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Epcot’s Flowers, Chocolate Science, Shaffer’s Equus: Culture Worth the Miles

| February 28, 2011

The Epcot Flower and Garden Festival is back.

Man Vs. Monster

The Orlando Shakespeare Theater continues its repertory season with an imaginative one-man adaptation of the ancient English epic, Beowulf. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because we all read ‘parts of’ Beowulf in high school lit.


This one-man version features actor/writer Charlie Bethel in a performance that is both a faithful adaptation and accessible for those who only remember the story as “Medieval Literature.” Based on the classic morality tale, the hero Beowulf saves a kingdom from Grendel, a man-eating monster (and his equally unpleasant mother) only to die in battle with a dragon. “It’s a breath-taking adventure of swords, sorcery, and monsters that has delighted our senses for over a thousand years,” says Director Jim Helsinger, “and Charlie makes it all very modern and exciting for a contemporary audience.” Bethel’s solo performance is presented through March 20 at the Shakespeare Center at 812 East Rollins Street in Loch Haven Park. A Post-Show Talkback is scheduled for the March 17 performance. Call 407-447-1700 or visit

Heaven for ‘Chocaholics’

They can talk about the scientific properties of chocolate as long as they wish, but the real reason to put March 5 and 6 on your calendar is the return of the “Festival of Chocolate” to the Orlando Science Center. Now that is my kind of research!  This year’s Festival returns with expanded hours and taste-treats of everything chocolate. Truffles, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, crepes, chocolate drinks and even chocolate spa treatments will be offered. Orlando’s finest Chocolatiers and award-winning pastry chefs will be at the Science Center selling a variety of chocolate decadence reasonably priced from $1 to $5 payable in “chocolate chip coins.” Kids can design edible masterpieces, and adults will be invited to “play with their food” with hands-on chocolate experiences and competitions. The Festival of Chocolate is included with admission to the Orlando Science Center. Call 407-514-2000 or visit

Disney’s Flower Festival

The 18th Annual Flower and Garden Festival – hosted at Epcot – adds HGTV design celebrities and Disney Character Heroes to this year’s ultimate “green” festivities. Running through May 15, HGTV design gurus will provide tips on style while Woody and Buzz, the lead toys of Disney’s Toy Story 3, take the art of Disney topiary “to infinity and beyond.” HGTV’s Genevieve Gorder, Vern Yip and colleagues will bring their design flair to weekend appearances while floral facsimiles of favorite Disney characters welcome guests to Epcot. Also new to this season’s Festival, Disney Fairies will pose for photos at the ‘Pixie Hollow Fairy Garden’ and ‘A Hundred Acre Wood’ wildflower display will feature topiaries of Winnie the Pooh and pals, set to appear in the “Winnie the Pooh Movie” this summer. “Flower Power” Music is always part of the joy of this Festival with Jose Feliciano raising the curtain at the America Gardens Theatre from March 4 to 6. With shows each weekend, the March-April lineup includes Feliciano, The Guess Who, Chubby Checker & The Wildcats, Melissa Manchester, Starship starring Mickey Thomas, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr., Juice Newton, Ricky Nelson Remembered, and Paul Revere & The Raiders. For a complete schedule call 407-934-7639 or visit

Orlando Ballet Presents ¡Bailamos!

Under the Direction of Robert Hill, the Orlando Ballet has been showing off his original choreography. On March 12 – in a one-night-only Fundraising Performance – the Company will perform at the Linda Chapin Theatre at the Orange County Convention Center. The performance, called ¡Bailamos!, promises hip-shaking Latin music and spicy choreography to huapango, danzon, tango and hot, hot Salsa! With a company of Dancers from around the globe (including several from the Caribbean), these Dancers are ready to “bring sexy back” at 8 pm on March 12. Hill’s choreography moves from ‘slow and sexy’ to ‘hot and sexy.’ Add the intensity of Latin music, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find the audience dancing in the aisles. For tickets call 407-426-1739 or visit

Equus at POINTE Performing Arts Center

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The POINTE Performing Arts Center (Ppac) will present Adam Pate as ‘Alan’ in Sir Peter Shaffer’s psychological drama Equus. Pate, who recently finished a pilot for the TV series “La Fleur de Mai,” plays opposite Travis Eaton as ‘Dr. Martin Dysart,’ a psychiatrist confronted with this boy who has blinded six horses in a violent fit of passion. To add to the hideous mystery, Alan has always adored horses. This creates a psychological puzzle that leads both doctor and patient to a disturbing confrontation revolving around the god-like quality of the horses. Director Lowrie Fawley, a lifelong equestrian, has taken her actors into the real world of equestrian sports to enhance their understanding. “Their beauty and their majesty, the way they move, the way they express emotions, is as important as the human emotions reflected through them on the stage” she says. Equus runs through March 20. A dinner and show package is available. Ppac is located at Pointe Orlando on International Drive.  Call 407-374-3587 or visit

Peak Bloom at Bok Tower Gardens

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There are 50 luxurious acres of wooded gardens surrounding Pinewood Estate, a 1930’s Florida mansion, and the 205-foot-high Singing Tower, for which this Park is famous. The marble and coquina stone Tower serves as the visual and musical centerpiece of Bok Tower Gardens and houses one of the world’s finest carillons. The 60 bells are rung in daily concerts at 1 pm and 3 pm. Voted ‘Florida’s Best Garden,’ Bok Tower Gardens is a National Historic Landmark located 55 miles southwest of Orlando among the citrus groves of Lake Wales. The beginning of March means the Gardens are in peak bloom with more than 150 varieties of camellias, azaleas, orchids, irises and other flowering plants creating an ‘Artist’s palette’ of color. Director of Horticulture Nick Baker, says, “We expect azaleas to peak the first week of March and continue through the month.” Annuals include snapdragons, dianthus, delphiniums, and holly-hocks while trees in bloom include plums, pink and yellow tabebulia, and magnolias. Visitors will also enjoy the scent of orange blossoms from the surrounding citrus groves and may participate in walking, guided garden tours (included with admission) through April 15. The Gardens are open every day from 8 am to 6 pm. Call 863.676.1408 or visit

Jose Feliciano at Epcot, March 4-6.

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