Category Archives: The Arts

Orlando Flash Mob, Flash Opera, and Now Flash Chorus

It’s happened again… another flash!  The Orlando International Airport was serenaded yesterday by a flash chorus… we love this rash of flashes lately!

Word has it that this was coordinated by United Arts of Central Florida with the airport security and management, and was directed by Rollins College’s John Sinclair. We love the idea of bringing a bit of cheer to weary holiday travelers.  Nobody does that better than Central Florida, eh?

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Filed under Fun, Orlando, The Arts

Chaps! A Jingle Jangle Christmas Indeed!

If you want something seasonal but that is also refreshingly new and not overdone, then Chaps! A Jingle Jangle Christmas at Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF may be just the ticket.

No Scrooge in this building!  It’s 1944, years into World War II, and the heyday of singing cowboys on radio and the silver screen.  Allied troops from around the world are anxiously awaiting the live, in-studio BBC broadcast of radio and film star Tex Riley and his Radio Roundup. When Tex and his fellow cowboys get lost in London minutes before airtime, the motley BBC crew suddenly find themselves in the “trenches.” Out of desperation, Mabel, their tour manager, and Miles, the frantic young producer, grab anyone  – a snobby announcer, an amiable sound man, a passing soap opera actor – slap them into costume, hand them scripts and shove them in front of the studio audience. The resulting performance is one that England will never forget!

It’s playing now and will go through December 26. Here are some photos from the production:

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Filed under Seasonal, The Arts

“Chaps: A Jingle Jangle Christmas” is almost here!

The Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF is presenting Chaps! A Jingle Jangle Christmas, a rousing, rowdy, family-friendly musical comedy that is just in time for the holiday season!

Set in 1944, years into World War II and the heyday of singing cowboys on radio and the silver screen. America’s favorite singing cowboy Tex Riley and his troupe are late for a special Christmas Eve broadcast at the BBC in London. Out of desperation, the station grabs anyone  – a snobby announcer, an amiable sound man, a passing soap opera actor – slap them into costume, hand them scripts and shove them in front of the studio audience. The resulting performance is one that England will never forget!

“Gene Autry and Roy Rogers were both enormously popular American western stars of yesteryear,” said Patrick Flick, director of Chaps! “They sang us songs, made us laugh, and taught an entire generation about justice, courage, and honor – virtues that also embodied the Allied forces fighting for our freedom. That’s the heart of this comedy.”

Opens Friday!

Chaps! A Jingle Jangle Christmas begins previews on Wednesday, December 1, opens officially Friday, December 3 and runs through Sunday, December 26 in the Margeson Theater.

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Central Florida is LivingStrong!

Congratulations to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando for being named the recipient of not just one, but two LIVESTRONG Community Impact Project awards! These awards will bring cancer support programs to patients in Central Florida, and are funded by LIVESTRONG, the organization founded by cancer survivor and champion cyclist Lance Armstrong.

I have long been a fan of Lance Armstrong, and indeed, one of my very first blog posts was about Lance returning to ride in the Tour de France just after a short retirement.

So, when I heard that Central Florida was in the running for one of his great programs, I Facebooked, tweeted, and blogged to get people to vote. I am so proud it paid off, as I feel it will be a true benefit to cancer patients as well as local artists. (FYI: Over a two-week period, more than 260,000 votes were cast and M. D. Anderson – Orlando was among the finalists. WOW!)

“This is a tremendous opportunity for M. D. Anderson – Orlando and we are thrilled to be named as a recipient of these awards,” said Clarence Brown, III, MD, president and CEO, M. D. Anderson – Orlando. “We want to give special thanks to LIVESTRONG and to everyone who voted in support of this program here in Central Florida. We are very excited to move forward and provide these programs to our patients.”

For the first program, United Arts of Central Florida will work with The Creative Center’s Artists-in-Residence program and will allow patients to explore, absorb, and express themselves creatively as they endure diagnosis and treatment. The program will work bedside as well as in small group settings with men, women, and children.

“Through the generosity of LIVESTRONG, United Arts is proud to facilitate in bringing local artists to M. D. Anderson – Orlando as the fight against cancer continues,” said Cory Warren, events manager, United Arts of Central Florida. “We are honored to continue the success of The Creative Center’s Artists-in-Residence program locally by coupling the arts and medicine in the full spectrum of the healing process.”

The second program, The Cancer Transitions is designed to support, educate and empower people with cancer in the transitional period after treatment is over. By incorporating support groups, education, nutrition and physical exercise, as well as addressing other medical management, a survivor’s psychosocial and quality of life issues will be discussed.

