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Florida Spotlight: January 2011

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Janet Dacal stars in Wonderland
Wonderland: A New Alice. A New Musical returns to its original home at the David A. Straz Jr. Center in Tampa (January 5-16) for a farewell run leading up to the show's Broadway debut at the Marquis Theatre. A glam and glitter update on the Lewis Carroll classic, the musical finds an all-new Alice following her estranged daughter down the rabbit hole. Featuring music by Frank Wildhorn, the cast is led by Janet Dacal in the title role, with the supporting cast including Darren Ritchie (White Knight), Jose Llana (El Gato), Karen Mason (Queen of Hearts), and Kate Shindle (Mad Hatter).

To complete the cultural exchange program, New York City sends its own Aquila Theatre company to West Palm Beach, with a touring one-two punch of the surreal: The Kravis Center hosts their productions of Luigi Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author (January 20-21) and Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (January 22-24).

Other touring shows include the bubbly Legally Blonde The Musical at Jacksonville's Times-Union Center (January 11-16), and the equally hair-centric metal musical Rock of Ages, continuing its Florida run at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Hall in Orlando (January 11-16) and the Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater (January 18-23). Disney's Beauty and the Beast brings its lively songs and animated décor to the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach (January 4-9), the Straz Center in Tampa (January 18-23) and Gainesville's Phillips Center for the Performing Arts (January 24-26), while the Oprah Winfrey-produced southern-fried tearjerker The Color Purple paints a wide brush across the state with dates at The Lakeland Center (January 4), Panama City's Marina Civic Center (January 5), the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center (January 7), Tampa's Straz Center (January 8), the Saenger Theatre in Pensacola (January 10), Sarasota's Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall (January 13-14), and finally the Mattie Kelly Arts Center in Niceville (January 16).

In Sarasota, the Asolo Repertory Theatre kicks off the year with something for every taste: Four shows premiere on the Asolo stage in January, including the rollicking comedy La Bête (January 7-February 20) and Reginald Rose's classic drama Twelve Angry Men (January 14-March 26). Florida Studio Theatre has more legal nail-biting with their production of David Mamet's Race (January 26-March 19), where a trio of lawyers find their prejudices brought to the stand as they consider a case against a wealthy white defendant. And nearby in Bradenton, John Waters' campy Baltimore dreamers come to life in the Manatee Players production of Hairspray (January 13-30).

Fort Myers welcomes a Rodgers & Hammerstein classic this month with another touring show, the Lincoln Center Theater's revival of South Pacific at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall (January 19-23). More revival kicks are in store at TheatreZone in Naples with their production of the roaring twenties musical No, No, Nanette (January 6-16), while the Gulfshore Playhouse offers fast-paced laughs with Unnecessary Farce (January 28-February 13), a cops-and-confusion misadventure from Paul Slade Smith.

On the east coast, it's romance and revolution at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts with the touring production of the Broadway musical favorite Les Misérables (January 18-30). In Boca Raton, race relations and rural politics add up to an evening of sly and insightful theatre in Bruce Norris' Clybourne Park courtesy of the Caldwell Theatre Company (January 2-February 6). And the Slow Burn Theatre Company takes on Kander and Ebb's sexy and haunting Kiss of the Spider Woman at the West Boca Performing Arts Center (January 28-February 6).

Elsewhere, kick back for an unsettling round of drinks with George and Martha in Orlando with Mad Cow Theatre's production of Edward Albee's drama Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (January 28-February 27). In Tampa, Freefall Studio Theatre opens their new performance venue with a raucous Stephen Sondheim update of Aristophanes' satire The Frogs (January 28-February 13), while the Hippodrome Theatre in Gainesville presents End Days (January 7-30), Deborah Zoe Laufer's offbeat look at a comically splintered family.

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