Fall Arts Preview 2008-2009: The Art of Performance

Along with this year’s event listings, we’ve highlighted several individuals who are doing their part to ensure that the arts are alive and well in Marion County. In the following pages, you’ll learn about what the Appleton Museum’s new museum educator, Korene Wilbanks, has planned for the new season, and why Nancy Ledding, the new executive director of the Marion Cultural Alliance, believes the arts are so important to our area. We’ll introduce you to actress Billie Thatcher as well, who plays Dolly Gallagher Levi in the Ocala Civic Theatre’s season opener, Hello, Dolly!

Dean Marino, music director and owner of Rockiversity  www.rockiversity.com

Styling by Tina Anastasia. Hair by Cosmo Easterly. Makeup by Jamie Compton.
Special Thanks to Ocala Civic Theatre for location and wardrobe.

Ocala Style is also excited to welcome our readers to two of Ocala’s newest cultural facilities—the Performing Arts Conservatory and Rockiversity (owner Dean Marino is shown at left). When it comes to the arts in Marion County, the old adage certainly applies—there’s something for everyone, and every taste. So, turn the page and make sure you don’t miss out on one of the most exciting arts seasons ever.


Appleton Museum of Art
4333 NE Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala
(352) 291-4455

Ocala’s Appleton Museum is one of the premier art repositories and education centers in the South. Originally built to preserve and display the collection of Arthur Appleton, the museum has expanded to include traveling exhibitions, educational programs, and cultural events. Check its Web site for additional events, including the popular Appleton After Hours program.

2008-2009 Season:

Heart Gallery of Mid-Florida (Sept. 13-Oct. 12, 2008)

This traveling exhibit from the Children’s Home Society in partnership with the Professional Photographers of North Central Florida features portraits of more than 300 children in need of forever families and homes to call their own.

Responding to Home (Sept. 13-Nov. 9, 2008)

Drawn from observations about what the word “home” means in today’s highly mobile, often rootless society, the exhibition showcases seven artists’ photographic and mixed media interpretations.

Thomas Hart Benton (Sept. 13-Nov. 9, 2008)

Nineteen “democratized art” lithographs from the ‘30s and ‘40s from the collection of Kyle Culley and the estate of Mary Helen Bohmer depict pre-industrial life in rural, Depression-era America.

Winslow Homer in America (Dec. 6, 2008-Jan. 18, 2009)

This comprehensive collection of 142 prints from wood engravings includes all of Homer’s most popular illustrations produced during the pre- to post-Civil War years. One of the most celebrated American artists of the 19th century, Homer captured scene of everyday American life, playing on themes of home and family as Americans intersected and interacted with society.

Young in Art and Sixth Congressional District Art Competition (Late April-May 2009)

Harn Museum of Art
SW 34th Street & Hull Road, Gainesville

With more than 6,000 original works of art in its permanent collection and an ambitious exhibition schedule, the Harn Museum has quickly become known as a leader in university art museums.

2008-2009 Season:

Momentum: Contemporary Art from the Harn Collection (Through May 12, 2009)

This exhibit represents works from the museum’s collection, as well as significant loans. Momentum explores the notion of time as it is expressed in contemporary art, focusing on enduring traditions, changing cultures, and radical breaks. Works highlighted in the exhibition include paintings by Kehinde Wiley, sculpture by Chul-Hyun Ahn, and video by Yael Bartana.

Promises of Paradise: Staging Mid-Century Miami (Oct. 11, 2008-Jan. 25, 2009)

A groundbreaking exhibition devoted to the architects, designers, and urban planners of mid-20th century Miami and their contributions to American Modernism. Through an extraordinary selection of more than 200 objects from 60 lenders, the exhibition showcases the architectural designs, furniture, textiles, and decorative arts of some of South Florida’s most talented and innovative designers such as Alfred Browning Parker, Morris Lapidus, George Farkas, Frederick Rank, and Kay Pancoast.

Uncommon Glazes: American Art Pottery, 1880-1950 (Feb. 24-May 31, 2009)

This exhibit celebrates the beauty, variety, and innovation of artistic ceramics made in America during the post-Civil War era and the first half of the 20th century. This exhibition presents about 30 examples by the leading art potters of the period such as Rookwood, Wheatley, Roseville, Weller, Tiffany, and Fulper.

Fashioning Kimono: Art Deco and Modernism in Japan (March 7–May 17, 2009)

Fashioning Kimono: Art Deco and Modernism in Japan celebrates Japanese kimonos created in the late-19th and 20th centuries, one of the most dynamic periods in the history of Japan’s national costume. The exhibition of approximately 100 kimonos includes formal, semi-formal and casual kimonos, haori jackets, and undergarments.

Esphyr Slobodkina: Rediscovering a Pioneer of American Abstraction (June 16–Sept. 6, 2009)

This retrospective celebrates the life and work of Esphyr Slobodkina (1908-2002), a pioneer in the development of abstract art and a founding member of the American Abstract Artists group. The more than 70 works in the exhibition, including paintings, drawings, and mixed media constructions, reflect Slobodkina’s unique style with its basis in collage and assemblage.

Webber Center, CFCC
3001 SW College Road, Ocala
(352) 873-5809

The exhibit gallery was created to the specifications of the Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibit Standards so that it meets the criteria for showing national treasures and displays. Every exhibit is enhanced with local artifacts and the rich resources and talents of our community. All exhibits are free and open to the public, but donations are welcomed.

2008-2009 Season:

Resonating Fields: The Photography of Lois Greenfield (Sept. 12–Oct. 25, 2008)

This exhibition brings together a definitive collection of Lois Greenfield’s pioneering work in dance photography and encompasses incomparable images of the human body. Her unique approach to translating live movements and capturing the human form in motion has radically redefined the genre, reinvented the aesthetics of dance photography, and influenced a generation of photographers. Reception: Tuesday, Sept. 16, 4:30-6:30pm.

