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Orlando Shakes in Partnership With UCF Honors Black History Month With Two Works Featuring African American Icons

Productions are My Lord, What a Night, filmed onstage in the Goldman Theater, and the Off-Broadway musical, Josephine.

Orlando Shakes in Partnership With UCF Honors Black History Month With Two Works Featuring African American Icons

Orlando Shakes in partnership with UCF honors Black History Month with two different works featuring African American icons. First up, the theater will produce a Video on Demand performance of Deborah Brevoort's My Lord, What a Night, filmed onstage in the Goldman Theater. This performance will be available to stream February 3 - 14, 2021. Risking scandal and controversy, iconic historical figures-with distinct approaches to facing inequality-grapple with overcoming injustice during a turbulent time in our nation's history. The World Premiere of Deborah Brevoort's bold, new script reveals the real untold story of a true friendship between German-born, Jewish scientist Albert Einstein and African American singer Marian Anderson.

"Our production was originally intended to be produced in March 2020, but after our first dress rehearsal, our theater had to close as we confronted the reality of this pandemic," Artistic Director Jim Helsinger says. "The fantastic set, lights and costumes that depict Einstein's home and life have all been sitting in the theater all this time, waiting to be used. We are delighted to pick up where we left off and, and with the approval of Actor's Equity Association, bring our actors back to the theater to tell this compelling story."

Up next, the sensational off-Broadway musical, Josephine, created by Tymisha Harris, Michael Marinaccio, and Tod Kimbro, will be presented live and in person February 17 - March 21. This stunning celebration of music and the life of the first African American international superstar, Josephine Baker, will be presented by Orlando Shakes in their new outdoor performance venue, the Darden Courtyard tent, behind the Lowndes Shakespeare Center.

"This is our first in-person Signature Series presentation since the theater closed its doors in March 2020," Artistic Director Jim Helsigner says. "This joyful and inspiring performance will help herald the return to the theater that we've been looking forward to. We are proud to present this award winning production."

The one-woman, biographical musical combines cabaret, theater, and dance to tell the story of the iconic Josephine Baker, one of the most remarkable and profound figures of the 20th Century. The 1930s luminary, portrayed by Tymisha Harris, pushed the boundaries of race, gender, and sexuality, while living an extraordinary life as her most authentic self. It is a tour de force performance that celebrates Josephine's life journey, while highlighting her most famous acts, from songs like "Blue Skies" and "La Vie en Rose," to the dance routine that established her stardom, the danse sauvage, also known as the banana dance.

"After this last crazy year of no live theatre, I cannot even put into words how excited I am to be able to once again tell the remarkable story of Josephine Baker," co-creator and performer Tymisha Harris says. "To have an outdoor space with so many thoughtful safety measures created by Orlando Shakes is such a blessing and honor for us."

Tymisha Harris (aka "Tush") has been performing professionally for over 20 years. Her early credits include assistant choreographer and backup dancing for the 90's pop group N*SYNC, backup dancer for LFO, multiple roles at Universal Studios Orlando, and a featured role in the hit movie series Bring It On. More recent endeavors include the national tour of Broadway's Rock of Ages, a European tour with the innovative and world-renowned Pilobulus Dance Theater Company, and as a founding member and Assistant Director/Choreographer of the successful Orlando based troupe, VarieTease.

Director and co-creator Michael Marinaccio has been a successful producer, director, actor and teacher in Central Florida and beyond for over 20 years. A BFA Theater Performance graduate of The University of Central Florida, Michael has participated directly in hundreds of theatrical productions. As a collaborator, he has helped create over 20 original theatre pieces, and has produced and directed dozens of new works.

Playwright, musical director, and co-creator Tod Kimbro has written over 25 plays and musicals since 1997, including My Illustrious Wasteland, which was presented Off-Broadway at the 2009 New York Musical Theatre Festival. His 2000 musical LOUD was nominated for the M Elizabeth Osborn Award, a national prize for emerging playwrights. Tod is also an accomplished pianist and singer, and has released two albums of original music.

Safety and Hygiene Procedures:

Face masks must be worn at all times unless a patron is consuming their beverage while seated at their outdoor table.

Prepackaged beverages will be available for purchase via table service before the performance.

To allow for the safest possible transaction, we are only accepting debit/credit card payments. No cash.

Learn about our safety procedures, including appropriate face coverings, social distancing, temperature checks, and more here: https://www.orlandoshakes.org/visit-us/frequently-asked-questions/safety/

"Our outdoor venue and safety policies at Orlando Shakes utilize best practices for a return to sharing our Dynamic Productions," Managing Director Douglas Love-Ramos says. "We have been working for many months learning from our colleagues across the country, studying CDC guidelines, and checking in with our healthcare partner AdventHealth. We couldn't be more excited about our open air season in our courtyard and our return to the amphitheater at Lake Eola for our already announced Spring productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream (March 31 - April 17, 2021) and Little Shop of Horrors (May 5 - 23, 2021)."

TICKET INFORMATION

Tickets for Josephine start at $45 per person will be available in January 2021. Patrons will be seated at socially distanced, cabaret-style tables. This production contains partial nudity and is intended for an adult audience. Patrons under 17 require an accompanying adult.

My Lord, What a Night costs $15 per person to stream. $10 for students.

My Lord, What a Night is sponsored by Parkway and Pat Strasberg. My Lord, What a Night is produced at Orlando Shakes as a part of a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere. Other partnering theaters are Contemporary American Theatre Festival (Shepherdstown) and Florida Studio Theatre. For more information please visit www.nnpn.org

Orlando Shakes is supported by United Arts of Central Florida, host of OrlandoAtPlay.com and UAArtsEd.com. This project is sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, and the State of Florida.


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