February 24, 2017
Sam Phillips and Elvis

UCF Celebrates the Arts – the university’s annual showcase of student and faculty presentations – will return April 7-14 to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando.

The eight days of music, performances and visual displays, which are open to the public for free, will feature a production of the musical Oklahoma!, concerts, student-created plays and films, a fine arts showcase, panels and other events.

“This shows the growth and maturity of our student groups, and shows the public what we can do,” said Steven Chicurel-Stein, interim director of the School of Performing Arts and artistic director of the festival.

“We have two goals: We want to highlight what UCF has to offer, and we want to take UCF to downtown to spread the word of how UCF celebrates the arts.”

The festival will showcase the university’s involvement in a variety of ways through theatre, dance, orchestra, choirs, big band, chamber music, cabaret, concert bands, opera, visual arts, studio art, gaming, animation, photography and film.

Kicking off the week is Oklahoma!, the award-winning musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein. The duo won a Pulitzer Prize for the play, and a subsequent film adaption won Academy Awards for best music, scoring of a musical picture and best sound recording.

The UCF version will be a collaboration of the theatre and music departments, including an orchestra. There will be two evening showings of the play April 7-8.

“With this we’re able to show a really large contingency of students,” Chicurel-Stein said.

A couple events during the festival will be geared toward raising awareness about hunger in the community.

Puddin’ and the Grumble, a play about how hunger affects a young girl, will be at a 1 p.m. matinee April 8. The performance is suitable for viewers of all ages and will be in collaboration with the School of Performing Arts students and Second Harvest food bank, which will collect food for those in need.

The school also will present a reading from John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, the story of a family’s flight from the dust bowl in the 1930s. The 3 p.m. April 8 performance will have a cast of more than 30 students, alumni, faculty members and guest artists, and is part of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read program.

Here are some of the festival’s other highlighted events:

  • Musical performances – Choirs, woodwind, piano, percussion, jazz, symphonic and other music specialties will take the stage at various times during the festival. Check the festival website for the schedules.
  • Project Spotlight – The Force of Gravity, a student-written, directed, cast and produced play based on a true story about the civil rights movement, will be presented April 9. The play follows the lives of key people of the era.
  • Student films – Narrative, documentary, experimental and character animation shorts will screen April 5.
  • Ongoing events – A variety of exhibits and activities will be in the lobbies and public spaces at the center throughout the week. Banner art, student-created arcade games, costumes, multimedia art and other exhibits will be on display. New for 2017, UCF will also host exhibitions in three galleries within walking distance to the arts center.
  • High school involvement – An opportunity will be offered for high school music and theater students to attend workshops led by UCF faculty and then perform at the performing arts center.
  • The Flying Horse Big Band – The university students’ big band will close out the week with a performance called The Bat Swings! The 7:30 p.m. April 14 show will premiere arrangements of the music taken from the 1960s Batman superhero TV show and movie.

While the public can see all the festival events for free, this year for the first time a limited number of $20 reserved tickets are being offered.

Tickets and lobby passes will be available beginning March 1. There will be three types of tickets available:

  • Reserved seats will be on sale March 1-8 for $20 per seat. These tickets will have assigned seats in the theaters.
  • General admission tickets are free and can be reserved from March 8 until the specific show begins. This ticket guarantees admission into a performance, but does not guarantee any particular section or seat.
  • Lobby passes are free and gain entry into the center’s public areas to view the exhibits or to get into the wait line for a sold-out event. Lobby passes can be reserved starting March 8 and are valid for the week. A lobby pass is not needed to enter the performing arts center if the holder has an event ticket reserved for the day of an event.

For a complete schedule, ticket reservations and other information, go to the festival’s website at http://arts.cah.ucf.edu/.