for invited family and friends. Parents and caretakers have reported that participants experience growth in speech and language, confidence and social skills. For more information, or to register for this camp, visit, call 407.808.7837 or email DATES: July 30–August 3

R E G I S T R AT I O N To sign up for summer programs, visit But act now, since classes fill up quickly.


The Pops Series brings together the best of American popular music and live entertainment for Orlando Philharmonic patrons. AMERICAN BLUES FEATURING RHIANNON GIDDENS

Saturday, October 13, 2018 at 2 & 8 p.m.


Saturday, November 24, 2018 at 2 & 8 p.m.


Saturday, February 2, 2019 at 2 & 8 p.m.


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STAR WARS AND MORE: THE MUSIC OF JOHN WILLIAMS Saturday, April 13, 2019 at 2 & 8 p.m.





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DISNEY MUSICALS IN SCHOOLS PROGRAM BRINGS THEATER TO KIDS WHO MIGHT OTHERWISE HAVE MISSED OUT. BY RANDY NOLES Seminole County’s Lake Orienta Elementary was one of four schools chosen to participate when Disney Musicals in Schools made its local debut last year. “This program was the best thing that could have happened to our school,” says Larissa Hardesty, a second-year teacher who directed The Jungle Book KIDS. “We now have a culture on our campus that celebrates the arts.”


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A familiar guest joined students from four local elementary schools who had just performed at last year’s first Student Share Celebration at the Walt Disney Theater.


ou can certainly see world-class professional musical theater at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. But you won’t see any shows that are more heartfelt — and more heartening — than those staged through Disney Musicals in Schools. This extraordinary program, now in its second year locally, is offered by the arts center specifically for kids in grades three through five who attend underresourced elementary schools in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. Four schools are selected per academic year. This year’s participants include Kaley Lake Como Elementary and the OCPS Academic Center for Excellence, both in Orange County, as well as Pleasant Hill Elementary in Osceola County and Wicklow Elementary in Seminole County.

“Some of these schools had never staged a performance,” says Dana Brazil, the arts center’s senior director of education. “Some of these teachers had no background in the arts. But I’ll tell you this: They’re rock stars.” By now, each school has already presented a 30-minute version of a major Disney musical on its campus. And now, it’s time for the grand — and we mean very grand — finale. On May 21, Dr. Phillips Center will host a Student Share Celebration at the Walt Disney Theater, where youngsters will present a production number on the big stage. That, of course, is where the Broadway pros usually strut their stuff. It’s a heady experience, particularly for kids who may nev62

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er have even seen a musical theater performance live and in person. So, it’s no exaggeration to say that lives are likely changed as a result of this 17week program, which is facilitated by highly credentialed teaching artists trained by the arts center and the New York-based Disney Theatrical Group. Participating schools receive, at no cost, the performance rights to one of seven Disney shows adapted specifically for youngsters: Aladdin KIDS, The Aristocats KIDS, Cinderella KIDS, The Jungle Book KIDS, The Lion King KIDS,101 Dalmations KIDS and Winnie the Pooh KIDS. Educational and support materials are included.

Rehearsals for on-campus performances of Disney musicals are underway at (right, top to bottom): Kaley Lake Como Elementary in Orange County, Wicklow Elementary in Seminole County, the OCPS Academic Center for Excellence in Orange County and Pleasant Hill Elementary in Osceola County. Each school selected its own show, and staged it with the assistance of teaching artists supplied by the program.

Two teaching artists work with each school, helping to facilitate the process of producing, directing and staging a show. These benefits are offered for three years, with the goal of creating sustainable, ongoing theater education programs that will continue long into the future. Seminole County’s Lake Orienta Elementary was one of four schools chosen last year to participate in the program’s local debut. Music teacher Larissa Hardesty and art teacher Joshua Goldstein, with the support of school administrators, spearheaded the application process. Once the school was notified of its selection, additional teachers and administrators eagerly got involved to help mount a production of The Jungle Book KIDS, which was chosen following a schoolwide vote. “This program was the best thing that could have happened to our school,” says Hardesty, a second-year teacher. “We now have a culture on our campus that celebrates the arts. It had such a positive impact on the kids — not just the actors, but also the kids who worked on crews and made props.” The Jungle Book KIDS sold out three performances in the school’s auditorium prior to the Student Share Celebration, during which the cast joined other participating schools — Kissimmee Elementary (Osceola County), Bonneville Elementary (Orange County) and Winegard Elementary (Orange County) — to present a production number. “Just to be able to step into Dr. Phillips Center, much less to perform on the stage, was huge for our kids,” says Hardesty, who this year is directing the school’s production of The Lion King KIDS. “It was an experience they’ll never forget.” Among the schools participating this year, the OCPS Academic Center for Excellence chose The Aristocats KIDS, Kaley Lake Como Elementary chose Aladdin KIDS, Pleasant Hill Elementary chose The Lion King KIDS and Wicklow Elementary chose The SUMMER 2018 | artsLife


