Category Archives: 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

Lily’s Plastic Purse: Calling All Little Ones!

OMG…look how adorable!

Parents of young ones are more than familiar with the picture books of  Kevin Henkes, and now there’s a play that centers around three of his storylines: Chester’s Way, Julius, Baby of the World,and Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse.

For those NOT in the know, Lilly is a mouse who knows what she likes: “She likes that she is ‘Queen of the World,’ and she likes the way her red cowboy boots go clickety-click down the hallway. She especially LOVES her purple plastic purse.”

So, if anyone loves to laugh, they will love Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse!

Lilly’s Plastic Purse is opening on October 23rd at 2:00pm at Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF and will run through November 20. But, as a special bonus, those who attend the opening day show will receive a mini cupcake provided by Sweet! By Holly in Waterford Lakes, winner of Cupcake Wars on the Food Network.  Now, that’s a sweet touch!

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Filed under family, Fun, Literary, The Arts

Orlando Shakes’ The Turn of the Screw: Come Meet the Cast!

Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF will hold an informal chat session with actors and designers from the production of The Turn of the Screw at the East Colonial Barnes & Noble store this Thursday, October 21. The free event starts at 5 p.m. and is followed by a photo and autograph session with the cast.

The Turn of the Screw is the perfect spooky play for the season, featuring a governess who is left to investigate the possible possession of her two young charges by malicious ghosts.  For those of us who love a good ghost tale, this is it!




And in case you missed it last week,  a young Will Shakespeare did a story reading also at Barnes and Noble Book Store. He charmed an audience of young and old alike. He had such a cute audience! In fact, a few families stayed to play and color after the story time.


Whether it is bookstore story time or an eerie time at the theater, Orlando Shakes has got us covered!


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Filed under family, Fun, The Arts

United Arts “In Your Backyard: Where Newcomers Meet the Arts”

I would actually revise this event’s tagline to “Where Locals Meet the Arts.” You see, I am not a newcomer, but rather a 3rd generation Central Floridian, but even I was delighted by the information I received when I attended United Arts’ last “In Your Backyard.”

Every quarter, United Arts gathers local cultural venues to a morning get-together. Here you get to mingle with some leaders in the arts world and hear what’s new and exciting. Then, you watch a short presentation which gives in-depth information about each participating venue.  When I attended the last “In Your Backyard” held at the Winter Park Playhouse, here’s who I got to know better:

Winter Park Playhouse

Heather Alexander, Executive Director of the Playhouse, gave a brief overview of their lovely theater. It’s a nice size theater, a converted warehouse space. The theater focuses on musical theater (only one in Central Florida that only does musical theater) and they like to feature rarely seen or Off Broadway shows. They also do a series called  “Playhouse in the Park” which are free performances on the stage in downtown Winter Park in Central Park.  By the way, their upcoming “Pump Boys and Dinettes” was voted the #1 “Top 5” performing arts event this month!

The Enzian Theater

We next heard from Henry Maldonado, the President of Enzian, as he explained that the Enzian is more than just a movie theater – they are looking to create an independent movie experience! They have Film Slam once a month after the Sunday brunch, which focuses on local up-and-coming movie makers. They want to create debate and discussion and to have viewers realize, “Arguing over movies is the most fun thing you can do it and Enzian is the place to do it!”  He also explained that the theater’s outdoor Eden Bar is a destination, where people who love movies are hanging out. They also do monthly outdoor movies called “Popcorn Flicks” in Winter Park’s Central Park. They also have movie festivals throughout the year such as the upcoming Jewish Film Fest in November or the nationally prestigious Florida Film Festival in the spring. ( recently listed this as one of the best in the world!)

Crealde School of Art

We next heard from Peter Schreyer, the Executive Director of the Hannibal Square Heritage Center, which is a special project by Crealde and the culmination of 8 years of research by residents, historians, etc.. There you can see 125 museum quality pieces of the Heritage Collection, and it is located at Hannibal Heritage Center, on the corner of Pennsylvania and New England in Winter Park. Schreyer described it as “125 windows into a historic community: photographs and oral histories of west Winter Park.”  I appreciate the facts that all the staff and docents are lifelong residents of the area. Last year he says they received 7,500 visitors and 35% were from out of town. In addition to this special project for west Winter Park, Crealde has been the leader in teaching arts in central Florida for 14 years now.  They have a beautiful facility off Aloma Ave. (their main campus) which contains a state of the art digital photography classroom with a grant. The Top 5 enjoys going to Crealde for their Annual Cup-A-Thon!

Orange County Arts Education

Next up was Scott Evans, the Director of the Orange County Arts Education Center. He spoke passionately about the importance of maintaining arts education in Florida’s public schools. He then listed some of the programs he oversees:

  • Magic journey to the arts program (highest percentage of paid lunch schools, in partnership with Orlando magic)
  • Children, arts and cultural alliaNce of a central FL … Takes children with poor home lives to museums, meet artists, etc.
  • Provide teachers with tools to teach art across the curriculum
  • Arts summer art guide…. Free and available from the public library or online

Arts and Cultural Alliance of Central Florida

Last we heard from Autumn Ames, the Executive Director of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Central Florida. She listed several of the highlights of the Alliance:

  • Red Chair Project, a “One Stop Shop for Arts”
  • Marketing branch/community engagement of United Arts
  • Serve 7 counties in Central Florida region
  • Promote arts to residents and tourists
  • Classes and workshops listed here
  • Free for arts organizations to post…
  • Orlando Arts Getaways – hotel, arts, restaurants, etc.
  • Red Chair Affair in August
  • Orlando Arts Sampler (ticket to 7 different arts groups for around $100)

By the way, the Top 5 absolutely loved the Red Chair Affair this year… it was magical!

So, if you have a chance, be sure to attend this quarter’s “In Your Backyard” to see what great arts and cultural things are happening right here in Central Florida. You might even win 2 free tickets to an upcoming event! Here’s the information: Wednesday, October 13 at the Maitland Art Center from 8:00 – 9:30 am.


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Filed under Education, General Info, Maitland, The Arts, Uniquely Florida

Maitland Art Show – What a Perfect Day!

Lots of Central Floridians were out enjoying the first real-feeling day of Autumn by spending time at the Maitland Art Show. Set around Lake Lily, the cool water and shady trees made for a truly enjoyable time!

Some of our favorites included second generation Florida Highwayman artist AJ Brown, and South Florida glass worker Diane Drake, and well as the Don Carter of Down East Wooden Boatworks. You can see their art along with others in this slide show… and thanks, Maitland Rotary for a great show!

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Filed under Maitland, The Arts