Josh Garrick: Culture for Your Calendar

The holiday season really gets going this weekend, with events across Central Florida.

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  • | 4:51 a.m. December 4, 2014
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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Now through Dec. 15 – The Phantom ‘haunts’ our new Performing Arts Center

Even without his usual notes of a most amiable nature, “The Phantom of the Opera” couldn’t wait to haunt our new Performing Arts Center. Taking over the Center through Dec. 15, the Phantom is up to his old tricks – threatening our chandeliers – in the touring production that Andrew Lloyd Weber called the best version yet. Read that as spookiest ever as this most successful musical in history arrives with new special effects that didn’t even exist when the musical first opened in 1986. Visit or call 800-448-6322.

Now through Dec. 28 – Get your “Bah Humbug” at Orlando Shakes

Considering the phenomenal success of their full-length “Nicholas Nickleby” (last season), expectations for Orlando Shakes’ new production of “A Christmas Carol” are magical. Written by Artistic Director Jim Helsinger, nine actors will bring Charles Dickens’ classic to life in a new production featuring the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge and visits from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Call 407-447-1700 or visit

Now through Jan. 11 – A Waterhouse (Museum) Christmas Carol

Maitland celebrates the holidays with the Victorian-era exhibit, “A Waterhouse Christmas Carol,” on display until Jan. 11. Drawing from Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” the historic Waterhouse Residence (built in 1884) is decorated to showcase Christmas traditions of the past, present and future. Waterhouse is one of five museums that make up the Art & History Museums – Maitland. The A&H’s Maitland Art Center was recently named a National Historic Landmark. Call 407-629-1532 or 407-539-2181 or visit

Dec. 5 to Jan. 4 – James Joyce's ‘The Dead’ at Mad Cow

Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is a ghost story, so why not celebrate the holiday season with James Joyce’s “The Dead” at Mad Cow Theatre from Dec. 5 to Jan. 4. Joyce's story is about a set of sisters gathered with family and friends at a Christmas party in turn-of-the-century Ireland. The Tony-Award nominated score, dances and festivities are pure Irish, but the themes of love, loss, joy and fear are universal. Call 407-297-8788 or visit

Dec. 5 to 7 – Marvel superheroes save the Amway Arena

OK, listen up: The fate of the universe depends on Marvel fans coming together from Dec. 5 to 7 at the Amway Arena for Marvel Universe LIVE! In this brand-new live show Marvel superheroes Spider-Man, the Avengers, Iron Man, Hulk and more, fight off the universe’s most dastardly villains. Hailed as the most technically advanced live show ever, the special effects, pyrotechnics, aerial stunts, martial arts, and motorcycles offer Marvel fans of all ages a monumental performance. Visit

Dec. 5 to 21 – ‘Christmas by Committee’ – A musical in Winter Garden

“Christmas by Committee” is an original, world-premiere musical written and directed by Rob Winn Anderson for the Garden Theater in Winter Garden. With old-fashioned “Let’s put on a show” energy, Amy plans to pull the annual Village Christmas show out of its slump. With spunk and holiday cheer, Amy must convince the town’s surly Christmas Committee that the show is about more than personal agendas. With song and dance, our holiday heroine comes to the rescue. Call 407-877-4736 or visit

Dec. 6 to 28 – Dickens by Candlelight – with tea and cookies

Of the many ways to experience Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” this season, the production Dickens by Candlelight brings us into the action by seating us at tables where we are served tea and cookies as the three actors (who play all the parts) act among us. The enormously talented John DiDonna will play Scrooge (and other characters) from Dec. 6 to 28 at the Shakespeare Theater – side-by-side with the production being offered by Orlando Shakes. That’s two different productions in the same theater complex, so please be sure of which tickets you order. Call 407-222-7669 or visit

Dec. 6 – ‘MAKULU’ – A contemporary African ballet

In a fusion of traditional African dance with contemporary ballet and modern dance, the Center for Contemporary Dance presents “MAKULU” on Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. The story of a mother wildebeest’s journey to reunite with her herd, “MAKULU” celebrates the magic of love and family. This spirited performance for the entire family offers the joy and exuberance of African dance in performance at Trinity Prep in Winter Park. Call 407-695-8366 or visit

Dec. 7 and 16 – Cordone & Kilgore’s holiday tribute to Steve & Eydie

Singers Natalie Cordone and Shawn Kilgore present a loving holiday tribute to the king and queen of the nightclub world in a concert, complete with a live band. Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme performed together for 55 years winning Grammys and Emmys along the way. Honoring them in song, Cordone and Kilgore present “Seasons Greetings: A Steve and Eydie Holiday Tribute” on Dec. 7 at Theatre Downtown in Orlando – tickets are $20 at 407-841-0083 – and Dec. 16 at 5 and 8 p.m. in The Villages – tickets are $23 at Call 407-256-1437 or visit

Dec. 9 – Kenny G live at Plaza Live

In a recording career spanning three decades and 23 albums, Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Kenny G has fused R&B, pop and Latin with jazz in ways that have solidified his reputation among the premiere artists in contemporary jazz. Since the ’80s, his instrumental chops and indelible melodies have resulted in sales of more than 75 million records worldwide and more than a dozen climbs to the top of Billboard's contemporary jazz chart. This jazz super-star brings his holiday show to Plaza Live in Orlando on Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. Call 407-228-1220 or visit

Dec. 13 and 14 – Central Florida Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’

Central Florida Ballet’s “Nutcracker” holds the title of “most entertaining Nutcracker” as featured in ABC Nightline News; named as “one of five outstanding productions in the entire nation” by CNN Headlines News; and – thanks to some on-stage fireworks – it was called “the pyrotechnic Nutcracker” by USA Today. This fusion of the Nutcracker – with a little bit of Cirque and those on-stage fireworks – makes this the fun version of the holiday classic. In performance Dec. 13 and 14 at the Orange County Convention Center, call 407-849-9948 or visit

Dec. 13 and 14 – Classic Christmas with the Bach Festival Choir & Orchestra

A Classic Christmas with the Bach Festival is a true Winter Park holiday tradition. On Dec. 13 and 14, the program will feature favorite Christmas works performed by the Bach Festival Choir, Youth Choir, and Orchestra in the beautiful Knowles Memorial Chapel on the campus of Rollins College. And this season, you can bring the holiday spirit home with “All is Bright: A Choral Christmas,” the CD available for purchase on the website. Visit


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