Jungle Book KIDS. Brittany Hague, a fourth-grade teacher at Pleasant Hill Elementary, is directing the school’s production of The Lion King KIDS despite lacking any experience in musical theater. The program’s teaching artists are so helpful, she says, that even a novice can stage a successful show. “This program has caused a resurgence of the arts at Pleasant Hill,” says Hague. “Kids are flourishing in ways they hadn’t before because of their involvement. Plus, other artsrelated activities have come back. It’s been positive in every way.” 64

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Disney Musicals in the Schools was introduced in Central Florida through a two-year grant awarded to Dr. Phillips Center by the Disney Theatrical Group, which piloted the program in New York City in 2010. Subsequently, the program established partnerships with performing arts organizations in 18 cities across the U.S., serving 175 schools and more than 21,000 students. A London program was launched last year. Brazil says that teams of faculty members and between 40 and 60 students per school usually participate in one form or another. Although the grant ends this year, she says, the arts center will seek new funding for the 2018–19 school year. “Disney Musicals in Schools fits our mission perfectly,” she notes. Email Jennifer Russo at jennifer.russo@ or call the arts center at 407.839.0119 for more information about Disney Musicals in Schools. 

Holly Harris (facing page), a teacher at Bonneville Elementary School in Orange County, prepares her youthful cast for a production number from The Jungle Book KIDS, which they performed last year during the first Student Share Celebration. Meanwhile, other local elementary schoolers eagerly await their turn on the big stage.

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In Jersey Boys, the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons is told from each member’s perspective, including that of frontman Frankie Valli. The show’s irresistible soundtrack includes the quartet’s biggest hits, including “December 1963 (Oh, What a Night),” “Sherry,” “Rag Doll,” “Walk Like a Man” and “Working My Way Back to You.”




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om, I think we have a very busy year ahead of us!” That comment was typical of the more than 1,000 exuberant posts on the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts’ Facebook page when the lineup for the 2018-19 Fairwinds Broadway in Orlando™ season was announced. “I’m crying I’m so happy,” read another response. “I didn’t think last season could be topped!” One post, however, may have best described the local reaction — using just three simple words: “Best. Season. Ever.” Hamilton — which will run for three weeks — is certainly a major reason why season subscriptions for the seven-show series are already at capacity. Tickets for individual shows will go on sale closer to their opening dates. This year’s Season Option, Jersey Boys, is the first show slated. Season subscribers will have priority access to buy tickets for this nostalgic rock ‘n’ roll musical, which features the hit songs of the legendary Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. 68

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The regular season includes award-winning new shows, including the Tony and Grammy award-winner Dear Evan Hansen, alongside time-tested audience favorites such as Hello, Dolly! — starring Broadway icon Betty Buckley — and Fiddler on the Roof. In all, it’s a rich, varied lineup that combines splashy blockbusters with more thoughtprovoking fare; familiar classics with leadingedge contemporary works. Still, much of the buzz is about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, winner of 11 Tonys and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2016. The musical about the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury will command the Walt Disney Theater stage for three full weeks, during which 24 shows are slated. If you’re doing the math, that means 66,000 people will have an opportunity to see Hamilton — and few, if any, empty seats are expected. That’s as many people as fit into Camping World Stadium (formerly the Citrus Bowl). “This will be a standout season on so many levels,” says Kathy Ramsberger, the arts center’s president and CEO.


Betty Buckley, who has been called “The Voice of Broadway” by New York magazine, plays the lead role in an award-winning revival of Hello, Dolly. Buckley played Grizabella in the original Broadway production of Cats, which won her a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical in 1983.


