Theater West End secures its future for now, Parkland parent takes the stage, plus more Orlando performing arts news

Manuel Oliver in 'Guac: My Son, My Hero'
Manuel Oliver in 'Guac: My Son, My Hero' Photo by Change the Ref

America's gun violence crisis will hit home at House of Blues on Sunday, Jan. 19, when activist Manuel Oliver, the father of a slain Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student, makes Disney Springs the sole Orlando stop on his national tour of Guac: My Son, My Hero. Oliver's one-man multimedia performance traces the aftermath of his son Joaquin's murder, which led Manuel and his wife, Patricia, to found Change the Ref, a grass-roots awareness-raising organization intended to help future leaders counteract the NRA's influence. The show, which combines monologues with live painting and audience participation, was created with the help of Broadway heavyweights like co-writer/director James Clements, actor Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton) and lyricist Benji Pasek (Dear Evan Hansen).

click to enlarge Manuel Oliver in 'Guac: My Son, My Hero' - Photo by Change the Ref
Photo by Change the Ref
Manuel Oliver in 'Guac: My Son, My Hero'

Good news for supporters of Sanford's Theater West End, which had announced that it was in danger of losing its recently renovated venue if a nearly $30,000 deficit was not resolved by mid-December. Shortly after Christmas, the company announced on its Facebook page that it had raised $25,324.25 through online crowdfunding, plus an additional $2,395.50 in offline donations, from more than 200 people. While the total was short of their initial goal, they say it was enough to "meet our obligations to move forward" with a season that includes The Great American Trailer Park Musical (Jan. 24-Feb. 9), Green Day's American Idiot (April 10-26) and A Chorus Line (May 29-June 14).

Company members from Disney's Aladdin will present a fundraiser cabaret for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS while their tour is in town. "Songs From a Whole New World" will be held on Monday, Jan. 27, at the Mezz; a $10 donation allows you to hear this talented troupe perform new and original songs in an intimate setting.

Now Playing

Becoming Dr. Ruth, through Feb. 9 at Lowndes Shakespeare Center ... Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike, Jan. 16-20 at Penguin Point Productions ... Men on Boats, Jan. 17-Feb. 9 at Mad Cow ... Chase Padgett in 6 Guitars, Jan. 17-19 at Theater West End ... The Lion in Winter, Jan. 17-Feb. 2 at CFCArts.


Disney's Aladdin, Jan. 22-Feb. 9 at Dr. Phillips Center ... The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Jan. 24-Feb. 9 at Theater West End ... Beehive: The '60s Musical, Jan. 24-Feb. 22 at Winter Park Playhouse ... Violet, Jan. 24-Feb. 9 at Garden Theatre ... Moon Over Buffalo, Jan. 24-Feb. 9 at Osceola Arts ... Anne of Green Gables, Jan. 27-Feb. 23 at Orlando Rep ... The Three Musketeers, Feb. 5-March 22 at Lowndes Shakespeare Center ... If You Knew Our Story: A Friendship Cabaret, Feb. 7-8 at Breakthrough Theatre.

This story appears in the Jan. 15, 2020, print issue of Orlando Weekly. Stay on top of Central Florida news and views with our weekly Headlines newsletter.

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