By Josh Garrick
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Long before they were tapped as "ambassadors" of the re-birth of New Orleans after the hurricane, the jazzmen who make up Preservation Hall Jazz Band traveled the world spreading the art form of New Orleans Jazz. From legendary performances at Carnegie Hall, for British Royalty or the King of Thailand, their music embodies all that is joyful and timeless about the spirit of that great city. Named for Preservation Hall, their home in the heart of New Orleans' French Quarter, which to this day has no air conditioning or other accoutrements to welcome its guests. What it does have is one of the last pure music experiences left on Earth. This one-night-only performance will take place on June 1at 8 p.m. at our own legendary Plaza Theatre at 425 N. Bumby Ave. in downtown Orlando. Call 407-228-1220 or visit theplazatheatre.com for more information.
Mad Cow to 'rock the cradle'
"The Cradle Will Rock", a musical created during the Great Depression, is an extraordinary chapter in the history of American theater. Originally directed by Orson Welles, the production was shut down due to "budget cuts" within the government-sponsored Federal Theatre Project. It was widely believed, however, that it was closed because of accusations that it was pro-communist. In the spirit of the freedom of expression, Welles, producer John Houseman and author Mark Blitzstein rented a larger theater and sang, played and read the entire musical to an audience of people invited off the street to attend for free. Welles encouraged cast members to say their lines from the audience, thus exercising their right of free speech. The revolutionary musical was the first American musical written from a working-class perspective. This production of "The Cradle Will Rock" is directed by Mad Cow Theatre Artistic Director Alan Bruun with musical direction by Robin Jensen. Appropriately, the musical will run through July 4 at Mad Cow Theatre, 105 S. Magnolia Ave. in downtown Orlando. For more details, call 407-297-8788 or visit madcowtheatre.com.
Iconic sights of old Orlando
The Orange County Regional History Center in Downtown Orlando is offering its summer visitors a "tour of familiar sights around the city" in an exhibit called "Orlando Landmarks: Photo Transfers by Barbara Ery". On display through Aug. 8, fine art photographer Barbara Ery's collection of photos highlights landmark buildings including the Plaza Theatre and the Kress Building, and iconic signs at Johnson's Diner, McNamara Pontiac, and the Merita Bread bakery. Ery crafts original photo transfers using the Polaroid Transfer Process and develops the images on watercolor paper. For this exhibit, she produced the one-of-a-kind photo transfers of familiar Orlando landmarks to create a nostalgic effect reminiscent of browsing through an heirloom photo album. The Orange County Regional History Center is housed in the magnificently restored 1927 courthouse at 65 E. Central Blvd. in downtown Orlando. Call 407-836-8500 or visit www.thehistorycenter.org for more information.
Polasek Museum presents a 2-for-1
The oh-so-beautiful and always inventive Polasek Museum is running a pair of exhibits through June 30.
The first — "An Attraction to Abstraction: The Fluid Life of Bruce Gregory" presents a series of 1950s paintings by American artist Bruce Gregory. Gregory "liberated colors into broad areas, achieving dimensional contrasts of shape, color and form." Gregory (1917-2002) is best known as the artist who painted Fernand Léger's two abstract murals in the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations.
The second exhibit takes a look at the final years of 667 Osceola Ave., the tract of land adjacent to the museum's eastern property line. Since 1873, the site has been owned by several of Winter Park's 'historical residents,' only to become known as the 'hippie house.' "The Hippie House Revisited" shows paintings and photographs from the final years of the house, prior to the lot being purchased by the Museum in 2000. The Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens is located at 633 Osceola Ave. in Winter Park. Call 407-647-6294 or visit www.polasek.org for more details.