Everyone knows White Christmas as a feel-good 1954 film starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen — along with songs by Irving Berlin. But it’s also a stage musical that features the classic Berlin songs and, as a treat for Floridians, plenty of snow.

Not only will Orlando theater-lovers have a chance to see some of the most in-demand shows on Broadway, school kids will also enjoy exposure to world-class theater. Ramsberger says that members of touring companies, as they usually do when visiting Orlando, will conduct workshops in schools and at the arts center’s own Dr. Phillips Center Florida Hospital School of the Arts. “Extending the arts beyond our facility and into the community is one of our top priorities,” she adds. Here’s what to expect when the curtain goes up: n  Jersey Boys (October 30–November 4). This jukebox musical, based on the timeless hit songs and the behind-the-scenes travails of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, won five Tonys, including Best Musical, in 2006, and the Lawrence Olivier Award, also for Best Musical, in 2009. The New York production closed last year after 4,642 shows at the August Wilson Theatre, making it the 12th-longest running show in Broadway history. It then re-opened offBroadway at New World Stages, where it

continues to thrive. The success of Jersey Boys paved the way for other musicals about pop music figures, such as Beautiful about Carole King and On Your Feet! about Emilio and Gloria Estefan. Jersey Boys, structured as four “seasons,” is told from the point of view of each group member, including Valli. The story of four tough street kids from the wrong side of the tracks in Newark, New Jersey, struck a literal and figurative chord with a generation that grew up listening to Four Seasons’ songs. But it also earned legions of new fans for the quartet and its seemingly ageless frontman. “This is a taste of reality, about four guys who grew up in a certain way, in a certain period of time, who, with all odds against them, became successful,” says Valli, whose career enjoyed a resurgence in the wake of the musical. You surely know the songs — “December 1963 (Oh, What a Night),” “Sherry,” “Rag Doll,” “Walk Like a Man” and “Working My Way Back to You” — among many other chart-toppers. And you know Valli’s fabulous falsetto, which makes his voice one of the SUMMER 2018 | artsLife


most instantly distinctive in pop music history. Anyone born shortly after World War II would have heard Valli’s hits on crackling car radios and malt-shop juke boxes. (On TV’s Happy Days, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” was frequently played on the jukebox at Arnold’s Diner.) Valli’s admirers include other musical legends. Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees (who wrote “Grease,” which Valli released in 1978) said he always tried to imitate the singer’s falsetto. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys called The Four Seasons his favorite group. And Billy 70

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Joel says that “Uptown Girl” was written as the hypothetical flip side to “Rag Doll.” Heck, you may have heard Valli himself sing these songs during two previous concerts in Orlando — in 2016 and 2017 — where he and a reconstituted version of The Four Seasons hit all the right notes and wowed packed houses at the arts center. In 2017, the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, at 82, appeared to have retained the three-octave range that defined his vocals. “I need to come back to Orlando more often,” he told the crowd after one of several raucous


standing ovations. “This is a beautiful theater with a fantastic sound.” Oh, what a night, indeed. But even though Valli himself won’t be in attendance for Jersey Boys, his music will be front and center. Valli’s character closes the show by musing wistfully that the best times in his life were “when everything was still ahead of us, and it was just four guys singing under a streetlamp.” n  Hello, Dolly! (November 27–December 2). The lead role in the 1964 Broadway classic has changed over the years, but it has

You’ve never seen American history told quite like this. Hamilton, still the hottest ticket on Broadway, is coming to Orlando for a threeweek run. Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda describes Hamilton as “a show about Americans then, as told by Americans now.”

