Behind the scenes at Orlando Shakespeare Theater


An Intern’s Insight: Cassie Moorhead

I vividly remember my first show at the Orlando Shakespeare theatre.  My school scheduled a field trip during our Shakespeare lesson in fifth grade, and we saw As You Like It.  I was mesmerized watching the actors and how serious they were.  I was so enthralled I barely remembered to sneak glances at my crush-of-the-day.

The theater was intimate and from my seat I could see every breath and facial movement. The energy and enthusiasm was contagious. The words themselves were a little over my head, but the actors perfectly conveyed the intended messages to my young ears. They could have been speaking Chinese and I think I would have gotten the gist of it. I loved the make up, the set, the costumes, the lights, the excitement, and I wanted it all.

I was inspired, so I chose theater as my elective throughout middle school and high school. I felt at home with my fellow thespians.  Theater people seem to “click” naturally. Whether it is a shared passion or a general thirst for life, theater folks remain my favorite.

After high school I migrated to the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in Psychology. As most graduates will attest, post-grad life is very scary and stressful.  I had no idea what I was doing and had zero job prospects. I immediately enrolled in the University of Florida’s online program to earn a master’s degree in Communications. I needed an internship for one of my class credits, and looked high and low before my dad heard through the grapevine that Orlando Shakes has amazing internships.

By some miracle the timing was perfect and I was asked to joining the staff as their Fall Marketing Intern! The staff and crew at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater are absolutely amazing; everyone is genuinely kind and helpful. The plethora of tasks for the day is accomplished with a smile and a laugh!

As the Fall Marketing Intern, I gain hands on experiences in the field. I am not just getting coffee and bagels. I worked on promotional materials for the new show, Bakersfield Mist, which is opening next week. I filmed the current musical, Monty Python’s SPAMALOTand had to hold my hand over my mouth to stifle my giggles so the camera wouldn’t pick them up.  I was even able to give back to the community by volunteering to feed those in need at the Daily Bread. I am looking forward to learning more in the coming weeks, as the magic of theater continues to mesmerize me.

An Interview with Maude Gutman (AKA Anne Hering)

BakersfieldOST_2_hrOrlando Shakes favorite Anne Hering is back on the stage this Fall after recent appearances in Bad Dog, A Christmas Carol, Les Misérables, and many others. In Bakersfield Mist (playing October 14 – November 15, 2015), Anne plays Maude Gutman.

Fifty-something and in between jobs, Maude shells out her last few bucks on a thrift store painting which she’s convinced is an original Jackson Pollock worth millions. When Maude invites renowned art expert Lionel Percy (played by Steve Brady) to her trailer park home in Bakersfield to authenticate the painting, cultures and class attitudes collide. Stephen Sachs’ colorful new comic drama asks an important question: Who gets to decide what “art” is?

In a quick interview, Anne tells us how she and her character are alike–and very, very different.

OST: Describe Bakersfield Mist in three words.
AH: Art meets bartender.

OST: Name three ways that you and Maude Gutman are alike.
AH: We swear. We say what we feel. We believe in miracles.

OST: Name three ways that you and Maude Gutman are totally different.
AH: I don’t smoke (anymore). I don’t have children. I don’t like clown paintings.

OST: Have you discovered anything new about Maude, the play, or yourself while in the rehearsal process?
AH: I’ve learned that Maude is smarter than I thought. She re-calibrates her arguments quickly, so her wheels are always spinning.

OST: Was there anything you did to prepare for this role?
AH: I watched Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?, the documentary that helped inspire Stephen Sachs to write Bakersfield Mist.

BakersfieldOST_6_hrOST: This play features just two actors–very different from the huge casts of Les Miz and Nicholas Nickleby. What’s that been like in comparison?
AH: A totally different process. Bakersfield Mist has actually been way more work. But the performances will go really quickly.

OST: As Orlando Shakes’ Director of Education you plan our Children’s Series and Youth & Teen Classes. Bakersfield Mist is Rated R. How do you feel about having a job that lets you live in both worlds?
AH: Grateful!

OST: How did you get started in acting? How did you get started in education? And when did you discover mixing the two was your winning combination?
AH: I got into theater doing musicals in high school. My first job out of undergrad was teaching high school English. The first time I mixed the two was when I got this job eleven years ago!

Don’t miss Anne–or should we say “Maude”–in Bakersfield Mist opening this month! Tickets are available online or by calling the Box Office at (407) 447-1700 ext. 1.

