“Josh Recommends” for the Holiday Week of December 20, 2019 By Josh Garrick

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“Josh Recommends” for the Holiday Week of December 20, 2019 By Josh Garrick 

We’ve seen a lot of Holiday performances, and I’m thrilled to report that the following are presented with an extraordinarily high level of performing excellence. Christmas is almost here, but you still have time to take your family to the following HIGHLY RECOMMENDED performances. 

The NUTCRACKER at the Dr. Phillips Center 
NOW to Dec 23 
Every time the Orlando Ballet takes the stage at the Dr. Phillips Center, we are “wowed” by its increasingly “world-class” performances. The Orlando Ballet presents this cherished Holiday tradition, The NUTCRACKER – this season with lots of added FUN. As Tchaikovsky’s music soars, Clara’s dreams take us on a magical journey through snowflakes and waltzing flowers – this season with very professional LIVE music by the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra. Special congrats to Snow King and Queen Adam Boreland and Hitomi Nakamura – and ALL those snowflakes – for giving us a truly special ‘snowy day’ in Orlando. Visit drphillipscenter.org or call 844.513.2014
 

Dancers: Boris Ceballos & Kate-Lynn Robichaux; photograph by Michael Cairns. The NUTCRACKER at the Dr. Phillips Center with the Orlando Ballet
Dancers: Boris Ceballos & Kate-Lynn Robichaux; photograph by Michael Cairns

Phantasmagoria Returns with BRILLIANT “A Christmas Carol”
Dates below: If you have yet to see a production from the Orlando-based theatre troupe Phantasmagoria, you are forgiven – UP TILL NOW. This Holiday Season brings those “Steampunk Theater Ghouls” out in force to give us THE MOST BRILLIANT performance of “A Christmas Carol – EVER !! Dickens himself saw it as a ghost story. Remember -- Ghost of – Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and “the really scary one!!” The cirque-style troupe offers the most famous ghost story of all time with Producer John Didonna playing Scrooge – the role he was born to play. It is breathlessly brilliant. Remaining dates for this HIGHLY RECOMMENDED “A Christmas Carol” are: Dec 20 in Ocala at the Reilly Arts Center; Dec 21 in Sanford at the Wayne Densch Arts Center; and Dec 27 in Eustis at the Historical State Theater Visit PhantasmagoriaOrlando.com for tickets. PHANTASMAGORIA Returns with “A Christmas Carol – a Ghost Story”

Phantasmagoria Returns with BRILLIANT “A Christmas Carol”
Phantasmagoria Returns with BRILLIANT “A Christmas Carol”

The ONE-MAN “A Christmas Carol” 
December 22 & 23 
Coming just before Christmas Eve, the 22nd season of the One-Man "A Christmas Carol,” performed brilliantly by David McElroy and directed by Marylin McGinnis, will once again dazzle with an acting tour-de-force that must be seen to be believed. McElroy’s performance is touched by genius as he carries the story forward, sometimes changing characters without even taking a breath. A hat, a scarf, a candle is all he needs to passionately tell Dickens’ most beloved story. This HIGHLY RECOMMENDED performance may be seen at Penguin Point Productions in Oviedo, FL 
The ONE-MAN “A Christmas Carol” - Photo credit: Bonnie Sprung

The ONE-MAN “A Christmas Carol”
Photo credit: Bonnie Sprung

“Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” (at Orlando Shakes) 
NOW to December 29
A sequel to Jane Austen’s 'Pride and Prejudice' (set two years after the novel ends), “Miss Bennet” is a romantic comedy that this time features bookish middle-sister Mary as the unlikely heroine. The family gathers for Christmas and an unexpected guest sparks Mary’s hopes for an intellectual match (and possibly) even love. With a tip of the stove-pipe hat to Cameron Francis for a dazzling Arthur de Bourgh, who has NO clue as to the DIS-comforts of falling in love, he does come to realize that some Christmas wishes DO come true. Call 407.447.1700 or visit orlandoshakes.org 

“Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” (at Orlando Shakes)
“Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” (at Orlando Shakes)

“The Spitfire Grill” – a Musical -- at Mad Cow Theatre 
NOW to Dec 29 
The surprise hit of the Holiday Season has NO Christmas trees, and not one single candy cane. That said, “The Spitfire Grill” – at the Mad Cow – is a “country musical” in which the actors literally double as the mini-orchestra. The singing is magical – especially from Kari Ringer (in the lead) and Brittany Halen as her best friend. The ‘Grill’ is for sale (BUT with NO interested buyers) and the rest is a spoiler alert. Suffice to say that “The Spitfire Grill” is an inspiring celebration of love, self-revelation, and the power of what one (or two) (or three) persons can do. I’m a better person for having seen this heart-throb of a musical, and I thank this ensemble cast for giving from the heart. DO CALL 407.297.8788 or visit madcowtheatre.com  

