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Hot Mikado updates classic operetta with jazz and anime-inspired design

photoTheatre UCF’s production of Hot Mikado brings a unique design concept to the show and to the company: Japanese anime. Based on The Mikado, a comedic 1880s operetta which follows young lovers living in a fictional Japanese town where acts as small as flirting are a capital crime, Hot Mikado sets the original story and lyrics to a jazz-infused score with big, flashy dance numbers. A self-professed lover of “all things Japanese,” director Earl D. Weaver brings Theatre UCF’s upcoming production into the world of anime, using manga comics, kawaii culture and J-pop music videos as inspiration for the over-the-top designs.

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UCF Professor Celebrates Fashion Icon Harriett Lake in New Book

photoAlthough Harriett Lake couldn’t explain her devotion to clothes, something led the Orlando fashion icon and philanthropist to spend her life collecting the most unique and eye-catching outfits and accessories. A new book titled “Too Much is Not Enough: The History in Harriett’s Closet” by Kristina Tollefson, a costume designer and associate professor of theatre at UCF, and Jodi Ozimek captures the fascinating life of Lake, connecting her stunning collection with the events that defined her life and legacy.

When Tollefson joined the UCF faculty, she heard about a local woman who owned every piece of clothing she had ever purchased. Knowing that this would be a unique opportunity to research vintage clothing and could provide a useful teaching tool for her students, she set out to meet this legendary woman.

“It took me a while to get Harriett to agree to meet with me and even longer to get her to agree to let me see her closet,” says Tollefson. “But as soon as I saw her closet I knew I had to find a way to share it with a wider audience.”

Tollefson and Ozimek’s novel, “Too Much:

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Behind-the-Scenes of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child


When Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released on bookshelves in the United States on Sept. 1, 1998, Andrew Carnero ’15 was 5 years old. And while he remembers peering over his older brother’s shoulder to see what he was reading, the UCF theatre major could hardly have predicted the influence the series would eventually have on his life.

Today, 20 years later, he serves as one of the stage managers on Broadway for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

“Working on this show, I’ve learned how big of a worldwide phenomenon Harry Potter is,” Carnero says. “We have people come in from all over the world every night, and I’ll be on Facebook or on Instagram and see official Harry Potter accounts post something about Cursed Child, and it’s an amazing feeling to think, I’m working on this.

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Casting Call: See What Our Theatre UCF Alumni Have Been Up To!

photoEric Ulloa ’06BFA (musical theatre) will be playing Jud in Theatre Under the Stars’ production of Oklahoma! with Tony Award winner Priscilla Lopez.

Ulloa is the author of 26 Pebbles, which had its world premiere at The Human Race Theatre Company. The play was featured in American Theatre Magazine and The New York Times and won the Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Award 2017. Eric is the book writer of the musical Passing Through, which was featured at Goodspeed’s 2018 Festival of New Musicals and was a part of the 2017 Rhinebeck Writer’s Retreat. Eric is also the book writer of the musical Molly Sweeney, based on the play by Brian Friel, which was a part of the Bay Street Theatre 2017 Festival of New Works. On the other side of the footlights, Eric was most recently in the Original Broadway Company of On Your Feet!:

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'Human Error' Prepares Students to be Voice of New Generation in Theatre

photoUCF School of Performing Arts presents Human Error, a new play that runs June 14-24 and Aug. 23-26 on the UCF Main Stage. The production is part of Pegasus PlayLab, a summer theatre festival dedicated to developing plays by emerging playwrights. Human Error gives students and faculty the opportunity to create a fully mounted production of a new work that explores the political and social divide in our society in a human and humorous way.

“It’s refreshing to work on a contemporary piece because the script reflects conversations people are having in daily life. The reactions you see on stage are done in a truthful way that finds the comedic and human side of the characters,” says Matthew Buckalew, an acting student who plays the role of Jim in the production.

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New Summer Festival Dedicated to Emerging Playwrights

photoPegasus PlayLab provides opportunities for students and audience members to watch experimental new works by the next generation of playwrights.

UCF is launching Pegasus PlayLab, a new summer theatre festival dedicated to developing new plays by emerging playwrights. The festival, which runs June 2-24 and Aug. 23-25 on the UCF campus, comprises three workshops and one fully mounted play.

