April 22 to May 8 – Mad Cow’s 14th annual Cabaret Festival
Yes, Virginia — America’s definitely got talent. Over the course of 17 days, Mad Cow Theatre will host 32 performances, ranging from jazz to pop to Broadway to comedy and more. Headliners for the 14th annual Cabaret Festival include Broadway star Andrea McArdle, a leading lady since she played the very first “Annie” in the Broadway show of the same name; a cappella sensation the Edge Effect; Orlando's own Broadway powerhouse Michelle Knight; and up-and-coming cabaret star Jesse Luttrell. The Festival runs through May 8 at the Mad Cow’s home at 54 W. Church St. in downtown Orlando. Call 407-297-8788 or visit madcowtheatre.com
April 22, 23 & 24 – Opera Orlando enjoys ‘Boisterous Rebirth’
It's a celebration as opera returns to the Dr. Phillips Center with the newly renamed Opera Orlando. Their “Boisterous Rebirth” is a double bill of a play-within-a-play featuring Mozart’s “Impresario” (updated to modern-day Orlando) and Poulenc's “Les Mamelles De Tiresias.” With a cast including Julia Foster and Gabriel Preisser, the stars are joined by the Opera Orlando Children's Chorus and members of the Orlando Philharmonic, led by Conductor Michael Sakir. The charming Eric Pinder serves as stage director and script adapter with an informative ‘pre-performance presentation’ offered free one hour before each performance. Call 844-513-2014 or visit operaorlando.org
April 23 – Twice the fun at Shakespeare's 452nd birthday party!
Yay! Celebrate Shakespeare's 452nd birthday with expert party-goers Elephant and Piggie on April 23 at 11 a.m. at the Main Branch of the Orlando Public Library for a special interactive story time with Orlando Shakespeare’s “Elephant & Piggie.” Then, on April 23 at 1 p.m. – in the Darden Courtyard behind the Shakespeare Center – hard partying Elephant and Piggie will be there with games, prizes, and a birthday sing-a-long for another party and story time. Both parties are free (no reservations required) Visit orlandoshakes.org
April 23 – Orlando Gay Chorus offers free concert
Celebrating their 25th anniversary, the Orlando Gay Chorus will take the Florida Blue Concert stage with a line-up of pop and Broadway favorites to celebrate the decades. The 100 male and female voices of the Orlando Gay Chorus are on a mission to offer music to help “change images and attitudes, build a stronger community, and make the world a better place.” The all-volunteer chorus includes gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, along with some straight friends, all held to high performance standards. Bottom line – it’s free and you’ll love it. No tickets required for this free performance on the lawn at the Dr. Phillips Center at 5 p.m.
April 24 – Music at the Casa presents Josh Wilson & Friends
I first met Josh Wilson when he played at my opening at Henao Contemporary Center, and I can happily attest to his ability to bring the right mood to any event. At Casa Feliz, Joshua Glenn Wilson is joined by friends who share sounds ranging from opera to musical theatre and jazz standards. Josh is associate music director and bandleader at Trinity Lutheran Church and joins Casa Feliz to explore the ways our lives influence the music we make. The music starts at noon. Casa Feliz is at 656 N. Park Ave. in Winter Park. Call 407-628-8200 or visit casafeliz.us
April 24 to 30 – The eighth annual Winter Park Paint Out – free all week
Plein air is a French term meaning “in the open air,” and describes artworks painted outdoors with the subject in view. The Albin Polasek Museum will host its eighth annual Winter Park Paint Out with 25 professional plein air artists working around Winter Park, capturing our favorite landscapes and landmarks with oils, watercolors and pastels. Whether you’re an art lover, patron, or simply curious to see artists in action, stop by the museum, which will be open free through the entire week, to see the latest from these artists. Completed paintings will hang in the Wet Room where these one-of-a kind works may be purchased as soon as they are hung on the wall. Call 407-647-6294 or visit polasek.org for a complete schedule of events.
