Beauty & the Beast. Annie. Oliver. The Wizard of Oz. Grease! The Sound of Music.
Arguably some of the most timeless, classic musicals of all time, wouldn’t you agree? And now you can see them, as well as many other timeless musicals, just down the street for only a few dollars. Too good to be true? No, it’s Magic.
In an effort to provide a creative outlet for East Orlando, one nonprofit group has dedicated themselves to putting on shows and events that really strive to bring the magic of the theater home – literally.
Beginning life as an afterschool drama club at Sunrise Elementary School five years ago, Magic Curtain Productions, Inc. (MCP) has evolved into an registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit that not only puts on dozens of shows a year, but also offers classes, camps, workshops and more to area residents.
“After performing at various local events, we quickly realized that there was an abundance of talent, interest and enthusiasm for community theater here in East Orlando,” says Rhonda Cato, artistic director for Magic Curtain Productions.
With shows spread throughout the year, MCP offers drama aficionados of every age a chance to either participate in shows or just sit back and enjoy a production put on by hard working, talented neighbors. “We consider ourselves a place for anyone who wants to become involved in the theater arts on stage or behind the scenes,” says Cato. “We find that our students benefit most by the lessons in teamwork, camaraderie, patience, self-confidence and leadership that theater provides.”
As for audience members, the group strives to gear its shows toward family entertainment for all ages. “We really try to find musicals that delight, inspire and entertain everyone,” says Cato. “They really are fun and unique outings you can’t really find anywhere else this close to home.”
Performers come from varied backgrounds to fill the casts of every show. Some are children as young as 4-years-old, while others are college theater/arts majors and some are even senior citizens making their stage debut. One thing everyone has in common though, is that they’re all East Orlando neighbors. “There really isn’t such a thing as a typical performer with us,” says Cato. “We have children who come looking for an outlet for their creativity and amazingly talented young men and women who have gone on to major in theater and perform professionally. Everyone interested in the arts has a place with us either on stage or behind the scenes.”
Finding space has been one of the largest challenges for the group. Utilizing various community resources to house them, MCP rehearses and performs everywhere from LifeSong Church to Discovery Middle School to various community festivals with main stage productions featured at the Timber Creek High School Performing Arts Center.
“We have been so fortunate to have found such a generous community partner in LifeSong to give us a temporary ‘home’ but our hope is to have our own community arts building one day,” says Cato. “This would enable us to offer an even greater variety of programs, classes and productions.”
No matter who is on stage and no matter where that stage might be, one of the biggest draws for MCP is their attitude and true sense of community pride found in every painted set piece, handmade costume and enthusiastic line belted out by performers. With many of the sets and costumes assembled entirely by volunteers, moms and dads after work and theater junkies alike – the group really becomes more like a family with one goal in mind: putting on an entertaining show for their community.
“The most rewarding part about any show or event is to see the fulfillment of a vision,” says Cato. “To feel the actors excitement rise, hear the drills and construction sounds as the last of the set is put together, watch the house fill up with people of our community and knowing that we are providing a place for actors and audiences alike to experience the magic that is live theater is what it’s all about.”
To learn how you can participate in Magic Curtain Productions or to view a full list of upcoming events, including their holiday shows, visit www.MagicCurtainProductions.com or call 407.282.8368.
Article by Corey Gehrold