Best of the Season 2008 (Nov. 7-Dec. 6, 2008)

This juried exhibit features the best work of the season created by members of the Visual Artists’ Society, the local artist association of Central Florida Community College. Reception: Friday, Nov. 7, 4:30-6:30pm.

Trains at the Holidays (Dec. 13-30, 2008)

In its 13th year, this annual exhibit has become a holiday tradition for all who love model railroads. This year more trains will be on display in both the Webber Conference Center and the Webber Center Gallery. Reception: Saturday, Dec. 13, 12-2pm.

Santos: Devotional Folk Art of Puerto Rico (Jan. 20-Feb. 20, 2009)

The spiritual and aesthetic figure carvings featured in this exhibit are created by contemporary artisans, or santeros, in Puerto Rico. These carvings depict wooden saints that are used in the Christian tradition as “bridges to God.” Reception: Tuesday, Jan. 20, 4:30-6:30pm.

The Art of Uncle Monday (Feb. 26-March 28, 2009)

The drawings and watercolors in this exhibit illustrates Dr. Kristin G. Congdon’s book of traditional tales. Such stories explore more than 100 years of Florida’s history and folklore. Reception: Thursday, Feb. 26, 4:30-6:30pm.

2009 Student Art Showcase (April 8–May 6, 2009)

Students from CFCC’s Visual Arts Department display their artwork in a judged exhibit. Reception: Wednesday, April 8, 12–1pm.

Summer Spotlight XIII (May 21–June 27, 2009)

This annual judged and juried exhibit puts the spotlight on superlative artworks created by members of the Visual Artists’ Society, the local artist association of Central Florida Community College. Reception: Thursday, May 21, 4:30-6:30pm.


Dance Alive!
1325 NW 2nd Street, Gainesville
(352) 371-2986

Headquartered in nearby Gainesville, this professional ballet company featuring a roster of award-winning, international artists wows audiences with its various holiday performances. All shows take place at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, unless otherwise noted.

2008-2009 Season:

An Olympian Art Evening (Oct. 18, 2008)

Four-time Olympic athlete and Secretary-General of the World Olympic Association, Dr. Liston Bochette III created a stunning work of art to kick off the Dance Alive National Ballet’s 43rd season. The evening includes a “Meet the Artist” reception, unveiling of the work, dining, and a performance by Luminous (see next entry).

Luminous “Glowing from Within!” (Oct. 18, 2008)

An evening that flows from one exquisite work to the next, concluding with the rapturous “Constellations” composed by the internationally renowned Stella Sung. The performance also features Dance Alive National Ballet artists, pianist Kevin Sharpe, three guest sopranos, and a guest tenor.

The Nutcracker (Dec. 19, 2008)

Here is the beauty and enchantment of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her court, along with the tiny toy soldiers and the handsome Nutcracker prince. A holiday classic the whole family can enjoy.

Sugar Plum Tea (Dec. 20-21, 2008)

Bring your little one to the Phillips Center to meet the Sugar Plum Fairy and her court. Children touch a snowflake, tease a mouse, and enjoy a tea that only the Sugar Plum Fairy could host.

Danscape (March 20, 2009)

Ellis Island is the inspiration for choreographer-in-residence Judy Skinner’s newest work, One Day… Everything! Set to music by composer-in-residence Stella Sung, this touching ballet reaches far back into our history through evocative movement and expression.

If you have one child taking dance lessons, another taking music, and another involved in voice coaching, you understand how hectic it can be traveling between locations and scheduling lessons.

Fortunately, five local couples have solved your problem.

“We realized Ocala needed one central location where kids (and adults) could study all forms of art—not just dance,” says Connie Griffis.

PAC offers music lessons for all ages on every instrument from guitar and piano to band instruments, all forms of dance for everyone from 3 years of age to seniors, vocal and acting lessons, and acrobatics/tumbling.

And the caliber of instructors and partners is especially impressive. An acclaimed regional symphony is partnering with PAC to offer a symphony school that will include both private and group music lessons for all experience levels. Local musician Kevin Christian teaches voice.

The facility will soon be adding etiquette courses to their quickly growing class list.

Open just three months, PAC already has more than 100 students enrolled, and has hosted world-class performers. Sean Bankhead and Chase Benz, who appeared in the movie Step Up 2, as well as multiple music videos including those of P. Diddy and Mariah Carey, respectively, hosted a hip-hop master class in June. More master classes are in the works.

One trip to PAC and it’s obvious this is not a typical studio. Stentiford Construction Services Inc. gutted and remodeled the former Star Banner printing facility into a premier studio. Besides the beautiful architectural and decorative features, the lobby houses eight 37-inch flat screen monitors for parents to watch lessons remotely, without distracting students and instructors. Each of the three studios and the sound-proof music room also feature 50-inch plasma monitors for reviewing performances and instructional purposes. All three studios boast floating floors covered with Harlequin Marley or maple hardwood to lessen stress on joints.

Of the utmost concern when designing the space was student safety. The only entrance into the studio corridor is protected by a Biometric thumbprint reader.

“Only students who are registered for classes, instructors, and staff will be able to release the door lock,” says Paul. “We also have a fresh air HVAC system above any that might normally be found in an arts facility.”

Paul adds that the fresh air being pumped through the system oxygenates students’ blood, reduces germs, and keeps the facility smelling fresh.

Another great feature at PAC is the soundproof homework room, complete with wireless Internet access. 

