Live Active Cultures 

Welcome to this week's edition of my column, where I'm supposed to share scintillating insights on whatever exciting Orlando cultural experience I endured in the last seven days. Sorry to disappoint, but I got nuthin' — I haven't seen a single scrap of art all week, unless you count Olympic ice dancing (and that's an argument for another day).

Now, I am certain that you would be fascinated by the facts behind this journalistic failure, but it wouldn't be fair to share the source of my shame. For, if I were to tell you that I was instead occupied with the opening weekend of Bach at Leipzig, that kind of shameless self-promotion would never be acceptable at our dignified publication. But do read what an unbiased source has to say on page 21. And here are some suggestions for stuff you (and I) could be doing this week.

Thursday: Florida Strawberry Festival

I don't usually like to drive more than 20 minutes from home for an event, but I'll make an exception for the 75th Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City, which kicks off Thursday, March 4, and continues through March 14. There's a midway full of spin-and-puke carny rides, bluegrass music and pig races (of course), but the eponymous berries are the real raison d'être for this delicious diamond anniversary. Bring home a basket and blend it with this weekend's chocolate fest at Orlando Science Center (see Selections) for unbridled dessert debauchery.

Friday: Garden Encore!

Winter Garden celebrates the second anniversary of Garden Theatre's glorious restoration with the "Garden Encore! Gala." The best reason to spring for this high-dollar hobnob ($100 single, $175 couple), aside from the food, drink and a cappella performance by 42Five, is the chance to check out the super-cool hydroponic Green Sky Growers' rooftop garden.

Saturday: Deep Field

On Saturday at 7 p.m., Stardust Video & Coffee hosts a free opening reception for artist Rick Jones' latest exhibition, Deep Field: New Abstract Paintings, Drawings and Prints. His first solo show since 2008 features new works in his signature geometric-abstract style. (I've got one of his works in my home, and let me tell you, it really ties the living room together.) Afterward, swing by the Social, where the smoking Eugene Snowden and the Legendary JC's take the stage at 10 p.m.; it's the best $10 you'll spend all weekend.

Sunday: Oedipus the King

Sunday sees Oedipus the King, the latest in Shakes' "Greatest of the Greeks" free reading series, directed by Laurel Clark. The cast, led by Kenny Babel as archetype of incest Oedipus, includes J.D. Sutton, William Warriner and Sarah Lee Dobbs. If you ever wanted to know how the cast of Sleuths Mystery Dinner Shows would take on the ancient classics, here's your chance.

Monday: Fab Fringe Fundraiser

Beth Marshall may have just had orthopedic surgery as a result of a serious car accident, but that doesn't seem to be stopping her from co-hosting this Monday's Fab Fringe Fundraiser at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center with Orlando Shakes' Patrick Flick. (See Selections.)

Tuesday: In the Heights and Chemonologues

Fairwinds Broadway Across America has brought an exceptionally diverse group of touring shows to the Bob Carr this season, and the Tuesday, March 9, premiere of In the Heights (though March 14) is a prime example. The 2008 Tony Award winner for Best Musical is a celebration of Manhattan's multiracial Washington Heights neighborhood, told through Pulitzer Prize finalist Quiara Alegría Hudes' book and a contemporary Latin-flavored score by Lin-Manuel Miranda that's a million miles away from Andrew Lloyd Webber. Next season's roadshow slate will feature cartoon characters and golden oldies, so enjoy the edgy while you can.

On the other hand, if you can't afford Bob Carr prices, here's a free first: a Feldman performance that doesn't involve Brian. You may have seen Marilyn Wattman-Feldman on stage with her omnipresent performance-artist son (see Live Active Cultures, Jan. 27 and Feb. 17, 2010, and a dozen other mentions) and the rest of their semifunctional family in The Feldman Dynamic, where they would ad lib an acrimonious evening meal for your uncomfortable bemusement. This time Marilyn is taking the lead with Chemonologues, a fresh script that she has written herself, inspired by her decade of experience as a metastatic breast cancer survivor. The unrehearsed experiment is funded in part by a professional development grant from United Arts of Central Florida. (See Selections.)


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