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120717 SWB DIGITAL EDITION

101 x x August December

101 x x August December 3-17, 7 2017 - 20, 2017 x www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com x A Message of Grace Orlando REP Presents The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical It had the makings of a perfect Christmas pageant, until the Herdman children showed up and changed everything ... for the better. Orlando Repertory Theatre in partnership with UCF brings the Orlando community the spirit of Christmas with its production of Barbara Robinson’s 1972 fictional classic, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical. Originally not a musical, the play was adapted into a musical in 2016 and was playing at a family theater in Charlotte, North Carolina, when Orlando REP’s artistic director, Jeffrey Revels, learned of the musical version. “Besides this being one of my favorite childhood stories that I read every year, starting when my secondgrade teacher read it to my class, what I really love about it and [why I] chose it for this season, is that it is a story of two very different groups of people becoming better together,” said Revels, who is also the director of the production. ©Matt Cairns The musical consists of a small town’s annual Christmas pageant that goes wrong when the Herdman children, the town bullies, decide to audition for the local Christmas pageant and are cast in coveted roles due to a new director. High jinks ensue, including a fire in the church, but what also emerges are acceptance, creativity and learning the true meaning of Christmas. “That is really the heart of the story’s message: it’s about listening and learning from each other and how we have a value to add,” Revels said. Twenty-five actors make up the large cast, which includes 18 youth actors representing the musical’s children, as they embody characters who make you laugh, cry and think about the meaning of Christmas and accepting others who are different. “It’s such an ensemble cast, and with the way the story is structured, it is about how these groups are coming together to make this play, instead of the story revolving around one character,” said Ashley Willsey, Orlando REP’s marketing director. Even the characters’ names are symbolic of the message of acceptance and appreciation for others’ differences, as one character is named Grace, while the child characters of focus are called the Herdmans. “They are children that have to be herded like sheep, and it takes someone with grace to help them PROMOTIONAL FEATURE follow the same path,” Revels said. “It’s a story that operates on so many levels.” A Character for Everyone As Revels grew up cherishing the original childhood classic, the hope is that new and older generations will enjoy The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical and fall in love with the menagerie of beloved characters that all have a message. “Both children and adults will get very different messages out of the play,” Revels said. “We’re sharing the same story, but we are looking at it from different lenses. “I think children will respond to physical comedy, humor and the music, but they will also understand the story of being changed and how listening to each other is our best solution for anything good to happen. I think the adults will look at it and get messages that it’s OK [as adults] to surrender your assumptions to give children a little ©Matt Cairns bit of freedom to ©Matt Cairns create something on their own that is artistic, new and beautiful.” “It’s a show that will speak to kids and adults alike, because so many adults have grown up knowing the story, but it speaks across multiple generations,” Willsey said. “Families can come together and see themselves represented in characters onstage.” Orlando REP’s season has been concentrated on theatrically presenting the message of young people as they have a voice and platform to show to the world, and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical seems to line up with this same goal. “You get a sense of the whole town here and the characters going through and coming out of the struggle together. It’s the Christmas story being told, showing grace to the world and to your fellow man,” Revels said. “Showing grace is truly the message of the show, and when we show grace to others, we are more accepting of others.” The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical continues its run through Dec. 30, with public performances every Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. For more information, call 407-896-7365 or visit orlandorep.com. ª

