About Michael W Freeman

Michael W. Freeman is a veteran journalist, playwright and author. Born and raised in Fall River, Massachusetts, he has lived in Orlando since 2002. Michael has worked for some of Florida’s largest newspapers, including The Orlando Sentinel. His original plays have draw strong audiences at the Orlando Fringe Festival. He is the author of the novels “Bloody Rabbit” and “Koby’s New Home.”

Phantasmagoria meets Dickens in a new “A Christmas Carol”

Phantasmagoria “A Christmas Carol” opens this Friday.


ORLANDO — For years, theater director John DiDonna has been a familiar face to Orlando area audiences for his annual productions of Charles Dickens’ holiday classic “A Christmas Carol,” known as “Dickens By Candlelight” and featuring a three-member cast that played all the roles — by candlelight.

DiDonna is back this year with a new production of “A Christmas Carol” — but this time, he’s taking it in a new direction, by merging Dickens with Phantasmagoria, his long-running series about a circus-like troupe of performers who reenact chilling tales of terror.

Opening this Friday is “Phantasmagoria’s A Christ Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas” at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center. This is an opportunity to celebrate the season as Phantasmagoria presents its own unique adaptation of the Dickens’ classic, featuring not just Tiny Tim and Scrooge, but also dance, puppetry, projections, music and the recreation of one of the most famous ghost stories of all time.

Freeline Media sat down with John to find out what his new production, which opens on Friday, is all about.

Freeline Media: You’ve had a long, successful run around Christmas time doing the production “Dickens By Candlelight.” How did “A Christmas Carol” get merged this year with the troop at Phantasmagoria? Continue reading

Yoga and animal adoptions merge in a special event on Saturday

Cats and yoga
TAVARES — How do you combine our love for exercising, healthy living and physical fitness … with a love for cats?

That’s easy. It’s call “Meowga”!

Or, as Elisha Pappacoda, the public information officer for the Lake County government noted, “You bring the yoga mats, we bring the shelter cats!”

This event is being held on Saturday, Nov. 4 at 10 a.m. at the Lake County Extension Center, 1951 Woodlea Road in Tavares, as a way to have fun with a certified yoga instructor leading the class, but also as a way to raise awareness of the need to find homes for the cats and dogs now in the Lake County Animal Shelter.

It was the Animal Shelter and LEASH Inc. – an organization that works to ensure that feral cats are spayed and neutered – organized Meowga as a way for residents to get together and relax, stretch and unwind – surrounded, of course, by carefree felines from the shelter. Who knows, maybe one of the participants will decide they want to adopt one of the cats, too. Continue reading

Review: Teens presenting a superb version of “The Diary of Anne Frank”

Diary of Anne Frank Hagerty High

The Hagerty High School Purebred Productions just did a superb production of the Holocaust drama “The Diary of Anne Frank.”

OVIEDO — There’s a tendency among us “serious” community theater folks to shun high school productions, perhaps with the mistaken impression that it’s going to be something quaint, thoroughly unprofessional, and valued mainly by parents cheering on their teens. You know how us highbrow types don’t have time for that.

High school theater departments would no doubt beg to differ, and insist that with dedicated drama teachers and students who have developed a passion for acting and delivering a powerful story to the audience, they’re just as capable as any professional theater company of doing extraordinarily good work.

Hey, and guess what — they’re right.

A striking example of that goes to the theater department at Hagerty High School, where their PureBred Productions team of director Trevor Southworth and his very gifted student performers spent this weekend delivering a searing production of the Holocaust drama “The Diary of Anne Frank.”

Performed in the Hagerty High auditorium, the vast stage lent itself quite well to the set design of the Amsterdam attic where Anne Frank and her family hid with other fleeing Jews from the Nazis. The set included multiple rooms and even the stairs leading to the roof, where the kids could spend some time away from the adults. Continue reading

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