Go beyond the Fringe Festival – Orlando Sentinel

Tra-la is May…and that means only one thing in Central Florida: it’s time for the annual Orlando Fringe.

In fact, that is completely false. May means more than just one of Central Florida’s signature events. There are plenty of non-Fringe arts and cultural activities going on, whatever your artistic interest, and here’s a look at some of them.

FOR BROADWAY FANS: Central Florida Community Arts will celebrate the magic of theater in “Night on the Red Carpet II: Back to Broadway,” which will feature more than 220 performers on stage. The organization’s community choir, dance company and symphony orchestra will join forces to perform memorable songs such as “One Day More” from “Les Miserables” and “The Impossible Dream” from “Man of La Mancha” .

The songs were chosen to hold special meaning after the emotional turbulence of the shutdown caused by the pandemic. Among them: “You Will Be Found” from “Dear Evan Hansen”.

“So many people have felt lost, abandoned and forgotten during COVID. The inability to see friends was difficult for many,” says Brandon Fender, Director of Choral Programs at CFCArts. “This song represents the feeling that we have all found each other – or will find each other again after all that has happened – and that there is a place in the arts where each of us can feel like we belong.”

The concert will take place May 5 and 6 at Northland Church, 522 Dog Track Road in Longwood. Tickets start at $10; visit CFCArts.com/Red-Carpet.

If the show inspires you to attend an actual Broadway tour, remember that touring company “Beautiful” — Carole King’s musical based on the life of the songwriter — stops at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts May 13-15. Visit drphillips.org for more information.

Local theater productions during the month include The Ensemble Company’s “The Normal Heart,” a dramatic look at the 1980s AIDS crisis, performed May 6-15 at Penguin Point Productions in Oviedo (penguinpointproductions.com/tickets) . Additionally, Winter Park Playhouse presents the lighthearted country musical “Pump Boys and Dinettes” from May 13 to June 12 (winterparkplayhouse.org), and Celebration Theater Company descends on Bikini Bottom with “The SpongeBob Musical,” based on the character of cartoon . It will be performed at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts from May 6-15 (drphillipscenter.org).

FOR OPERA LOVERS: Opera Orlando’s next production, “Lizbeth,” tells the story of Lizzie Borden and her infamous axe. Did this 19th century New Englander murder her parents? A jury said no, public opinion has never been so adamant. The 60-minute opera, by Thomas Albert and Lindé Hayen Herman, is sung in English.

Ann McMahon Quintero will play the enigmatic title role, with conductor Noam Aviel leading the musicians of the Alterity Chamber Orchestra. The show will take place May 20 and 22 at Harriett’s Orlando Ballet Center, 600 N. Lake Formosa Drive in Orlando. Tickets are $50; visit operaorlando.org.

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FOR CABARET LOVERS: Johnathan Lee Iverson will premiere “The Last Ringmaster: A Musical Journey from Choirboy to the Big Top” at Winter Park Playhouse May 18-19. As the title suggests, Iverson was ringmaster with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. As a youth, he sang with the Harlem Boys Choir. Playhouse patrons will remember him from the theatrical production of “Trav’lin: A 1930′s Harlem Musical Romance.” His most unusual credit? His name was the answer to a question about “Jeopardy!”

“The Last Ringmaster” will follow Iverson’s entertaining journey through history and song. Christopher Leavy accompanies and tickets are $20 plus a drink at the bar. Go to winterparkplayhouse.org.

FOR MUSIC LOVERS: The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra has several concerts throughout the month. On May 7 and 8, he presents the timeless “Carmina Burana” with his magnificent “O Fortuna” at the Steinmetz Hall of the Dr. Phillips Center. This is followed a week later on May 14 by a visit from the John Pizzarelli Trio as the music master performs tunes from The Great American Songbook of Standards. Tickets for each concert start at $35 at drphillipscenter.org.

Most intriguing of all: The Philharmonic Orchestra will perform at Creative City Project’s “The Seasons” on May 27-28. Vivaldi’s four-part work will move audiences throughout the year, complete with lighting, food and drink projections and special seasonal effects. (Hmm, should we bring an umbrella?) Tickets start at $35 for the show at Plaza Live, 425 N. Bumby Ave. in Orlando; visit creativecityproject.com/theseasons.

FOR COMEDY LOVERS: Wanda Sykes, the comedian who has appeared on TV shows such as “Black-ish” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” performs her comedy at the Dr. Phillips Center on May 12. You can find out what the recent Oscars host finds funny these days; tickets start at $39.50, visit drphillipscenter.org.

AND FOR THE FRINGE: The main preview of local artists at Loch Haven Park at this year’s Orlando Fringe Festival has passed, but a special preview of local artists performing at the festival’s off-campus venues will take place at 8 p.m. on May 9 at The Abbey, 100 S. Eola Drive to Orlando. Tickets are $10 on eventbrite.com. National and international artists will premiere at 7 p.m. on the first night of the festival, May 17, at Loch Haven Park off Princeton Street between Orange and Mills Avenues. Tickets are $15 at orlandofringe.org. The Fringe will run until Memorial Day, May 30.

Find me on Twitter @matt_on_arts, facebook.com/matthew.j.palm or write to me at [email protected]. Want more theater and arts news and reviews? Go to orlandosentinel.com/arts. For more fun things, follow @fun.things.orlando on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

About Madeline J. Carter

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