Florida Culture for the Week of May 16, 2016 by Josh Garrick


Florida Culture for the Week of May 16, 2016 by Josh Garrick

Some very special things happened in the past week for some very special people.  It is my great pleasure to begin this week’s column with CONGRATULATIONS to … 

Congratulations to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer – the greatest Mayor in the World -- as he receives the Harvey Milk Diversity Award’s much-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award for “his constant efforts to create an inclusive government that promotes diversity and embraces change.  He has put Orlando on the map with a perfect score of 100 in the 2015 Human Rights Municipality Equality Index.”  
 Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer
 Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer wins award

Congratulations to Allison Walker and Ted Torres – so very much in love and married on a perfect Central Florida day – May 15.  There is so much love and so much talent between the two of them; all your multitudes of fans send you LOVE and wishes for nothing-but- happiness together.  Allison is the beautiful, Emmy-award winning entertainment reporter for News 13, winning the Emmy for her high-profile “On The Town” franchise while Ted is the heart-throb singer who travels the world ‘channeling’ and paying remarkable ‘tribute’ to Elvis. 
Congratulations to Allison Walker and Ted Torres


Congratulations to Gretchen Hahn, Owner/Creative Director of Green Grass Marketing, who has been appointed to The Mennello Museum Board of Trustees.  Appointed by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Gretchen was chosen based upon her experience, integrity and involvement in the community. So true -- Gretchen has the kind of real-world, hard-work attitude that is so needed in advising a museum in the 21st Century. The skills Gretchen brings to this position in marketing and communications will help the Museum reach a wider (and more aware) audience.
Gretchen Hahn

Congratulations to ‘Dream Catchers’ – Lillian Verkins & Fay Samimi, multiple Award-Winning Artists and friends Lillian Verkins, painter, and Fay Samimi, ceramic sculptor, will ‘share’ the Henao Contemporary Center’s Main Gallery Space with their new exhibit entitled ‘Dream Catchers.’  Their Opening Night – with the Public invited – takes place on June 4 beginning at 7 pm with the exhibit running through July 17. Lillian and Fay invite everyone to the Opening at the Henao Center at 5601 N. Edgewater Drive in Orlando. Visit henaocenter.com 
‘Dream Catchers’ Lillian Verkins & Fay Samimi

Congratulations to Katia Garza and Israel Rodriguez for sharing their extraordinary talent as special Guest Stars of the 10th Anniversary World Ballet Competition Gala Performance to be presented on June 18 in Orlando. Not only has Katia’s film come out recently in Blu-ray but Israel, the first American to dance the full-length Spartacus in the U.S., will join his wife Katia – for the first time ever -- performing the Spartacus Love pas de deux at the Gala. The one-performance-only-event is at the Linda Chapin Theater at the Orange County Convention Center.  Visit worldballetcompetition.com
 Katia Garza
Israel Rodriguez

Congratulations to DISNEY WORLD for Making it ‘Real’ and Opening the ‘Springs’
Disney Springs, the magically transformed Downtown Disney, opened the last of its four ‘districts’ yesterday – an indoor/outdoor mall with new retailers and a new Town Center. Disney designed every building to relate to the Springs including the happy surprise that the new parking garages are (currently at least) FREE. The Landing area includes most of the new dining options including the spectacular Boathouse (with the 1960’s cars that travel on water) and every restaurant seat with a water view. When completed, the Town Center will house 35 new retailers including a new SPRINKLES and a ‘Coca-Cola attraction store’ complete with rooftop tasting bar. 
Congratulations to DISNEY WORLD for Making it ‘Real’ and Opening the ‘Springs’ Disney Springs

And He Said, “Let it be Known,” SPRINKLES, The Cupcakery is OPEN 
The much-anticipated opening of Disney Springs on May 15 was soooo much sweeter for this “foodie,” because I was invited to stop in and have a personal taste at the brand-new SPRINKLES 
Cupcakery. Trust me, I expected very good, but from my very first bite of my Double-Chocolate SPRINKLES Cupcake … the heavens opened and choirs of angels sang to me, telling me that I had achieved Nirvana on Earth.  I have never – in my life – LOVED a food item as I do SPRINKLES Cupcakes. This is not a simple food – from that first bite, with ‘fresh-baked’ proclaiming itself from the moist, sweet cake hidden under a double-thick mound of chocolate icing (now preferred to fudge or any lesser form of …candy), it became clear to me that SPRINKLES would NOT be enjoyed only on days of privilege or celebration; SPRINKLES cupcakes should have their own food-group designation. After realizing I was numb with ecstasy, I looked at my photographer and asked the obvious question. “What is IN this cupcake?”  Founder Candace Nelson, may she be blessed all her days, has sugar and flour to work with, just as any other human.  … unless Ms. Nelson has come to us from another planet with secret ingredients so that we will build her a pyramid. Maintain this sugary magnificence, and I will step forward and say, “Pick me.”  My theory is even more sound as we learn that SPRINKLES is the world’s first cupcake bakery, AND this is the largest Sprinkles, (not only because it’s at Disney, but because this store offers ice cream and cookies, in addition to “the precious”).  There is even a Cupcake ATM, which is a 21st Century automat dispensing fresh cupcakes to cognoscenti who “need” their cupcake without taking the time to enter the store. Those ‘enlightened ones’ can slip a charge card into the divine machine and walk away with a cupcake. I loved the carrot cupcake, and loved the salty caramel causing me to wonder – How did we live WITHOUT the taste of salty caramel when I was growing up?  The Double Chocolate is likely to remain my favorite, but Ms. Nelson’s smiling ‘Minions,’ trained to direct us to the Red Velvet, are correct in the magical mystery of that extraordinarily tasty creation. Cupcake, ice cream, and cookie flavors may be seen by visiting SPRINKLES.COM, and imagine – SPRINKLES DELIVERS!!!  SPRINKLES new store at Disney Springs is open daily from 10 am to midnight with the ATM operating from 8 am to 2 am. For delivery, menus and more call 888.220.2210 or visit SPRINKLES.com.
Sprinkles cupcakes at Disney Springs
Sprinkles cupcakes at Disney Springs

