The big day approaches! The moment Kathy Ramsberger promised us earlier this summer is finally almost here: The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is opening in November. Was there a bit of a bumpy road to opening day? Yes, sure – a few name changes, a little Supreme Court decision that didn't go their way – but that's par for the course for any enormous public-private partnership, and a few years later, almost nobody remembers the roadblocks. So: bygones. It's here, it's clear (get it, it's all glass), get used to it. And you know what? The Dr. Phillips Center staff has planned a doozy of an opening party for you, a monthlong extravaganza of shows and events for all tastes, and you should really take advantage of as much of it as possible.
First up, 2-5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2: an invitation-only hard-hat team appreciation event (this is for members of the construction team and their families, which: sweet).
Then, free and open the public:
- 10 a.m.-noon Thursday, Nov. 6: a ribbon-cutting ceremony and media preview
- noon-6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, and noon-4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 9: community open house with self-guided walking tours
- 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8: FREE SHERYL CROW CONCERT (whaaaaat) outside on the Seneff Arts Plaza. Should you be the type who requires air conditioning, private restroom facilities, dinner from Bubbalou's Bodacious BBQ and oh, say, three drink tickets for beer, wine or soda, not a problem; tickets to the hospitality suite offering all those things are available for just $50-$60.
- 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 9: free movie screening (film title TBA) on the Seneff Arts Plaza.
That's it for the free stuff, but stay with me, there's still way more:
8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 14: a celebration of the Alexis & Jim Pugh theater (the roughly 300-seat, smaller room at Dr. Phillips Center) FEATURING EMMYLOU HARRIS OMG WE ARE FREAKING OUT NOW. Sorry to fangirl out like that, but she is the queen. I mean, just watch this: (I'll wait) ... this show has very limited seating, and tickets start at $275, so if you wanna go as bad as we do, better get it in gear.
8:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15, another fancy and not-cheap-but-pretty-awesome event: Broadway & Beyond at the Walt Disney Theater (that's the big 2,700-seat room), a 90-minute show featuring Norm Lewis, Broadway’s current Phantom of the Opera; Sierra Boggess (Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, The Little Mermaid); leading operatic soprano Deborah Voigt; rising Boricua singer/heartthrob Ektor Rivera; Argentinian dance duo the Lombard Twins; the Broadway Kids; Chris Mann, of NBC's The Voice; legendary jazz singer Jane Monheit; popular all-male singing string quartet Well-Strung; YouTube sensation and pop violist Jeremy Green; and a full 26-piece orchestra, made up of members of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. Whew. (If you are a Broadway fan, you are squeeing right now the way I did over Emmylou a second ago.) Tickets to Broadway & Beyond range from $125-$250, and include not just the show but a party on the plaza with a champagne toast, dessert buffet and "dancing under the stars" to the strains of Michael Andrew and his big band.
- There's also a very fancy black-tie event at 5 p.m. before Broadway & Beyond – a cocktail reception on the Seneff Arts Plaza followed by a three-course seated dinner in a tented pavilion, then on to the show – single tickets start at $750, and tables range from $8,000-$12,500.
- BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE. At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22, Orlando Ballet and the Bach Festival Society Choir and Orchestra reprise their mega-popular 2013 performance of Carmina Burana for one night only; tickets start at a reasonable $33. (Note: This video preview below is from the 2013 performance; be sure to contact the Dr. Phillips Center for tickets.)
So there you have it. By the end of November, this arts center will be well and truly broken in, and you should be familiar with all the amenities. Make it your mission.