Theatre South brings professional theatre to Dr. Phillips
Southwest Orlando residents no longer need to travel downtown to see shows and take classes from professional artists. They can do this right in their neighborhood courtesy of Theatre South, the resident company at the JCC Rosen Campus on Apopka-Vineland Boulevard.
Dr. Phillips resident and professional actress Hillary Brook founded Theatre South in December 2008. “I moved to Manhattan to work in theatre after receiving my BFA in musical theater from the Boston Conservatory,” Book said. “In New York, I acted in several productions, including ‘Tony and Tina’s Wedding.’ I supported myself in between shows by acting in operas at the Met. In 2006 I got married and moved to Dr. Phillips and worked at Disney. It was always my dream to start my own company.”
Brook saw a great opportunity when she heard the JCC was building a campus in the Southwest. She began e-mailing the JCC South about her theatre before its staff was even hired. “I e-mailed the JCC once a week for months,” Brook says. “When Branch Director Bonnie Rayman came on board we discussed my proposal and agreed to work together.”
Theatre South is officially the theatre company in residence at the Rosen Center. Brook staffs and manages all of the arts classes and programs. They offer classes in traditional arts like ballet, acting, and musical theatre, as well as hip hop dance. Classes and performances are open to the entire community, although JCC members receive a discount.
Brook produces staged readings and live performances featuring the professional staff and the students. “I create all the theatre pieces,” Brook says. “For ‘Enchanted Broadway’, which has music from Tangled, Enchanted, and Shrek, the Musical,’ I selected the songs and wrote the scenarios to tie them together.” ‘Enchanted Broadway’ will premiere on Saturday, April 21 at 7:00 PM at the South JCC Campus.
Brook and the professional staff donate their time to help establish Theatre South’s presence in the area. They give back to the community by presenting free performances at local school Teach-Ins, fairs, and for senior groups.
Brook is pleased the demand for performance in the Dr. Phillips area led Theatre South to grow. “We now operate a satellite program at The New Academy in Windermere,” Brook said. On May 21st at The New Academy, the students will perform a show Brook created called ‘Journey to Oz,’ featuring music from ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ ‘The Wiz’ and ‘Wicked’.
Brook said, “most of our performance classes at the JCC have doubled in size since we opened. Parents like seeing their children develop their creativity, and the students like the fact that after class their teachers will perform at Disney, Universal, or some other venue.” Theatre South is already accepting sign-ups for Camp Wicked, their summer theatre camp.
Brook expanded her programs by offering private voice and music lessons, and creating a Talent and Event group to provide performers for individual and corporate events. The funds that the Talent and Event group receive go back to help the theatre grow.
Brook says, “Dr. Phillips is a great neighborhood for theatre. My goal is to produce full-length plays and musicals employing theater professionals right here in Southwest Orlando.”
You can learn more about Theatre South’s programs at their web site, www.TheatreSouthOrlando.com.