SUMMER 2018 | artsLife


become identified with a roster of iconic performers. From the first, Carol Channing — who, famously, took on a role originally written for Ethel Merman and then turned down by both Merman and Mary Martin — through revivals and tours that starred Pearl Bailey, Bette Midler and Bernadette Peters, among others. Peters, in fact, is currently starring at the Schubert Theater in a smash revival, which NPR has called “the best show of the year.” Last year, in fact, it won four Tonys, including Best Revival of a Musical and Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for the Divine Miss M. It’s the touring version of this newly staged production that’s coming to Orlando. And if anyone can fill Midler’s high heels — or those of Channing, Bailey, Peters, or Barbara Streisand in the 1969 film adaptation — it’s Betty Buckley. Buckley, who has been called “The Voice of Broadway” by New York magazine, may be best known to general audiences for her three-year stint on the ABC series Eight Is 72

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Enough, playing Sandra Sue “Abby” Abbott Bradford from 1977–1981. But Broadway audiences know her from her role as Grizabella in the original Broadway production of Cats, which won her a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical in 1983. Buckley went on to portray the scenerychewing Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1994 musical adaptation of Sunset Boulevard, winning raves in both New York and London, where her performance as the psychotic fading film star earned her an Olivier Award nomination. Her other Broadway credits include 1776 (1969), Pippin (1973), The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1985) and Triumph of Love (1997). She also boasts an array of television and film credits, including a 1983 turn as Dixie in the Oscar-nominated film Tender Mercies, starring Robert Duvall. Buckley, a 2012 American Theater Hall of Fame inductee, is also a Grammy-nominated recording artist, releasing 16 solo albums of mostly original songs as well as appearing on the original cast recordings of several


Can Anya, a brave young woman with no memory of her past, be the sole survivor of the doomed Romanov family? That’s one of the mysteries in Anastasia, an epic romantic adventure that sweeps audiences from Imperial Russia to Paris in the 1920s.


Come From Away tells the true — and utterly heartwarming — story of what happened when 38 planes were ordered to land unexpectedly in a small Newfoundland town following the 9/11 attacks. The show, described as “a big bear hug of a musical,” is a tribute to the essential goodness of humanity.

hit Broadway shows. Hello, Dolly!, with lyrics and music by Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart, is one the most enduring musicals in theater history for good reason. It’s pure entertainment, with over-the-top characters, spectacular costuming and memorable songs — not the least of which is the title tune. The familiar story follows the adventures of meddling matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi as she travels to Yonkers, New York, to find a match for the miserly “well-known unmarried half-a-millionaire” Horace Vandergelder. “When I saw the new Broadway production starring Bette Midler, I literally wept with happiness,” says Buckley. “It was one of the most joyful productions I’ve ever witnessed. I’m delighted and honored to be added to the list of the wonderful actresses and singers who’ve played the role of Dolly.” n  Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (December 18–23). Everyone knows White Christmas as a feel-good 1954 film starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and VeraEllen — along with songs by Irving Berlin, one of the greatest American composers in the

history of popular music. But it’s also a stage musical that debuted in 2004 in San Francisco before two limited runs on Broadway (in 2008 and 2009) and national tours that still continue. The lavish stage version, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is, like the film, filled with glorious dancing and — a treat for Floridians— plenty of snow. It’s the story of a pair of producers, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, who fall for a sister act, Betty and Judy Haynes, and stage an extravaganza at the Columbia Inn in Pine Tree, Vermont. It’s a delightfully loopy love story that ends happily despite many twists and turns. You may recall that the song “White Christmas” was originally sung by Crosby in the 1943 film Holiday Inn, winning an Oscar for Best Original Song. But it sounded just as good in 1954 — and will still make you want to sing along in 2018. The musical earned Tony nominations for Best Choreography and Best Orchestrations in 2009, as well as numerous Drama Desk Award nominations. SUMMER 2018 | artsLife


n  Hamilton (January 22–February 10, 2019). Hamilton has become more than a musical hit: It’s a runaway sensation that has transcended the world of musical theater to become a genuine pop culture phenomenon. The show follows the life of Alexander Hamilton, an orphan born out of wedlock in the West Indies who became a Founding Father and the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury following the Revolutionary War. Its creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, blended hip-hop, rap, rhythm and blues, pop and show tunes with soul music for its songs. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, a Grammy and 11 Tonys, this hip-hop musical — based upon the 2004 bestseller Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow — is aptly described by producers as “a show about Americans then, as told by Americans now.” You’ll love the message and the music. The original Broadway cast recording reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the Billboard Rap Albums chart. It also won a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. The Hamilton Mixtape, a collection of remixes, covers and samples of the musical’s songs, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. n  Fiddler on the Roof (March 5–10, 2019). Based on Sholem Aleichem’s story of a milkman and his five daughters living in the Pale Settlement of Imperial Russia in 1905, Fiddler on the Roof is as warmly colorful as the Marc Chagall painting that gave the musical its title, and its sets their shtetl style. The original production, which debuted on Broadway in 1964, was nominated for 10 Tonys — winning nine — and was presented a special Tony in 1972 for being the longest-running musical in Broadway history, with more than 3,000 performances. Although that record would be broken by Grease 10 years later, Fiddler on the Roof has remained an audience favorite through revivals and touring companies. Its songs, such as “Tradition,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset” and “Do You Love Me?” are considered standards. Fiddler on the Roof centers on Tevye, the father of five daughters, and his attempts to protect his Jewish religious and cultural beliefs and practices against the encroachment of outside forces. He must also cope both with three strongwilled daughters, who wish to marry for love — and who make spousal choices that flout the traditions that Tevye cherishes. Ultimate74

