From the wind-swept plains of Oklahoma!, to the “KAPOW!” of Batman, to some classic paintings recreated in 3-D, the annual UCF Celebrates the Arts festival April 7-14 will present a collage of the many talents of the university’s students and faculty.

The free eight-day event based at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando features more than 1,000 students and 100 faculty members showcasing their involvement in theatre, dance, orchestra, choir, big band, chamber music, cabaret, concert bands, opera, visual arts, studio art, gaming, animation, photography and film. Although the event is free, tickets are required for admission to specific events and hall passes are needed to experience the ongoing displays at the center.

(Ticketing and full schedule details are here.)

The third-annual festival kicks off with Oklahoma!, the award-winning musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein that won three Academy Awards. The UCF presentation will be a collaboration with more than 200 faculty, staff, and students from the theatre and music departments, including an orchestra. Evening showings of the play are scheduled April 7-8.

The festival concludes April 14 with The Bat Swings!, music from the 1960s Batman movie and TV show, as played by the university’s Flying Horse Big Band, which is made of students in the jazz studies program.

In between these bookend events, other presentations will honor last year’s Pulse nightclub victims, raise awareness about hunger in the community, showcase music, fine art, film and other fields.

Phoenix Song, a composition remembering the victims of last summer’s Pulse tragedy in Orlando, will have two performances. The first April 9 will be with 124 voices from UCF combined choirs, and then April 11 several hundred singers from invited middle and high school choirs and the UCF Alumni Choir will perform. The middle and high school choirs are all part of a day of workshops presented by music alumni. The composition is by David Brunner, interim associate director of the School of Performing Arts and a professor of music.

Events focusing on hunger are a big part of this year’s festival:

  • With a cast of more than 30 UCF guest artists, faculty, staff, alumni and students, the School of Performing Arts will tell the story of The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck’s account of a dust bowl family in the 1930s after the loss of their farm.
  • The art exhibit In the Eyes of the Hungry: Florida’s Changing Landscapewill focus on demographic, geographic and ecological shifts in the country, with an emphasis on human relationships and the environment. The art explores ideas ranging from agriculture and industrialization to migration and tourism to ecology and conservation. The exhibit will be at Terrace Gallery in Orlando City Hall across the street from Dr. Phillips.
  • Puddin’ and the Grumble, a play about how hunger affects a young girl, is suitable for viewers of all ages and will be in collaboration with the School of Performing Arts students and Second Harvest food bank, which will collect food for those in need.
  • Returning for the third year is a series of tableau vivant – or “living art” – famous artworks recreated by UCF art students who will wear costumes to model as people in the life-size paintings. This year there are 22 paintings from 1910-39, including Picasso, Dali, Hopper, Degas and others. The paintings will be on display evenings April 7-8.

    In total there are more than two dozen festival performances, displays, workshops and lectures to be offered, including an opportunity for high school music and theater students to attend workshops led by UCF faculty and then perform at the arts center.

    This is part of a series of stories about the April 7-14 events at UCF Celebrates the Arts 2017. All events are free, but tickets are required for all performances and entrance into the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, 445 S. Magnolia Ave., Orlando. Ticketing and full schedule details are at