Florida Culture for Your HOLIDAY Calendar! By Josh Garrick

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Florida Culture for Your HOLIDAY Calendar! By Josh Garrick 

Dec 6 beginning at 6 pm – Josh Garrick’s ‘A VERY Classical Christmas’ Opening Reception 
Hosted by the Downtown Arts District Orlando and Bloomingdale’s at the Mall of Millenia, the Public is invited to the FREE opening reception of ‘A VERY Classical Christmas,’ featuring the artwork of Orlando’s own Josh Garrick on Tuesday, December 6.  Visit the 3rd floor where Bloomingdale’s supports the arts by allowing viewers to conceptualize the Artists' work in their homes with a percentage of all art sales donated to the Downtown Arts District. Imagine this unique artwork in your home, enjoy wine and lite bites, and celebrate ‘A VERY Classical Christmas!’… at Bloomingdale’s.

Josh Garrick’s ‘A VERY Classical Christmas’ Opening Reception

Dec 8 & 9 at 7:30 pm -- CFCArts Community Choir presents the ‘Stories of Christmas’
In a show that shares family traditions, childhood memories, personal stories and more through our favorite Christmas songs, join the 300-voice CFCArts Community Choir and members of the CFCArts Symphony Orchestra for their rendition of ‘The Stories of Christmas.’ This year, the show incorporates the retelling of the Christmas story through traditional Christmas hymns in performance at Northland Church in Longwood. Tickets are $10, $15, $25 and $50.  Call 407-937-1800 x 710 or visit cfcommunityarts.com

CFCArts Community Choir presents the ‘Stories of Christmas’

Dec 8 to 11 – The Orlando Ballet presents The Nutcracker
The Orlando Ballet's enchanting favorite, the Nutcracker, returns to the Dr. Phillips Center. The gift of a toy nutcracker from her godfather transports Clara on a magical journey to a world of fantasy and fun complete with the Mouse King, Sugar Plum Fairy, waltzing Flowers, and a host of dancing toys. For the very young, you may also consider the one-hour ‘Family Performance’ version of the Nutcracker on December 10 at 11 am. Call 844.513.2014 or visit drphillipscenter.org 

The Orlando Ballet presents The Nutcracker

Dec 9 at 8 pm & Dec 11 at 2 pm – One-Man Presentation of ‘A Christmas Carol’
Written and performed by David McElroy, Southern Winds Theater presents Mr. McElroy’s one-man presentation of A Christmas Carol, adapted for the stage with McElroy performing ALL 37 CHARACTERS of the Dickens’ classic from Tiny Tim to the Three Ghosts. This amazing  performance, with music, is for both adults and children (7 and up) at the Blue Bamboo Center at 1905 Kentucky Ave in Winter Park. Call 407.341.3495 or visit bluebambooartcenter.com/shows 

 One-Man Presentation of A Christmas Carol

Dec 10 & 17 at 5 pm – ‘BAH’ – A Free Holiday Story at the Alfond
With a warm welcome from the beautiful Alfond Hotel, children (and their guests) are invited to a ‘Holiday Story-Time’ including  scenes from ‘A Christmas Carol’ as told by Peter Travis with  James Hartsfield on the piano.  If the children are VERY good, Hot Chocolate, Gingerbread Cookies, Eggnog and Warm Cider may be on the ‘menu.’ I’ve even heard the jolly “Old Man” himself has been known to ‘chill’ at the Alfond. This event is offered as a Free Gift from the Alfond to children of the neighborhood.

‘BAH’ – A Free Holiday Story at the Alfond

Dec 10 & 11 -- Lakeridge Winery’s Annual Chocolate Festival 
Wine and Chocolate is the theme for this very special event at the Lakeridge Winery. Visit with local Artists and Crafters as they display their work; enjoy live music throughout the weekend; and taste Lakeridge wine, beer, soft drinks and a variety of foods available for purchase, along with complimentary Winery tours and tastings. A $2 Donation to benefit The Leesburg Regional Medical Center Heart Institute is requested to enter the festival grounds. Visit lakeridgewinery.com

Lakeridge Winery’s Annual Chocolate Festival

Dec 11 at 7:30 pm – Maitland Symphony presents FREE Holiday Concert – ‘A Russian Christmas!’  
Under the direction of Artistic Director Eric Mendez, The Maitland Symphony Orchestra will present their FREE holiday concert with an emphasis on Russian music.  Called ‘A Russian Christmas!’ the ‘Nutcracker’ will be performed along with many other holiday favorites. Orlando Sentinel’s Scott Maxwell and MSO Founder Margaret Patten will co-emcee the FREE event at the Maitland Presbyterian Church at 341 N. Orlando Ave in Maitland. Call 321-303-1404

Maitland Symphony presents FREE Holiday Concert – ‘A Russian Christmas!’

December 12 at 7:30 pm – Sandler, Schneider, Spade, & Swardson LIVE in Orlando 
Live comedy fans, Saturday Night Live fans, and anyone who wants to spend an evening with the funniest people on Earth need to order their tickets for “Here Comes the Funny Tour” featuring Adam Sandler, David Spade, Nick Swardson, Rob Schneider & a special surprise guest on-stage LIVE at the Bob Carr Theater for ONE performance only on December 12.  Now catch your breath and call 844.513.2014 or visit drphillipscenter.org for an evening with ADAM SANDLER, DAVID SPADE, NICK SWARDSON, ROB SCHNEIDER and a special surprise guest!!!

