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Performing the arts this summer in Gainesville

By Whitney Butler

Gainesville is known as the cultural capital of north-central Florida. Residents and visitors enjoy a bounty of artistic expressions in both classical and contemporary styling. With nearly year-round productions ranging from dance, music, theater and visual arts to historical folklore, Gainesville is truly an artist’s mecca situated among the quaint and rural communities of Alachua County.

The various Gainesville art programs, exhibits, organizations and the University of Florida have strengthened the community’s appreciation for art and infused energy into its supporters, which has helped make the arts accessible to everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, economic status or gender. 
Summer is an excellent time to visit Gainesville and take in the performing. The theaters below feature productions coming to Gainesville this summer and afford eager art seekers plenty of opportunities to get inspired. 

Phillips Center
Located on the western side of the University of Florida, the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is the heart of performance-based productions in Gainesville. This regal theater has hosted performances of nearly every variety: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats, rhythmic phenomena Riverdance and Stomp, and world-renowned musicians like Yo-Yo- Ma. 
No artist’s trip to Gainesville would be complete without taking in a performance at this incredible theater. 
This July, Raisin’ Cane: A Harlem Renaissance Odyssey, will take to the stage to honor the artists, writers, poets and musicians of the Harlem Renaissance movement. Starring award-winning actress Jasmine Guy, this performance is inspired by Jean Toomer’s novel Cane and other regional works developed during the 1920s and ’30s. 

Hippodrome State Theatre
Built by actors in 1973, the Hippodrome State Theatre (known as the Hipp to locals) is a professional theater located in downtown Gainesville. With much of the original structure and styling still present, the building is as nostalgic as many of its Broadway productions. 
The theater employs its own actors, engineers and designers to produce shows both well known and obscure. 
Running until mid-July, the Hipp presents summer guests with Honky Tonk Angels, one of the theater’s most successful musicals, featuring familiar country tunes from Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynn.  
In addition to live performances, the Hipp also stands as Gainesville’s only art-house cinema, screening independent films, evocative documentaries and foreign cinema for the public. Film screenings are available all year long. Titles change frequently so check the website for updates and showtimes.

Acrosstown Repertory Theatre
The mission of the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre is simple: continue to grow the arts in Gainesville and support local collaboration. Since 1980, the ART has worked to provide affordable, multicultural, thought-provoking theater to the people of Gainesville. In addition, the ART provides a number of social events to improve the community’s involvement and support for the arts. 
This summer, the ART debuts a new play by Tom Miller: ART à la Carte: UMMU. This staged reading is the premiere of Miller’s controversial piece that draws the audience into deep introspection about reality and existence. For only $10, this intimate stage performance is an inexpensive way to expose young artists or large families to the wonderful world of Gainesville performing arts. 
The ART produces nearly 12 productions every year. Check out the website for upcoming show schedules. 

Gainesville Community Playhouse
The Gainesville Community Playhouse is one of the oldest community-based theaters in Florida—its first production debuted in 1927! There is nothing more uniquely Gainesville than these plays and musicals, which source their talent directly from the community. 
Through Aug. 9, the Gainesville Community Playhouse will put on The Wizard of Oz at the Vam York Theater. Support local talent and join classic characters Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion for a trip down the yellow brick road. 
Don’t miss your chance to immerse yourself in these amazing performances this summer in Gainesville.
PICTURED: The Hippodrome Theatre Downtown
Photo Courtesy of Visit Gainesville
PICTURED: The Phillips Center for Performing Arts
Photo Courtesy of Visit Gainesville
PICTURED: Performance at the Gainesville Community Playhouse
Photo Courtesy of Visit Gainesville