April 27 – The ‘daredevil’ string quartet – Brooklyn Rider
Maestro Eric Jacobsen’s best buds who make up the contemporary music sensation Brooklyn Rider will join forces for a fundraiser celebrating Maestro’s first season as Orlando Philharmonic music director and the first stage of renovations to The Plaza Live. Begin with cocktails at 5:30 p.m. followed by dinner with music by Eric Jacobsen and his brother Colin, all taking place in the renovated rehearsal hall. The concert begins at 8 p.m. after which everyone is invited to a reception with desserts and the opportunity to explore the newly completed renovations. Dinner and concert packages are $250 per person; concert-only tickets are $45, $75 and $95. For the dinner/concert package call 407-896-6700, ext. 234, or visit orlandophil.org
April 28, 29 & 30 – ‘Into the Woods’ junior
It was inevitable that the Broadway musical “Into the Woods,” a musical fairy tale including the characters Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Jack (of Beanstalk fame), would be turned into a young people’s version. One featured performer in the upcoming four performances is Zak Zweifel, perhaps the youngest working magician in Florida. As Zak prepares for the role of Jack, he promises he will never abandon a certain retirement home where he performs for charity. “That was where I began,” he says. “I will always go back.” Visit http://hfcschool.com/genesian-players-drama-club. Tickets are $7 each, or $10 each at the door. Shows are at Holy Family Catholic Church at 5125 S. Apopka-Vineland Road in Orlando.
April 29 to May 1 – Orlando Ballet presents ‘Beauty and the Beast’
Orlando Ballet's “Beauty & the Beast” is a re-interpretation of this classic tale. From the Beast’s imposing castle to the enchanted forest, this ancient love story illustrates the power of love through inventive choreography and a mythic cast of characters. With original music – composed by Orlando’s own Arcadian Broad – the CFCArts Symphony will join the Ballet for the performances. This partnership will result in a 35-piece orchestra of local musicians to perform music written by an Orlando composer to accompany the Orlando Ballet for the run of “Beauty and the Beast.” Call that “Orlando proud,” and call 844-513-2014 or visit drphillipscenter.org for tickets
April 29 to May 29 – ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ – a splashy musical for the whole family
Directed by the magically talented Rob Winn Anderson, the Garden Theatre’s big annual musical has become a must-see event. The live staging of one of the great movie musicals of all time offers a tinsel-town starlet, a handsome leading man and a love affair that could change lives while making (or breaking) careers. Taking us back to the time of silent movies, this classic is chock full of unforgettable songs and dancing that changed musicals for all time. At the beautiful Garden Theatre in Winter Garden, call 407-877-4736 or visit gardentheatre.org
April 30 – Ballet Fedotov presents ‘The Snow Queen’
Ballet fans take note! Ballet Fedotov and the Russian Ballet Alafaya will present the world premiere of “Snow Queen,” a ballet adaptation of the tale by Hans Christian Andersen. The power of love triumphs over evil when young Kai is taken by the wicked Snow Queen. It takes faith and courage to find Kai, and love to rescue him. With original choreography by Vadim Fedotov, and an original score by David Goldstein, the production features stunning new costumes and sets. Performed by an integrated cast of professional dancers with the dancers of Russian Ballet Alafaya, the two performances will be presented at the Dr. Phillips Center.
April 30 – Corks, Caladiums & Canvases in Gotha
Nehrling Gardens, the 1885 home of horticulturalist Henry Nehrling, is the garden property where he experimented with over 3,000 new plants for the Bureau of Plant Industry, now the USDA. Visited by thousands of tourists, including Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas Edison, this event invites us to step back in time and stroll through the Gardens at sunset. Sample a variety of food and wine from regions where the plants originated; view artists at work, with original art for purchase; listen to live music; and visit the gift shop. It’s at 2267 Hempel Ave. in Gotha, and tickets are $55 advance, $65 at the door. Visit nehrlinggardens.org
April 30 & May 1 – The annual St. Johns River Festival of the Arts
On April 30 and May 1, historic downtown Sanford will be transformed into an artist mecca for the fourth annual St. John's River Festival of the Arts. It’s a great time of year to stroll those historic brick streets filled with arts and crafts from over 150 artists from across the country. See live demonstrations, create your own piece of artwork and enjoy gourmet food offerings while listening to live musicians. Chalk artists will add even more color to the streets as you seek out that perfect piece of original art to add to your collection. Visit stjohnsriverartfest.com
May 1 – ‘42nd Street’ – The Broadway musical
It’s one performance only, and it’s the Broadway musical – the biggest and the greatest. Drawn from the 1930s Busby Berkeley movie musicals that helped our ancestors forget the Great Depression for an hour or two, this show offers some of the greatest dancing and some of the greatest songs ever written including “We’re in the Money,” “Dames,” “I Only Have Eyes for You,” and the can’t-sit-still-in-your-seat “42nd Street.” At the Peabody Auditorium in Daytona Beach, visit PeabodyDaytona.com or call 800-982-ARTS.