M. D. Anderson – Orlando was selected as a recipient for the $20,000 in LIVESTRONG grants following a national online voting campaign involving more than 170 hospitals and cancer centers.

Congrats and use it well!

More LIVESTRONG News:  “The 28 Can’t Wait.”

You can support the LIVESTRONG foundation even more by buying really, really cool yellow gear. (Yeah, there are other colors, too, but yellow is the really, really cool one, no?)

Between now and midnight on November 30, all LIVESTRONG gear will be 28% off in honor of the 28 million survivors who are fighting this disease.

Get your LIVESTRONG gear today, and use the discount code THE28 to get 28% off! Click here to shop now.


Filed under Celebrity, Charity, Contest, General Info, Non-profit, Orlando, Out of Orlando, The Arts

Mennello Museum of Art: Where Fairies Come to Life!

The Top 5 ventured to the magical Mennello Museum of Art to see some real magic come to life… glowing mushrooms and wood fairies came out to play under the oldest oak tree in Orlando. (225 years old I hear!)  This unusual fundraiser, entitled Magnifique, benefited Voci Dance…and it was so much fun!

And, while we were strolling among the fairy folk, we also ventured into the museum itself… what a treat!  If you have never been to the museum before, do yourself a favor and stop by this lovely place. You will feel like you’ve been transported to Santa Fe!

Special thanks to Mark Baratelli of for the heads up about Magnifique fundraiser!

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Filed under Charity, Fun, Museum, Orlando, The Arts

Magnifique: A Glowing Fairy Fundraiser

Oh, now this sounds so totally cool!  Imagine the gorgeous outdoor setting of the Mennello Museum of Art, where there are giant Live Oaks that are over 300 years old…

And then picture the sun setting and as dusk gathers, the fairy folk begin to emerge from their hiding spots, bringing a luminous glow to the grounds! This is the vision of Voci Dance and their Magnifique, a Glowing Fairy Fundraiser.

Envision yourself sipping wine as you stroll about the garden setting, taking in the magical fairies dancing about glowing mushrooms (from artist Doug Rhodehamel).

And, you can join the mystical fun for just $15 on November 20. For more details about what else is in story on this special night, check out!

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Filed under Charity, Fun, Museum, Non-profit, The Arts

Orlando Film Fest: Will U B There?


The Top 5 will be at the opening night of the Orlando Film Fest. In fact, has invited us to attend and tweet on their behalf as we take on the sights and sounds of opening night!


Billed as “Independent film for everyone!”, there are over 300 filmmakers expected to attend, and most films will have a Q&A afterwards. And what’s even more fun? If you love to laugh, you can also attend the Fool Fest at SAK Comedy Lab, held in conjunction with the Orlando Film Fest.

Held at the fabulous Plaza Cinema Cafe in downtown Orlando, there’s a new movie starting just about every 30 to 45 minutes, so there’s bound to be a movie or two that you simply MUST SEE!  Click here for the full schedule.



Filed under Blogger Extraordinaire, Fun, New & Hot, Orlando, The Arts

Top 5 “Performing Art” Events in November

1. Young Frankenstein

Opens November 30 at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center
One of our all-time favorite movies that we’ve heard will become a favorite show! Part of the Fairwinds Broadway Across America series, we’re sure Frankenstein’s creation won’t be the only one in stitches!

Produced by the incomparable Mel Brooks, follow Dr. Frankenstein (that’s Fronkensteen!) as he tries to complete his grandfather’s legendary work. “It’s alive!”

2. Celtic Thunder

November 26 at the King Performing Arts Center in Melbourne
We love the kilted cloggers! Okay, so they probably won’t wear kilts, and actually, this group is not even cloggers or dancers, but the music these five guys produce is soul-inpsiring!

And this is your chance to get into the holiday season while Celtic Thunder is on their Christmas tour.

3. She Stoops to Conquer

November 19 – December 19 at Mad Cow Theatre
Advertised as a “frothy romp,” we’re intrigued by a comedy that has been a hit for nearly two centuries!  Mistaken identities, elegant costumes, town vs. city folk?  Sounds fun!

4. Grease

November 12 – November 20 at  Annie Russell Theatre
A fun musical for all ages, bring back the poodle skirts, bad boys, and jumping jiving music!

And who among us doesn’t want to sing along (quietly please!) to “Summer Nights!” or “Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee…” We’re in!

5. Christmas Carol

November 26 – December 21 at Theatre Downtown
What better way to get in the Christmas spirit than to see Scrooge relearning the whole message of the season!

And, starting 30 minutes prior to each show, you can catch some seasonal caroling…what a nice touch!