The Orlando International Fringe Festival’s 25th Anniversary Season
The Orlando Fringe Festival takes over Loch Haven Park for the last two weeks of May to celebrate Fringe’s 25th Anniversary with 800 non-juried and non-censored performances, an outdoor stage, Visual Fringe, Kid’s Fringe, and a BEER Tent. As I’ll be seeing the NEW shows with you, I’ve chosen to recommend a few performances that I guarantee will keep your attention (for one reason or another).  AND YOU must BUY a BUTTON.  
The Orlando International Fringe Festival’s 25th Anniversary Season
May 18 to 28 -- Orlando Icons Elizabeth Murff and Peg O'Keef Fringe Together – Again 
Elizabeth Murff and Peg O’Keefe are brilliant alone and ‘magical’ when performing together on the same stage. They became Orlando Sentinel's "Best of 2015,” and this year they reunite with playwright John Ryan in a dark comedy about the spirits and lunatics that go ‘bump in the night’ inside a funeral home in Central Florida's swankiest town. Once this playlet works on your mind, you’ll reconsider heels before you sashay away down Park Avenue … after dark …
Orlando Icons Elizabeth Murff and Peg O'Keef Fringe Together at Orlando Fringe

May 18 to 29 -- Breakthrough Theatre Presents Tom Eyen’s Women Behind Bars
Breakthrough brings the classic comedy, "Women Behind Bars" to the Fringe with Wade Hair directing this nasty/funny satire of B-movies of the 1950's. Pathetically innocent Mary Eleanor lands in the Greenwich Village Woman's House of Detention presided over by a massive matron with a taste for sadism, who forces our heroine to learn about life ‘The Hard Way.’ All tickets -  $11 at the Shakespeare Center. 
Breakthrough Theatre Presents Tom Eyen’s Women Behind Bars at Orlando Fringe

May 19 to May 29 – Louisa May’s Little Ladies with ATTITUDE 
Join the ‘March Sisters’ as they spit rhymes and kick it ‘Old School-House,’ Lil' Women is BACK at Orlando Fringe. Originally debuted at Fringe 2012, the new version has added songs and scenes. Combining the classic “Little Women” with hip hop music, the show is written by Lindsay Taylor and Sara Stock. Directed by award-winning Lindsay Taylor, Lil’ Women fuses the book’s 19th century atmosphere and mores’ with hip-hop and rhyme. Tickets at $11 at orlandofringe.org
Louisa May’s Little Ladies with ATTITUDE

May 21, 22, 28 & 29 – PHANTASMAGORIA’s –“Wickeder Little Tales”  
In FOUR performances only, "one of the most unique theater troupes in the country”* will bring haunting and whimsical tales of horror, Phantastic dance, music, stage combat, large-scale puppetry and seductive storytelling to the Shakespeare Center in Loch Haven Park. Tickets are $11 at orlandofringe.org or Onsite Box Offices. *Quote from Good Day Atlanta; visit PhantasmagoriaOrlando.com 
PHANTASMAGORIA’s –“Wickeder Little Tales”

May 20 – Fernando Varela Concert to Benefit Coalition for the Homeless
Every day, the Coalition for the Homeless serves over 600 homeless men, women and children in Central Florida, working to transform their lives by providing services needed to END their crisis. On May 20 the Coalition invites you to an extraordinary concert evening beginning with a reception including beverages and hors d'oeuvres, a silent auction and raffle, followed by a concert at Hard Rock Live starring Fernando Varela, William Joseph, and guests to benefit Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. Please call 407.426.1250 or visit centralfloridahomeless.org 
Fernando Varela Concert to Benefit Coalition for the Homeless

