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ArtsFest kicks off

The cast of The Wondermakers practice their improv skills in preparation for their interactive performance at ArtsFest 2011. (Cast: Gail Gordon, Mark Daniel, Doug Legan, Richard Paul; not present Matt Horohoe)

The cast of The Wondermakers practice their improv skills in preparation for their interactive performance at ArtsFest 2011. (Cast: Gail Gordon, Mark Daniel, Doug Legan, Richard Paul; not present Matt Horohoe)

Karen McEnany-Phillips

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Can a purple llama travel in outer space? Absolutely, as the cast of The Wondermakers’ “Story Soup” teaches kids about creative storytelling through audience participation and improvisation.

They’re one of the acts featured in this year’s ArtsFest, which puts art and culture within reach with no black tie required, in fact most performances during the 10 days — Feb. 4-13 — are family friendly and free.

During The Wondermakers’ performances at the Goldenrod Recreation Center, young audience members will contribute the story elements of title, character, setting, plot and dialogue, imagining odd characters in unusual settings.

“Kids might suggest Captain Hook goes to McDonalds,” said Gail Gordon founder of The Wondermakers. With 120 years of acting experience under their wigs and make-up, Gordon and her cast perform in musical theater, theme parks and touring companies across the country, including Disney and Universal.

The Wondermakers visit local schools performing on topics such as nutrition, safety, bullying, health and math. Gordon’s vision is to make learning fun. “Education is not just about regurgitating facts, it is also about creative thinking,” Gordon said.

Cast member Doug Legan loves bringing storytelling to life. “For some kids, it is the first time they have seen live theater. They learn there are no limits to where their imagination can go. When we get letters from kids who want to become writers or actors, that inspires us too.”

The Wondermakers will present Story Soup from 2-3 p.m. Sunday Feb 6 at Orange County Orlando Magic Goldenrod Recreation Center; from 3-4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12 at Orlando Public Library. Call 407-566-9118 for more information. Visit www.wondermakers.net

Here’s an alphabetical listing of the other ArtsFest events happening in the Winter Park, Maitland, Eatonville, Baldwin Park and Goldenrod areas:

•The Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens will present Open House at the Polasek from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 12 and from 1-4 p.m. Feb. 13. Call 407-647-6294 for more information.

•The Annie Russell Theatre will present “Letters to Sala” at 8 p.m. Feb. 11-12 and at 4 p.m. Feb. 13. Call 407-646-2145 for more information. Tickets are limited.

•The Bach Festival Society of Winter Park will present “Classical Music 101” at 7 p.m. Feb. 12 at Tiedtke Concert Hall. Call 407-646-2182 for more information.

•The Cornell Fine Arts Museum will present “Be a CFAM Member for a Day!” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb 4. Call 407-646-2526 for more information.

•The Crealde School of Art will present “Sculpting Folk Art Animal Masks and Plein Air Location Painting” with Cat Hempel from 2-4 p.m. Feb. 12. Call 407-671-1886 for more information. Tickets are limited.

•The Emotions Dance Company will present “Poetry in Motion” from 7-8:30 p.m. Feb. 5 at Trinity Prep. Call 407-788-1659 for more information.

•The Enzian will present “West Side Story” at 11 a.m. Feb. 5. Call 407-629-1088 for more information. Tickets are limited.

•The Florida Children’s Repertory Theatre will present “Emperor’s New Clothes” from 2:30-3:30 p.m. Feb. 6 at Maitland Civic Center. Call 407-657-4483 for more information.

•The Florida Young Artists Orchestra will present “A Concert from the Heart” from 3-5 p.m. Feb. 13 at Trinity Prep. Call 407-257-8886 for more information.

•The Hannibal Square Heritage Center will present “Learn the Art of Documentary Photography” from 2-4 p.m. Feb. 12. Call 407-671-1886 for more information. Tickets are limited.

•The Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida will present “Fighting the Fires of Hate: America and the Nazi Book Burnings” from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m Feb. 4 and 11; from 1-4 p.m. Feb. 6 and 13; from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 7-10. Call 407-629-0555 for more information.

•The Maitland Art Center & Historical Museums will present a variety of cultural experiences from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 5-6; from 7-9 p.m. Feb. 7; from 7-9:30 p.m. Feb 10; from 7-10 p.m. Feb 11. Call 407-539-2181 for more information. For some events, tickets are limited.

•The Russian Ballet of Orlando will present Ballet Gala Celebration from 7-9 p.m. Feb. 12 at Trinity Prep. Call 407-443-5045 for more information. Tickets are limited.

•The Winter Park Historical Association & Museum will present “Fine Feathers: How the Peacock Came to Winter Park” exhibit from10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 4, 8-11; from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 5 and 12. Call 407-647-8180 for more information.

•The Winter Park Playhouse will present “Five Course Love” from 2-4 p.m. Feb. 5 and 12. Call 407-645-0145 for more information. Tickets are limited.

•The Zora Neale Hurston Museum of Fine Arts will present “The Art of Haiti” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb 12. Call 407-647-3131 for more information.

ArtsFest 2011

Feb. 4-13

407-628-0333

www.artsfestfl.com