“We went with premium features when designing the facility to make it tasteful for our students and their families,” Paul says. “We didn’t do it alone, though. Forty-seven companies extended themselves to make the facility as great as it is. We are extremely thankful. The idea was to bring something new and exciting to Ocala—we feel we’ve done that.”

— Karin Fabry-Cushenbery


(352) 237-5678
819 SE 1st Terrace, Ocala

Marion Performing Ballet
1713 SW 17th Street, Ocala
(352) 629-6155

Now in its 29th year, Marion Performing Ballet will once again evoke visions of beauty, grace, passion, romance, and drama for its patrons during the 2008-2009 season. Audiences can enjoy two enchanting ballets: The Nutcracker during the holiday season and another in the spring.

2008-2009 Season:

Nutcracker (December 2008)

Spring Ballet TBA (Spring 2009)


Central Florida Community College—Performing Arts
3001 SW College Road, Ocala
(352) 873-5810

Presented by the CFCC Foundation, this long-running series strives to showcase some of the top musical entertainment of the last 50 years. Each season is a potpourri of styles, from big band and jazz to vocalists and instrumentalists. All Ocala shows are at the CFCC Fine Arts Auditorium.

2008-2009 Season:

Broadway Nights (Oct. 13, 2008)

Features the music of the best-loved shows from yesterday and today! Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and many others from the world of musical theater.

Emile Pandolfi (Nov. 17, 2008)

His rich performances blend familiar Broadway and romantic standards with classical favorites—Lloyd Webber with Debussy and Chopin with Kern. Through it all is Pandolfi’s trademark humor, a gleam in the eye that shines to the back row as he interjects unexpected tales and laugh-inducing morsels between numbers.

Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (Jan. 12, 2009)

Tommy Dorsey, The Sentimental Gentleman of Swing, was a master at creating sentimental musical moods as well as superb dancing and listening tempos. The Big Band Legend brings the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra back to life!

The Lowe Family (March 9, 2009)

Versatile on many instruments, the nine Lowes offer an amazing blend of show-stopping classical, Broadway, Irish, jazz, bluegrass, old-time favorites, spectacular dance, six-part harmony, gospel, patriotic tributes, and more!

Laughing with the Legends (March 9, 2009)

Experience the riveting presence of Elvis, the hilarious antics of Lucy, spicy, sparkling Liberace, magnificent Marilyn, and electrifying Jerry Lee Lewis together with Ed Sullivan, Debbie Reynolds, Fats Domino, poodle-skirted teenyboppers, and many other highlights from the unforgettable, fast-paced ’50s!

An impressive career spanning several states and continents eventually led Nancy Ledding to call Ocala home.

“I’ve worked rural to urban, north to south, and east to west,” Nancy says. “I was born and raised in Wisconsin and have been everywhere else it seems.”

Maybe it’s her extensive travels as an archeologist (to such places as the Mohave Desert and Peru) that made Nancy so interested in culture. Maybe it’s simpler than that. Nancy’s parents regularly exposed her and her sister to different cultural activities when they were growing up.

“It really adds so much to your life,” she recalls. “My family was always involved in volunteer work, too. It’s a part of who we are and what we do.”

Nancy credits her parents for her interest in helping others through non-profit organizations. And her love of art just seemed to fit in naturally.

“It’s exciting and challenging to run a non-profit,” Nancy says. “The budgets are lean and you often have limited resources. Non-profits work with individuals for the greater good to serve the community as a whole.

“My sister and brother-in-law have been in Ocala for eight years,” Nancy adds, “so I was familiar with the area. I heard about the opening at MCA and here I am.”

For Nancy, one of the biggest challenges in her new position is learning the community.

“There are so many helpful people here,” she says. “I’ve made a conscious effort to attend anything and everything I could to find out what Marion County is all about and how it functions.”

As a major proponent of the arts, Nancy’s (and MCA’s) main objective is to “raise as much money and support as organizationally possible to provide grants to Marion County’s cultural groups.”

Nancy says she still remembers visiting museums, plays, and musical performances as a young girl and the impression they made on her.

“When we talk about long-term sustainability for the arts, we need to get our children involved and interested,” she says. “Ocala is a great area. Sure, there are tremendous needs and issues to be tackled, but what Ocala has is a strong sense of community. Ocala is very philanthropic.”

And Nancy is already heading in the right direction. One of the first programs she helped foster (with the help of her many volunteers) was a grant to provide internships to art students at Central Florida Community College.

“There’s limited opportunity to get related work experience to build an art resume,” Nancy says. “Having interns helps us with staffing, but it also teaches the students about how a gallery works and functions. It’s been wonderful to see the students develop and learn additional skills.”

Now that she’s gotten started, there’s no slowing her down. Nancy, who encourages “living life as a tourist,” admits that yes, the hours have been long and yes, her new career can be a bit demanding. But in the end, the joy she gets from bringing the arts to Ocala’s residents—young and old alike—is well worth it.

— Karin Fabry-Cushenbery


Sept. 26, 2008

A formal kick-off to Ocala’s cultural season.
Learn details of our area’s groups and
receive season schedules and information.

(352) 369-1500

CFCC Dinner Theater
CFCC Webber Center, Ocala Campus
3001 SW College Road
(352) 854-2322 ext. 1416

Central Florida Community College and the CFCC Foundation welcome you to the 11th Annual Dinner Theater at Webber Center. Proceeds from this event will support the CFCC Promise for the Future Fund that provides the college with resources to start new programs or expand existing programs. Matinee (12:15pm) and dinner (5:45pm) performances are scheduled. Call for details.

