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New plays get some star power

DukakisThe Orlando Shakespeare Theater's annual PlayFest! (aka the Harriett Lake Festival of New Plays) is always abuzz with packed crowds of theater lovers eager to get a first look at a wide range of new scripts.   The 2009 PlayFest!, which happens from Jan. 23-Feb. 1, is likely to be an even hotter ticket thanks to the presence of a star playwright-performer, Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis.

Dukakis is traveling to Orlando to play Prospera in Another Side of the Island, an adaptation of William Shakespeare's The Tempest.  She is also one of the script's authors, along with Margo Whitcomb and Gregory Hoffman.  The play, say the PlayFest! folks, is a gender-bending fantasy that folds music (including gospel and funk) into the story.

Another Side of the Island will get its staged reading at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 30 and 5:30 p.m. Jan. 31. VIP seating is $25, other seats $10.  Dukakis will also conduct an acting master class from 6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 28.  For a $10 fee, the public can observe Dukakis working with other pros.

PlayFest! happens at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center in Orlando's Loch Haven Park.  For information, visit the theater's web site.