“The Spitfire Grill” at Mad Cow Theatre
“The Spitfire Grill” at Mad Cow Theatre

… And Coming Up (I did NOT yet see these performances) … BUT I WILL 

“All is Calm” Premieres with Opera/Orlando – 
Dec 20 at 7 pm; 
Dec 21 at 2 pm & 7:30 pm
Dec 22 at 2 pm 
This fascinating Florida Opera Premiere from Opera/Orlando is the story of Christmas 1914 during World War I at the Western Front. From the violence and filth first came a period of silence and then came the song “Stille Nacht” (Silent Night) from a lone German soldier in ‘No Man’s Land.’ This act of bravery and faith led to an unimaginable night of camaraderie and “peace among men.” The 80-minute opera will be performed in the round at the Dr. Phillips Center. This HIGHLY RECOMMENDED event is yet one more reason to be proud of our young, but highly accomplished opera company. . Visit drphillipscenter.org or call 844.513.2014 

“All is Calm” Premieres with Opera/Orlando

National Ballet Theater of Odessa, Ukraine Presents Swan Lake
January 7 at 7:30 pm at the Dr. Phillips Center 
Considered to be the greatest ballet of all time, this full-scale production, with music by Tchaikovsky and choreography based on the original by Petipa and Ivanov, follows a heroic young prince as he battles to free a beautiful swan maiden from an evil spell. This is the company’s first visit to the US for this world-class ballet company – so why not begin with the best? Call 844.513.2014 or visit drphillipscenter.org 
National Ballet Theater of Odessa, Ukraine Presents Swan Lake
National Ballet Theater of Odessa, Ukraine Presents Swan Lake

Orlando Philharmonic Presents “Aretha: A Tribute to the Queen of Soul”
January 11 at 2 pm and 8 pm at the Bob Carr Theater 
A Tribute to the “Queen of Soul,” this program features Philharmonic favorite Capathia Jenkins – returning after the success of “A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald” – and three-time Grammy Award nominee Ryan Shaw performing such iconic hits as “Respect,” “Think,” “A Natural Woman,” “Chain of Fools,” “Amazing Grace,” and so many more. Visit drphillipscenter.org or call 844.513.2014
Orlando Philharmonic Presents “Aretha: A Tribute to the Queen of Soul”

The Glenn Miller Orchestra
January 12 at 3 pm at the Dr. Phillips Center 
With its unique jazz sound, the Glenn Miller Orchestra is one of the greatest bands of all time. Sought after for concert and swing dance engagements, the present Glenn Miller Orchestra was formed in 1956 and has toured consistently since 1956 -- playing an average of 300 live dates a year around the world. Mr. Miller said, “A band ought to have a sound all of its own. It ought to have a personality.” (It does!) Visit drphillipscenter.org or call 844.513.2014
The Glenn Miller Orchestra

Orlando Native MICHAEL SCOTT back in his role as GENIE in ALADDIN
Jan 22 to Feb 9 at Dr. Phillips Center 
“Aladdin,”is the hit musical based on the Academy Award-winning animated film that opened on Broadway in 2014 … AND has grossed over $1 billion since that Night!! I am very excited to report that Orlando native Michael James SCOTT, (who played the Genie on Broadway and in London), will “come home” to play the role in Orlando. A graduate of Dr. Phillips H.S, Scott has appeared in 8 Broadway productions. Call 844.513.2014 or visit drphillipscenter.org
Orlando Native MICHAEL SCOTT back in his role as GENIE in ALADDIN

Orlando Native MICHAEL SCOTT back in his role as GENIE in ALADDIN

Orlando Native Michael Scott reprises his role as GENIE in ALADDIN in Orlando

Orlando Native Michael Scott reprises his role as GENIE in ALADDIN in Orlando

NEW Cirque du Soleil Show at Disney to Begin Performances
While many feel that La Nouba’s unprecedented 20-year-run at Disney Springs was perhaps a decade too long, the new Cirque du Soleil being conceived in Montreal and coming to Disney World in March 2020 has announced its name –“Drawn to Life.” The show is a true collaboration between Cirque and Disney as it features the art of Disney Animation which Disney Imagineers describe as “the art of bringing characters to life through drawings.” “Drawn to Life” begins (preview) performances March 20. For tickets, visit cirquedusoleil.com or call 855.473.7783. 

NEW Cirque du Soleil Show at Disney to Begin Performances

Josh Garrick is the Florida Arts Editor for Wandering Educators