2008-2009 Season:

Tom, Dick and Harry (Jan. 28-Feb. 8, 2009)

In this hilarious story of three brothers, Tom and his wife are about to adopt a baby. His brothers are anxious to help make a good impression on the woman from the agency who has arrived to check on the home and lifestyle of the prospective parents. Unfortunately, Dick, who has stashed boxes of brandy and cigarettes in the house, and Harry, who is in possession of a cadaver he is planning to sell illegally to a medical school, fail miserably. The adoption agency representative is aghast—and the illegal Croatian aliens who do not speak English are no help at all!


CFCC Webber Center, Ocala Campus
(352) 873-5810

This student group produces a variety of entertaining productions each year including zany comedies, touching dramas, and edge-of-your-seat suspense stories. For details and ticket information, please contact the CFCC box office.

2008-2009 Season:

Our Country’s Good (Oct. 31-Nov. 9, 2008)

This production, based on a novel by Thomas Keneally (author of Schindler’s List), is the story of British convicts exiled to a penal colony in Australia and the play they produce against all odds.

A Night of One-Acts (Dec. 2-4, 2008)

Coastal Distrubances (April 3-11, 2009)

A romantic and kooky comedy about four generations of vacationers on a Massachusetts beach.

A Night of One-Acts (April 28-30, 2009)

Before taking the stage for a theater or vocal performance, Billie Thatcher says she prays to her mother and Ethel Merman. Quirky? Yes, but Billie jokes that it’s her only ritual before beginning a performance.

“I’ve done a lot of the same roles Ethel Merman did in her life,” she says. “I admire her greatly and always imagine she’s sitting in the front row of each performance with my mom.”

The Villages resident is set to play Dolly Levi, the lead role in the Ocala Civic Theatre’s season opener, Hello, Dolly!

“Besides meeting plenty of lifelong friends, one of the best parts of acting is getting to be someone else,” Billie says. “Dolly is a lot fun. She’s a widow who spends her life meddling. Once she decides it’s time to get her own life in order, she sets her sights on Mr. Horace Vandergelder.”

Despite performing in plenty of plays, Billie admits that nerves still take over before each performance.

“Once I actually get out on stage, though, I’m fine,” she explains. “It’s good to be nervous. The adrenalin gets me pumped up and ready to go.”

As a performer, Billie says that while she enjoys them all, certain productions have sentimental value to her. Hello, Dolly! is one of those shows.

“When I was a little girl my mom took us to the theater, the ballet, the Ice Capades, everywhere really,” Billie recalls. “One of the first plays I really remember seeing was Hello, Dolly! I fell in love with it.”

Of equal importance is the fact that this is the civic theater’s 20th anniversary of performing plays at their current location. The first play performed there? Hello, Dolly!

“It’s really an honor to be a part of the 20th anniversary production of Hello, Dolly!” adds Billie. “The Ocala Civic Theatre is the best community theater I’ve been involved with. They put on very high-caliber productions.”

For the Thatchers, Hello, Dolly! will be a family production. Her husband, Bob, is on the stage crew. Billie jokes that on their drives back home from Ocala to The Villages, they critique the rehearsals.

“Bob knows when someone misses a line,” she laughs.

While Bob may be content to stay behind the scenes, Billie says she was destined to be on stage.

The actress, who still works three days a week as an X-ray technician, says the commitment that goes into performing in a play is great, but well worth it.

“We rehearse five nights a week, so that takes a bit of time,” Billie says. “I also try to practice at least an hour on my own each day. I’ve never taken any singing or acting lessons. The talent I have is God-given and I like to share it.”

— Karin Fabry-Cushenbery


Hello, Dolly!
Sept. 4-28
For ticket information, call
(352) 236-2274 or visit www.ocalacivictheatre.com

Ocala Symphony Orchestra
416 SE Fort King Street, Ocala
(352) 351-1606

2008-2009 Season:

Vote American! (Oct. 18-19, 2008)

Join the Ocala Symphony Orchestra for an opening night pre-election pleaser. No partisan politics on this program! Everyone is joining the “party.” One of the great romantic symphonies, Dvorák’s spirited “American” symphony will conclude the program.

5th Annual “Symphony Under the Lights” Concert (Dec. 12, 2008)

This concert was established with the generous help of former Mayor Gerald Ergle and the City of Ocala as a free community concert to ring in the holiday season and create a tradition in the heart of downtown Ocala. Sponsored annually by corporate donors, the concert is a wonderful opportunity to gather the family together, share some hot chocolate, and listen to great holiday favorites on Ocala’s Historic Downtown Square.

Holiday Scenes from Stage and Screen (Dec. 13-14, 2008)

Enjoy music inspired by the season—operatic and Hollywood favorites in a grand, fun holiday mix. The music of Tchaikovsky, Puccini, Prokofiev, Herman, Menotti, and others will be performed.

18th Annual Young Artist Competition Honors Recital (Jan. 25, 2009)

Support aspiring young artists who have been chosen as finalists in the Annual Young Artist Competition. This recital, a special subscriber’s perk free to all season ticket holders and only $5 for non-season ticket holders, was established in response to the high standard of students auditioning in the past and as an opportunity for the young musicians to perform for a large audience. All performers will be showcasing concertos they auditioned with during the competition. Held at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales auditorium.

Celtic Connection (Feb. 21-22, 2009)

Internationally renowned interpreter of Beethoven pianist and friend of Ocala Symphony Orchestra, John O’Conor returns to Ocala for a performance of Beethoven’s grandest concerto as well as traditional folk songs of his beloved Ireland. Scottish themes complete this exciting program.

Earth, Wind, Fire, and… Green! (April 4-5, 2009)

The Greek classical elements of nature are not the exclusive domain of rock bands. The Ocala Symphony Orchestra presents its version of the ancient themes as well as a new one appropriate for the times. The classical elements “surround” magnificent performances by the winners of the orchestra’s 18th annual competition.