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Filed under Broadway at Bob Carr, November 2010, The Arts, Top 5 Performing Arts Events

November’s Top 5 “Visual Arts” Events

1) 35th Annual Festival of the Masters

November 12-14 at Downtown Disney
We love this annual event that showcases 150 award-winning sculptors, jewelers, and painters, both local and national. It is a FREE event held at Downtown Disney West Side from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm daily. (And, check out all the great dining you can enjoy at lunch or dinner!)

2010 Festival artwork "Coming Together" by Amel Platon


Add in the House of Blues special Folk Art Festival, featuring over 40 folk artists and musicians, and then the Central Florida Chalk Association decorating over 6,000 square feet of sidewalks, and this is a pretty cool weekend to see!

One of the sidewalk chalk masterpieces from last year.

Another sidewalk chalk masterpiece, by Orangewood Christian School.

2. Art at the Casa

November 3-10 at Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum
Featuring Bernie Martin, this artist is famous for his look of a 19th Century impressionist. Often featuring ballerinas, we’re excited to see his work in person! Martin’s work has won top awards in numerous festivals, including the Coconut Grove and Maitland Art Festivals, and has sold internationally through Sotheby’s and Mayer’s.

And, if you have yet to visit Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum, you are in for a real treat. Currently situated along Winter Park’s famed Park Avenue, the home was once located a long block or two east and sat on the banks of Lake Osceola and was slated for demolition. Alarmed residents rallied together and raised $ to have the historic home moved to its current home. Casa Feliz, or “Happy House” in Spanish, was designed by noted architect James Gamble Rogers II and built in 1932. It is definitely worth a visit!

Casa Feliz at its current location

3. Highwaymen Weekend

November 20-21 at the Orange County Regional History Center
You’ve heard about the legendary Florida Highwaymen that painted the scenes of Florida, right? Well, now’s your chance to meet some of the original painters at the Orange County Regional History Center. With a special exhibit entitled “Against All Odds: The Art of the Highwayman,” you can come and discover what makes this artwork so valuable and highly collectible.

Artist James Gibson showing an original.

The history of the Highwaymen dates back to the 1950s and 60s when a group of self-taught painters from Fort Pierce, Florida banded together to produce over 200,000 pieces of art depicting Florida’s landscapes. The paintings were sold out of cars for a relatively cheap price; however, when rediscovered in the 90s, the values sky-rocketed.

Schedule of events:

  • November 20: Meet Mary Ann Carroll, James Gibson, and Issac Knight
  • November 21: Meet Curtis Arnett, Robert Lewis Jr., and Roy McLendon

4. Season’s Celebration

November 13-December 24 at Gallery on First in Historic Sanford
We love any excuse to go visit Historic Sanford, and this gives us the right reason. “Season’s Celebration,” held at Gallery on First, will feature original artwork by studio artists Stewart Jones, Cindy Sturla, Stan Surman, Robert Holewinski, Sharon Rae Hyder, and Lori Anne Harris. Lots of great work to see!

Artist Stewart Jones at work

"Winter Wonderland" by Stewart Jones

Curious about Sanford itself? It used to be a thriving port town, one of the biggest and most important in Central Florida. In fact, it was almost chosen as the home for Rollins College before a sudden change of heart placed the school in Winter Park. Situated on the St. John’s River, Sanford features bricklined streets, towering oaks, elegant store-fronts and large, nineteenth-century Victorian homes. The downtown, which once featured feed stores and dry good sellers, now showcases antique shops, restaurants and art galleries. And with the marina, Central Florida Zoo, and Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center, Sanford is a great pace to visit!

Monroe Harbour Marina, Orlando's closest marina

5. Rob Reedy: Doodah DADA

November 5 – January 5 at Maitland Art Center
Known for whimsical sculptures, Rob Reedy has recently returned to mixed media and painting.  We can’t wait to see his whimsy in person… I mean, check out the name of the exhibit already!

From the artist’s perspective: “Growing up in rural Mississippi was challenging. Traditions, such as storytelling, family, and faith had a tremendous affect in shaping my work, as well as my values. I see it as a refreshing force in a world that can sometimes be cold, static, and impersonal. My philosophy is an interesting balance between intellect and superstition, science and magic, New York and Mississippi….a sort of ‘Doo Da Dada.’ ”

And, if you have never visited the Maitland Art Center, it is such a delightfully artsy place! Founded as founded as an art colony in 1937 by visionary American artist and architect André Smith, it continues today as a center of art, education, and excellence. And, the building itself is a work of art, adorned with carvings, statues, and beads. Truly beautiful!

