Central Florida's theaters will be bursting with famous names during February — but they're names from the page, not on the stage.
Plays presented around the region will boast some of the most famed names in literature, from ancient Greek writer Homer to mystery queen Agatha Christie, from moralist C.S. Lewis to rhyming kids legend Dr. Seuss. Here's a look:
Orlando Shakespeare Theater presents "Sense and Sensibility," which navigates the perils of courtship with the Dashwood sisters of southwest England. Jon Jory adapted the play from the 1811 novel by Austen, also famous for "Emma" and "Pride and Prejudice." Austen grew up with six brothers and a sister, which may account for her witty observations on family relationships.
During her short lifetime — she died at age 42 in 1817 — Austen didn't receive acclaim for her works as they were published anonymously. But television and movie adaptations of her works have made her a contemporary pop-culture force.
"Sense and Sensibility" opens Feb. 8 at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, 812 E. Rollins St., Orlando. Call 407-447-1700.
•Fun fact: We associate her with romance, but Austen never married.
For a woman who was painfully shy, Agatha Christie made her mark on the world: The "Guinness Book of World Records" lists her as the world's best-selling novelist, with four billion copies of her novels sold. Her "And Then There Were None," also known as "Ten Little Indians," is considered by publishing experts the best-selling mystery of all time.
Christie was a master of the English "cozy" mystery, in which murder usually is committed in a domestic setting and the emphasis is on using the clues to find the killer, not the blood and guts of the actual crime. Her most famous detectives, shrewd spinster Miss Marple and egocentric Belgian mastermind Hercule Poirot, have been memorialized in frequent film and television adaptations.
But Christie, who died in 1976, adapted her own books for the stage. "The Mousetrap" was based on one of her short stories and opened on London's West End on Nov. 25, 1952. It is still running today, making it the world's longest-running play. The story: A group of eccentric strangers are snowed in at a country boarding house with a murderer on the loose. Whodunnit? We'll never tell.
"The Mousetrap" opens Feb. 1 at the Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center, 201-203 S. Magnolia Ave, Sanford. Call 407-321-8111.
•Fun fact: Agatha Christie was the subject of her own mystery after she disappeared for 10 days in 1926 after her marriage collapsed. She was eventually found in a hotel, registered under an assumed name, and she never explained what had happened.
Most scholars today believe that Homer lived in the seventh or eighth century B.C. Works by the Greek writer set up the ideas of persuasive writing and storytelling that underpin modern literature.
Orlando Shakespeare Theater will present a one-man version of "The Odyssey" as part of its Studio Series. Charlie Bethel, who previously adapted "Beowulf" into a one-man show, adapted "The Odyssey" from Homer's epic poem and will star in this, the world-premiere production.
Odysseus journeys across land and sea, through the underworld and to the very home of the gods as he seeks his homeland and his family. Shipwrecks, sirens, cannibalism, death and revenge all have a part to play in an adventure both comic and thrilling.
"The Odyssey" opens Feb. 14 at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, 812 E. Rollins St., Orlando. Call 407-447-1700.
•Fun fact: Homer was so revered that in the third century B.C., an Egyptian pharaoh dedicated a shrine to him in Alexandria