Orlando Shakespeare Theater & UCF Presents THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF NICHOLAS NICKLEBY, Now thru 3/9

Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF is thrilled to present the epic theatrical event The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Parts I and II. Written by David Edgar and adapted from the novel by Charles Dickens, the production is produced in Collaboration with Theatre UCF. Co-directed by Artistic Director Jim Helsinger and Theatre UCF Chair/Artistic Director Christopher Niess, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Parts I & II is presented in rotating repertory from today, January 22 to March 9, 2014 at the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center in Loch Haven Park. Tickets ($17-$40) are available by calling (407) 447-1700, online at http://orlandoshakes.org, or in person at 812 East Rollins St., Orlando, FL 32803. Dinner and hotel packages are also available at http://www.orlandoshakes.org/nickleby.

When his father's death leaves young Nicholas Nickleby and his family penniless, he seeks help from his Scrooge-like Uncle Ralph. Taking an instant dislike to his nephew, Ralph sends Nicholas to teach in a school run by cruel headmaster Wackford Squeers. Nicholas decides to escape, taking with him the orphan Smike, one of Squeers' most abused young charges, and the two embark on a series of adventurous encounters with an array of humanity's worst and best-greedy fools, corrupt lechers, cheery innocents, and selfless benefactors.

"I'm so proud to be co-directing an amazing team of professional actors, interns, and UCF faculty and students from Orlando, New York, and beyond," said Jim Helsinger. "The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby is a living example of how great the power of theater can be."

The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Parts I and II features a cast of 27 actors playing over 150 characters. The production first debuted on June 5, 1980 at London's Aldwych Theatre, receiving Laurence Olivier Awards for Play of the Year, Director of the Year, Designer of the Year, Actor of the Year in a New Play (Roger Rees), Actor of the Year in a Supporting Role (David Threlfall), and Actress of the Year in a Supporting Role (Suzanne Bertish). Upon it's closing in the summer of 1981, the set was moved to The Old Vic Theatre, where the play was performed in front of a live audience and filmed as a four-part miniseries for primetime TV. This version made its American television debut on PBS and was released to video. The production then transferred to Broadway in the fall of 1981 and received 1982's Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Performance of a Leading Actor in a Play (Roger Rees). A further revival with a significantly different cast played at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford and toured to Los Angeles and Broadway in 1985, receiving a Tony Award Nomination for Best Revival of a Play.

Playwright David Edgar prepared a shorter version of the production for England's Chinchester Festival, which transferred to the West End's Gielgud Theatre in 2007. This version was produced in the U.S. by the California Shakespeare Festival, Playmakers Repertory Theater, and The Lyric Stage Company of Boston. Orlando Shakes' production marks the seventh time the two-part comic masterpiece has been produced in the United States, and is only one of four American productions to present Edgar's condensed version of the script. "This show is one of the most incredible theatrical events I have ever seen, and I'm excited to bring that magic - that majesty - to Florida," said Helsinger.

The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Parts I & II features actor John P. Keller in the title role. Starring in this season's Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker, Keller first appeared at Orlando Shakes in the Theater's 2012 repertory productions of Othello (Roderigo) and Sense and Sensibility (Edward). Additional credits include Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Contemporary American Theater Festival, and Mile Square Theatre.

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