Orlando Shakespeare Theater
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The Orlando Shakespeare Theater, located in the Lowndes Shakespeare Center
Founded in 1989, Orlando Shakespeare Theater (Orlando Shakes) in Partnership with UCF produces classic, contemporary, and children’s plays. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Jim Helsinger and Managing Director PJ Albert, Orlando Shakes has grown into one of the region’s most acclaimed professional Equity theaters, garnering national recognition from The Wall Street Journal’s Terry Teachout. “Hence the high quality of Orlando Shakespeare, a company that deserves to be far more widely known outside Florida.”
With ambitious, high-caliber productions like 2015’s Monty Python’s SPAMALOT and Peter and the Starcatcher, and 2014’s Les Miserables and Henry V, the Theater continues to provide an innovative world-class theatrical experience to its guests, while showcasing William Shakespeare’s legacy as the cornerstone of the company.
Orlando Shakes also offers immersive educational programming that serves Central Florida schools and the local community at large.
The current season includes a Subscription Series of seven productions with a cast of AEA professional actors from around the country, a Children's Series of three productions, a weekend festival of new plays titled PlayFest, one summer Shakespeare production performed by local high school students titled The Young Company, summer camps for children, community and professional classes, and extensive teaching in K-12 schools.
2016-2017 Signature Series
Idealistic young lovers Maria and Tony find themselves caught between rival street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks. Their struggle to survive in a world of hate, violence, and prejudice is one of the most beautiful, heart-wrenching, and relevant musical dramas of our time. West Side Story’s legendary jazz, Latin, and classical-inspired score features the treasured songs “Maria,” “Tonight,” “I Feel Pretty,” and “America.”
Dr. Henry Jekyll is a brilliant scientist frustrated by dull "respectable" life in 1888 Victorian London. He creates a potion to unleash his inner bestial nature, transforming him into the brutish, but eerily endearing Edward Hyde. Hyde lives the high life while Jekyll's mundane doctoral career continues—until Hyde's passions begin to turn up a body count. Equal parts thrilling and deviant, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde will captivate those brave enough to step into Dr. Jekyll’s laboratory.
Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)
By Michael Carlton, James Fitzgerald and John K. Alvarez | Original music by Will Knapp
November 30 - December 30, 2016
What begins as an annual production of A Christmas Carol, soon devolves into an irreverent look at all of our favorite “Beloved Holiday Classics” including It’s a Wonderful Life, Frosty, Rudolph, Charlie Brown, and more! Three actors (with the help of Santa) send up everything from Dickens to Dr. Seuss in 90 minutes of high-octane jollity and frivolity.
By Steve Yockey
January 4 - February 5, 2017
Years of success, meticulous planning, and an eye for detail have in no way prepared Vivienne Avery for her mother's slide into the grip of dementia. Vivienne recounts memories of her aging mother and the difficult decisions regarding her care. Interwoven with these stories is an evolving, wondrous 21st century Alzheimer's creation myth—an origin story about a White Egret who tries to protect forest animals as they lose their memories to a blind, oblivious Mole. Blackberry Winter is a moving, occasionally humorous, and deeply human new work.
Love’s Labour’s Lost
By William Shakespeare
February 22 - March 24, 2017
Self-denial is in fashion at the court of Navarre where a young King and three of his courtiers solemnly forswear all pleasures in favor of serious study. But the Princess of France and her all-too-lovely entourage have other ideas. The men soon find that love’s labor complicates and conquers all things in Shakespeare's boisterous romantic comedy about love and marriage.
The Great Gatsby
By F. Scott Fitzgerald | Adapted for the stage by Simon Levy
February 8 - March 26, 2017
When Young Nick Carraway is befriended by his mysterious neighbor Jay Gatsby, he is drawn into his glitzy world of lavish parties and secret speakeasies. But as Gatsby’s elusive past is uncovered and his intentions revealed, Nick finds himself a pawn in a love triangle so scandalous it threatens to destroy all those around him. This American classic is a poignant examination of prohibition America, exploring the notions of love, morality, identity, and the corruption of the American Dream.
Antony and Cleopatra
By William Shakespeare
March 29 – April 30, 2017
The victors of Rome’s civil war have divided the Empire amongst themselves and Marc Antony has traveled to exotic Egypt to take up rule over his corner of the globe. There he encounters Egypt’s mysterious monarch, the irresistibly entrancing Cleopatra. Their impassioned affair ultimately pits their two countries against each other and will change the face of the ancient world forever.
2016-2017 Children's Series
Beauty and the Beast
By Brandon Roberts | Adapted from the story by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve
June 16 - July 24, 2016
Set in an enchanted castle in a far away land, Beauty and the Beast spins a magical tale where a young beauty has been locked away by a terrible Beast. The young woman’s honest and enduring love for the unsightly Beast ultimately becomes a gift of kindness that brings magical results. From the team that created Orlando Shakes’ The Frog and the Princess comes a bold new telling of the classic French fairy tale.
Based on the book by E.B. White | Adapted by Joseph Robinette
October 27 - November 18, 2016
Stuart Little is an extraordinary mouse born into an ordinary New York City human family. Through a series of adventures—a boat race in Central Park, a drive in a gasoline-powered model car, and a chase to find his best friend, Stuart expertly navigates the challenges of being a small mouse in a big world.
Pinkalicious, The Musical
Book by Elizabeth Kann and Victoria Kann
Music by John Gregor | Lyrics by John Gregor, Elizabeth Kann and Victoria Kann
April 6 - May 7, 2017
Based on the wildly popular children’s book, Pinkalicious can’t stop eating pink cupcakes despite warnings from her parents. Her pink indulgence lands her at the doctor’s office with Pinkititis, an affliction that turns her pink from head to toe—a dream come true for this pink loving enthusiast. But when her hue goes too far, only Pinkalicious can figure a way to get out of this predicament. Now celebrating ten pinkamazing years!
The John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center (home to the Orlando Shakespeare Theater) is located in Orlando-Loch Haven Park, the cultural campus that also hosts the Orlando Museum of Art, the Orlando Science Center, the Mennello Museum, and the Orlando Repertory Theatre. Convenient to downtown Orlando and I-4, the 50,000 sq ft (4,600 m2) center houses the Ken and Trisha Margeson Theater (324 seats), the Marilyn and Sig Goldman Theater (118 seats), The Santos-Dantin Theater (70 seats), Mandell Studio Theater (99 seats), the Dr. Phillips Patrons Room, gift shop, catering kitchen, scenic, costume and prop shops, administrative offices, and the outdoor Darden Courtyard.
The Orlando Shakespeare Theater has a professional, long-term partnership with the University of Central Florida. In addition to designating representatives to the Theater’s Board of Directors, UCF provides the Theater with necessary philosophical and financial support each season.
In return, the Theater provides a thriving Acting/Education Internship program which gives UCF students the opportunity to fulfill their MFA and undergraduate BFA requirements. University faculty and students may also participate as actors, designers, and directors for various projects, adding professional credits to their university experience. Additionally, our Artistic Director teaches classes and serves as a faculty member for Theatre UCF.
University of Central Florida students, faculty, alumni, and administrators have donated their time, energy, and resources to the Theater, and for that, the Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF is truly appreciative.