A guide to the best of Orlando’s theater scene

"Gertrude and Claudius" at Orlando Shakes
"Gertrude and Claudius" at Orlando Shakes Photo by Tony Firriolo courtesy of Orlando Shakes

There's something for everyone in Orlando's theaters – Clarissa Moon breaks it down

Orlando attracts talent from around the nation to perform at its theme parks, and these performers use local theaters as an artistic outlet, making Central Florida a lucky hub of high-caliber performance. Orlando's theater offerings include national tours, blockbuster musicals, classic Shakespeare, new works and everything in between. Whether you're a theater connoisseur or just looking for a fun night out, there's something for every kind of theatergoer.

Take your mom to: The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
Going to a show in the beautiful downtown Dr. Phillips Center feels like a big event, no matter what you see. You'll catch Broadway touring shows, big concerts and A-list comedians in the magnificent Walt Disney Theater as they pass through Orlando, as well as smaller, more niche performances in the smaller Pugh Theater.

Take your theater friend from New York to: Mad Cow Theatre.
Located in the heart of downtown Orlando, Mad Cow prides itself in producing provocative, less commonly produced plays with Equity actors. Their seasons are usually a combination of contemporary plays, lesser-known classics and newer musicals.

Take your nieces and nephews to: Orlando Repertory Theatre.
The Orlando Rep is a well-established children's theater offering matinée and evening performances on Saturdays and Sundays. They provide a wide variety of theater camps for kids each summer with themes ranging from princesses to Minecraft.

Take your bestie to: Orlando Shakes.
Because who else can you admit you've never seen Hamlet to? Orlando Shakes produces a diverse season of Shakespeare plays every year, as well as big musicals and kids' theater, usually employing a few actors from out of town. The building is also the epicenter of the Orlando Fringe, America's longest-running fringe theater festival, which takes place every May.

Take a group to: Theater West End.
Theater West End is an up-and-coming professional theater in historic downtown Sanford, which is also booming with new restaurants and breweries. Their 2019-2020 season is filled with a combination of well-known and lesser-produced musicals, featuring titles like Green Day's American Idiot and A Chorus Line, so Karen from finance can lead a sing-along while you're having a beer after the show.

Take your significant other to: Garden Theatre.
Located in historic downtown Winter Garden, the Garden Theatre has made a name for itself as a spot for high-quality professional theater. Stop at Pilar's next door for a themed drink and a great date night – but it's a long drive home if you don't already like this person a lot.


The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
445 S. Magnolia Ave., drphillipscenter.org

Mad Cow Theatre
54 W. Church St., madcowtheatre.com

Orlando Repertory Theatre
1001 E. Princeton St., orlandorep.com

Orlando Shakes
812 E. Rollins St., orlandoshakes.org

Theater West End
115 W. First St., Sanford, theaterwestend.com

Garden Theatre
160 W. Plant St., Winter Garden, gardentheatre.org

This story is from the Aug. 8, 2019, print issue of Orlando Weekly's Newcomers Guide 2019. Stay on top of Central Florida news and views with our weekly Headlines newsletter.
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