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Roy Alan and Heather Alexander run The Winter Park Playhouse, one of only two professional musical theaters in Florida. THE MAGIC OF MUSICALS Nothing seems to divide the theater audience quite the way musicals do. If you like them, you love them. If you don’t — well, you really do not. Heather Alexander, who spent her teen years in Jacksonville, and Roy Alan, who hails from Houston, are the married couple who founded The Winter Park Playhouse, which specializes in musical comedies. �������� ���������������� ������ ���� ������������������ ���������������������������� �������� ������ �������������������� ���������� ������ seek grants and accept tax-deductible donations. The City of Winter Park kicked in $25,000 last year. Heather and Roy don’t fret much about the “anti” group because they’re just too busy mounting shows that the pro-musical crowd adores. “We like to call ourselves the ‘Forget Your Troubles’ Theater,” muses Heather, noting that The Winter Park Playhouse is one of only two professional musical theaters in Florida. (TheatreZone in Naples is the other.) “Just like in the Great Depression, musicals are a form of escapism. They take people on a journey.” A stone’s throw from Park Avenue, the 123-seat venue has been located at 711 Orange Avenue, between U.S. Highway 17-92 and Fairbanks Avenue, since 2009. Emblazoned on the façade, in bold block letters, are the words “MUSICAL THEATRE,” leaving little room for doubt about just what sort of shows are presented within. The recently enlarged lobby, meanwhile, is a sumptuous, welcoming space that looks rather like a mansion’s most comfortable room, complete with a baby grand. ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 16 years ago by opening a school, the Master Class Academy, which they have long since sold. 78 LIVING IN WINTER PARK “We wanted to share our passion for the arts with the community and with children,” says Heather, a vivacious blonde with large, avid eyes. She met the folksy yet debonair Roy in Sarasota, when they appeared together in a production of Singin’ in the Rain. The idea of a theater was a bit of an afterthought. In back of the school there was a small warehouse space where Roy and Heather began mounting modest productions for audiences of 60 or so. Things began to shift into higher gear not long after they took a trip to New York where they saw — and fell in love with — an off- Broadway musical comedy called I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������- ban married life (in the second). “We thought: If we don’t do anything else, we’ve got to at least mount this show,” Heather recalls. “People back home would just think this is a riot.” So in 2003, the duo presented a mini-season that included I Love You, which was indeed a hit with Central Floridians. That led to full seasons, separate cabaret-style presentations, popular outreach programs for children and seniors and, of course, packed houses of happy patrons. Through it all, executive director Heather and artistic director Roy have kept to their musical-comedy mission. “There’s lots of wonderful art that’s very dramatic; it makes you ���������������� ���������� ������������������ ���������� ���������� ���������������� �������������� �������� ���������������������� �������� other times, they just want a nice, frivolous escape.” That’s what is waiting for them — and for you — on the stage of The Winter Park Playhouse. For more information, visit winterparkplayhouse.org. —Jay Boyar PHOTO BY RAFAEL TONGOL


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