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Orlando Shakes reveal 35th Anniversary Season including Broadway Hits, New Works, and Shakespeare

Featuring a year-long celebration that includes one of Shakespeare’s funniest plays in an exciting new setting, along with vibrant, intense and dramatic works, and bookended by two Tony Award-winning musicals, Orlando Shakes in partnership with UCF has announced its upcoming productions for the 2023-2024 season – its 35th in Central Florida.


Orlando Shakes reveal 35th Anniversary Season

“For 34 years, Orlando Shakes has entertained Central Florida audiences with some of the best comedies, dramas, and musicals ever written,” said Jim Helsinger, who will be entering his 29th season as artistic director with Orlando Shakes. “To celebrate our 35th season, what better way to do so than to produce world-class work that makes you want to laugh, makes you think, and makes you feel. This upcoming season has something for everybody.”


The season will kick off in August with the foot-stomping Broadway musical production of Million Dollar Quartet, the true story of the day Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins jammed together at Sun Record Studios in 1956.


In September, Shakespeare and comedy lovers alike will be transported to Mardi Gras in New Orleans for a fun-filled take on Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, followed in October by Boulevard of Bold Dreams, a dynamic story about the night Hattie McDaniel made Hollywood history by becoming the first Black artist to win an Oscar.


In December, Orlando Shakes’ holiday tradition A Christmas Carol returns to warm the hearts of the entire family.


In January of 2024, the popular Fire and Reign series continues with a Bare Bard/Original Practices production of Henry VI Part I: Joan of Arc – an epic, powerful beginning to Shakespeare’s trilogy on the Wars of the Roses.


In February, audiences will get lured into a world of fantasy, power, love, and seduction in a production of the Tony Award nominee Venus in Fur.


Just one month later, nationally renowned actor and director Debra Ann Byrd stars in her autobiographical show, Becoming Othello: A Black Girl’s Journey.


Finally, in April, the award-winning musical that pays tribute to the music of Fats Waller, Ain’t Misbehavin’, closes out the season in a sensational and upbeat celebration.


“We are so excited by this lineup,” said Helsinger. “New and returning guests of Orlando Shakes have so much to choose from this upcoming season, with our seven Signature Series blockbuster productions plus our annual holiday classic, A Christmas Carol. Also, our Children’s Series returns this October with The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!, the fun musical production of the best selling book.”


Current Orlando Shakes Signature Series subscribers can renew beginning March 21, 2023 by calling 407-447-1700 or visiting the Box Office up until April 18.


New subscriptions will go on sale starting April 19. Single tickets and Choose Your Own packages will go on sale on May 18.


This season patrons can choose from a full Signature series of seven shows with an optional add-on of A Christmas Carol – select a Musical, Classical, or Comedy package, or design their own season package of three or five productions.



SIGNATURE SERIES


Million Dollar Quartet By Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux August 2-20, 2023

It was December 4th, 1956, and Sun Record Studios in Memphis, Tennessee was about to become the mecca of music for a magical moment in music history. Be witness to this true to life jam session – credited by many to be the direct influence of rock ‘n roll in the late 50s and 60s – between Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins! Come hear “Blue Suede Shoes,” “I Walk the Line,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Hound Dog” and many more!


Comedy of Errors By William Shakespeare September 6-October 1, 2023

Set during the revelries of Mardi Gras and featuring New Orleans Jazz, Zydeco and Delta Blues music, Shakespeare’s non-stop hilarious farce of love, mistaken identity, and two sets of twins separated as babies – gets swept up in the carnival celebrations. Bring your Mardi Gras beads and let the good times roll!


Boulevard of Bold Dreams By LaDarrion Williams October 4-29, 2023

A dynamic story about the night Hattie McDaniel (Gone with the Wind) made Hollywood history by becoming the first Black artist to win an Oscar. When Hattie stops at a bar and decides not to attend the awards ceremony, the bartender, Arthur, and the maid, Dottie, do everything in their power to convince her to go and claim her historic win. A story of dreamers striving to overcome considerable obstacles and fighting for recognition amidst the racism and inequity of Hollywood.


Henry VI Part I: Joan of Arc By William Shakespeare January 10-21, 2024

The world whirls out of control in the thrilling tale of France’s Joan of Arc, the English warrior Talbot, and the young King Henry VI. Shakespeare’s epic, powerful beginning of the Wars of the Roses is riveting storytelling that never lets up. In this raw, “Bare Bard/Original Practices” production, Orlando Shakes’ actors will perform the play with less than 40 hours of rehearsal, no designers, and no director – just like the acting companies of Shakespeare’s time!


Venus in Fur By David Ives February 7-March 3, 2024

Sexy. Provocative. Hilarious. Hailed as “seriously smart and very funny” by The New York Times, Venus in Fur is a laugh-out-loud study of the politics of sex and power that’s guaranteed to charm and mesmerize. When Vanda arrives several hours late to her audition for a play based on a nineteenth-century erotic novel, the director is less than impressed. But Vanda’s masterful performance flips the script and the audition turns into a tango for dominance between actress and director.


Becoming Othello: A Black Girl’s Journey Written and Performed by Debra Ann Byrd March 13-30, 2024

Interspersed with verses from Othello and dynamic multimedia elements, Byrd bares her soul in this vulnerable, personal, and resonant story of perseverance, discovery, and unconditional love. Directed by Shakespeare & Company founder Tina Packer and written by and starring the Founding Artistic Director of the Harlem Shakespeare Festival and Artistic Director at Southwest Shakespeare Company Debra Ann Byrd.


Ain’t Misbehavin’ Conceived by Murray Horwitz and Richard Malby, Jr. April 10-28, 2024

This Tony Award winning Best Musical also won the Drama Desk award for Outstanding Musical. A sizzling celebration of Fats Waller’s music – songs that he made famous in a career that ranged from uptown clubs to downtown Tin Pan Alley to Hollywood and concert stages around the world. This delightful Broadway revue evokes the humor and infectious energy of this American original to provide an evening of humor, romance and thrilling music, including “Keepin’ Out of Mischief,” “This Joint is Jumpin’,” “Mean to Me” and title song, “Ain’t Misbehavin'”.



CHILDREN’S SERIES


The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! Book and lyrics by Robert Kauzlaric | Based on the book by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith October 18 – November 11, 2023

There are two sides to every story, and when the Big, Bad Wolf takes the stand in the Trial of the Century, he finally gets his say. But whether he’ll get a fair trial in a corrupt piggy court is anyone’s guess! Enter the jury box and decide the fate of Big ‘n’ Bad in this fun and funny musical adaptation of the hit children’s book.



SPECIAL PRODUCTIONS AND EVENTS


A Christmas Carol By Charles Dickens | Adapted by Jim Helsinger November 29 – December 24, 2023

The miserly and miserable Ebenezer Scrooge greets each Christmas with a “bah humbug,” until he is visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. Witness the classic, heartwarming story of Orlando Shakes’ holiday tradition, in a magical and musical spectacle for the whole family.


Massey Services Opening Nights

Every opening Friday night of the season becomes a not-to-miss party starting 90 minutes before the curtain goes up! Featuring a live musical guest, a delicious restaurant partner for small bites, and an exclusive pre-show chat with each production’s creative team. Last season, this new opening night celebration series launched each production. The party continues bigger and better in our 35th season.


PlayFest October 27-29, 2023 – Weekend One November 3-5, 2023 – Weekend Two

A two weekend festival of new plays features several readings of raw, unproduced works! PlayFest gives audiences the opportunity to be involved with the creative process by giving feedback in real time and mingling with the playwrights, actors, and directors.


Orlando Shakes

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