Best Bets

Keep a lookout for these highlights of the 2009-2010 arts-and-entertainment season.


When you think of space aliens, you naturally think of the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens.

Oh, you don’t? Well, that’s all going to change in November when “Maidens and Monsters: The Art of Science Fiction, Adventure and Fantasy” arrives at the museum.

“Alien worlds, strange beasts, dashing heroes and buxom beauties are captured by 22 pioneering illustrators,” announces the show’s poster. The exhibition will include the work of such artists as Frank Frazetta, Hannes Bok and N.C. Wyeth, whose flamboyant visual fantasies have graced the covers of pulp-fiction novels and such sci-fi and fantasy magazines as Amazing Stories, Fantastic Adventures and Weird Tales.

The show, which spans 80 years of illustrations, will contain 50 original paintings. It’ll be on view from Nov. 24 through April 18—in case you’re thinking of beaming down. Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens, 633 Osceola Ave., Winter Park, 407-647-6294,

We’re lucky that Orlando Shakespeare Theater has chosen to offer Hamlet this season. After all, Shakespeare is the quintessential playwright and Hamlet is often considered his masterpiece of masterpieces. But we’re even luckier that at about the same time, Mad Cow Theatre is presenting Tom Stoppard’s hilarious 1966 Hamlet-inspired comedy, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

Hamlet, of course, is the story of a Danish prince who seeks revenge for the murder of his father. In that play, we meet Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two minor characters who are old friends of the prince. Stoppard (whose credits include the film Shakespeare in Love) turns Hamlet inside out by telling the story from the point of view of those two nobodies and making the prince a minor character.

Hamlet will be presented Jan. 27-March 13, with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead on stage Jan. 29-Feb. 28. If you can swing it, it’s better to see Shakespeare’s play first, although the combination is probably pretty interesting the other way around, too. Orlando Shakespeare Theater, 812 E. Rollins Street, Orlando, 407-447-1700, Mad Cow Theatre, 105 S. Magnolia Ave., Orlando, 407-297-8788,

Spring Awakening may be the least famous of the musicals being presented this season under the Broadway Across America banner. Certainly, such shows as The Phantom of the Opera, Cats, The Color Purple and Chicago are much better known.

But Spring Awakening, which won eight Tony Awards, including best musical, may be the season’s highlight.  When it opened in 2006, the reviews were certainly glowing enough, with Christopher Isherwood of The New York Times calling it a “fresh breeze of true inspiration.”

Based on an 1891 play by German playwright Frank Wedekind, this musical updates the sound but not the scene of the original. The songs are in the indie-rock mode, but the main characters are adolescents in late 19th-century Germany. They struggle mightily with what Isherwood called “the onrushing tide of hormones.” From May 18-23, they’ll be rushing here in Orlando. Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, 401 W. Livingston Street, Orlando, 1-800-982-2787,

It’s too early to say much about the 19th annual Florida Film Festival, scheduled for April 9-18. Presented by Maitland’s Enzian Theater, Central Florida’s most prestigious film event typically showcases about 50 feature films and 100 shorts, mostly of the American independent and international varieties, and hosts celebrity guests like recent attendees Glenn Close and Jon Voight.

However, the upstart Orlando Film Festival, now heading into its fourth year, is just around the corner, and plans for it are coming together. Scheduled for Nov. 4-8, the event will be showing its estimated 30 features and 100 shorts at the recently opened Plaza Cinema Café in downtown Orlando. As in the past, the films will be free, although a $100 VIP pass assures you a place at all films, parties and whatever.

Among the highlights this year looks to be Love the Beast, a documentary about actor Eric Bana (The Time Traveler’s Wife, Funny People) and his obsession with cars. Bana directed the film, which also features Jay Leno, Dr. Phil and Jeremy Clarkson. Enzian Theater, 1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, 407-629-0054, Plaza Cinema Café, 155 S. Orange Ave., Orlando,

It isn’t every day—or even every year—that a musician of Itzhak Perlman’s stature books a gig in The City Beautiful. But Perlman will be here on Jan. 10 to play Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D major with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. The program will include the orchestra’s renditions of Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 (the “Great” symphony) and Weber’s Ruler of the Spirits. But chances are that classical music buffs will be listening just a tad more intently when Perlman lifts his bow for the Beethoven. Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, 401 W. Livingston Street, Orlando, 407-770-0071,