Selections: Our picks of the week's best events, Mar 2 - 8 

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Wednesday, 2

Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

Animating Frozen's Elsa probably took its share of blood, sweat and tears, but imagine creating the chilly princess out of a shrub. Starting today, you can see Elsa, Anna and other timeless Disney characters converted by horticulturists into foliage form at Epcot's annual International Flower and Garden Festival. Not interested in creative hedges? Check out one of the festival's unique gardens, which include a bonsai collection, floating mini gardens and healing plants. Epcot also plans to host 13 outdoor kitchens, ranging from Parisian cuisine to modern Chinese favorites, and gardening experts who can give you tips on how to improve your succulent collection. Epcot is, lest we forget, still part of Walt Disney World, so tickets aren't cheap, but for the garden connoisseur, it's well worth it. – Monivette Cordeiro

through May 30 | Epcot, 200 Epcot Center Drive, Lake Buena Vista | 407-939-5277 | price of admission

Thursday-Sunday, 3-6

Aries Spears

You know that thing where you love someone's art but you hate their politics? Let's call it "Wagner Was a Nazi" syndrome. America has suffered through an advanced case of it lately, to wit: all those Annie Hall DVDs in the trash when we learned about Woody Allen's idea of baby-sitting, or the parade of 60 women it took to finally convince us that when it comes to dating, Bill Cosby is a sandbagging sonofabitch. And Twitter is Ground Zero for celebs to show their asses, which is why sometimes avoiding your favorites' feeds is a good idea. Aries Spears' stand-up has had us cry-laughing more than once – his impressions of Shaq and Charles Barkley are viciously, flawlessly hilarious – but we were bummed in December when he tweeted: "I don't care how incredible a female mc is the best female mc could only hold her own wita a subpar male mc! Rap like sports is a man thing!" UGH. Get with the now, Spears. We're not giving up on him yet, though, and until he finally gets that HBO comedy special, his live dates are the best way to bask in the Shaq. – Jessica Bryce Young

8 p.m. Thursday, 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, 7:30 and 10:15 p.m. Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Sunday | Orlando Improv, 9101 International Drive | 407-480-5233 | | $25

Thursday-Monday, March 3-7

My Dear Watson

Sherlock Holmes has always been popular. In addition to the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories being almost continuously in print since the 1880s, Holmes holds the Guinness World Record for the most portrayed literary human character in film and television (edged out slightly by Dracula, whom Guinness has declared a non-human). Adaptations and interpretations of the great detective are as diverse as they are plentiful, but one thing is nearly constant: the friendship of John Watson. In My Dear Watson, originally conceived as a master's thesis at Rollins College, playwright Jami-Leigh Bartschi explores that special relationship from their first meeting to Holmes' climactic battle with Moriarty above the Reichenbach Falls. And what better way to delve into underlying motivations and feelings than the power of musical theater? The ubiquitous John DiDonna both stars in and co-directs this production, assisted in direction by Chris Pruitt and on stage by Kyle Stone as Dr. Watson. Bartschi herself serves as the musical director, ensuring a faithful re-creation of her original thesis. – Thaddeus McCollum

8 p.m. | Mandell Theater, Lowndes Shakespeare Center, 812 E. Rollins St. | 407-328-9005 | | $22

Friday-Sunday, March 4-6

Touch: The Human Experience

Alabama native Marshall Ellis has made a name for himself running the Marshall Ellis Theatre and associated dance troupe, ME Dance, since 2011. Starting this season, however, he's taking his initials off the troupe's name in favor of the less self-referential Dance Theatre of Orlando. Ellis' troupe kicks off their rebranding season with Touch: The Human Experience, an original series of dance vignettes set during the Great Depression and set to the music of Bruce Springsteen. If you're a Springsteen purist – or just someone who knows how to work a calendar – who's thinking to yourself, "Hey, wait a minute. Springsteen wasn't around to make music during the Depression; he's just from Jersey," chill out: Jersey and depression have gone hand in hand for billions of years, and there's an inherent mirroring between the beaten-down blue collar worker ballads of Springsteen's '70s and '80s material and the beaten-down blue collar workers of the Great Depression. Because history may not repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme, as Mark Twain is often credited with saying. – TM

