Orchid Exhibition at Botanical Gardens

From March 5 through April 25, orchids take center stage at The New York Botanical Garden in a dazzling display created by Tony award-winning set designer Scott Pask, image-maker Drew Hodges and Botanical Garden curators.

The result is must-see horticultural theater. The Orchid Show: On Broadway features iconic architectural elements from legendary theaters of the Great White Way dramatically interpreted with thousands of orchids in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.

Just a short stroll across the Garden’s grounds in the Library building, a complementary exhibition, Hirschfeld’s Broadway Scrapbook, spotlights works by the American caricaturist whose whimsical drawings so captured audiences that a Broadway theater was named in his honor. On weekends, Broadway Cabaret performances highlight popular music from Broadway stages.

Combined with the art exhibition and live performances, The Orchid Show: On Broadway, the Botanical Garden’s ninth annual presentation of the nation’s largest and only curated orchid exhibition, which has been acclaimed as a “tour de force that leaves most visitors gasping with amazement and delight,” is a not-to-be-missed showcase for orchid enthusiasts and Broadway theater-lovers alike.

In previous years, the Garden has placed a spotlight on geographic regions such as Singapore, Brazil and Cuba that are renowned for collections or naturally occurring orchids in the environment. In an exciting plot twist for the 2011 exhibition that both underscores the breadth and depth of one of the most distinguished orchid collections in the world, that of The New York Botanical Garden, and solidifies the reputation of orchids as the divas of the plant world, Scott Pask and Drew Hodges utilize thousands of orchids in an astonishing variety of shapes, sizes, textures, and colors in their design of The Orchid Show: On Broadway.

More than 300 types of species and hybrid orchids, including Dendrobium (cane orchids), Paphiopedilum (slipper orchids), Oncidium (dancing lady orchids), Cymbidium (Asian corsage orchids), and Phalaenopsis (moth orchids) festoon set pieces that transport visitors to theaters where some of their favorite Broadway productions have been mounted.

In the Reflecting Pool of the Conservatory’s Palms of the World Gallery, a proscenium arch and curtain inspired by the Walter Kerr Theatre frame an orchid-bedecked stage heralding the starring role of these coveted plants in this show.

A stroll through the long Seasonal Exhibition Gallery with a kaleidoscope of orchids grandly criss-crossing and arching overhead reminds visitors of the ornate New Amsterdam Theatre promenade, while the towering glass roof of the corner Seasonal Exhibition Gallery is the perfect setting for an orchid chandelier reminiscent of the majestic lighting fixtures that decorated and illuminated Broadway theaters such as the 42nd Street Theatre (formerly the Eltinge Theatre), suspended above a reflecting pool, balustrade, and a tiered orchid “audience.”

One of the most important figures in contemporary caricature, Al Hirschfeld (1903–2003) immortalized the icons of American theater in delightful drawings depicting Broadway stars and productions. The Orchid Show: On Broadway complementary exhibition, Hirschfeld’s Broadway Scrapbook, in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library’s Rondina and LoFaro Gallery displays more than 30 drawings and prints, as well as posters, programs, and sketchbooks from the Al Hirschfeld Foundation that tell the history of the Great White Way as seen by its foremost chronicler.

With the backdrop of a dazzling display of orchids in the terrarium, Broadway Cabaret in the Orchid Rotunda features half-hour, weekend afternoon performances by a vocalist and keyboardist entertaining visitors with Broadway tunes, rounding out the Broadway experience at the Botanical Garden.

The New York Botanical Garden is a museum of plants located at Bronx River Parkway (Exit 7W) and Fordham Road. It is easy to reach by Metro-North Railroad or subway.

During The Orchid Show: On Broadway, the Garden will be opened from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

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