ORLANDO — Orlando Shakes, which is wrapping up its 34th season with its upcoming production of Kinky Boots on April 5, is eager to excite the theater going public with the announcement of their lineup of shows when their new season kicks off in August.
Orlando Shakes’ 35th season for 2023-2024 includes both a Shakespeare comedy, some dramatic works, musicals, and a production introduced at last October’s Playfest. Orlando Shakes calls the season “a year-long celebration that includes one of Shakespeare’s funniest plays in an exciting new setting, along with vibrant, intense and dramatic works.”
What is Orlando Shakes’ Lineup for its 35th Season?
For the theater company’s ongoing Signature Series, the productions will include:
- Million Dollar Quartet
A play by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux which runs Aug. 2-20, 2023
“It was December 4th, 1956, and Sun Record Studios in Memphis, Tennessee was about to become the mecca of music for a magical moment in music history. Be witness to this true to life jam session – credited by many to be the direct influence of rock ‘n roll in the late 50s and 60s – between Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins! Come hear “Blue Suede Shoes,” “I Walk the Line,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Hound Dog” and many more!”
- Comedy of Errors
By William Shakespeare, which runs Sept. 6-Oct. 1, 2023
“Set during the revelries of Mardi Gras and featuring New Orleans Jazz, Zydeco and Delta Blues music, Shakespeare’s non-stop hilarious farce of love, mistaken identity, and two sets of twins separated as babies – gets swept up in the carnival celebrations. Bring your Mardi Gras beads and let the good times roll!”
- Boulevard of Bold Dreams
By LaDarrion Williams, which runs Oct. 4-29, 2023
“A dynamic story about the night Hattie McDaniel (Gone with the Wind) made Hollywood history by becoming the first Black artist to win an Oscar. When Hattie stops at a bar and decides not to attend the awards ceremony, the bartender, Arthur, and the maid, Dottie, do everything in their power to convince her to go and claim her historic win. A story of dreamers striving to overcome considerable obstacles and fighting for recognition amidst the racism and inequity of Hollywood.”
- Henry VI Part I: Joan of Arc
By William Shakespeare, which runs Jan. 10-21, 2024
“The world whirls out of control in the thrilling tale of France’s Joan of Arc, the English warrior Talbot, and the young King Henry VI. Shakespeare’s epic, powerful beginning of the Wars of the Roses is riveting storytelling that never lets up. In this raw, “Bare Bard/Original Practices” production, Orlando Shakes’ actors will perform the play with less than 40 hours of rehearsal, no designers, and no director – just like the acting companies of Shakespeare’s time!”
- Venus in Fur
By David Ives, which runs Feb. 7-March 3, 2024
“Sexy. Provocative. Hilarious. Hailed as “seriously smart and very funny” by The New York Times, Venus in Fur is a laugh-out-loud study of the politics of sex and power that’s guaranteed to charm and mesmerize. When Vanda arrives several hours late to her audition for a play based on a nineteenth-century erotic novel, the director is less than impressed. But Vanda’s masterful performance flips the script and the audition turns into a tango for dominance between actress and director.”
- Becoming Othello: A Black Girl’s Journey
Written and Performed by Debra Ann Byrd, which runs March 13-30, 2024
“Interspersed with verses from Othello and dynamic multimedia elements, Byrd bares her soul in this vulnerable, personal, and resonant story of perseverance, discovery, and unconditional love. Directed by Shakespeare & Company founder Tina Packer and written by and starring the Founding Artistic Director of the Harlem Shakespeare Festival and Artistic Director at Southwest Shakespeare Company Debra Ann Byrd.”
- Ain’t Misbehavin’
Conceived by Murray Horwitz and Richard Malby, Jr., which runs April 10-28, 2024
“This Tony Award winning Best Musical also won the Drama Desk award for Outstanding Musical. A sizzling celebration of Fats Waller’s music – songs that he made famous in a career that ranged from uptown clubs to downtown Tin Pan Alley to Hollywood and concert stages around the world. This delightful Broadway revue evokes the humor and infectious energy of this American original to provide an evening of humor, romance and thrilling music, including “Keepin’ Out of Mischief,” “This Joint is Jumpin’,” “Mean to Me” and title song, “Ain’t Misbehavin’”.”
What Will be a Part of Orlando Shakes’ Children Series?
Orlando Shakes’ Children’s Series will include:
- The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!
Book and lyrics by Robert Kauzlaric | Based on the book by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, this production runs Oct. 18–Nov. 11, 2023
“There are two sides to every story, and when the Big, Bad Wolf takes the stand in the Trial of the Century, he finally gets his say. But whether he’ll get a fair trial in a corrupt piggy court is anyone’s guess! Enter the jury box and decide the fate of Big ‘n’ Bad in this fun and funny musical adaptation of the hit children’s book.”
What Special Productions will be a part of the 35th Season?
Orlando Shakes’ 35th Season will include two special events.
- A Christmas Carol
By Charles Dickens, adapted by Jim Helsinger will be performed Nov. 29–Dec. 24, 2023
“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. Witness the classic, heartwarming story of Orlando Shakes’ holiday tradition, in a magical and musical spectacle for the whole family.”
This two weekend festival of new plays features several readings of unproduced works, giving audiences the opportunity to provide early feedback to the playwrights, actors, and directors. Weekend One will be held Oct. 27-29, and Weekend Two is Nov. 3-5.
The Orlando Shakespeare Theater is at 812 E Rollins St. in Loch Haven Park. Call (407) 447-1700 for tickets, season subscriptions or more information.
Orlando Shakes will end its 34th season with the upcoming musical Kinky Boots, which runs from April 5 – 30.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright, and author of the book A Christmas Eve Story. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.