Take a Bow!
Well, our 25th Anniversary Season has come to an end—and what a year it was! Let’s recap, shall we?
We kicked the year off with a very special 25th Anniversary Open House in August. Over 500 guests visited the Lowndes Shakespeare Center for crafts, theater games, and an all-access building tour. Even long-time patrons loved exploring what’s behind the curtain including prop, costume, and scenic shops. The day was made even sweeter thanks to The Flour Shop‘s delicious Orlando Shakes cupcakes!
On September 8th, the Shakespeare Center was transformed into a red carpet affair. The glittering 25th Anniversary Season Opening Gala featured food and wine tastings, first-rate entertainment, and fabulous live and silent auction items. Guests eagerly participated in a paddle raise—the first in Orlando Shakes’ history—raising nearly $30,000 to be used towards the Theater for Young Audiences production of A Night in New Orleans: A Magic Tree House Adventure.
Opening our Signature Series, the rootin’ tootin’ production of The Taming of the Shrew had audiences laughing out loud with Wild West inspired slapstick comedy. From the infamous tumbleweed that rolled across the stage to Geoffrey Kent’s ridiculous Native American wedding garments, this show tickled the funny bone of even the most somber individual.
John P. Keller captivated audiences in the chilling one-man thriller, Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker. Bob Phillips’ scenic design transformed the Goldman Theater into a dusty attic filled with antiques and secrets, and even utilized a trap door. But supporting actress, Wilhelmina the rat, truly stole the show and captured the hearts of our staff. (“Mina” now permanently resides in the Costume Shop!)
Audiences were moved with the holiday spirit thanks to the classic, It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. The cast got a special visit from Fox 35’s David Martin and were featured live on the morning news!
And who could forget the monumental 27-person production The Life & Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby: Parts I & II produced in Partnership with Theatre UCF? Devoted theater-lovers watched both parts in one of our “marathon days”, spending over 6 hours at the Theater. We partnered with White Wolf Cafe to offer marathoners a traditional Dickensian dinner in between shows, and each got an “I’ve Been Nick’d” pin to wear as a badge of honor. During our 6th Annual Mock Trial, Nicholas Nickleby himself was put on the stand, charged with assault and battery. After a hilarious evening in the “courtroom”, the audience almost unanimously voted Nickleby NOT GUILTY.
Celebrated Shakespeare expert, Tina Packer, joined us in the spring for a non-traditional 7-person production of Julius Caesar. Members of the cast and artistic team will travel to Prague Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare & Company for two additional productions this summer!
It was a fabulous year for new plays as PlayFest veteran, The Cortez Method, returned for a fully staged World Premiere in Harriett’s New Play Series, and the NNPN Rolling World Premiere of Steve Yockey’s Pluto opened up a dialogue about a difficult topic: school shootings. PlayFest saw record numbers of patrons and included a keynote address by award-winning playwright Lee Blessing.
Audiences young and old loved our Theater for Young Audiences Series, including a new spin on Sleeping Beauty and the rock n’ roll musical, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. Over 7,000 Title I students received free tickets to see A Night in New Orleans: A Magic Tree House Adventure, with 53,000 Magic Tree House books gifted to Title I 1st – 4th graders. Author Mary Pope Osborne even traveled to Orlando to kick off our opening day performances!
The season wrapped up this past weekend with our Free Movie Night in the Park in celebration of Shakespeare’s 450th birthday. The outdoor screening of Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing couldn’t have happened on a more beautiful spring evening. Guests enjoyed their picnics and sang “Happy Birthday” to the Bard before the film began on Enzian Theater‘s blow-up screen.
Looking back on this past year, I’m so grateful to work at Orlando Shakes. From the inspirational work I see both on-stage and off, there’s no place I’d rather be. With my first season as Public Relations Coordinator under my belt, I can’t wait to see what 2014-2015 brings! See you next season!
Public Relations Coordinator