For the first time — but what event organizers hope is not the last — UCF will be hosting a massive arts festival at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

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UCF Celebrates the Arts will feature talent from UCF's various art and science departments as well as many regional partners, such as the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre. The event will run from April 10 to April 15.

As a principal donator to the Center, UCF is allowed to use two weeks of the space. Instead of piecemealing those weeks in a few days here and there, UCF thought to hold a five-day showcase at the Center to highlight the talent of UCF's arts programs.

Alongside theater, gaming, film and orchestral showcases throughout those days, there will also be noteworthy guests in attendance, such as physicist Brian Greene, Sissaundra Lewis from The Voice and Kate Mulgrew of Orange is the New Black and Star Trek: Voyager.

Mulgrew, no stranger to science fiction herself, will be providing narration to the instrumental, visual and spoken word show Icarus at the Edge of Time, which is based on a book of the same name by Greene. It tackles the age-old tale of a boy flying too close to the sun, but instead of the sun, Greene's take on the tale features a black hole.

Student performances also play an integral part in the festival. Senior music education major and bassoon player Kristen Lichtenthal is a member of the UCF wind ensemble and has been preparing for the event since preparation began nearly a year ago.

But all of that hard work is for a greater good. In just two days since ticket reservations were made available to the public, Lichtenthal said that more that 400 tickets had been reserved for the UCF Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band performance.

"The most rewarding part is hearing from members of the community and the city and the university just how they excited they are for the week to happen," Lichenthal said. "It's wonderful to know that we're going to be bringing these performances to people who are going to enjoy them."


Video: UCF Celebrates the Arts 2015. Preview of the first ever UCF Celebrates the Arts Festival. Video by Arnold Godoy, Central Florida Future. Video by Arnold Godoy, Central Florida Future.

The festival as a whole partners with several UCF departments, from the School of Visual Arts and Design, to the College of Sciences, to the Student Government Association and the Office of the President. But local partners, such as the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, have also lent a helping hand.

In conjunction with UCF's Flying Horse Big Band, the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre will be hosting Shakespeare Swings!, on April 11. The show, a review of sorts, will boast contemporary, classic and original Shakespeare musical compositions. The show itself has been a long time coming for Jim Helsinger, artistic director for the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, who has wanted to do a show of this kind for several years.

Preparations for the show began roughly a year ago when the event was still in the works. At the time, UCF asked its professional partners to assist and with the help of the director of the school of performing arts Jeffrey Moore, Shakespeare Swings! became a reality.

Not every show will take place on stage, however. SVAD will be hanging floor-to-ceiling banners in the Performing Arts Center showcasing student work. In another separate showcase, students themselves are going to become famous paintings.

From Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Can, to The Swing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, students in visiting instructor Debi Starr Leitch's 3D design fundamentals courses will be creating pieces at a much larger scale than they're used to.

Typically, Starr Leitch said, students in the course create smaller models or figures. For this event, students will create large props, backdrops and find costumes to represent the images they've chosen.

"They've never done something like this before," Starr Leitch said. "Normally with 3D classes [students] make little sculptures, but now they have to physically make this immense sculpture."

Unlike art on canvases or in museums, patrons will be able to interact with and talk to students as well as take photos during the event.

In an effort to allow as much of the Greater Orlando community to enjoy the festival, UCF will be providing free transportation on a first-come, first-served basis from the UCF main campus.

Those interested can reserve free tickets on


Adam Rhodes is the Entertainment Editor at the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @byadamrhodes or email him at

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