Two years ago when Julia Listengarten became artistic director for UCF’s School of Performing Arts, her goals were to increase the theatre’s focus on contemporary works and to include students in as much of the creative process as possible. Since then, Theatre UCF has included more emerging plays during the academic year, striving for a balance between educational classics and experimental new works.

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2018-2019 Theatre UCF season explores fantasy, adventure

photoBeginning with the inaugural Pegasus PlayLab summer workshops, taking a turn to an underground anime club and Dungeons & Dragons, and ending with the classic Titanic for UCF Celebrates the Arts 2019, Theatre UCF’s next season has something for everyone.

Theatre UCF, part of the UCF School of Performing Arts, explores current society and classic literature in its 2018-19 season. This is the second season planned by artistic director Julia Listengarten and it includes plays and musicals that are rarely produced in Central Florida.

Listengarten is a professor of Theatre in the UCF School of Performing Arts and stepped into the role of artistic director in fall 2016. “This year’s season contains an exciting combination of plays and musicals that range from the classical repertoire to contemporary works,” she says.

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'Bernarda Alba' Actress Combines Love for Arts, Humanities at UCF

photoInnovative and interdisciplinary, Ibis Enid Rodríguez makes the most of her UCF experience as both a theatre and modern languages and literatures student.

UCF student Ibis Enid Rodríguez has prepared for her roles in last fall’s Seminole State production of The House of Bernarda Alba and in the upcoming Theatre UCF musical adaptation Bernarda Alba for more than 30 years.

The actress recalls when she saw La Casa de Bernarda Alba for the first time, “I fell in love with the play, and with the playwright Federico Garcia Lorca. Thirty-two years studying and reading Lorca and discovering the beauty and passion of his work was the wave that drew me to audition first for the play at Seminole State College, and a month later the musical version at UCF.”

Her passion for Spanish theatre and literature drives her studies at UCF.

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Nick Bazo '10MFA teaches how to "impact the change in community"

photoNick Bazo '10MFA is becoming a main proprietor of the Theatre for Social Change movement. As Associate Director of Programs at The Theatre Offensive (TTO) & Director of True Colors, he has found a significant impact that community-based theater has been for young audiences and communities.

"It's a very holistic approach," Bazo comments. The Theatre Offensive (TTO) was founded in 1989 as a guerrilla street theatre program and a reaction to the AIDS epidemic – originally designed as a 15-minute skit performed in front of the federal building in Boston. True Colors, a youth theatre troupe, was created 4 years later as a program funded to prevent teen suicides and bullying of gay students. Over time, it has developed into an after-school program for students and adults in addition to LGBTQ and queer-themed plays.

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"Not in Our House" and BOY GETS GIRL at Theatre UCF this weekend

photoTheatre UCF’s production of Boy Gets Girl follows the fine line of romantic persistence versus obsession - a date that goes disturbingly wrong. Boy Gets Girl will be held in the Black Box starting on Thursday, February 22 and runs through Sunday, March 4. Boy Gets Girl follows the story of Theresa Bedell, a successful reporter in New York and her blind date Tony, as what seemed like a mutual ending turns into a chilling terror for her life.

Coinciding with the performances, Orlando Shakespeare Theater and Theatre UCF will present workshops the weekend of March 2–4 with Laura T. Fisher that address the issue of sexual misconduct in the theatre community, cosponsored by Mad Cow Theater and Orlando Repertory Theatre. Ms. Fisher’s presentation is open to the public and designed for all members of the Central Florida theatre community including staff and administration, freelance Equity and non-Equity artists, and university theatre students and faculty.

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4th UCF Celebrates the Arts to Feature Tributes to Bernstein, President Hitt

photoUCF Celebrates the Arts–eight days of music, performances and visual displays–returns April 6-14 for a fourth year. The university’s annual showcase of student and faculty presentations at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando will open with a tribute to American composer, conductor and educator Leonard Bernstein and close with a concert featuring jazz artists, the UCF Orchestra and Flying Horse Big Band celebrating UCF President John C. Hitt’s contribution to UCF and Orlando.

The festival consists of free or low-cost presentations by the School of Visual Arts & Design and the School of Performing Arts. Many events feature collaborations across the university and community partners.

“We’ve selected outstanding projects that represent the best of UCF,” said Michael Wainstein, director of the School of Performing Arts and producer of the festival.

