Garden Theatre launches accessible education program

WINTER GARDEN, FL – April 6, 2024 –

The Garden’s TreeTop Players program was featured on the front page of The Observer newspaper!

The TreeTop Players program is dedicated to accessible education offerings for people with varying abilities and disabilities. This program is growing under the passionate leadership of our Director of Education and Community, Amanda Payne, with the help of great partners such as Chance2Dance. We can’t wait to see how this program evolves and reaches even further into the community!


New Season Ushers In New Creative Experiences

WINTER GARDEN, FL – February 16, 2024 –
The Garden Theatre, located at 160 West Plant Street in historic Winter Garden, is pleased to announce the 2024-2025 Broadway on Plant Theatre Season, running from July 2024 – June 2025, and produced by Garden Theatre. In addition to the five full-length theatrical presentations, the season will be dotted with weekend events including concerts, comedy, dance, movies and holiday offerings. Season subscriptions for new subscribers and single tickets will be available for sale April 9 at gardentheatre.org or by calling the Garden Theatre Box Office at 407-877-GRDN (4736).

Dear Friend of Garden Theatre,

Garden Theatre has good news! We are pleased to share that after presenting a series of performances with Victory Productions, the theater will be returning to self-producing performances for the remainder of the season. This has always been our goal. While this means we will be concluding our collaborative relationship with Victory Productions, we are grateful for their professionalism, talent, and partnership.

As we commence with this transition, we have updated our programming to present All Shook Up, replacing Sweet Dreams, and Always…Patsy Cline.  We are ever grateful to this community’s ongoing support which allows us to reinvest in the future of Garden Theatre and produce great family entertainment. We offer our profound thanks to Victory Productions and to you, our loyal friends, fans, and community for your support and patronage.

Get Ready to Get ‘All Shook Up’ at the Garden Theatre – Casting Announced for the High-Octane Musical Event


WINTER GARDEN, FL – January 16, 2024 –

Garden Theatre will continue its 2023-2024 season with the incredibly fun and upbeat musical, All Shook Up.

All Shook Up – Inspired by and Featuring the Songs of Elvis Presley®, is loosely based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, with the book written by Joe DiPietro. Directed and choreographed by Rob Winn Anderson, performances begin Friday, February 16 at 7:30 pm with a limited run through Sunday, March 10, 2024.



WINTER GARDEN, FL – August 18, 2023

Garden Theatre, in collaboration with Victory Productions, is set to host John O’Hurley, renowned for his role in “Seinfeld.” This marks the commencement of their “Broadway On Plant” series, with performances scheduled from September 8th to the 24th at Garden Theatre.

Subscriptions and Single Tickets for 2023-2024 Broadway on Plant Series
available now


WINTER GARDEN, FL – August 4, 2023

The Garden Theatre and Victory Productions are pleased to announce that subscriptions and single tickets for the 2023 – 2024 Broadway on Plant Series will be available for purchase starting Saturday, August 5, 2023 at 7:00 pm.

The 2023-2024 Theatre Season kicks off on September 8th with “Every Brilliant Thing,” a moving, insightful, and hilarious one-person play with beloved actor JOHN O’HURLEY (renowned for his memorable portrayal of J. Peterman in the hit show “Seinfeld”) leading audiences through a remarkable journey that truly examines what makes life worth living. O’Hurley draws audience members into the story collaboratively, and some patrons will enjoy an even more immersive and intimate experience with limited, exclusive onstage seating.

Double Dose of America’s Got Talent Stars at the Garden Theatre:
Cristina Rae Joins “Dreamgirls” and Tom Cotter Delivers Award-Winning Comedy


Garden Theatre and Victory Productions announce the addition of Cristina Rae to the cast of “Dreamgirls” and a new stand-up show by America’s favorite comedian, Tom Cotter.

Garden Theatre names Chief Organizational Officer


WINTER GARDEN, FL – June 8, 2023 – Garden Theatre, an historic and landmark entertainment venue in west Orange County, has named Keith Davenport as its Chief Organizational Officer. Davenport will step into the role immediately and, as reflected in the job title, he will provide the leadership, inspiration, and strategic direction that enables Garden Theatre to achieve its annual and long-term goals for artistic excellence, financial sustainability and community engagement. The decision to create this leadership position is the result of a multi-focused, eight-month long organizational and board assessment performed by subject matter consultants and the Board of Directors, which examined best practices and operational efficiencies in non-profit arts organizations.

Davenport has been actively involved with Garden Theatre for 11 years as a patron and donor, and more recently as an active member of the Board where he has served as chair of the Programming and Partnerships Committee. Davenport has resigned from the board in order to transition to this staff role. He is uniquely positioned for the theater’s current mission work and the maturing relationships that have been formed with key partners.

“We are extremely fortunate that Keith has taken this role with the theater,” said Board President Rich Taylor. “He brings a remarkable and extensive level of global experience and expertise in entertainment and production with the added bonus that he is a well-known member of the community and understands the Garden Theatre. The value the theater gains from his knowledge, experience and professionalism is unprecedented.”

Davenport, 53, has been actively involved in community theatre since childhood. His career path includes entertainment marketing, event production and overseeing entertainment spectaculars and programming around the world. Formerly with Walt Disney World, Davenport’s global work highlights include producing Olympic Ceremonies, Super Bowl Halftime Shows, Pan American Ceremonies and Special Olympic World Games Ceremonies. He is well known for his ability to execute large-scale productions from budget planning and management to performance while also managing multi-level relationships during the process, ensuring forward-movement and successful outcomes.