Ocala Community Concerts
 (352) 245-4630

Now in its 65th season, the Ocala Community Concert Association continues to bring some of the world’s most well-known and respected musicians to Marion County. Season tickets are $50, family $100, and single tickets at the door $25. All concerts begin at 7:30pm.

2008-2009 Season:

New Odyssey (Jan. 22, 2009)

Performing dynamic arrangements from Beethoven to present-day music, the group New Odyssey uses comedy, music novelty, and lighting during this live performance at the Marion Technical Institute.

Eta 3 (Feb. 5, 2009)

A classical trio comprised of American flutist Emily Thomas, Japanese pianist Tomoko Nakayama, and Russian clarinetist Alexey Gorokholinsky performs a repertoire of classical music selections at the Central Florida Community College Fine Arts Auditorium.

Bronn Journey (Feb. 18, 2009)

Harpist Bronn Journey performs his inspiring instrumental harp music at the Marion Technical Institute.

Gainesville Chamber Orchestra
 (352) 336-5448

Formed in 1983, this group of dedicated music lovers is now in its 25th season. The ensemble is currently under the direction of Maestro Evans Haile. Locations vary; check the Web site for updates and complete details. All Masterworks performances take place at 7pm in the University Auditorium on the campus of the University of Florida. All Chamber Music productions take place at 7:30pm at the Thomas Center in downtown Gainesville.

2008-2009 Season:

Masterworks Concert (Nov. 14, 2008)

The much-anticipated annual Beethoven concert!

Chamber Concert (Dec. 4, 2008)

This intimate performance will include selections appropriate for the holidays/winter.

Masterworks Concert (Jan. 30, 2009)

Playing music of Mendelsohn and Dvorak.

Chamber Concert (Feb. 12, 2009)

Masterworks Concert (April 24, 2009)

“An American in Paris”

Chamber Concert (Oct. 23, 2009)

Ocala Civic Theatre
In the Appleton Cultural Center
4337 E. Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala
(352) 236-2274

Ocala Civic Theatre produces more than 10 fully-staged productions each season, in addition to hosting touring companies. This volunteer-based organization is one of the largest community theaters in the state and serves more than 50,000 Marion, Citrus, and Lake County residents each season.

2008-2009 Season:

Hello Dolly! (Sept. 4-28, 2008)

We’re off on a whirlwind race around New York at the turn of the 20th Century, as we follow the adventures of America’s most beloved matchmaker, one of the most fabulous characters on the musical stage… Dolly Gallagher Levi. In addition to pairing others, Dolly tries her best to get the match she wants—the famous half-millionnaire, Horace Vandergelder. An irresistable story, alive with personality and glittering with classic musical numbers!

The Unexpected Guest (Nov. 6-30, 2008)

On a foggy night in Wales, a stranger walks into a house to find a man murdered and his wife standing over him with a gun. Later, the police discover clues pointing to a man who died two years earlier, opening a Pandora’s box of love and hate, suspicion and intrigue. And, after the inevitable gathering in one room, Miss Christie has a few more surprises. What theatergoer can resist the thrill?

The Baker’s Wife (Feb. 5-March 1, 2009)

The bickering residents of a small, rural town in France find peace and contentment in the heavenly bread of the newly-arrived baker and his attractive young wife. When she is lured away by the attentions of a handsome handyman, the devastated middle-aged baker loses his zest for life (and baking), throwing the community into chaos!

No Sex Please, We’re British (March 19-April 12, 2009)

When a housewife innocently orders some Scandinavian glassware, what she receives is not what she expected. Her husband, a bank manager, is appalled and must deal with the flood of photographs, books, films and, eventually, girls that arrive at his door. The matter is complicated by his boss (who is also appalled), his mother (who would be appalled if she understood), a bank inspector, and a detective.

The Wizard of Oz (May 14-June 7, 2009)

Dorothy Gale of Kansas dreams of what lies over the rainbow. One day, a twister hits her farm (accidentally killing the Wicked Witch of the East) and carries her away to Munchkinland. Join Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and Toto as they head for the Emerald City hoping the Wizard will grant their wishes.

2008-2009 Special Presentations:

Tuesdays With Morrie (Oct. 9-19, 2008)

When a journalist finds himself losing his direction in life, he reconnects with a professor and mentor from his college days at Brandeis, who is in the last months of his battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. As they rekindle their friendship, the former student learns what really matters and what to value each day.

Bloody Murder (Nov. 13-21, 2008)

A group of the usual British murder-mystery types is attending a weekend affair at the lavish estate of Lady Somerset when, suddenly, one of them dies of poisoning. Her Ladyship refuses to call the police, saying she can’t go through this again. What again? And why were all these people invited there in the first place? A comedic turn of events creates a fresh look at the classic “whodunnit.”

Moonlight and Magnolias (Jan. 8-18, 2009)

For once, everyone in Hollywood agrees on one thing: Gone With The Wind is going to be a huge flop. Weeks behind in shooting and deep in debt, producer David O. Selznick hires director Victor Fleming and scriptwriter Ben Hecht to rewrite the screenplay. In just five days, living on peanuts and bananas, the two deliver one of the greatest films of all time. A side-splitting farce based on historical fact.

Local patrons may remember it as the Central Florida Symphony Orchestra. Still others as the Ocala Festival Orchestra. But starting this season, the ensemble will be known simply as the Ocala Symphony Orchestra, and for good reason.

“The reason for the change was to stop the confusion of where we were located,” explains General Manager Dorothy Pitone. “Because of the ambiguous Central Florida Symphony name, it was always very difficult for people to think about where we were.

