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Davis Gaines stars as Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, a co-prodcution of the Orlando Phil and Mad Cow.

Courtesy of Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra

Local Guy in Guys and Dolls

Davis Gaines may live in Los Angeles, but the singer/actor’s roots in Orlando run deep. His parents, sisters and other assorted relatives still live here, and he frequently returns—sometimes just to visit, sometimes to perform.

“I am the [family’s] only ‘exile’,” jokes Gaines, who is probably best known for having played the title role in The Phantom of the Opera more than 2,000 times on Broadway and elsewhere.

The native Orlandoan was here just last year to play the title role in Sweeney Todd. He’ll be back again this month to play gambler Sky Masterson in a “concert staged” version of Guys and Dolls, a joint production of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and Mad Cow Theatre.

Gaines describes his Guys and Dolls role as a “smart,” “smooth” character with a dry sense of humor and a cynical, gangster veneer that cloaks a romantic heart. Gaines’ singing voice, with its deep, luxuriant tones, also carries an underlying intimacy and wistfulness that would seem ideal for Sky’s musical numbers, including “I’ve Never Been in Love Before,” “I’ll Know (When My Love Comes Along)” and, especially, “My Time of Day.”

“It’s not the most well-known song in the show,” says Gaines of that last one, a paean to the moments just before dawn, “but it’s very sensitive and very poetic.”

This is not the first time that the 56-year-old performer has played Sky Masterson, having attempted the role two decades ago in a Seattle production. He is very much looking forward to taking another crack at it.

“The four leading characters, they’re not young spring chickens, like in most musicals,” he says. “I think when I first played” the role of Sky, “I might have been too young to understand it.”

Oct. 9 at 2 and 8 p.m. $14.75-$70. Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, 401 W. Livingston St. 407-770-0071.


Ghost Worlds

THROUGH OCTOBER 31/NOVEMBER 1 If you’ve never spent Halloween (or the days leading up to it) at a theme park, this could be your year to see what all the screaming is about. Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights (through Oct. 31), now in its 20th year, is the most venerable and bone-chilling of the theme-park Halloween celebrations. Much milder forms of mayhem are available at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party  (through Nov. 1) at Disney’s Magic Kingdom and at SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular (through Oct. 31).


Girl Behaving Badly

OCTOBER 22 Being inappropriate is almost part of a comedian’s job description. In Chelsea Handler’s case, it’s practically the entire description. On Chelsea Lately, her late-night talk show on E! Entertainment Television, Handler often seems more intent on achieving crudeness (or “honesty,” as her legion of fans might have it) than humor. Still, she does sometimes manage to get laughs, too. In addition to hosting the show, Handler is an author, with such bestsellers as Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea and Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang under her belt. And she’s currently on a standup comedy tour, which will arrive in Orlando this month, appropriately or not. 8 p.m. $38-$73. Amway Center, 400 W. Church St., 800-745-3000.



Puppets on Parade

OCTOBER 13—DECEMBER 10 Founded by Heather Henson (Muppeteer Jim’s daughter), the Orlando Puppet Festival enters its sixth year with an extraordinarily diverse array of puppetry presentations spread out over nine weeks. Local and national puppeteers will be featured in programs that range from “family friendly” to “for grownups only.” In addition to puppet shows and a puppet slam, the festival will include an art show, films, workshops and panels. Among the highlights will be a performance of Bird Machine (right) by the New York-based Concrete Temple Theatre. Program venues include Pinocchio’s Marionette Theater in the Altamonte Mall; Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Loch Haven Park; and Plaza Cinema Café, Mad Cow Theatre, Gallery at Avalon Island, Lake Eola Amphitheater and St. James Cathedral in downtown Orlando. Some events are free. Tickets to others are $5-$15. 407-422-8911.



The Eagles Are Landing

OCTOBER 7 During their 39 years as a band, they’ve lived “Life in the Fast Lane,” seen a “Tequila Sunrise,” driven on “Seven Bridges Road,” visited “The Sad Café,” checked into the “Hotel California” and met a “Desperado” or two. And, “One of These Nights,” they’ll experience that “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” after they’ve learned to “Take It Easy.” They are, of course, The Eagles—Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit—and they’re winging their way to Orlando’s new events center. 8 p.m. $45-$230. Amway Center, 400 W. Church St., 800-745-3000.


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