8:30 p.m., also March 11-13 | Marshall Ellis Theatre, 1300 La Quinta Drive | | $20

Saturday, 5

The Garland Magic: A Tribute to Judy Garland

Frances Ethel "Baby" Gumm – the child vaudeville star who became America's sweetheart after changing her name to Judy Garland, singing a song on a trolley, and following a yellow brick road – was a hot mess of a person. Fragile and belligerent by turns after being used (and borderline-abused) by everyone around her pretty much from birth, she embodied the tragic-star cliché, tantrums, overdoses and all. But maybe it was that bitter undercurrent that grounded the warm, soaring sweetness of her voice. Tonight the Orlando Philharmonic, with Broadway singing star Karen Mason and under the baton of Michael Berkowitz, performs a tribute to Garland spotlighting the high points of her famed 1961 Carnegie Hall comeback concert, sometimes called "the greatest night in showbiz history." The recording of that show is goosebump-inducing, especially "Over the Rainbow," but we're hoping Mason can nail Garland's throbbing interpretation of "How Long Has This Been Going On?" And, OK, we'll admit that a little part of us also hopes for a cameo appearance by Mark Baratelli's pill-addled, non sequitur-spouting Judy (from his eponymous Orlando Fringe show). As far as we're concerned, that part of her life was part of the magic too. (Who knows, maybe Baratelli will crash the stage? Fingers crossed.) – JBY

2 and 8 p.m. | Bob Carr Theater, 401 W. Livingston St. | 407-770-0071 | | $17-$78

Saturday, 5

Puppy Love Dog Festival

Every dog has his day, and this is definitely one you and your four-legged pal should celebrate. Join the rest of the pack at one of the hippest pet parties in Orlando with your friendly, vaccinated and leashed furry friend for a doggone good time. You and your pooch can strut down the runway in a doggie fashion show, amaze audiences in the best trick contest or just chill out and relax as you both wolf down some treats. Entrance to the event is free, but a $5 donation to go toward local animal rescues is appreciated, plus it comes with a cute bandana for Fido. Looking good and doing good? That's enough to make any tail wag. – Deanna Ferrante

noon-4 p.m. | The Acre Orlando, 4421 Edgewater Drive | | free 

Saturday, 5

Mutual Benefit & Moon Jelly

Indie rock up-and-comers Mutual Benefit are drifting from their regular tour schedule for a one-off show in Orlando this Saturday. Already applauded by the likes of Pitchfork for their soothingly dreamy sounds, Mutual Benefit unplugs even further for a stripped-down performance at the Gallery at Avalon Island. (Built in 1886, the Rogers Building that the gallery occupies is the oldest building operating in Orlando, and is now used to display contemporary art.) Also on the musical agenda for the evening are hometown psychonauts Moon Jelly, and to round out an already stacked lineup, Kate Shults of the UCF School of Visual Arts and Design accompanies the show with a video and light installation. – Marissa Mahoney

7 p.m. | The Gallery at Avalon Island, 39 S. Magnolia Ave. | 407-317-8367 | | donations encouraged

Sunday, 6

State Champs & Neck Deep

When Alternative Press is sponsoring an event, chances are that it'll be of the pop-punk variety, and this show is no exception. State Champs and Neck Deep continue their co-headlining tour of world domination, which has taken them through Europe, Asia, Australia and now Florida.  It's a rather impressive feat considering neither of the bands has been around for more than a few years, but that doesn't stop their albums from making it onto the Billboard charts. Knuckle Puck and Like Pacific are joining in for the ride, and although the venue has changed (it was originally scheduled to be held at Venue 578) the core of the light-hearted, love-focused genre remains the same. – Kim Slichter

4 p.m. | The Beacham, 46 N. Orange Ave. | 407-246-1419 | | $17-$30


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