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ly, Fiddler on the Roof is an uplifting and heartwarming story about families and the traditions that bind them. Tony-winning director Bartlett Sher, basing the revival on the original staging by Jerome Robbins, delivers a fresh and authentic vision of this timeless theatrical masterpiece by Tony winner Joseph Stein and Pulitzer Prize-winners Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick. n  Dear Evan Hansen (April 16–21, 2019). In a letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life that he never dreamed he could have, Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he’s always wanted — a chance to fit in. The title character in Dear Evan Hansen, a high-school senior who always feels like an outsider, takes the suggestion of his therapist, writes letters to himself outlining his positive plans for each day. But one letter causes confusion following a tragedy, prompting Evan to reinvent himself and develop a sense of purpose. The heart-rending musical garnered six Tonys in 2107, including Best Musical. The original cast recording won a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. Dear Evan Hansen features a book by Tony winner Steven Levenson and a score by Grammy, Tony and Oscar winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. The three have written a coffee-table book, Dear Evan Hansen: Through the Window (Grand Central Publishing), that incudes never-before-seen production photos and behind-the-scenes stories. “One of the most remarkable shows in theater history,” wrote the Washington Post. Added The New York Times: “Dear Evan Hansen is a gut-punching, breathtaking knockout of a musical.” NBC News called the show “an inspiring anthem resonating on Broadway and beyond.” n  Anastasia (May 14–19, 2019). The legend of Russian Imperial Grand Duchess Anastasia has captivated the world for nearly a century, inspiring an award-winning 1956 film, a 1997 animated feature and now a lavish stage production. The show, with book by Terrence McNally and music by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens — the Ragtime team — isn’t a strict adaptation of either preceding film. “We’ve kept the best parts of the animated movie, but it really is a new musical,” says Tony winning director Darko Tresnjak. Could Anya, a brave young woman with

no memory of her past, in fact be the sole survivor of the doomed Romanov family? As she tries to rediscover her identity, she is pursued by a ruthless Soviet officer determined to silence her. However, the dauntless Anya enlists the aid of a dashing con man and a lovable ex-aristocrat. Together, they begin an epic adventure to help her find home, love and family. The sweeping scope of their journey stretches from Imperial Russia to Paris in the 1920s. Anastasia opened on Broadway in 2017, and was nominated for two Tonys and nine Drama Desk awards, among others. Time Out New York called Anastasia “a sweeping adventure, romance and historical epic that piles discovery upon discovery.” n  Come From Away (June 11–16, 2019). The final show of the season, a musical with book, music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, is set in the week following the 9/11 terrorist attacks — an unlikely time frame in which to set a musical. But Come From Away isn’t just any musical.

It tells the true — and irresistibly heartwarming — story of what happened when 38 planes were ordered to land unexpectedly in a small Newfoundland town as part of Operation Yellow Ribbon. There, in remote Gander (population 10,000), uneasiness turned to trust and gratitude turned to enduring friendships. Sankoff and Hein had visited Gander and listened to stories from both locals and returning passengers. They were inspired by what they heard to write a tribute to the essential goodness of humanity. The resulting show, which opened in 2017, earned seven Tony nominations — with one win, for Best Direction of a Musical — and nine Drama Desk Award nominations. The Hollywood Reporter called Come From Away “heartwarming and thoroughly entertaining … especially in these politically fractious times,” while The New York Times dared readers to “try, if you must, to resist the gale of good will that blows out of this big bear hug of a musical.” 