“The name change also came about to foster a sense of pride of where we perform,” she adds.

The orchestra has much to be proud of over the 32 years it has brought professional symphonic performances to Ocala. Its stellar seasons, which regularly feature world-class musicians, draw music aficionados as far west as Lecanto and as far north as Valdosta, Ga. Today, the average audience size for a concert at Ocala Breeders’ Sales auditorium, the symphony’s new venue, is 750.

“The reason why we moved to OBS was because we were literally turning people away at the community college,” Dorothy recalls. “We have about 670 patrons who buy season tickets, and at OBS, we can seat 900 comfortably.”

As one might expect, the annual holiday concert is the symphony’s most well-attended.

“Christmas is always bigger. That’s always a good turn-out, sometimes even larger than 750,” Dorothy says. “The ages of our patrons vary a lot. It’s a very diverse crowd that we’re pulling in from the area, and that really tells you something about the community.”

Led by its conductor of eight years, Dr. James Plondke, the orchestra has a full schedule prepared for the 2008-2009 season, including the return of world-renowned pianist, and friend of Plondke, John O’Conor. His Celtic Connection concert will take place Feb. 21-22.

“We’re really lucky to have him come in and perform with us again,” says Dorothy. “He is not only doing Beethoven, but he is also doing traditional Irish music. I’m sure we’ll pull a large crowd on that one because so many people know of him.”

Choosing a theme for the season and then putting together the concerts is a deliberate and time-consuming process, and one that involves close collaboration between the orchestra’s board of directors and conductor.

“Every year, the board gives the maestro suggestions. Then Dr. Plondke mulls over it, goes through all of his lists and all of the knowledge he has of each piece,” Dorothy explains. “Then he puts the programs together thematically. Once that’s done, the guest artists are added.”

The result is nothing short of spectacular. Decade after decade, the orchestra has filled the air of the world’s horse capital with the grand sounds of symphonic harmony. According to Dorothy, the reason for their artistic commitment is a simple one.

“A great community deserves a great orchestra,” she says.

-—Kristina Kolesa


(352) 351-1606

Hippodrome State Theatre
25 SE 2nd Place, Gainesville
(352) 375-4477

A cornerstone of the artistic life of north Florida, the Hippodrome is a landmark of the downtown Gainesville landscape, occupying a beautifully restored historic building built in 1911. It presents several main stage plays each season, comprising the best in contemporary theater, and has played to over one million audience members.

2008-2009 Season:

Gutenberg! The Musical! (Sept. 5-28, 2008)

In this musical spoof, a pair of aspiring playwrights performs a backers’ audition for their new project—a big, splashy, overblown musical about printing press inventor Johannes Gutenberg. With an unending supply of enthusiasm, Bud and Doug sing all the songs and play all the parts in their crass historical epic, with the hope that one of the producers in attendance will give them a Broadway contract—fulfilling their ill-advised dreams.

Woman in Black (Oct. 17-Nov. 9, 2008)

A lawyer hires an actor to reenact the haunting story of a mysterious woman in black that terrifies the locals. They believe that anyone who sees her dies! The lawyer and the actor recreate the events of a dark and stormy night when he was first haunted by the specter.

A Tuna Christmas (Nov. 28-Dec. 23, 2008)

Those wacky characters from Tuna, Texas, have once again entered the heated Yuletide lawn display contest. Socialite Vera Carp hopes to win another consecutive victory, but she faces stiff competition from the crusty proprietor of Didi’s Used Weapons and a pair of cowboy-loving Tastee Creme waitresses.

A Christmas Carol (Nov. 29-Dec. 23, 2008)

The Hippodrome’s 31st annual production of this holiday classic. Join Scrooge, Marley, the Cratchits, and a host of Christmas ghosts for this holiday favorite and Hippodrome tradition. Dazzling special effects, an original adaptation, and a timeless message have made A Christmas Carol one of the most popular Hippodrome productions of all time.

tick, tick… BOOM  (Jan. 9-Feb. 1, 2009)

From the Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Jonathan Larson, the creator of Rent, comes an autobiographical rock tale that is filled with humor. tick, tick…BOOM! tells the story of a young composer on the brink of turning 30 who struggles to follow his dreams.

Eurydice (Feb. 27-March 22, 2009)

Sarah Ruhl reinvents the fantastic and hallucinatory myth of Orpheus through the eyes of its heroine, Eurydice. Eurydice journeys through the jaws of death into the Underworld where she happily reunites with her father who teaches her about love, loss and the pleasures and pains of memory.

Shipwrecked! (April 17-May 10, 2009)

A young man escapes his dull life on a 30-year, awe-inspiring adventure. His adventures are spellbinding and include a pearl hunting expedition, a catastrophic storm on the Coral Sea, searching for gold in New Guinea, being lost at sea, and living with aborigines in Australia. When his longing for home draws him back from his idyllic life, he finds himself in the hands of his admirers and his detractors.

TBA Summer Musical (Summer 2009)

Details to be announced soon!

Acrosstown Repertory Theatre
619 South Main Street, Gainesville
(352) 378-9166

Since its founding in 1980, the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre has provided Gainesville and surrounding cities and counties with a unique and innovative cultural experience.

2008-2009 Season:

Waiting for the Parade (Through Sept. 14, 2008)

Set in Calgary during World War II, five women gather to work for the war effort while their men are away. The tension between the women and their responses to the stress become a reflection of the war itself.

Falsettos (Oct. 2-25, 2008)

A musical about what happens when a neurotic man leave his wife and young son to live with another man. Falsettos won 1992 Tony Awards for Best Book and Musical Score.