n Bay Vista Estates Bay Vista Estates resident Ethan Thompson is playing the role of Elmer Hopkins in Orlando Repertory Theatre in partnership with UCF’s production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical. The 11-year-old fifth-grader at St. John Vianney Catholic School began acting at a very young age. He appeared in the short film This Man’s Life and commercials for many local attractions, ESPN and the Disney Channel. He had a feature-film debut earlier this year as Jimmy in My Little Baby, but it was Disney’s Newsies the Musical that sparked his interest in theater and led to his Orlando REP debut. Ethan is grateful to God for this opportunity and thanks his parents and brother, Julian, for their love and support. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical is playing at Orlando REP through Dec. 30. n Dr. Phillips Ethan Thompson of Bay Vista Estates makes his Orlando REP debut as Elmer Hopkins in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical. Suzette Farquharson-Morgan, president of FarMor Entertainment and a resident of Dr. Phillips, sponsored the ninth annual Oh Give Thanks: It Is Well dinner show at the Rotary Club of West Orlando. The lineup for the evening included vocalist Stacy Wilson, poet Patricia Robinson, author and spoken word artist Angela McRae, Dr. Phillips High School senior Trenten Carson, and the group Hephzibah. As a recipient of the Rotary Club Scholarship 25 years ago from West Orange High School, Suzette is honored that her nonprofit community organization continues to serve as a beacon of light throughout Central Florida. n Keene’s Pointe by Amy Mitchell Sixteen candles shone brightly on a stunning six-tier butterfly cake for Keene’s Pointe resident Yasmin Clapham, as she celebrated her birthday at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. The private ceremony boasted 120 guests — the maximum capacity of the venue — and was hosted by the birthday girl’s parents, William and Thaisa Clapham. “It was part of the special Sweet 16 tradition that honors the most influential people in Yasmin’s life,” Thaisa said. In addition to her mom and dad, Yasmin’s list of important people included her brother, Tristan; nanny, Nana Angela; and grandmother, Regina Pereira, along with some best friends — Carol Braga, Amanda Freeman, Nicole Gegg, Teresa Leone, Raphaella Nunes and Nina Urban — who were chosen to be in Yasmin’s court. www.SouthwestOrlandoBulletin.com x December 7 - 20, 2017 x 11 IN YOURNEIGHBORHOOD compiled by Lauren Salinero The cake, made by Angelica Hubner, wasn’t the only thing adorned in a butterfly theme. Servers had on pink butterfly bow ties, and there was a butterfly-papered wish tree, pink flowers with delicate silver butterflies on top, a special pink drink called the “Butterfly Kiss” with a laser-cut butterfly, and a butterfly with Yasmin’s name on its wings to signify her blossoming. “The butterfly was chosen to symbolize transformation and this rite of passage,” Thaisa said. “Attention to details were in each corner.” The guests wore white for purity while the birthday girl was the only one dressed in nude for her first dress and pink for her second dress, making her easy to spot. Yasmin, accompanied by Tristan, made a grand entrance and was greeted with indoor fireworks and confetti. Everyone oohed and aahed at this big moment, followed by Most Insurances Accepted bubbles at the happy birthday time and a girls court dance — performed by Yasmin's honorary guests and choreographed by DGBEK Studios. Everything was exquisite. The elegance of resort’s restaurant, with its rows of crystal chandeliers and the inviting outdoors, also contributed to the grandiose event. The fancy venue boasted an open bar for the adults and a buffet served for everyone’s tastes. “It was an unforgettable evening,” said Keene’s Pointe resident Stella Freeman. Other Keene’s Pointe residents, who were lucky enough to celebrate with the Claphams, included Leticia Braga, Daniela Campos, Patricia Cardoso, Ira Frota, Karla Gegg, Tania Mitropoulos, Paula Pinto, Debora Sinelli and Ana Teixeira. The party favors came in a beautiful silver box that contained a butterfly rhinestone hairpiece for the ladies. At the end of the night, Yasmin’s friends surprised her with a CONTINUED ON PAGE 12 Rizzo Dental Group WILLIAM RIZZO, D.M.D. JEFFREY RIZZO, D.M.D. Cosmetic & Family Dentistry 407.521.8765 NEW PATIENTS AND EMERGENCIES WELCOME Request an appointment online at www.rizzodentalgroup.com 6150 MetroWest Blvd., Suite 207, Orlando, FL 32835 All Major Credit Cards Accepted -CareCredit®- Carlos Ortiz, ARNP CAP Desiree Fouse LMHC WE TREAT "ADHD, DEPRESSION, ANXIETY, BIPOLAR DISORDER, SUBSTANCE ABUSE, BEHAVIORAL ISSUES AND MANY MORE"-IN CHILDREN AND ADULTS