After last month’s morbid edition of C2G, I’m happy to have some happier news to share from the local performing arts scene.
Julia Gagne, artistic director of Valencia College’s theater department, has retired following a celebration last month to honor her 31 years at the school. During her tenure, Gagne directed scores of shows and co-founded the Florida Playwrights Competition (now in its 22nd year), in addition to teaching thousands of students. Gagne will continue to work with local theaters like the Garden Theatre and Orlando Shakes. Her post at Valencia will be filled by John DiDonna, my partner in the Empty Spaces Theatre Co.
In other academic theater news, Rollins College announced the discovery of the only known film footage of 19th-century stage star Annie Russell, a Winter Park resident and namesake of the school’s historic auditorium. The silent 28mm reels depicting Russell and her husband Oswald Yorke, recently unearthed in the University of Georgia’s film archives, were screened for audiences at Rollins’ Annie Russell Theatre during last month’s performances of She Stoops To Conquer, in which Russell herself starred in 1914.
Tony Award nominations were announced last week, and congratulations go to Orlando’s Kenny Howard and Barry Miller, co-producers and investors in two of this season’s most-nominated Broadway productions. Matilda and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella each picked up multiple nods, including Best Musical and Best Revival. Here in Orlando, Howard is known for directing Michael Wanzie’s comedies, while Miller is a big booster of the Fringe Festival. If their shows win big, look for Miller and Howard onstage (behind the lead producers) during the broadcast on June 9.
The All Night Strut, at Winter Park Playhouse through May 11 … The Facts of Life Live, at Breakthrough Theatre through May 12 … The Wizard of Oz, at Garden Theatre through May 26.
Confessions of a Prairie Bitch, at Parliament House May 11 (see page 35) … Cirque du Soleil: Quidam, at UCF Arena May 15-19 … The 22nd annual Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, in Loch Haven Park and beyond May 15-28.