Glengarry Glen Ross (Nov. 9, 16 & 23, 2008)

This Pulitzer Prize-winning play follows salesmen Ricky Roma and Shelley Levene in their quest to earn the monthly sales award, a new Cadillac, and the cut-throat antics that ensue in their real-estate office.

Closer (Jan. 8-31, 2009)

An examination of the intertwining lives of an obituary writer, a stripper, a photographer, and a dermatologist as they seek intimacy.

The Rude Mechanicals (April  1-18, 2009)

A non-Shakespeare version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this play for young and older audiences alike follows carpenter Peter Quince and his friends, “the rude mechanicals,” as they compete for the chance to perform a play at the Duke’s wedding.

Art Film Festival (February 2009)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Spring 2009)

Shakespeare’s beloved comedy alternates between the court world of Duke Theseus and the imaginative realm of the forest as the author celebrates the strange and absurd doings of the poets, lover, and madman on this, the shortest night of the year.

One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show (Spring 2009)

A hilarious comedy about Reverend Avery Harrison’s attempt to hold onto his position among Philadelphia’s black elite as his wife’s malapropisms betray her ghetto origins and other family members undermine his efforts.

Korene Wilbanks’ arrival at the Appleton Museum of Art is a homecoming of sorts. The Virginia Commonwealth University graduate is getting back to her academic roots in her new position as museum educator.

“I’m really excited because all that I learned in graduate school I’m using here,” says Korene who holds a master’s degree in art history. “I’m doing art historical research as well as developing upcoming exhibits and educational programs.”

During her career, Korene has worked in educational programming at the Virginia Beach Public Library and as a gallery art specialist and state archivist up north. She also worked for the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Va.

At the Appleton, she’ll have the best of both worlds: art and education.

“I’m really impressed by the museum. It’s an amazing resource and an incredible gift to the city from Mr. Appleton,” she says. “I hope to expand the education programs—more lectures, more programming for people to attend. And I’m already working on an art camp.”

Her immediate focus is on creating educational activities related to the season’s upcoming showings, such as this month’s Responding to Home and Thomas Hart Benton exhibits. The new Saturday Art Craft program for young people includes a tour and an art project related to the two exhibitions.

One of Korene’s long-term goals is academic outreach—sending small exhibits to area schools.

“Mini traveling exhibits from the Appleton out to the schools,” she explains. “They would bring very simple objects to the students to see in their schools.”

In the future, she hopes to see the Appleton collaborate even more with other museums to bring interesting exhibits to Ocala.

“I like that we have a lot of space because that gives us the ability to bring in new things instead of just growing our own collection,” she explains. “Part of our collection could go out as traveling exhibits as well. It would be good for Ocala and the Appleton to get our name traveling around the United States.”

Korene’s agenda is certainly full, but life won’t be all work and no play for the new museum educator. She has already participated in a few quintessentially Ocala activities—like riding in the glass-bottom boats at Silver Springs—and she’s looking forward to one other in particular: the museum’s own Appleton Cup fundraiser in October.

“I’m really looking forward to the Cup. I’ve never seen polo,” she says with a smile. “It’ll be at the Florida Horse Park, and I’m going to get a hat and everything.”

From the sounds of it, Korene will be right at home in Ocala.

-—Kristina Kolesa


4333 E. Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala
(352) 291-4455

Gainesville Community Playhouse
4039 NW 16th Blvd., Gainesville
(352) 376-4949

Gainesville Community Playhouse is one of the oldest community theaters in Florida, having produced its first show in 1927. Each season features a mix of musicals, dramas, and comedies, all performed at the Vam York Theater.

2008-2009 Season:

Leading Ladies (Sept. 5-21, 2008)

From the author of Lend Me a Tenor and Moon Over Buffalo, this comedy follows two English Shakespearean actors who have learned that an old lady in Pennsylvania is about to die and leave her fortune to two long-lost English nephews and their plan to get their hands on it. Trouble ensues when they discover the relatives aren’t nephews after all, but nieces.

Jane Eyre (Oct. 31-Nov. 23, 2008)

Enjoy the classic romantic tale of a young, impoverished governess who journeys to an isolated English mansion to teach the ward of the estate’s enigmatic master, Rochester. The attraction between the two is immediate, leading to high emotions for both.

It’s a Wonderful Life (Dec. 4-14, 2008)

Based on the popular movie, It’s a Wonderful Life tells the story of family man George Bailey who has so many problems that he is contemplating ending it all on Christmas Eve. As George is about to jump off a bridge, he is stopped by his guardian angel, who shows George how different life would have been without him.

Loot (Jan. 23-Feb. 8, 2009)

Mr. McLeavy is mourning the death of his wife when his son decides to burglarize the bank next door to the funeral parlor. When a detective starts inquiring, father and son replace Mrs. McLeavy with the loot in the coffin, resulting in their comical dilemma over what to do with the body. 

Pippin (March 20-April 11, 2009)

Young Prince Pippin is on a quest to find true happiness and fulfillment in this hip, tongue-in-cheek fairy tale musical. A score by three-time Oscar-winning composer/lyricist Stephen Schwarts (Pocahontas, The Prince of Egypt) provides one show-stopping number after another.

Daddy’s Dyin’: Who’s Got the Will? (May 15-31, 2009)

A southern comedy about a dysfunctional family dealing with the impending death of their patriarch in a small Texas town. Through discussions of their father’s will, the family experiences a rebirth of the familial spirit.

Chicago (July 10-Aug. 2, 2009)

Chorus girl Roxie Hart murders her lover but manages to avoid prison time thanks to razzle-dazzle lawyer Billy Flynn. She’s intent, however, to use her notoriety to propel herself to stardom with the help of another murderous chorus girl, Velma Kelly.