Sandler, Schneider, Spade, & Swardson LIVE in Orlando

Dec 13 to 18 – Broadway in Orlando presents ‘An American in Paris’
‘An American in Paris’ is the new hit Broadway musical about an American solider, a mysterious French girl and PARIS, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of World War II. Director-Choreographer-Tony Award-winner Christopher Wheldon brings the romance of Paris into perfect harmony with Tony Award-winning orchestrations of works by George and Ira Gershwin in this four-time Tony Award-winning production that earned more awards than any other musical in the 2014-2015 Broadway season. Call 844.513.2014 or visit drphillipscenter.org

Broadway in Orlando presents ‘An American in Paris’

December 15 to 23 – ‘Dickens by Candlelight’ at the Shakespeare Center 
Feel like part of the production as actors speak beside you – or pour your tea – in my favorite re-telling of the Dickens’ classic. In the Robin Olson production, three actors portray dozens of characters as they move through and around the audience seated at treat-laden tables. John DiDonna, Morgan Russell, and Monica Tamborello portray all the roles, transforming themselves from character to character as ‘Dickens by Candlelight’ returns to the Shakespeare Center. Ask about their special December 15 Opening Night performance. For tickets, call 407.222.7669.

‘Dickens by Candlelight’ at the Shakespeare Center

Dec 17 & 18 -- The Central Florida Ballet Nutcracker
The Central Florida Ballet's Nutcracker is the “FUN” Nutcracker. Taking a hint from local theme parks, Central Florida Ballet merged the Nutcracker fairytale with a touch of Cirque and a burst of pyrotechnics creating an unforgettable experience for the whole family. CFB's production was recognized as 'one of the top five productions in the nation' by CNN and has become known to many as the ‘pyrotechnic Nutcracker’ thanks to it's coverage in USA Today. In performance at the Orange County Convention Center, visit centralfloridaballet.com

The Central Florida Ballet Nutcracker

Dec 18 -- Orlando Philharmonic Presents FREE Outdoor Holiday Concert
The Orlando Philharmonic will present the Free, Family-Friendly ‘Dr. Phillips Charities Outdoor Concert’ on December 18 getting underway at 12 noon in Winter Park’s Central Park. Pre-concert children’s activities include ‘Instrument Try-Out Stations’ and ‘Mr. Richard and the Pound Hounds’ at 12:30 pm. The Orlando Philharmonic, with Conductor Christopher Confessore, will take the stage at 1:30 pm to perform ‘Peter and the Wolf’ and Holiday favorites. The program honors the legacy of Della Phillips. Call 407-770-0071 or visit orlandophil.org

 Orlando Philharmonic Presents FREE Outdoor Holiday Concert

Dec 18 at 2 and 7 pm – Opera Orlando presents ‘Amahl and the Night Visitors’ 
Giancarlo Menotti's opera "Amahl and the Night Visitors" tells the story of a crippled shepherd boy whose life changes forever when he sees an amazing star. Three kings, who are following the star, encounter Amahl and his mother and the result is both humorous and inspiring while delivering a message of how unselfish love can work miracles. Ola Rafalo stars as the Mother, Robin Jensen conducts, and Eric Pinder directs for this Opera Orlando production at the Dr. Phillips Center. Call 844.513.2014 or visit drphillipscenter.org

Opera Orlando presents ‘Amahl and the Night Visitors’

FINAL WEEK -- to Dec 11 – A Marvelous Party!  The Noel Coward Celebration 
When Noel Coward reigned supreme, High Society meant hats, gloves, and the brilliance of the English language. The Winter Park Playhouse gives us one more week to see “A MARVELOUS PARTY” in Celebration of Noel Coward. As sparkling as a newly-popped bottle of champagne, this party is a musical romp featuring thirty-three tunes by the incomparable Noël Coward. Call 407.645.0145 or visit winterparkplayhouse.org 

A Marvelous Party! The Noel Coward Celebration

NOW to Dec 18 – Harry Connick Jr’s ‘The Happy Elf’ at Orlando Rep 
From the Grammy-winning musician, this joyous new musical is about the happiest elf at the North Pole. He is SO HAPPY that his constant exuberance wears others out, BUT if he can restore ‘JOY’ to the town of Bluesville, he will win a spot on Santa’s sleigh. Faith and teamwork are gifts to be shared in this story, and Harry Connick, Jr. has written a wonderful score. Experience the Orlando Rep’s Holiday offering by calling 407.896.7365 or visiting orlandorep.com 

 Harry Connick Jr’s The Happy Elf at Orlando Rep

NOW to Dec 18 – George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Pygmalion’ at the Mad Cow Theatre 
Yes – this is the George Bernard Shaw play that gave us ‘My Fair Lady’ – performed as Shaw wrote it. Without the songs, we get to clearly see Shaw’s observations on the British class system, gender stereotypes, and ‘middle-class morality.’ Shaw’s most popular play gave us the characters of Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle in this Holiday treat from the elves at Mad Cow Theatre. Call 407.297.8788 or visit madcowtheatre.com

George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Pygmalion’ at the Mad Cow Theatre

NOW to Dec 30 – Orlando Shakes’ ‘EVERY Christmas Story Ever Told’ 
As an audience member you will LOVE the moment when the rehearsal for ‘yet another’ production of "A Christmas Carol" devolves into an irreverent look at ALL of our favorite ‘Holiday Classics’ including ‘Wonderful Life,’ Frosty, Rudolph, Charlie Brown, and more! Three actors (with the help of Santa) take a tongue in cheek look at everything from Dickens to Dr. Seuss in the funniest satire you may ever experience – in ANY season.  I LOVE THIS SHOW and recommend it highly.  At Orlando Shakes, call 407.447.1700 or visit orlandoshakes.org 

Orlando Shakes’ ‘EVERY Christmas Story Ever Told’

Josh Garrick is the Florida Arts Editor for Wandering Educators