Good news: In recent research, USA Today’s Tripology found that Orlando was the top destination for family vacationers. The award recognizes affordable family destinations that travellers are most interested in – one more reason to take pride in our hometown! Visit usatoday.com
More good news: Travel & Leisure Magazine’s World’s Best Awards survey announced Orlando International Airport as one of the top five domestic airports in the nation. From 2013 through 2014, the magazine’s readers were invited to vote for their favorite airport based on criteria involving logistics and convenience. Anyone who has traveled internationally can concur on this call. Our airport is the cleanest, most beautiful, and most easily maneuvered of any this writer has experienced. Job well done! Call 407-825-2055 or visit orlandoairports.net
Final week through July 28 – ‘Ladies of Eola Heights’
Director Ken Howard takes on this re-envisioning of Michael Wanzie’s wildly successful comedy with a cast of Central Florida’s favorite actresses including Peg O'Keef, Beth Marshall, Blue Star and “Miss Sammy” Singhaus. “There is more than steel to these Magnolias” in this story of sisters who come together after years of being apart along with comic references to a community within walking distance of the theatre. This is the final week — through July 28 — at The Abbey. Visit abbeyorlando.com for tickets.
Now through Aug. 3 – ‘Crazy for You’ at The REP
Populated with Follies girls, cowboys, and urban socialites, the Orlando REP’s Youth Academy (grades 7 through 12) presents the Tony-Award winning musical “Crazy For You” through Aug. 3. A huge hit from the Gershwin brothers, “Crazy For You” is packed with favorite Gershwin tunes performed by extraordinary young performers. Call 407-896-7365, ext. 1, or visit orlandorep.com. You’ll also want to mark your calendar for this weekend – July 26 and 27 for The REP's birthday celebration! Single tickets for “Crazy For You” are $15, and “The Amazing Adventures of Dr. Wonderful (and Her Dog!)” and “Leslie and Lolly Make Stuff Up!” are $10. Multiple show passes are available.
July 26 – ‘Orange Is The New Black’ at The Brink
The Netflix hit series “Orange Is the New Black” will bring two of the shows talented starlets to Orlando’s downtown party spot – The Brink. Taryn Manning aka Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett will walk the red carpet, talk to fans, sign autographs, and spin a special DJ set. Dascha Polanco aka Daya Diaz, the scandalous Latina will also be in attendance for adoring fans. Fairvilla Megastore will give free goodie-bags to the first 50 people through the doors. The cover is $10 before 11 p.m. and $15 after. Visit brinkorlando.com
July 27 – Beth Black & Jim Basque are ‘Black & Basque’
A duo featuring Beth Black on vocals, violin and guitar and Jim Basque on vocals, bass, guitar, and keyboard will offer a free performance at Casa Feliz on July 27 beginning at noon. Beth plays in the Maitland Symphony and performs at weddings while Jim and his band Last Chance are still going strong after 27 years. As a duo Black & Basque share their diverse musical tastes ranging from rock and blues to jazz, country and some Celtic thrown in for spice. Call Beth Black at 407-765-6458 or visit casafeliz.squarespace.com
July 30 to Aug. 3 – Leakycon in Orlando
Special guests from “Harry Potter,” “Doctor Who,” and “Supernatural” along with leading young adult literature authors will be on hand for five days of geeky fun as LeakyCon, the Sci-Fi fantasy film, TV and book convention comes to the Convention Center in Orlando from July 30 to Aug. 3. “Harry Potter” actors Hugh Mitchell (Colin Creevey) and Charlotte Skeoch (Hannah Abbott) and Nick Shirm (Zacharias Smith) will appear. Panel discussions, workshops, live performances, music concerts and a marketplace will be offered along with a special private event at Universal Studios featuring Diagon Alley. Visit LeakyCon.com
Aug. 1 to 23 – ‘Backwards in High Heels – the Life of Ginger Rogers’
In a Central Florida premiere, the life of legendary actress Ginger Rogers comes to life onstage at the Winter Park Playhouse. The Playhouse has a well-earned reputation for creating this kind of “intimate musical.” Dancing its way through Ginger Roger’s life with unforgettable music and show-stopping numbers, the story chronicles her journey from hometown to Hollywood. Directed and choreographed by Roy Alan and with music directed by Christopher Leavy, call 407-645-0145 or visit winterparkplayhouse.org
Aug. 2 – An evening for artist Emily Jones
We are all invited to a special one-night reception for Emily Jones – an impressionist artist with the vision and strength to overcome epilepsy. Emily received her fine arts degree at Santa Clara University and also studied in Florence, Italy, eventually traveling Europe – studying and painting along the way. Emily's brightly colored paintings can be found in educational institutions and private collections in the United States and Europe. The reception begins at 6 p.m. at the Winter Park Beer Company at 1809 E. Winter Park Road in Orlando. For information, call Boris Garbe at 407-234-7033.
Aug. 2 – Maxwell’s Summer Soulstice Tour comes to Orlando
Maxwell, the platinum soul-singer known for show-stopping performances, will perform at the Bob Carr PAC on Aug. 2. Praised for his impeccable vocals, his connection to the audience, and the physicality of his performances, the New York Post called him "the quintessential soul brother .. as if he were possessed by the spirit of Sam Cooke." His Grammy-nominated Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite achieved double platinum status while his 2009 album, the "unapologetically deep" (LA Times) “BLACKsummer’snight” debuted at No.1, winning him two Grammys and another platinum award. Visit ticketmaster.com/maxwell
Current – New leopards at Central Florida Zoo
The Central Florida Zoo has announced the addition of two leopards to the Zoo family. The spotted leopard is a male (born 1996) and the black leopard is a female (born 1996). The two leopards parented two babies, born in 1999; both of the offspring are spotted leopards and are on exhibit at the Naples Zoo. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists leopards as “near threatened,” although many species are critically endangered. Happily these two are healthy and receiving visitors at their new home. Visit centralfloridazoo.org or call 407-323-4450.
And looking ahead …
Aug. 9 – Taste of the Nation – Orlando
On Aug. 9 at 6:45 p.m., Taste of the Nation brings together the area's top chefs who donate their time, talent and passion to end childhood hunger in Central Florida. Along with extraordinary food, guests sample select wines while enjoying auctions and entertainment. Please know that every dollar raised fights hunger and homelessness in Central Florida. Tickets are $150. Visit tasteofthenation.org/orlando and/or facebook.com/OrlandoTaste. We can all buy a ticket and help.