UCF is headed downtown in April ahead of the highly anticipated opening of its downtown campus this fall.
The 5th annual UCF Celebrates the Arts is returning for 10 days of performances and exhibits from April 5 through April 14. The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts has hosted the musicians and performers of UCF since it opened in 2014.
“I think that there’s such a thriving theater scene in Central Florida, which is one of the things I know that drew me here when I was looking at potential schools and programs,” said Kate Kilpatrick, a Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) master’s student at UCF. “And to look at resources like the Dr. Phillips Center, and then to be able to take advantage of those resources with UCF Celebrates, is an incredible asset for our program and our community.”
Kilpatrick directs the Last Paving Stone, a performance for young audiences and families. The show will be performed at the Alexis and Jim Pugh Theater on April 6 at 1:30 p.m.
“It’s a really fun, quirky little show about a girl who is friends with the ground, but the mission of her community is to pave over the ground in an effort to create jobs,” Kilpatrick said. “It’s like, ‘We gotta get people busy, so we’ll just have them pave.’
“And so she’s on this mission, as they are about to place the last ceremonial paving stone, to save and protect the ground. So it’s a show about environmental preservation. But it’s also, for me, a show that is about the struggles and challenges we face as a community when we don’t listen to each other, especially when we don’t give young people voices in our community. So there’s a lot there that I think kids will relate to.”
Michael Santos is a freshman music performance major at UCF and plays bass for the Flying Horse Big Band, which will perform at the Walt Disney Theater on April 12 at 7:30 p.m.
“We’ve just been rehearsing, getting all this new music. Music that’s never been written for anybody before,” Santos said. “We will be world premiering it. It’s a Ray Charles tribute that we’re doing. So, we’ve got a lot of different world-class composers – Mark Taylor, Harry Allen – and some of the professors here are also doing some composition as well.”
Performing Ray Charles is a tall task. He’s one of the most recognized jazz musicians ever, but Santos said he sees it as a challenge, rather than pressure.
“You hear the name Ray Charles, there’s high expectations set,” Santos said. “So it’s a good challenge for me to kind of reach that position. Another way this would be good for my career is the fact that I get to perform at this place, and my name will be on the program notes, which is a positive for me.”
Kilpatrick mentioned that UCF’s partnership with the Orlando Repertory Theater has benefited both parties.
“We love bringing TYA to UCF Celebrates the Arts because young people are part of our community,” she said. “One of the amazing things about our program here is that our program is in partnership of the Orlando Repertory Theatre so we’re able to connect to young people in our community through working with the [theatre]. But this sort of allows us to emphasize the connection to UCF a little bit more.”
The connection of UCF to downtown has been steadily growing, and it’ll be cemented this fall when the downtown campus opens. For Santos, performing at a venue like the Dr. Phillips Center in downtown Orlando is an introduction to the Orlando scene.
“Playing with all the musicians at the Walt Disney Theater. That’s gonna be like the coolest thing ever,” Santos said. “I’ve never actually been to it, I’ve only been around it. Never seen anything inside it. It’s kind of like my first time at the Orlando scene. I’m really excited for that.”