GET YOUR TICKETS EVENT: 2018–19 FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando™ season SHOWS/DATES: Jersey Boys, October 30–November 4, (Season Option); Hello, Dolly!, November 27–December 2; Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, December 18–23; Hamilton, January 22–February 10, 2019; Fiddler on the Roof, March 5–10, 2019; Dear Evan Hansen, April 16–21, 2019; Anastasia, May 14–19; Come From Away, June 11–16, 2019. VENUE: Walt Disney Theater NOTES: The 2018–19 FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando™ season, presented in collaboration with Broadway Across America and the Florida Theatrical Association, features some of the most popular classics in musical theater history as well as current Broadway hits and an extended run of the phenomenally successful Hamilton. TICKETS: Season subscriptions are at capacity. However, tickets for single shows will be available several weeks in advance, and may be purchased at, by calling 844.514.2014, or by visiting the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts Box Office at 445 South Magnolia Avenue, Orlando, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays or from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. For groups of 10 or more, email Group Sales at groups@, or call 407.455.5550. Online and group ticket purchases are subject to handling fees.






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artsLife | SUMMER 2018

Rent, a reimagining of Puccini’s La Bohème, follows a year in the lives of seven struggling artists in New York City’s East Village. Now the show has returned with a 20th-anniversary tour — and its message of hope resonates as strongly as ever.



n 1996, Jonathan Larson’s Rent told the story of struggling young artists living in New York City in the shadow of HIV/AIDS. The show ran on Broadway for 12 years, winning the Pulitzer Prize and four Tonys, including Best Musical. Rent, a reimagining of Puccini’s La Bohème, follows a year in the lives of seven artists struggling to follow their dreams in New York City’s gritty East Village. The show’s signature anthem, “Seasons of Love” (“Five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes …”) has become ingrained in pop culture. Now, Rent has returned with a 20th-anniversary tour. Slated for June 5–10, it’s the final show of the 2017–18 FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando™ season. The groundbreaking show’s message of hope in the face of fear resonates with audiences today just as it did two decades ago, before advances in the treatment of AIDS. Director Evan Ensign told Variety that “AIDS is actually just a circumstance in the show. It’s about figuring out how we fit in, about how we create family, about acceptance.” James Hebert, critic for the San Diego Union-Tribune, agreed. “Once you get past the surface signs of its time period,” he wrote, “Rent can feel not just still vibrant but plenty relevant.”  SUMMER 2018 | artsLife


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BOARD OF DIRECTORS James H. Pugh, Jr., Chairman Ken Robinson, Vice Chairman Chuck Steinmetz, Vice Chairman Thomas M. Roehlk Ed Timberlake Katherine Ramsberger Don Ammerman Jeff Bittenbinder Dr. Rita Bornstein Dr. Clarence H. Brown III

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Joseph Bert Dr. Michael Bibliowicz Maggie & Jon Bodnar Lauren & Barry Bloom Mary Beth & Tom Bradley Lori & Robert Brand Leslie & Stephen Braun Benjamin Breitbart Donna Brown Johni-Jean & Andy Brumby

DR. PHILLIPS CENTER MEMBERS Tere & Scott Brun Karen Buckalew Robert Burns Deborah Buynak Hugh Bynes Kim & Tom Cannold Monica & Albert Carioti Thekla Carpenter Lisa & Michel Champagne Linda & Bruce Chapin Mr. & Mrs. Michael Candiotti Donna Clarke Marshall Cohn Carol & Steve Cohn Beatriz & Erick Collado Alvin J. Cowans Robert Cunningham Joseph De Matei & Andrew Lammesv Deal Land Surveying Baadal Deliwala Melanie & Sam DeMarco Bill J. DeTorres III, MD Lilian Draisin Ixchell Duarte Mary & Kevin Dunleavy Mary Dzuro George & Anne Eichleay Andrea Eliscu Dr. Agnes Evans Michael & Allyson Evans Kamran Farid Deborah Farnell Judith Fennessy Shelly Ferrone Sue & Randy Fields Mary & Shay Foley Daniel Fontana Household Forum Architecture & Interior Design Laraine Frahm Debbie Freeland Christine Gagliardi Tracy & Mike Garbers Julie & Alexander Gardieff in memory of Susan Pearlman Sharon Ginsburg Douglas Glicken

