April Top Picks

Katherine Michelle Tanner (far left) and Brandon Roberts star as women’s rights advocate Margaret Fuller and writer Henry David Thoreau in Charm, a comedy that’s being presented in connection with Playfest!

Rob Jones

If you’ve ever wondered what goes into the making of a play, you’ll find some answers at PlayFest! Now entering its ninth edition, this celebration of—and glimpse into—the creative process is all about encouraging new theatrical productions and offering theatergoers what might be called a front-row seat behind the scenes.

“The audience who attends…begins to feel a part of the plays,” says Patrick Flick, director of new play development for the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, which produces the 10-day festival. “They are contributing.”

At PlayFest!, you’ll see workshop productions, where works in progress are presented with rudimentary sets and costumes, as well as theatrical readings, where plays are simply read aloud by actors. The authors of these approximately 10 evolving productions will be on hand for Q&A sessions and to assess audience response.

“It’s the smart author who sits in the very back row and watches the audience’s reactions,” says Flick.

This year’s special guest is Mark Brown, author of Don Quixote—The Reckoning, a workshop production. Brown, formely of Orlando, is known for such plays as The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge.

Also in connection with PlayFest!, a full production of Charm, Kathleen Cahill’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated comedy, is currently being presented through April 17 at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater. The play, which was previously offered as a PlayFest! reading, is directed by Flick and is based on the life of Margaret Fuller, who is said to have inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.

The full name of the festival is PlayFest! The Harriett Lake Festival of New Plays, in honor of its sponsor. Flick feels that events like this help theater to remain alive and edgy:

“It’s important to keep our art—and our idea of what theater is, and what theater can be—fresh and relevant to coming generations.”

April 8-17. Lowndes Shakespeare Center, 812 E. Rollins St. Call 407-447-1700 or visit orlandoshakes.org for times and prices.


Going Gaga

APRIL 15 Gaga-holics can get their fix when the great lady herself deigns to perform what she calls an “electro-pop opera” in Orlando this month as part of her Monster Ball Tour. (No word just yet as to whether Lady Gaga will be wearing meat or dairy, or if she’ll be bringing her giant egg.) 8 p.m. $51.50-$177.50. Amway Center, 400 W. Church St. 407-440-7900. amwaycenter.com



Love Story

APRIL 15-17 Their love affair begins with a flourish: The strapping soldier, Don José, ignores the beautiful gypsy girl, Carmen, but she soon gets his attention by tossing a flower at him. From there, things only become increasingly dramatic in Carmen, the classic opera by the French composer Georges Bizet that will be presented this month by the Orlando Ballet, with choreography by artistic director Robert Hill. Soon, Carmen is arrested and José is ordered to tie her up, but she charms him into allowing her to escape. Before the tale winds its way to a tragic end (this is opera, after all), bullfighters, fortune-tellers and smugglers all have their parts to play. April 15-16 at 8 p.m., Sunday April 17 at 2 p.m. $15-75 Bob Carr Performing Arts Center, 401 W. Livingston St. 407-426-1739. orlandoballet.org



Another One for the Books

APRIL 16 Back for a second edition, the University of Central Florida’s Book Festival will feature national and local authors including Orlando aviator Joe Kittinger (author of Come Up and Get Me), former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham (America: The Owner’s Manual), Deborah Blum (The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine), Jeff Zaslow (The Last Lecture), Leonard Pitts Jr. (Before I Forget), Bill Eggers (If We Can Put a Man on the Moon), Judith Ortiz Cofer (Lessons From a Writer’s Life) and others. Book signings, readings and author panels will all be part of the daylong event, as will roaming literary characters, early literacy screenings, silent auctions, folk singing and storytelling. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Free. UCF Arena, 4000 Central Florida Blvd. 407-823-2835. bookfestival.ucf.edu


Quick Hits

APRIL 8-17
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the Florida Film Festival will emphasize all things Florida.

Apparently still “livin’ la vida loca,” Puerto Rican pop star Ricky Martin is coming to Amway Center.

Acoustic guitarist Leo Kottke will show off his distinctive finger-picking style at The Plaza Live Theatre.

APRIL 29 & MAY 1
The Orlando Philharmonic, Mad Cow Theatre and the Florida Opera will pool their efforts to present Puccini’s La Bohème at Bob Carr.

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