ArtsFest — Be a romantic superman for free!
Orlando's arts organizations are providing the perfect way for any would-be Romeo or Juliet to literally sweep his/her loved one off his/her feet. Continuing through the big heart day (Sunday, Feb. 14), ArtsFest 2010 is a massive celebration of the arts which offers more than 200 completely free arts events. All you do is show up! The celebration includes hundreds of free events — a taste of everything the Central Florida arts community has to offer. Visit a different arts organization free every day leading up to Valentine's Day … the perfect way to romance your loved one (or show off the burgeoning arts aficionado inside you). Organized by United Arts of Central Florida as the kick-off for its annual fundraising campaign, ArtsfestFl.com provides a complete schedule. Reservations apply in some cases. Pick up a complete schedule at any Central Florida arts organization or venue.
A pair of art festivals
The arts come in pairs for February with not one, but two art festivals scheduled over the next two weekends. The first is the 43rd Annual Osceola Art Festival (Feb. 13-14) to be held on the campus of Valencia College in Kissimmee, and the second is the Sixth Annual Orlando Downtown Art & Living Expo (Feb. 20-21) on the east side of Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando. Both festivals are free and offer cash prizes to the winning artists. Say "hi" when you see me at the festivals — I'll be 'not-so-anonymously' judging the art.
Valentine's weekend at the Osceola Art Festival
Feb. 13-14 represents the second year this event is scheduled on Valencia's Osceola Campus in Kissimmee. More than 140 artists from as far away as England will display works, competing for more than $15,000 in prizes. The festival will also feature a student art tent, a sidewalk chalk contest, and arts and crafts for the youngsters. An addition to the 2010 show is Local's Lane, dedicated to galleries and artists from Central Florida. The festival runs from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13 and from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 14. Valencia's Osceola Campus is located on U.S. Hwy. 192, one mile east of Orange Blossom Trail. Parking and admission are free. Call 407-846-6257 or visit Ocfta.com.
Sixth Annual Orlando Downtown Art & Living Expo
Beginning on the brick-paved street along Lake Eola Park in Orlando, the Downtown Art & Living Expo will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 20-21. Featuring more than 120 artist booths, this expo is always alive with music concerts, food, street performers, face painting, balloon magic and more. The Orlando Museum of Art will be on-hand to offer free art activities for the whole family. Families are invited to bring lawn chairs to enjoy the entertainment headliners — Larry Hoppen of Orleans and Jimi Jamison, formerly of "Survivor", with the hits "Eye of the Tiger", "High on You", and "I Can't hold Back." Visit www.downtownorlandoproperties.com for more information.
A pair of Hamlets!
In a coincidence of timing that I guarantee will happen only once in our lifetimes, the Orlando Shakespeare Theater is presenting "Hamlet" at the same time that the Mad Cow Theatre (downtown Orlando) is presenting "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" (R&G) by Tom Stoppard.
'Hamlet' at Orlando Shakes
Not only is "Hamlet" arguably Shakespeare's greatest play, it is also his longest and most powerful work. Its influence on English drama cannot be overestimated. During Shakespeare's lifetime, the play was one of his most popular works, and still ranks among the most-performed of Shakespeare's works. Written around 1600, the play deals with murder, revenge, suicide, madness, incest, corruption, the most dysfunctional family since Oedipus, and a few minor characters called Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (who help move the nasty plot along). Orlando Shakes will present "Hamlet" with Avery Clark in the title role. Performances are scheduled through March 13 at 812 E. Rollins St. in Loch Haven Park in Orlando. For ticketing call 407-447-1700 or visit orlandoshakes.org.
'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead' at Mad Cow Theatre
Being a part of the audience for R&G is like being backstage during a performance of "Hamlet". Rosencrantz and Guildenstern may be minor characters in "Hamlet", but they are the main characters in this award-winning play that offers us a 'backstage' version of "Hamlet" that is profound, witty, philosophically existential, and very, very funny. The play's title is taken from a quote from the final scene of "Hamlet" and introduced playwright Tom Stoppard's skewed imagination and amazing skill with words when the play first opened at the 1966 Edinburgh Festival in England. The play, which went on to win four Tony Awards (including best play) follows the duo's unlikely journey as they get caught up in the murderous intrigues of the Danish court — and we all know how that turned out. The production features real-life friends Michael Marinaccio as Rosencrantz and Tim Williams as Guildenstern and runs through Sunday, Feb. 28 at the Mad Cow Theatre, 105 S. Magnolia Ave. in downtown Orlando. For Tickets, call 407-297-8788 or visit madcowtheatre.com