Shakespearely yours,

Melissa Landy, Public Relations Coordinator

Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock?


Teri Horton with her “Pollock”

“Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock?” asked Teri Horton when an art teacher suggested her $5 thrift store find might be a priceless masterpiece. That question later became the title for the documentary that followed her quest to prove she’d discovered a long lost Pollock painting.

Stephen Sachs’ colorful new comic drama Bakersfield Mist (playing at Orlando Shakes from Oct. 14 – Nov. 15, 2015) introduces a set of lively fictional characters in an almost identical situation.

But back to Horton’s original question, who is Jackson Pollock? An American artist known for revolutionizing the abstract expressionist movement, Pollock developed a new method known as the “drip technique.” The style involved using household paint (as opposed to artist’s paint) and literally dripping and pouring it onto the canvas. His other tools included hardened brushes, sticks, basting syringes, and even his own hands. This technique marked the “drip period” (from 1947 to 1950) when the majority of his most famous works were created. Pollock prided himself in getting up close and personal with his artwork, and often spoke as if he were “in” his paintings.

“My painting does not come from the easel. I prefer to tack the unstretched canvas to the hard wall or the floor. I need the resistance of a hard surface. On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting,” said Jackson Pollock, in his publication My Painting.

014-jackson-pollock-the-red-listDespite his artistic fame and success, Pollock’s life was not picture perfect. He struggled with mental illness and modern historians theorize he may have been bipolar. He also suffered from alcoholism throughout his adult life. In 1956, Pollock caused the fatal car accident that killed him and one other passenger, although his mistress who was also in the car survived. Pollock was only 44. His wife, an artist named Lee Krasner, kept his legacy alive by opening their home, the Pollock-Krasner House and Studio, for public tours.

Wondering what happened to Ms. Horton and her painting? To this day she has been unable to prove that it is a true Pollock, yet she refuses to sell her piece for less than $50 million. Inspired in part by Horton’s story, Bakersfield Mist begs the important question: Who gets to define what “art” is?

Tickets to Bakersfield Mist are available online or by calling (407) 447-1700 ext. 1.

Article Contributors: Lexie Hoag and Melissa Landy

Youth & Teen Acting Classes–Where the magic happens!

Beginning on September 26 and running through October 31, 2015, our Fall 2015 Youth & Teen Acting Classes are just around the corner! Wondering whether to enroll your child (Age 4 – Grade 12)? Children’s Series Coordinator Jennifer Bonner discusses how our classes benefit “the whole person”, while having a whole lot of fun too!

Classes2015_3hrOST: How are Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s Youth & Teen Acting Classes different from others offered in the community?
JB: At Orlando Shakes we really focus on the education portion of the program. We have a “Shareformance” at the end of each six week session, where the students share what they’ve learned with their family and friends, but the bulk of material is devoted to educating the students as a whole person. We give them tools they can use in life, such as the concept of the “actor’s toolbox” (voice, body, and imagination), and we really hone in on that. We aren’t striving to produce stars. We just want our students to learn about themselves and others, as well as theater and artistic integrity. It’s a sneaky way to educate while they are having fun at the same time.

OST: How do we cater each class for specific age groups? Is there a core standard they all share?
JB: Our classes focus on skill sets that benefit students on stage as well as in everyday life. They celebrate the process of learning, experimenting, taking risks, and challenging expectations by focusing first on acting, then movement, and, finally, Shakespeare’s words. Alone or as a package, this training is valuable for beginning actors as well as aspiring young professionals.

OST: Seems like this Fall’s classes are based on some of the shows we’re producing during our 2015-16 Season. What characters can students look forward to exploring?
JB: Older students will be exploring Peter Pan from Peter and the Starcatcher; all of the zaney knights from Monty Python’s SPAMALOT; Trinculo, Stephano, Caliban, Prospero, and Ariel from Shakespeare’s The Tempest; and Pericles, Dionyza, Cleon, and Marina from Shakespeare’s epic tale Pericles.

Classes2015_1hrLittle ones will learn with Jack and Annie from the Magic Tree House book series (and our Fall Children’s Series production, A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens), as well as best friends Gerald and Piggie from the popular Mo Willems’ book series and our Spring Children’s Series production of Elephant and Piggie’s “We are in a Play!”.

Our hope is that by including the stories from the season in our classes, students will be excited about our productions and will become more invested in the theater. They’ll begin to think of the Theater as theirs. And that’s what it is–we’re here to serve the community.

