Local artist Josh Garrick gives his top five recommendations for upcoming arts and culture events in Central Florida.
1. ‘State of Excellence: Treasures from Florida Private Collections’
Through April 29 at the Orlando Museum of Art. One popular way for a museum to showcase unique works of art without the cost of traveling “blockbuster” exhibits is the growing trend for museums to “borrow” works from private collections, thereby showing works of interest that would not otherwise be seen by the public. In the Orlando Museum of Art’s new exhibit, 138 works of art are exhibited from private collections throughout the state of Florida. Not surprisingly, the exhibit focuses on American and European art, including paintings, sculpture and significant decorative artworks from the 16th to the mid-20th century. Walking tours, offered the first Wednesday of each month at 1:30 p.m., offer insights into the works and ideas as to “why” collectors collect. Call (407) 896-4231 or visit omart.org.
2. Seventh Annual Winter Garden Blues and BBQ Festival
4 to 10 p.m. Feb. 10 in downtown Winter Garden. It’s become an unwritten “law” that Southern barbecue be accompanied by blues and grassroots music, and Winter Garden has this equation worked out to perfection. Based out of the Downtown Pavilion at 104 Lakeview Ave., the admission and music is free with connoisseur barbecue, beer and wine available for purchase. Pairing award-winning musicians with award-winning barbecue promises a celebration of true Southern soul, with profits benefiting the Winter Garden Heritage Museum. Everyone associated with this year’s event seems to have a slogan (that works). First up on the music front is Ari & The Alibis, whose memorable sound is a fusion of blues, soul and rock infused with funk, jazz and samba. They say, “Everyone needs an alibi, and fusion artists ‘Ari and the Alibis’ give you one,” while Ocoee’s Black Market Ribs tell us, “We turned our passion into a profession.” Works for me. Call (407) 656-4155 or visit cwgdn.com.
3. ‘The Lion King’
Feb. 14 through March 11 at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. The unmistakable vibrations of “The Circle of Life” are headed our way. Twenty years ago, “The Lion King” won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical on Broadway, and in those 20 years, it has gone on to become the most successful Broadway musical in history. The leading touring company of “The Lion King,” directed by Julie Taymor (who directed the Broadway original) is now about to open at our magnificent Dr. Phillips Center. Having been presented in more than 100 cities, “The Lion King” has been seen by more than 90 million people, an amazing success story that exceeds any other show in box office history. Taymor, the first woman to win a Tony Award for Direction of a Musical, continues to supervise even more new productions while the Broadway score, featuring Elton John and Tim Rice’s music from the animated film, is now a part of our “Circle of Life.” Highly recommended is an understatement. Please do not miss this chance to see the most successful Broadway musical of all time. Tickets starting at $35 and may be purchased online at drphillipscenter.org or by calling 844-513-2014.
4. ‘Bernstein and the New World'
8 p.m. Feb 17, at the Bob Carr Theater. Join Conductor Eric Jacobsen as the Orlando Philharmonic celebrates the 100th birthday of one of America’s great musicians — Leonard Bernstein. The evening begins with the overture to “West Side Story,” after which the Sharks and the Jets make way for one of today’s most gifted pianists — Orli Shaham — in a performance of Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2. Bernstein would be world famous if the only thing he had done was compose “West Side Story,” but he was most famous as the longtime conductor of the New York Philharmonic. He also wrote the music for “Candide,” “Wonderful Town,” “On the Town,” “On the Waterfront” and “Mass,” along with three symphonies. Fortunately for many of us, the maestro was also famous for television lectures on classical music that were beamed across the country — introducing new audiences to the arts — before the letters PBS introduced America to the word “classical.” The celebratory evening concludes with one of the most popular of all symphonies — Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9. Call (407) 770-0071 or visit orlandophil.org.
5. ‘Dancing with the Stars: Live!’
Feb. 18 at the Bob Carr Theater. The crazy cold spell we’ve been experiencing doesn’t stand a chance when TV’s hottest show comes back to Orlando. “Dancing with the Stars: Live!” gives fans the opportunity to see the best ballroom dancers in the business perform at the Bob Carr Theater. There is passion everywhere as “Dancing: Live!” brings the costumes, pageantry and competitive fire of the hit ABC TV show on the road with some of the program’s most popular participants. More than 200 celebrities have been paired with professional ballroom dance instructors on the hit series. Note: There are VIP packages available for this performance. Call 844-513-2014 or visit drphillipscenter.org.