• Orlando Shakespeare Theater announces titles for 30th season

    By: Shelley Caran


    Orlando Shakespeare Theater (Orlando Shakes) in Partnership with UCF announces the upcoming productions for their 30th Anniversary Season. With Broadway’s original hip hop musical, two Shakespearean dramas, a hysterical Penny Dreadful parody, the return of a Christmas classic, a Tony Award nominated new drama, the World Premiere of a newly commissioned play, and a fresh twist on three classic fairy tales, the nationally renowned Theater's Season includes a wide range of productions to celebrate classic, contemporary, and children’s plays. 

    Orlando Shakes’ season opens in September 2018 with the multi-Tony Award-winning hip hop musical, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights. The modern musical tells the story of a vibrant community of Latinx characters in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. Equal parts earnest and energetic, the musical is lauded for its unique use of hip hop, salsa, merengue and soul music. It received four 2008 Tony Awards including Best Orchestrations, Best Musical and Best Score. 

    "Producing Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights provides Orlando Shakes with the opportunity to bring our community a new musical that celebrates the diverse melting pot that defines American culture," said Jim Helsinger, Orlando Shakes’ artistic director. "Broad musical influences united with a universal story, make this production a unique theatrical experience audiences won’t want to miss.

    The Signature Series will continue with The Mystery of Irma Vep - A Penny Dreadful, a hilarious Gothic spoof in which two actors play a multitude of roles. Back by popular demand, Jim Helsinger’s heartwarming adaptation of A Christmas Carol will arrive in time for the holiday season. Next up, the suspenseful, Tony Award nominated new play, A Doll’s House, Part 2, serves as a sequel to Ibsen’s classic drama. William Shakespeare’s revered tragedy Hamlet will play in repertory with the world premiere of Gertrude and Claudius, a prequel to Hamlet commissioned by Orlando Shakes, based on the novel by John Updike. Finally, the 30th Season will close with Shakespeare’s Richard II, a historic masterpiece in which a king discovers his humanity.

    "Our commission for Mark St Germain’s adaptation of Gertrude and Claudius, generously funded by John and Rita Lowndes, has been Rita’s passion project for many years," said Helsinger. "Staging the World Premiere in repertory with Hamlet gives audiences a chance to appreciate how the scripts dovetail to give us a deeper understanding of Shakespeare's work."

    The 2018-2019 Children's Series includes three family-friendly productions: dive under the sea with a new adaptation of The Little Mermaid by Brandon Roberts; go wild for April-Dawn Gladu’s fresh take on The Jungle Book; and explore a land above the clouds in Jack and the Beanstalk.

    "For our 30th Season Children’s Series, three familiar stories are given new life on stage," said Anne Hering, director of education at Orlando Shakes. "Through these classic fairy tales, young audiences see how an adventure can pave the way for self discovery and growth."

    Current Orlando Shakes subscribers may renew their subscription now by calling (407) 447-1700 ext. 1 or in person at the Box Office (812 East Rollins Street). New subscriptions will go on sale starting April 26, 2018.

    Individual tickets to The Little Mermaid will be available for purchase starting May 3, 2018. Group tickets (of 10 or more) are on sale now by calling the Box Office. Tickets to all remaining productions go on sale June 12, 2018. 2018-2019 titles and dates are subject to change; additional information about the season, including creative team and casting, will be announced at a later date. 

    This project is sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, and the State of Florida. 


    In the Heights

    Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda | Book by Quiara Alegría Hudes | Conceived By Lin-Manuel Miranda

    September 5 - October 7, 2018

    In the Heights tells the universal story of a vibrant community in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood – a place where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music. It’s a community on the brink of change, full of hopes, dreams, and pressures, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions you take with you, and which ones you leave behind. In the Heights is the winner of the 2008 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Score, Best Choreography, and Best Orchestrations.