Jan & Gene Godbold Dr. Nanialei Golden Dr. Ivan Graham Kathy & Gary Grimes Vishaal Gupta Rod Haddon Denise Hall Cheryl Hanin Dr. & Mrs. Jeffrey Hartog Susan & Mark Hertling Vikki Hodgkins Scot C. Holman, MD Bryan Huff Richard Hunter Patricia & Donald Hurter Janet & James Mahon Todd Jensen Richard Jerman Rhett Jibaja Carla Joiner Mark Jones Jessica & Mark Jones Nancy Juron Avery Kan Debbie & Joseph Kantor Ken Keitges RK & Faron Kelley Deborah Kelly Leslie J. Kelly Deborah & William Kelly Dr. H.C. & Joy Kessel Embry J. Kidd & A. Noni Holmes-Kidd Jon Klages Carol Klim Ellen Koon Celia Kudro Ashley & Matthew Laubach Dr. Kenneth & Evann Lee Sam Leftow Don Lewis Kathleen Lightsey Eleni & Robert Longwell Helen & Larry Lynch Tiffany Lytle Mark Magath Brock Magruder Sean Mahan Mary K. Mahoney Edward Mallory

Sonia & Lester Mandell Edward Manning Joanna & Jeremy Markman Treva J. Marshall Carol Massey Kathryn & Stephen McClure Virginia McGrath Genean & Joel McKinnon Raechele McMahan Don McNair Gilbert Miller Dr. Larry G. Mills Sally A. Milton Amy Moore Amy & Michael Motko Jeffrey Moore Kristy Murray & Susan Marcus Donna & Bruce Mylrea Jennifer Myers Kristiane Odenbach Parbhu Oculofacial Plastic Surgery Virginia & Jonathan Partain Mary Jo & Karl Pecht Dr. Gordon Penn Rey Perez Nadine Petronaci Polly Pollak Enaya Poppell Richard Proctor Meigan Putnam Household Sandra Race Shawn Rader & Dan Bray Jean & Frederick Raffa Household Lynda Rago Ralph R. Recht Edith Reilly Mary Lou & Thomas Remenick Bill “Roto” Reuter Sandi Richmond Steven, Yvette & Jessica Riddle Elizabeth & Thomas Roehlk Dr. Steven & Celia Rosenberg Joan Ruffier Dr. Brian Saluck

Dauri Sandison Scott Sanford Linda & Randy Scheff Melissa Schwenn Scott + Cormia Architects + Interiors Dr. Marc D. Shapiro Warren Shaw Elide & Miguel Silva Dottie & Bill Silverman Paul M. Simons & Reid “Buddy” Hughes, Jr. John Slone Lori Sprague Amanda & Ryan Stahl Danielle Steenbergh Eva Stefanszky Tracy Stein Rusty Stoeckel Richard Straughn Nancy & Thomas Swalby Elaine & Scott Taylor Peggy Tepper Marjorie & Bryan Thomas Ed Timberlake Dimitri Toumazos Law Office of Nathan L. Townsend Robert Trafford Kay Ustler & Craig Ustler Family Foundation Philip A. Wade Dr. Joe Warren Rob Webb & Stan Whittington Kristine Westley WFTV/WRDQ Television Racheal & Melvin B. Wright Lisa Wubbena Janet & Tom Wyatt Tammy & Paul Wyche Nancy & Bill Yarger Nina & Dave Yoakum Bo Young Dr. Lisa L. Zacher, MD Phyllis & Edward Zissman Michelle & Randy Zwirn

W E A L S O A P P R E C I AT E E V E RY O N E O F O U R V O L U N T E E R S & CO L L E A G U E S AT T H E A R T S C E N T E R . LIST AS OF 3.12.18 18-0107 | ©2018 DR. PHILLIPS CENTER



“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 Jones Clayton Construction 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 •


The arts inspire life. And Florida Hospital wants you to live a long one. That’s why we provide an elite network of care — from hospitals and urgent care centers to physicians and specialists — close to home and where you work. Because having a healthy mind, body and spirit allows us all to be at our creative best.


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ArtsLife Summer 2018  
ArtsLife Summer 2018