The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is open and ready to bring culture and joy to Orlando in significant style. In this morning’s Grand Premiere ceremony, community leaders took the stage and expressed gratitude and glee. “I don’t think there’s a mayor in America that’s having as much fun as I am right now,” Mayor Buddy Dyer said to the audience. “We are the city of the 21st century.”
I had an amazing tour of the new facility given by Lavon of the Dr. Phillips Center. She was on the development team, making her exuberantly knowledgable on the design, and recently accepted a position in communications at the arts center. The design of the Dr. Phillips Center has an industrial but comfortable and welcoming feel. The architecture is clear and open purposefully because ‘sunlight makes people happy.’
Lavon Bracy Davis and Dr. Phillips Center CEO Kathy Ramsberger in the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater
Upon entering you’ll see the wave wall. This gargantuan functional and decorative wall stands from floor to ceiling and is wavy from left to right and top to bottom. It’s made of venetian plaster and acoustically ensures that multiple shows can be performed at once without audibly interrupting each other. Because the Dr. Phillips Center exterior is mostly transparent, when the wave wall is lit, the color of the whole building changes. Lavon noted logos can also appear on the wave wall or other visuals to truly transform the arts center to match events. Lavon shared that the decor and palette upon entering the art center is clean and crisp to clear the mind. The venues, in comparison, are richly colored and vibrant to symbolize the cultural fullness of what you will experience in them.
Nicole Siscaretti in the Walt Disney Theater at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
Inside the main venue, the Walt Disney Theater, there are 2700 seats and zero that have obstructed views. With copper accents, the theater is designed to be reminiscent of a coliseum. The ceiling hints to the sails that would have covered the audience and the blue sky peeping through. Purposeful cork walls that deliver acoustically also stand to appear like coliseum walls.
Ceiling inside the Walt Disney Theater
The ceiling of the more intimate Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater is colorful and hand painted. ‘We wanted you to see art before you saw art,” Lavon shared. The twinkle of each floor of seating is absolutely charming. This is also a rentable and changeable venue with a thrust stage that lowers and rises.
Ceiling inside the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater
The rotunda staircase is functional and also serves as pre and post show performance space. As varying shows take place simultaneously, this staircase will be a look at culture of Central Florida as people dressed for the ballet and a hip hop show mingle. Art in all forms will be celebrated here.
The DeVos family room is another notable venue in the arts center, providing a fantastic view of downtown Orlando. I can only imagine it at night. This area is available to rent for events such as weddings and parties.
A unique offering at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is the education component. Many classes will be held at the School of Arts at the Dr. Phillips Center. There will be performance classes of all kinds, for all ages, from master classes with Broadway entertainers to Zumba. Even the classroom areas and backstage are transparently constructed and naturally lit.
In 1912 Dr. Phillip Phillips, philanthropist and Central Florida entrepreneur, hired international entertainers to come in and perform on his lawn. It was a different time. Dr. Phillips still supplies “Arts for Every Life,” as the phrase goes around the Dr. Phillips Center, and much beyond his time.
Now, I bet you’re looking for a chance to visit:
11/8/14 Sheryl Crow [FREE show!]
12/4 – 12/13/14 The Phantom of the Opera
12/19 – 12/21/14 The Nutcracker by Orlando Ballet
1/2/15 Dancing with the Stars Live!
1/17/15 Jerry Seinfeld
These are just some highlights I picked.
Visit DrPhillipsCenter.org for more information and a full list of shows and events.