The show must go on, so Theatre UCF is finding new ways to bring live performances back to the stage for in-person shows this spring.

The three outdoor performances include a hopeful musical concert, a colorful Commedia dell’arte play and a family-friendly show about wanting to be anything but average.

To maintain the health and well-being of performers and audiences, groups will be seated with at least six feet of distance from others. Masks will be required for attendees and other health and safety guidelines will be enforced.

Performers will also wear masks during the shows and are following safety guidelines throughout the rehearsal process.

“We were looking for experiences that offer a chance to bring people together in the same space to share in joy and hope.” — Theatre UCF Artistic Director, Julia Listengarten

“We were looking for experiences that offer a chance to bring people together in the same space to share in joy and hope,” says Theatre UCF Artistic Director, Julia Listengarten. “So we chose shows and performances to match the environments available to us to perform in. Instead of our usual spring musical, we opted for a concert so each performer could take the stage solo and we will be performing a Commedia Dell’arte piece that was traditionally performed outdoors.”

Creating art during COVID

As the world came to a halt to address the pandemic in March 2020, universities made a quick shift to move classes online. For theatre, where connecting in-person with each other and with audiences is at the core of the discipline, the transition to a virtual environment proved a monumental task.

“Faculty were able to adapt to online classes quickly, but we had no idea how to adjust our season of performances right away,” Listengarten says.

Theatre faculty collaborated over the summer to create a series of virtual performances for the fall semester as an artistic response to current events to address injustice, police brutality and systemic racism.

“Theatre has to be relevant and after experiencing the events of the summer, it was important for us as artists to be involved in the dialogue going on in the country,” Listengarten says.

Guest artists and speakers were brought in to lend their talent and voice to the process. Students rehearsed and performed from home while the production and design team pieced together the performances into full length shows audiences could watch from their couch.

“The students learned a great deal by acting on camera,” says Listengarten. “It’s a truly different skill from live performance. It came out of necessity but became an educational opportunity.”

As grateful as Theatre UCF faculty, staff and students were for their ability to continue learning and performing, they were itching to get back to live performances in front of audiences and are looking forward to a new season.

Performances will begin in February and tickets go on sale Tuesday, Jan. 19, at noon. To view the full schedule and purchase tickets, visit the Theatre UCF website.

Schedule at a glance

Songs of Inspiration | Orlando Shakes Courtyard
This musical concert features classic show tune favorites and the latest Broadway hits.

  • Thursday, February 4 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, February 5 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, February 6 at 2 p.m.
  • Sunday, February 7 at 2 p.m.

Scaramouch in Naxos | UCF Performing Arts Center Courtyard
The story involves a plot by the roguish clown Scaramouch to have a Greek god star in his latest play, while Silenus schemes to interfere with his theatrical ambitions as well as the would-be lovers, Ione and Sarmion.

February 20–March 7
  • Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
  • Sundays at 2:00 p.m.

The Grumpiest Boy in the World | UCF Performing Arts Center Courtyard
The play follows Zachary, a grumpy boy of seven who wants to be anything but average. He sets out to find a land of giants, flying things and anything else that will make him stand out.

  • Saturday, March 13 at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, March 14 at 2:00 p.m.