May 20 at 6:30 pm – Live Jazz Concert under the Stars with Dinner and more … 
The Alfond Inn’s new “Get Your Jazz On” season features the Chris Cortez Quartet on May 20 in an event for ALL the senses. The evening begins with vocalist and band leader Chris Cortez celebrating his recently released 6th solo CD, “Aunt Nasty.” The concert is accompanied by wine, spirits and seasonal cocktails, roast chicken, smoked pig, vegetarian selection, cigars and valet parking. Tix are $45 online or $50 at the door with all profits endowing Rollins College Scholarships. Visit thealfondinn.com or call 407.998. 8089
Live Jazz Concert under the Stars with Dinner and more
Live Jazz Concert under the Stars with Dinner and more

May 20 & 21 – Special Olympics Florida 2016 Games at Disney Wide World of Sport
1,800 athletes from across Florida plus 1,500 coaches, volunteers, and family members will enjoy the Special Olympics Summer Games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Disney World Resort, and ALL events FREE to the public. Special Olympics Florida provides year-round sports training to children and adults with intellectual disabilities at NO COST to the athletes or their caregivers. Please see specialolympicsflorida.org for a detailed schedule of track and field, cycling, soccer, tennis and volleyball.
Special Olympics Florida 2016 Games at Disney Wide World of Sport

May 21 at 9:30 am – Casa Feliz Hosts 10th Annual James Gamble Rogers Colloquium
Celebrating Winter Park’s rich architectural resources, Casa Feliz hosts its 10th annual James Gamble Rogers Colloquium on Historic Preservation featuring preservationist Donovan Rypkema on the topic “Historic Preservation and Economics: Recent Lessons from Home and Abroad.” After lunch at Rollins College, the day concludes with “Grand Dames of Winter Park,” a charter bus tour of some of the area’s oldest and grandest homes. Full day ticket with catered lunch is $75/each. For more, contact Betsy Owens at 407-628-8196 or bowens[at]casafeliz.us
 Casa Feliz Hosts 10th Annual James Gamble Rogers Colloquium

May 21 at 3 pm – Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood Live!
The legacy of Mister Rogers lives on with the hit television series “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” airing daily on PBS KIDS. Daniel and his friends are coming to the Dr. Phillips Center with “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live!” an interactive musical adventure sharing themes of friendship and helping others. This live theater production, filled with singing, dancing, and laughter, will thrill your sophisticated young theater-goers. Call 844.513.2014 or visit drphillipscenter.org 
 Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood Live!

May 21 at 6.45 pm – The Heart of Florida United Way’s 24th Annual Chef’s Gala
THE pre-eminent ‘foodie’ event of the year, the Heart of Florida United Way’s annual Chef’s Gala features 25 of Florida’s finest chefs preparing gourmet ‘tastings’ (and desserts!!!) EACH paired with a hand-selected wine to complement their creation. Festivities begin May 21 at 6:45 pm as the sparkling wine begins to flow (along with a silent auction) at Walt Disney World. All this ‘wonderfulness’ provides funds to benefit human service programs vital to Central Floridians in need, and – with the purchase of a ticket to the Chef’s Gala – we can help! Call 407.429.2129 or visit hfuw.org
The Heart of Florida United Way’s 24th Annual Chef’s Gala
The Heart of Florida United Way’s 24th Annual Chef’s Gala

May 21 thru Summer – The ?Puzzling? Mindbender Mansion at Orlando Science Center 
Visitors to the ?Mindbender Mansion? at the Orlando Science Center (OSC) are greeted by the wacky Mr. E., Master Brainteaser, who explains how to gather hidden clues and secret passwords. Perfect for the whole family, visitors find tabletop brainteasers they can solve on their own and larger group challenges including the Feeding Frenzy-Kitchen, a Flying Machine, Spelling Fever-Hopscotch (with letter squares that light up), and the Amazing Maze. There are 40 brain-teasers and 5 full-body-and-mind activities in this exhibit. Complete the tasks and your young ones can add their portraits to the “Wall of Fame.” Visit osc.org
The ?Puzzling? Mindbender Mansion at Orlando Science Center
The ?Puzzling? Mindbender Mansion at Orlando Science Center

May 26 to 29 – MegaCon at the Orange County Convention Center
MegaCon is a comics, sci-fi, horror, anime, and gaming event in Orlando, Florida, packed with family-friendly activities and celebrity guests. The pop culture extravaganza is host to thousands of fans at the Orange County Convention Center, BECAUSE it offers a World Premiere screening of ‘Star Trek Continues,’ a REAL wedding ceremony, celebrity photo and autograph sessions, a special ticket Jay & Silent Bob Evening, panels, Q&A’s, Artist Alley, small press pavilion, tattoo pavilion, costume contest, kid’s zone, and over 650,000 square feet of celebrity spotting and shopping madness. Visit MegaConvention.com
 MegaCon at the Orange County Convention Center
 MegaCon at the Orange County Convention Center


Josh Garrick is the Florida Arts Editor for Wandering Educators