“When a unique creative opportunity such as this comes along, it’s just hard not to pursue it,” Davenport said. “That’s how I feel about Garden Theatre, which is an important local institution that I have loved and supported for years. The theater has come such a long way in recent months and I’m looking forward to playing an active role in continuing to ensure that Central Florida has a theater where performers and audiences want to be.”

With the new fiscal year starting June 1, other recent activities at Garden Theatre include the election of new board leadership. Six new board members were added earlier this year. Leading the Board are: Rich Taylor, Chair; David Baldree, Vice-Chair; Todd Wheeler, Treasurer; and David Romano, Secretary.

Taylor brings more than 50 years of entertainment experience to his role on the Board. A professional singer and entertainer, he served as Vice President of Disney Creative Entertainment and Costuming where he oversaw nearly 5,000 performers in parades, shows and spectaculars that continue to delight millions. His leadership guided and created Wishes, Fantasmic!, Illuminations, Festival of the Lion King, Tarzan Rocks!, the grand opening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and gala christenings of the Disney Cruise Line ships. He and his team co-created and produced the Emmy Award-winning Walt Disney World Christmas Parade on ABC and the 2000 Super Bowl XXXIV halftime show in Atlanta.

After retiring from Disney, Taylor moved to higher education as Dean of the College of the Fine Arts at the University of Oklahoma where he led teams for the schools of Dance, Music, Musical Theatre and Art & Art History and served as Executive Producer for 350 annual productions. Today he offers his multi-faceted expertise to entities, large and small, that seek to enhance their creativity or process through RICH IMAGINATION, LLC.

“We couldn’t be more enthusiastic about Garden Theatre’s future; it’s certainly not been an easy year, but we have worked to grow in a smart way that helps heal but also brings some joy and happiness to our community,” said Taylor.

Message from the Garden Theatre Board of Directors

April 27, 2023

It’s an understatement to say that the past year has been remarkably difficult for former and current staff, the board and the community. Looking back, clearly our communication channels and practices were broken. The key to successful communication is listening, and we realize we could have and should have done a much better job of listening. Had we done so, we could have addressed issues sooner and directly and possibly avoided hurt feelings. It can be difficult to see and hear clearly while in the middle of a storm.

Hindsight is helpful for understanding the past as well as for looking ahead in order to make real change and mend relationships. Over the past few months, the board has worked closely to have multiple conversations about approaches to healing. Sometimes the easiest way to begin is to identify commonalities and shared values.

In our discussions, we continue to solidify what has always been fundamentally true — we all share a love of theatre and specifically Garden Theatre. We all want this theater to continue and thrive as a special venue for audiences as well as a creative and inclusive center for artists and production teams as it had been for so very long.

But time does not heal all wounds. While words are extremely important, especially in a healing process, actions are critical.  We want you to know what actions we have taken and will continue to take in order to re-establish a positive, trusting and creative work culture at Garden Theatre. In fact, some of the steps we have taken were suggested by staff. Here is an overview:

The Board engaged with several subject matter experts to perform an organization-wide evaluation of our mission, culture, leadership, and operations supported by surveys of current and former board, staff, artists and community members.  Highlights of that work, much of which is still in progress is below:

Edyth Bush Institute

  • Presented a complete organizational assessment, including recommendations to achieve greater success at both board and operational levels.
  • On April 11, Edyth Bush facilitated board governance education and training with board and staff.
  • Ongoing post assessment coaching and education on effective board governance for leadership, board and staff.
  • Support for development and implementation of DEI learning and strategy.

Arts Consulting Group (ACG)

  • Executive leadership support through an interim Managing Director – (since March 2022)
  • Established a Strategic Alignment workgroup comprised of current and former staff, board and community partners.
  • As of March 8, completed 4 work group sessions and 2 staff sessions to gain input and facilitate open dialogue on Garden Theatre’s Mission, Vision and Values.
  • ACG facilitated a meeting with the full Strategic Alignment cohort to present a draft Mission, Vision, Values, DEI statement, operating structure and staffing model. ACG collected feedback and provided to the Strategic Alignment Committee for further review and refinement before presenting to the board.
  • On April 18, ACG presented to the full board recommendations and insights on the tactical strategies to infuse the work of the advisory cohorts into the ongoing life and culture of the organization.

Activating Five Standing Committees

Compromised of Board and Staff to advance on aligned work:

  • Strategic Planning
  • Finance
  • Board Governance
  • Resource Development
  • Production Partnerships

Focused interaction between Board & Staff

Through shared work sessions, open meeting forums and monthly, in-person updates.

Onboarding a Professional Employer Organization

To streamline and support employee onboarding, benefits, payroll, time off, and more.

Victory Productions Partnership

  • Production partner for 2023 Season
  • Producing four main season shows
  • Supporting additional performances and content

So how does all this affect the artists and performing arts community at large? This effort was started because we are committed to creating a fresh culture where staff as well as artists feel relevant, heard and seen. We share this update to make clear our ongoing commitment to taking these actions and to change. We understand and acknowledge that feelings have been hurt; we are intent on effectively running an organization where arts professionals have a positive experience.

The Garden Theatre is currently driven and committed to ensuring:

  • The board of directors and staff are aligned on the organization’s strategy.
  • Organizational structure and role needs are evaluated and positioned to best serve its mission.
  • Advancement of culture and engagement to enhance a sense of belonging.

It’s no cliché to say that change doesn’t happen overnight; we have a good deal of work ahead to accomplish our goals. Our sincere hope is that you will join us in moving forward. We can and will be better together.

– Garden Theatre Board of Directors

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