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Artful Dodges - Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival


Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival
812 East Rollins Street, Orlando 32803
(407) 477-1700
www.shakespearefest.org

The Bard of Avon is alive and well in Orlando, thanks to this up and coming professional theater company whose home (renovated at a cost of some $3.1 million) in Loch Haven Park boasts three performance spaces.

The 330-seat Margeson Theater features a thrust stage and plenty of theatrical bells and whistles, while the 120-seat Goldman Theater is for more intimate productions. There is also a 100-seat “black box” house for experimental shows, workshops, and readings.

The Festival (as they like to be called) is arguably the best theater group in Orlando, and the shows I have seen, including top-notch productions of Taming of the Shrew and Cyrano, have been excellent. The theater also has a very loyal cadre of performers, which means regular theatergoers have the pleasure of seeing good actors tackle a wide variety of roles over the years. Each season, the Festival presents five plays that may or may not have a Shakespearean connection. In the spring, the company presents a Shakespeare play under the stars in the open-air 936-seat Walt Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola. One play a year is an adaptation of a classic novel written by a local playwright.

If you are in Orlando in December, don’t miss their Christmas show. The Festival has made something of a cottage industry of producing offbeat alternatives to those tired old revivals of A Christmas Carol that so many rep companies do year after year. Some of them, like The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge and Every Christmas Story Ever Told, are side-splittingly funny.

Throughout the season, the Festival offers PlayFest, a series of professional readings of contemporary plays in development. These events usually take place on the second Monday of the month and are free. Otherwise, ticket prices range from $12 to $38. Mainstage plays run about six weeks with evening performances on Wednesday through Sunday and a matinee on Sunday.

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