Top Picks


May's best bets in the arts and entertainment.

On Their Toes at the Fringe

Voci Dance
Voci Dance

Hard times and dance have always gone together.

During the Great Depression, for example, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were top box-office stars. And nowadays, with the economy again in trouble, we’re tuning in to watch Dancing With the Stars.

Genevieve Bernard, associate producer for the 18th annual Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, says the current economic downturn may also help to explain the surge in dance-related productions at the Fringe this year.

As you’d expect, most of the festival’s 68 shows are theater-based. But nine of them showcase dance, up from just four last year. And those nine shows, Bernard points out, “run the gamut.”

Movin’ Melvin Brown, a performer from Texas, will be tap dancing in a show called Me, Ray Charles and Sammy Davis Jr. Then there’s Sharon Nowlan, a dancer from Canada, whose performance is titled Burlesque Unzipped: From Shakespeare to the Shimmy. (A program note promises that Nowlan “peels off the layers of what was, and is, burlesque!”)

Meanwhile, a popular local group called VarieTEASE will dance in drag, and Voci Dance, a local group for which Bernard serves as artistic director, will present modern dance in a show called Simplex/Complex, produced in collaboration with New York’s DeXdance troupe.

One of the more intriguing shows on the Fringe schedule is Flamenco con Fusion ’09, in which a group from Barcelona, Spain will blend flamenco and hip hop moves.

“To me,” says Bernard, “those seem like two such extremes!”

Whatever the style, watching a dance performance can be a way to forget your troubles and get happy. And maybe that’s why dance and hard times go together.

“Dance, I guess it’s like movies,” reflects Bernard. “It’s an escape.”

May 14-25. Loch Haven Park, Lowndes Shakespeare Center and Orlando Repertory Theater. A one-time purchase of an $8 button is required for entry to all shows; additional ticket prices may apply. For show times and prices, visit

—Jay Boyar 

Did You Say Potato?

Mr. Potato

May 23-August 9 He started as a simple toy in the 1950s, became a pop-culture icon and movie star, and now he’s the host of The Adventures of Mr. Potato Head at the Orlando Science Center. Everyone’s favorite talking tuber takes explorers young and old on adventures in outer space, through the jungle, on an archeological dig and under the sea. Thursday-Tuesday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Wednesdays. $8.95-$14.95. 777 East Princeton Street. 407-514-2000.

—Short items by Laureen Crowley Algier 




Walk Like a Man With the Valli Boys 

Jersey Boys
Jersey Boys

May 6-24 They went from the wrong side of the tracks to stardom as a 1960s rock band. Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons are the subjects of Jersey Boys, which debuted in 2004 in Southern California, where it became the most successful production in the history of the La Jolla Playhouse. It went on to win four Tonys in 2006, including best musical. Presented by SunTrust Broadway in Orlando. Tuesday-Friday 8 p.m., Saturday 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. $27-$69. Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre. 407-839-3900.


Unofficial Art

Robert Henri
Fisherman’s Daughter by
Robert Henri (1910)

Through June 21 A century ago in New York, a group of eight artists, snubbed by the art establishment’s National Academy of Design, took the then-unheard-of step of setting up an art exhibition without the academy’s blessing. The result was a huge leap for the cause of artistic independence, taken further by the artists’ commitment to paint life as observed, without academic formulas. The Eight: Painters of American Life at the Mennello Museum of American Art salutes these artists—William Glackens, George Luks, Maurice Prendergast, Robert Henri, Everett Shinn, John Sloan, Ernest Lawson and Arthur B. Davies—by showing works from throughout their careers. Tuesday-Saturday 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sunday noon-4:30 p.m. $1-$4. 900 East Princeton Street.407-246-4278.


Faux Four 

Classical Mystery Tour
Classical Mystery Tour

May 9 For this  annual outdoor concert, Beatles Celebration at The Springs, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra is joined by Classical Mystery Tour (left), the Beatles tribute band that features original members of the Broadway show Beatlemania. They’ll help the Phil rock out to orchestrated versions of Beatles classics. Picnics, blankets, lawn chairs, bellbottoms and tie-dyed clothing are all encouraged, but, of course, all you really need is love. Alcoholic beverages permitted for patrons 21 and older. Lawn seating is first-come, first served. 8 p.m. Gates open 5 p.m. $30-$35. VIP Clubhouse includes dinner buffet and reserved seats, $110. The Springs Community, 400 Woodbridge Road, Longwood. 407-896-6700. 

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