OST: Do students from our classes and camps ever have the opportunity to be cast in Orlando Shakespeare Theater productions? How can these connections help any aspiring young actors?
JB: Anyone in the community is able to audition for our season each April. Many of our current and previous students have auditioned for past seasons and, when the production calls for it, numerous kids have been cast in child and young adult roles. Many have also had the opportunity to work as understudies. For students that want to pursue acting as a profession, auditioning is always valuable, and we welcome and encourage them to do so with us.       

OST: Why is Theater important for kids–even if they don’t intend on pursuing it as a career choice?
JB: Theater has so many dimensions. It’s a social art. It’s a history lesson of the minds and hearts of people throughout time. It teaches us compassion, acceptance, and tolerance by allowing us to walk around in someone else’s shoes. It helps with expressing feelings and emotions, with public speaking, and with confidence. It teaches us that it’s okay to make a mistake because ultimately, there is no right answer in theater. It’s what you feel. It’s what you see. It teaches us to think outside the box–to be brave. And isn’t that what we all want to be?

Registration is still open for our Fall 2015 Youth & Teen Acting Session! Visit us online for details.
Additional questions? Contact Jennifer at (407) 447-1700 ext. 254.

Staff Spotlight: Dana Nichols, Director of Development

It takes a lot of time and manpower to run a professional theater like Orlando Shakes day in and day out. Between production meetings and tight deadlines, we can sometimes forget the impact our non-profit organization has on the Central Florida community. One person who never loses sight of that is Dana Nichols, the Theater’s Director of Development.  

d nichols headshotDana’s passion for helping people brought her to Orlando in 2002, when she began her undergraduate studies in Mass Communication and Nonprofit Management at UCF. She’s utilized that degree, along with an MBA from Rollins College, to gain experience at a variety of nonprofits including Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, Kids House, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando. “Working at a nonprofit gives you the unique opportunity to wear many different hats,” she said. “I love that I’ve been able to learn a great deal about so many different things like child welfare, community engagement, and the arts.”

When she’s not at the office, Dana spends most of her time with her adorable baby, Violet. She also runs her own Etsy shop, Chic Bunny Paperie, and enjoys photography and trying out new places to eat with her husband, Reid. “That’s become a little more challenging with a 16 month old,” she laughs.


One of Dana’s major roles at Orlando Shakes is overseeing the Theater’s upcoming 27th Season Gala: A Royal Affair (Sunday, September 20, 2015). As the organization’s largest fundraiser, the annual event is integral to our mission of providing the community with high quality productions like Monty Python’s SPAMALOT. To say this event is “important” would be an understatement, but Dana is up for the challenge. And, while she’s not new to Gala-planning, she’s excited about her first Orlando Shakes Gala. “What’s neat about planning events here is that we’re able to utilize what makes us unique–our performers and artists–to highlight what we’re raising money for.”

If you’ve been to an Orlando Shakes Gala before, you know to expect delicious food and great company, but Dana says to look out for some new twists too. Playing on the event’s ‘Royal Affair’ title, guests can anticipate an elegant evening fit for kings and queens, including a one-night-only cabaret performance featuring Les Miserables’ Michael Hunsaker and Broadway stars Davis Gaines (The Phantom of the Opera) and Dee Roscioli (Wicked) singing their most popular songs. Prior to the evening’s paddle raise, Dana and her Development Team will also premiere a special education-related video that will highlight what Orlando Shakes does for the youth in our community.

Wondering what priceless packages you’ll see in our silent auction? Two of Dana’s favorites are a weekend trip to Universal for four (“I still haven’t been to Diagon Alley!”) and, for the ultimate theater-lover, the unique opportunity to watch Bakersfield Mist from the stage manager’s booth.

Remaining Gala tickets ($150, $200, $250) can be purchased by phone at (407) 447-1700 ext. 1. Hope to see you there–in your formal wear!

Shakespearely Yours,
Melissa Landy, Public Relations Coordinator

Sing-A-Long(side) SPAMALOT Stars!

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 12.43.56 PMLast year, Orlando Shakes surprised the community with a Les Miserables flash mob that’s been viewed by over 1 million fans on YouTube. This year, we want everyone to participate! Join us as we sing-a-long to “The Bright Side of Life” and record a promotional video for our upcoming production of Monty Python’s SPAMALOT.

WHEN: Saturday, August 29 at 12:00 p.m. noon
WHERE: On the lawn in Loch Haven Park between Mills Ave. and Princeton St.

You’ll get the chance to perform alongside professional actors, as we lead you through a brief vocal warm up, learn a beginner’s dance routine, and sing the final chorus of the song.

