ORLANDO – In the final moments of the touring Broadway production “Ghost The Musical”, Sam (played by Steven Grant Douglas) kneels next to his beloved Molly (Katie Postotnik).
“I love you, Molly, I’ve always loved you,” Sam says. And after a moment’s pause, Molly responds, “Ditto.”
A few minutes later, after Sam has walked into the light and accepted his place in the other world, the show ends, the cast comes out for their curtain call, and then departs the stage.
On Sunday night, as the cast took their bow, the audience of about 1,100 patrons applauded wildly and enthusiastically, and then got up and moved for the exits, filing out of the orchestra and balcony sections of the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre in downtown Orlando.
That is, except for one middle-aged woman, who stayed in the lower balcony section for a few minutes, watching the crowd disappear, and then observing the crew from the “Ghost the Musical” production begin the task of dismantling the set.
She stood there a moment, watching, and then pulled out a camera, and started taking pictures of the stage.
“I wanted to get a picture,” she said, “because this is the last Broadway show here.”
And then she, too, left the auditorium.
On Sunday night at 9 p.m., history was made as the Bob Carr did in fact host its final ever Broadway production, ending a tradition at the performing arts center that started hosting touring Broadway productions — and allowing Central Florida audiences to watch shows once confined to the streets of New York City — in 1977, and would continue for the next 37 years.
“Ghost the Musical” closed out the 25th Anniversary Season of the Broadway Across America series at the Bob Carr, which started on Oct. 3 when the hit “Mama Mia” launched the new run of shows. It would be followed by “The Book of Mormon,” “Flashdance,” “Once,” “War Horse,” “Evita,” and “Jersey Boys,” before concluding with “Ghost the Musical.”
Traditionally, there would be no Broadway productions over the summer months and the Bob Carr would host other special events then, and the Broadway series would start up again in the fall.
But this year will be different. The next Broadway series, which opens in October, it will be at the new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on Magnolia Avenue across from City Hall. That’s why Sunday night’s performance of “Ghost the Musical” marked, especially for those who have been season ticket holders for years, the end of an era in Orlando.
There was a giant cake inside the Bob Carr for the theater’s employees, a show of thanks and appreciation for their hard work and dedication over the years. And there were reminders that the Bob Carr is not going away, and will continue to host musical, dance and theater performances – only, for those Broadway shows, no more.
The building known as the Bob Carr, which seats 2,518 people, has been a performing arts center since 1926, when it was known more simply as the Orlando Municipal Auditorum.
It was extensively renovated between 1975 and 1977, at a cost of more than $2 million, and renamed after Orlando’s former mayor, Bob Carr. The auditorium remains home to the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and the Florida Youth Symphony Orchestra, although the Bob Carr’s future remains unclear. It is now managed by Orlando Venues, the city organization that also manages the Amway Center and the Citrus Bowl, among other entertainment venues.
On Oct. 1, though, the Bob Carr will be taken over by the Dr. Phillips Center, which will be privately run by a board of directors.
In 2012 Mayor Buddy Dyer said the Bob Carr building may eventually get renovated and used as a world class video gaming competition complex.
Whatever it’s future, for thousands of longtime residents in Central Florida, the Bob Carr was the place to see great Broadway shows.
Only, not any more.
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