Local artist Josh Garrick gives his top five recommendations for upcoming arts and culture events in Central Florida.
1. “The Odd Couple”
Through Oct. 29. Prolific American playwright Neil Simon brought the messy Oscar Madison and fastidious Felix Ungar to the stage in 1965, winning the Tony for “Best Author of a Play.” “The Odd Couple” went on to enhance Neil Simon’s “comic hit-maker” reputation — first as a successful film and then as a TV series. But our comic playwright did not stop there. Simon brilliantly revised the play for a female cast in 1985. Add to this the clever folks at the Garden Theatre in Winter Garden, who have decided to present these opposite personalities in repertory with both male and female casts. (Too cool for school!) There’s even a discount if you see both plays! Call (407) 877-4736 or visit gardentheatre.org.
2. “Phantasmagoria VIII: The Chains of Fire”
Through Nov. 4. Phantasmagoria is Orlando’s own version of a Grand Guignol theatrical troupe, the original seen in Paris in 1897. Following in Guignol’s “creepy, graphic, brutal and bloody” footprints, Central Florida’s Phantasmagoria is the physical manifestation of Sanford’s theatrical genius John DiDonna. Our troupe comes off as a well-rehearsed rabble of “Steampunk Survivors” more dangerous than a band of traveling gypsies. They are joined on-stage by dancers, soldiers, puppeteers and fire-breathers as they embark on new journeys through the dark tales of Poe, Wilde, M.R. James and others. Trick or treat yourself to the all new “Phantasmagoria VIII” at the Shakespeare Center. Call (407) 476-5121 or visit phantasmagoriaorlando.com
3. “The (Comical) Hound of the Baskervilles”
Through Nov. 19. The Bard and his “minions” have chosen to give us Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles” in a cheeky — make that very tongue-in-cheek — version of Sir Arthur’s world-famous detective in one of the writer’s most famous novellas. Even Sir Arthur would find the humor in this version of Sherlock Holmes’ investigation of the Baskerville family where, one by one, the male heirs are dropping dead. Directed by Orlando Shakes’ comically inventive Artistic Director Jim Helsinger, (who is truly brilliant at this Monty Pythonesque theatricality), the play is made even more fun as three actors play a dozen roles. Call today for your tickets at (407) 447-1700 or visit orlandoshakes.org.
4. WILLIE NELSON & Family
8 p.m. Oct. 15. With a six-decade career and 200-plus albums, this iconic Texan is the creative genius behind the historic recordings “Crazy” and “Red Headed Stranger.” Willie Nelson has earned every conceivable award as a musician as well as being an author, actor and activist. He has created 10 new albums, released a New York Times’ bestseller book, headlined Farm Aid, launched his own cannabis company and was honored by the Library of Congress with the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song (Nelson was the first country artist to receive the distinguished award). 2016 saw the release of “Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin,” earning him a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album. Premium tickets are available for this concert at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Call 844-513-2014 or visit drphillipscenter.org.
5. The Orlando Big Band — “Swingin’n with the Big Band”
7:30 p.m. Oct. 21. The Orlando Big Band, a vintage 1940s orchestra, transports us to an era when America produced some of the greatest music of all time. Hear the music of Glenn Miller, Gene Krupa, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman and Cab Calloway for one night only as this 20-piece orchestra recreates the ’40s big-band sound at the Bob Carr Theater, 401 W. Livingston St. Call 844-513-2014 or visit drphillipscenter.org.