So now you’re wondering what Orlando Shakes actors will be performing right by your side. Keep an eye out for the familiar faces below!

Davis Gaines, Musical Theatre West

Davis Gaines, Musical Theatre West

Orlando native and Edgewater High School graduate, Davis Gaines (Javert in last season’s Les Misérables), returns as King Arthur. Best known for playing the title role in The Phantom of the Opera more than 2,000 times in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, Gaines remains Los Angeles’ longest-running Phantom.

Raised in South Florida and a graduate of Florida State University, Michael Hunsaker (Jean Valjean in Les Miz) plays opposite Gaines once more in the role of Sir Dennis Galahad. Broadway and National Tour credits include Children of Eden, Chess, Chance and Chemistry, and Ragtime. Hunsaker is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Film Production from Full Sail University.

Dee Roscioli (The Lady of the Lake) is best known for ‘defying gravity’ in the Wicked First National Tour, as well as the Chicago, San Francisco, and Broadway productions. She holds the record for most appearances as Elphaba. Additional credits include Grizabella in the 2002-2003 Cats National Tour and as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd for Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival.

Local favorite T. Robert Pigott (The Big Bang and Into the Woods) will appear as Sir Robin. Other appearances include Caboose in the original cast of Starlight Express for Starlight Vegas Co. and Baby John in West Side Story for Austria’s Scala Musical Company.

Brad DePlanche (Henry V and It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play) joins the cast as Patsy. He has acted in productions across the country including Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s Around the World in Eighty Days and The Three Musketeers for People’s Light.

Philip Nolen plays Sir Bedevere, following countless Orlando Shakes appearances including Nicholas Nickleby and The Big Bang. The local actor/singer has also been featured at Mad Cow Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, and the New York and Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festivals.

Chris Crawford takes on the roles of Prince Herbert/Historian, following his debut appearance as Fred in 2014’s A Christmas Carol. Other credits include Shakespeare Theatre Co.’s Edward II, Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre’s The Producers, and Boeing Boeing with TheatreSquared.

And now the only star missing is YOU!

Planning to join in on the fun? RSVP to let us know!

What’s Up? What’s New?

As we launch into our 2015-2016 Season, there are quite a few special events and improvements to look out for. Here’s a run down of some important happenings at the Theater:

  • Out with the old and in with the new!
    Our Box Office (with the help of the rest of the staff) has worked tirelessly this Summer to implement a new ticketing system. Patron Manager now offers YOU much more control when purchasing tickets online, including the ability to select the exact seats you want. Additionally, you no longer have to sign in to make an online purchase. We’ll be unveiling other enhancements throughout the season, so stay tuned! (Note: If you’ve bookmarked our previous ticketing site, please update the link to avoid any issues.) Take a peek at the new system now!
  • Check out that….website?
    That’s right! We are currently in the process of designing a brand new website to be unveiled this Fall. The new site will feature a fresh color palette, simpler navigation, and–best of all–will be responsive and compatible with mobile devices!
  • IMG_4674Watch your mailbox!
    The Marketing Department is rolling out our 27th Season brochure this week! The beautiful 28-page booklet reveals stars of our Signature Series productions including Monty Python’s SPAMALOT, The Tempest, and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. The piece also includes a complete 2015-2016 performance calendar, as well as information about discounts and how to become more involved with Orlando Shakes.

Mark your calendar for these upcoming events:

  • 3rd Annual Open House – Saturday, August 1
    Our FREE Open House is back and better than ever! This year’s event will feature demonstrations from the Theater’s production staff, princess story time, raffle prizes (including tickets to Monty Python’s SPAMALOT), and much more! Stop by for an hour or stay all day–we’ll have ongoing activities from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Click to RSVP!
  • 27th Season Gala: A Royal Affair – Sunday, September 20
    Hear ye! Hear ye! Join us for a royal evening in King Arthur’s Court in support of your favorite theater. Guests will enjoy tastings of Orlando’s finest food and beverages, along with a cabaret from select members of the cast of SPAMALOT and thrilling live and silent auctions. Funds raised help us fulfill our mission to produce bold, professional theater, develop new plays, and provide innovative educational experiences for all ages! Visit our website for additional info.

As I said, we’ve got a lot going on around here–and our 27th Season has barely begun! Want to always be in the know? Be sure to follow us on Facebook and sign up for our email alerts.

See you at the Theater!

Shakespearely Yours,
Melissa Landy, Public Relations Coordinator


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