Courtyard at the Maitland Art Center

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Filed under disney, History, Maitland, Museum, November 2010, The Arts, Top 5 Visual Arts Events, winter park

Orlando Ballet: 5 Tips to Be Prepared to Enjoy

The Top 5 was thrilled when we were invited to attend Orlando Ballet’s opening night of Giselle.  As a youngster I had, of course, seen The Nutcracker. (That’s Orlando’s version of the Rockettes, kind of like a rite of passage during Christmastime.)  However, The Nutcracker features almost the entire ballet school, so I was excited to see the professional dance troupe perform.

We excitedly arrived at the Bob Carr, and my hubby was pleased to see so many physically-fit former dancers in the crowd. There were also lots of mothers with their daughters in the audience, some even wearing tiaras! As the first act lasted an hour and the pre-teen girl in front of me was held spellbound, I wondered if she were not an avid dancer.  However, I noticed her mother constantly leaning over to whisper, perhaps explaining the storyline the dancers were busily intimating and pantomiming. So, I thought why not come up with some tips to help prepare you for a successful trip to the ballet.

1) Read about the storyline

Ballets don’t have dialogue or subtitles, and the characters can be difficult to determine unless you know what you are looking for, so start googling!  Wikipedia has a very easy to read plot summary of Giselle, which was extremely helpful when I was watching the ballet. (How else would I know Albrecht, the noble and male lead, was a noble disguising himself as a peasant or that he was engaged to Bathilde while he was busy flirting with Giselle?)  FYI, the playbill usually has a summary, too, but sometimes you may be too busy people watching or the auditorium might be too dark to read easily.

2) Research a dancer’s training

There are lots of sites on the internet as well as books at the library to see just how many years of athletic training and development it takes to become a professional ballerina, but sometimes a quick look at youtube will provide a good overview. I particularly like this one on training younger ones as well as the one below showing great athleticism from the Orlando Ballet’s Battle of the Sexes 2010:

3) Understand the Wardrobe

Let’s admit it: Americans who are not familiar with the ballet get a bit giggly when they first see most male ballerina attire.  My hubby was floored when he saw the guys dancing last night, every singly ripped muscle visible through their tights… thank goodness for dance belts!  And, as in the case of Albrecht whose tights were flesh-colored–good thing he looked like Twilight’s Rob Pattinson!–the costume can appear very revealing.  But, yes, you get over it pretty quickly because the dancing is so great; however, it is still best to be prepared so the uninitiated don’t get too distracted.

4) Appreciate the fanatics

Ballet is a form of entertainment that goes back for centuries for a reason…people love it!  And Orlando is no exception.  There are some staunch fans out there who take seeing the show very seriously.  And fortunately, they are educated fans, too, knowing when to show appreciation through loud applause for a particularly hard maneuver or difficult dance step.

And don’t get in a fan’s way during a performance!  Take, for example, the drama that unfolded in front of me last night.  We all took our seats before the show started, and a mother and her daughter (looked to be 12 years old or so) were seated directly in front of me.  In front of them, was a finely dressed older couple with another set of adults, whom I took to be their grown children.

As the curtain rose, the mom leaned forward and asked the elderly man if he wouldn’t move down several places to where an empty seat was, so her daughter would have a clearer view of the stage.  Now, we’re not talking just ONE seat over, but SEVERAL seats away from his family.  The man politely said no, upsetting the mother quite a bit.  She persisted (nastily) about how her daughter just couldn’t see very well and he was in her way.  Finally, just to shut the woman up, the elderly man’s grown daughter said she would move.  So, the vile mother then traded seats around so her daughter would have the unobstructed view. (Of course, the mother didn’t care that she had just blocked the view of a young girl behind her who was seated beside me!)  Fanatics… they need to see their ballet! (Just don’t let them ruin your experience.)

5) Go in with an open mind

Classical ballet is not the movies…there are no action sequences, fancy movable sets, sound effects. Nothing is told in a rush, so be prepared to study the nuances of the dancers and appreciate their athleticism.  In a world of information overkill, there is an elegant simplicity to the ballet, where information is conveyed via arm motions, facial expressions, and the dancer’s body. While television shows such as Dancing with the Stars or So, You Think You Can Dance have made dancing more popular than ever, these shows are also competing for ratings, and therefore must add in flashy excitement, short segments, costumes, sets, and hip hop music. They are not classical ballet, which is equally as beautiful and equally as demanding. So, when you attend, understand you are going to see something different, something less hectic, a welcome break from today’s world.

Giselle is running this weekend and next (October 23-24 and  Oct. 29-31) at the Bob Carr.


Filed under Bob Carr, family, General Info, Orlando, The Arts