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Theatre UCF’s production of Pentecost paints cultural diversity in new light

photoTheatre UCF presents Pentecost, a production that finds religious, political and scholarly individuals going head-to-head for claim of a newly discovered fresco on a nondescript church ceiling in Eastern Europe. The various groups battle over the validity and possible historical significance of the fresco until twelve refugees storm the church and hold it hostage for asylum. The explosive drama touches on the value of cultural diversity in topical ways. Pentecost will open on Thursday, January 25 and run through Sunday, February 4 in the Theatre UCF Main Stage.

Christopher Niess, associate professor of Acting and Stage Movement at the University of Central Florida School of Performing Arts and director of Pentecost, chose to direct this piece because of its relevance to society today.

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Theatre UCF Replaces Play by Writer Accused of Sexual Misconduct

photoTheatre UCF is replacing the previously scheduled play The Day Before Yesterday with Rebecca Gilman’s Boy Gets Girl to run Feb. 22 through March 4.

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Race and stereotypes explored in Theatre UCF’s An Octoroon

photo  Theatre UCF presents a timeless tale of race as a social construct and the love that exists if looked past it. An Octoroon will be held in the Black Box starting on Thursday, November 9 and runs through Sunday, November 19. An Octoroon follows the story of George, the heir apparent to his uncle’s plantation, who falls in love with a beautiful octoroon named Zoe and their struggle to be together.

  David Reed, assistant professor of Acting and Directing, chose to direct this piece because of its innate theatricality.

  “There is a sense of great play involved in this show,” Reed explained. “It is also incredibly timely. Theatre is a unique tool for storytelling and there is a reason why some stories are best told live in a theatre space that cannot be told in the same way through any other form of media.

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November events from the School of Performing Arts

photoWith holidays and the end of the semester around the corner, make sure you mark your calendar now for these incredible Theatre UCF and Music events! Tickets, if required, can be obtained online, by calling (407) 823-1500, or by visiting the UCF School of Performing Arts Box Office (Monday-Friday from noon-5:00 p.m. at the PAC-M, Building 119 and 2 hours before Theatre performance in the UCF Theatre, Building 6).

  November 2: Collide Series: UCF New Music Ensemble Concert at 8 p.m. in Rehearsal Hall, free admission

  • The UCF New Music Ensemble hosts its inaugural performance in its first semester. The ensemble was founded to give Music majors experience performing works by living composers, to play in mixed ensemble formats, and to collaborate closely with composers.

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Project Spotlight Opens Fall One Act Festival Thursday, November 2

photoBy Sarah Schreck
Project Spotlight, the University of Central Florida’s premiere student developmental theatre organization, will be premiering four new works in its bi-annual One Act Festival this weekend. Each production is written, directed, produced, and performed by students, and performances are open to all with free admission. Performances begin at 7:30 Thursday, November 2, through Saturday, November 4, and at 2:00 on Sunday, November 5.

Each performance will feature two productions. On Thursday and Saturday, audiences can catch Rollplay and A Play About a Bar. Rollplay, written by Robby Allten and directed by Bruce Costella, follows the hilarious exploits of a ragtag group of adventures bumbling through a fantasy world as part of a tabletop role-playing game done in real time. A Play About a Bar, written by Colin Brooks and directed by Alex Storer, is an examination of a failed relationship as two men grapple with the echoes of their shared past.

Storer shared about his experience directing a show with heavy themes and mature content, “Although directing my first show has been hard at times, I’m glad I chose a script that deals with some difficult and relatable issues.

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UCF Playback Theatre troupe works with sex crimes unit of Orange County State Attorney’s Office

At the sex crimes unit of the Orange County State Attorney’s Office, prosecutors, investigators, and victim advocates work every day with profoundly emotional and disturbing cases. In the process, they are often required to suppress their own feelings to effectively assist victims and prosecute criminals. Bureau Chief Jenny Rossman felt determined to bring self-care methods into the workplace through the performing arts and built a relationship with UCF faculty member Sybil St. Claire. St. Claire, M.F.A. is a Theatre for Social Change practitioner at UCF and regularly utilizes Playback Theatre for difficult topics. In Playback, audience members are free to share their stories and feelings with the improv troupe, who then “play them back” in ways intended to honor the teller and their story.

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Theatre UCF  •  College of Arts & Humanities at the University of Central Florida
Main Office: PAC-T, Second Floor  •  12488 Centaurus Blvd., Orlando, FL 32816-2372  •  Phone: 407-823-2862 Fax: 407-823-6446