University of Florida
Performing Arts
 (800) 905-2787

The University of Florida is home to an abundance of cultural and performing arts opportunities. Throughout the course of each year, dozens of world-class performers, musicians, and productions make their way to one of the university venues including the University Auditorium, the Baughman Center, and the Curtis M. Phillips Center. For ticket and venue information, please visit the performing arts Web site.

2008-2009 Season:

Kronos Quartet—Awakening (Sept. 10)

Laurie Anderson—Homeland (Sept. 16)

Shakespeare & Company in Hamlet (Sept. 23)

The High Kings (Sept. 25)

Olga Kern (Sept. 26)

The Wizard of Oz (Oct. 10)

University of Florida Symphony Orchestra (Oct. 10)

American String Quartet (Oct. 12)

Ravi Shankar (Oct. 14)

Down by the Riverside: Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Boys of Alabama (Oct. 16)

Inbal Pinto Dance Company—Shaker (Oct. 22)

Young Concert Artist: Robert Belinic, Guitar (Oct. 30)

Capitol Steps (Nov. 2)

Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra (Nov. 5)

Chip Davis’ Christmas—Music of Mannheim Steamroller (Nov. 13)

The Pajama Game (Nov. 20)

Pilobolus (Nov. 23)

Soweto Gospel Choir (Nov. 26, 28)

Mr. Jack Daniel’s Original Silver Cornet Band—Hometown Christmas (Dec. 7)

Itzhak Perlman (Jan. 4)

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Jan. 8)

Phantom of the Opera film with Organist David Briggs (Jan. 9)

Ying Quartet (Jan. 11)

Golden Dragon Acrobats (Jan. 17)

Tango Fire (Jan. 21)

The Drowsy Chaperone (Jan. 23)

Interpreti Veneziani (Jan. 25)

Riverdance (Jan. 26, 27, 28)

Flashback Gala (Jan. 31)

Denyce Graves, Mezzo-soprano (Feb. 6)

The African Children’s Choir (Feb. 8)

Ahn Trio—Lullaby for My Favorite Insomniac (Feb. 14)

Francesca Gagnon—The Voice of Alegria (Feb. 15)

STOMP (Feb. 17, 18)

Young Concert Artist—Benjamin Moser (Feb. 19)

Hilary Hahn, violin (Feb. 20)

The Limon Dance Company (Feb. 26)

Arlo Guthrie—Lost World Tour (Feb. 27)

Paddy Moloney with Chieftains and special guests (March 1)

Christian McBride Band (March 3)

Kodo (March 4)

Dan Zanes and Friends (March 8)

Trey McIntrye Project (March 18)

Young Concert Artist: Alexandre Bouzlov, cello (March 19)

The Peking Acrobats (March 21)

Ebene Quartet (March 22)

The Punch Brothers featuring Chris Thile (March 25)

John Williams, guitar (March 29)

L.A. Theatre Works (April 1)

National Philharmonic of Russia (April 3)

Neil Berg’s 101 Years of Broadway (April 4)

UF Opera Theatre in Tosca (April 16, 18)

Bob the Builder Live! (April 19)

Garrison Keillor (April 22)

Fine Arts for Ocala
 (352) 867-4788

The 42nd annual Ocala Arts Festival, Fine Arts for Ocala’s signature event, will be held Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 25-26, at the McPherson Governmental Complex in Ocala. Artists and fine craftsmen from throughout the United States will sell their artwork and compete for prizes during the two-day festival, which also includes live entertainment, food, and children’s activities and workshops. Admission and parking is free.

I take a seat in the corner of a small, windowless room crammed with amplifiers, a full drum kit, and a smattering of rock music posters. Snakes of electrical cords coil from every outlet, weaving around music stands and through chair legs. The dense riff of Deep Purple’s classic “Smoke on the Water” fills the space and shakes the door. Then the snare hits, rattling like cannon fire.

The rhythm guitarist is spiky-haired and well-mannered with textbook technique. The drummer is clean-cut, with dark hair and a relentless enthusiasm for his patterns. Add in the lead guitarist with long hair that hangs in front of his face like a much-younger Slash, the music teacher sight-reading on bass who could’ve jumped out of Lenny Kravitz’s touring band, and the lanky blonde girl singing lead with a bright smile and a husky voice, and this could be some club’s opening act.

Only most of them are still in high school.

The keyboardist, Dean Marino (pictured), is having just as much fun as the kids, romping through his solos and directing the rest of the band as he plays with just one hand. Clearly, he’s done this before.

Rockiversity is his dream.

This nondescript building on South Pine is the culmination of what the former studio musician and current public school teacher has worked towards his whole life. And inside each tiny room, within a maze of windowless hallways, are kids who share that vision. Everyone here wants to be part of something bigger, something that can only be achieved together. They want to play in a band.

“Kids recognize good classic rock,” Dean says. “Within a year, they’ll be reading music.”

His local school of rock opened on Jan. 7 and Dean proudly reveals that most of his charter students “are still here.”

Parents simply love the place. Lori Foultz’s daughter, Natasha, is only 7, but wants to have a career in acting or singing. She signed up for the “Little Rockers” to study keyboards and vocals. Her favorite singers are Miley Cyrus and Vanessa Hudgens.

“It’s not like the typical keyboarding class,” Lori explains. “He asks them what songs they like and that’s what they learn. She loves it.”

For Dean, a past Golden Apple teacher of the year recipient and Lake Weir High alumnus, that’s the ultimate compliment. His main goal is to have kids find something that they want to learn. Classic rock just happens to be the means to that end.

“Our curriculum comes out of the music,” he concludes. “Kids are starving for this.”

—Dean Blinkhorn


112 South Pine Ave., Ocala
(352) 694-7025

Posted in Ocala Style Features

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