    The Mystery of Irma Vep - A Penny Dreadful

    By Charles Ludlam 
    October 10 - November 18, 2018

    Vampire attacks, werewolf sightings, and the resurrection of an Egyptian princess make for an exciting start to married life for Lady Enid, Lord Edgar’s second wife. Set in mystical Gothic England, audiences will die laughing at this melodramatic farce – a quick-change marathon in which two actors play all the roles. “If Charlotte Brontë were to spend an afternoon bingeing on Hammer horror flicks, medicinal sherry and Jiffy Pop, perhaps she could dream up a tale as delirious as that of Irma Vep.” (The New York Times)

    A Christmas Carol

    By Jim Helsinger | Based on the novel by Charles Dickens

    November 28 - December 30, 2018
    Back by popular demand, celebrate the holidays with Dickens’ classic ghost tale! The miserly and miserable Ebenezer Scrooge greets each Christmas with a “bah humbug,” until he is visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. Nine actors tell the heartwarming story of one sleepless night, in which the spirits reveal cruel realities and a chance to change for the better.

    A Doll’s House, Part 2
    By Lucas Hnath
    January 2 - February 3, 2019

    In the final scene of Ibsen’s 1879 groundbreaking masterwork, Nora Helmer makes the shocking decision to leave her husband and children, and begin a life on her own. This climactic event—when Nora slams the door on everything in her life—instantly propelled world drama into the modern age. In A Doll’s House, Part 2, many years have passed since Nora’s exit. Now, there’s a knock on that same door. Nora has returned. But why? And what will it mean for those she left behind. 


    By William Shakespeare

    February 6 - March 24, 2019

    There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. While mourning his father’s sudden death, Prince Hamlet returns home to discover his mother hastily remarried and his despised uncle assuming the throne. When an apparition of the late king accuses the uncle of murder, Hamlet, pushed to the brink of madness, is driven to avenge a crime that could be the product of his own imagining. Torn between thought and action, the manic prince is left questioning what is real and what he alone has dreamed up. The cornerstone of Shakespeare’s genius, Hamlet walks the line between spiralling insanity and the truth.

    Gertrude and Claudius 
    By Mark St. Germain | An adaptation of John Updike’s novel
    February 20 - March 23, 2019

    Serving as a prequel to HamletGertrude and Claudius brings a new point of view to the classic tale of guilt and revenge. The infamous couple serve as the villains in Shakespeare’s work, but are offered a new exposition in this tale of good intentions and family dysfunction. With ominous hints at the familiar story to come, Gertrude and Claudius is a play that shakes up what you thought you knew about Elsinore. Funding for the commission of Gertrude and Claudius generously provided by Rita and John Lowndes.  

    Richard II
    By William Shakespeare
    March 27 - April 28, 2019

    I wasted time, and now doth time waste me. Convinced of his divine right to rule, King Richard II never expected to be undone by his own maladroit mortal wrongs. By brashly putting his own vanity before the needs of his kingdom, he creates the perfect opening for Henry Bolingbroke to seize the throne. Shakespeare’s deeply moving and insightful retelling reveals how one man’s bumbling mistakes can shape a nation’s political landscape and change the course of history. 


    The Little Mermaid

    Adapted by Brandon Roberts | Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale
    June 14 - July 29, 2018

    Curiosity killed the catfish… A precocious young mermaid dreams of visiting the Landside. Against the advice of her friends, she makes a deal with an evil sea witch for the chance to earn the love of a human prince. Danger is imminent, but how can she ignore what’s in her heart?

    The Jungle Book

    Adapted by April-Dawn Gladu | Based on the story by Rudyard Kipling

    October 18 - November 16, 2018

    What were you raised by, wolves? In Mowgli’s case, the answer is yes! Taken in by Mother Wolf as a baby, the now 11-year-old boy has grown to know the Jungle Law and the ways of the wild. When a cunning tiger seeks to settle an old score, it’s up to Mowgli and the pack to outsmart him. This retelling of the classic tale takes audiences on a thrilling journey through the Indian jungle! 

    Jack and the Beanstalk

    Playwright To Be Announced

    April 4 - May 4, 2019
    Will you dare to reach new heights? When a boy is down on his luck, a magic bean is all it takes to spark a great adventure! Amongst giants, mystery, and magic, join Jack on a thrilling escapade to a land above the clouds!

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