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Frank Hilgenberg, Creator of Theatre Downtown, Dies at 71

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Hilgenberg was an actor, director, and producer.

Frank Hilgenberg, Creator of Theatre Downtown, Dies at 71

Frank Hilgenberg, creator of Theatre Downtown in Orlando, has died at age 71 after a long illness.

Many called him "Uncle Frank," but "he was the father of Orlando theater," longtime friend Peg O'Keef told Orlando Sentinel.

Hilgenberg was at the forefront of Central Florida theatre, acting, directing, producing, and mentoring young performers.

He was born in Wisconsin, and came to Florida in the 1980s after helping to start Broom Street Theatre in Madison and joining the Organic Theater in Chicago.

Hilgenberg and his wife, Fran, as well as O'Keef and others, created Theatre Downtown, which opened in 1989.

He has also staged shows at the Orlando Fringe Festival and revived his classic "Christmas Carol" at the Central Florida Community Arts theater.

Read more on Orlando Sentinel.

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