Rockin' in the park

Players from the Winter Park Playhouse dance up a storm during their production of "Schoolhouse Rock Jr." on Saturday morning at Central Park's north stage.

Players from the Winter Park Playhouse dance up a storm during their production of "Schoolhouse Rock Jr." on Saturday morning at Central Park's north stage.

Isaac Babcock

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It was already a sunny morning as David McCarthy's voice burst from the stage at the north end of Central Park, but suddenly the world seemed a bit brighter as it beamed with happy nostalgia of Schoolhouse Rock Saturday.

Re-imagining the kids show from the 80s and bringing it to the stage, The Winter Park Playhouse brought the small one act of "Schoolhouse Rock Jr." to life for free to all who had a blanket in hand and children in tow.

And there's more to come from the fledgling playhouse, which only just officially opened its doors in December with a small staff and a handful of plays on the bill.

Lisa Rost said it was a challenge to bring theater to a park just 10 yards from an Amtrak station.

"It's a different experience," said Rost, the playhouse's marketing and development director. "You're out in the open and you have unlimited space. Just as we finished our last line the train went by. We finished just in time."

But the staff at Winter Park Playhouse is used to shows on the go. After their big opening last year, they decided they needed to give back to the community that had supported it. A new program was born, bringing theater to poorer schools where children can't afford to go on field trips.

"We bring theater to kids who otherwise may not get to experience it," Rost said.

The performances in schools are free, just like their shows in the park, which Rost said will be regular events in the future. Coming up in October a musical review with a cabaret theme will entertain adults, with "Celebrate Me Home" bringing holiday cheer in December.

"It's just our way of giving back to the community," Rost said.