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Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

Archive for May, 2009

Dreams, Schemes and Circus Crowds: My Life in the Carnivale

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Dreams, Schemes and Circus Crowds: My Life in the Carnivale
Written, directed and choreographed by Mr. Willy Marchante
Dancers Edge Studios
Goldenrod, FL

Finding this show was a real challenge, but worth the effort. My tip off was an offhand remark after a late night Fringe show indicating that something was happening at an obscure dance studio next weekend. A little digging led me out to a small dance studio on the back side of Winter Park (Is Goldenrod a real city, or just a zip code?) The lobby was crowded with small children and an unhappy dog with a blotch of Henna on its back. Had I stumbled onto a dance recital aimed at doting grandparents, or was I just confused by the confusion? Happily, these were all false worries; this show was as good as any other show Mr. Marchante has been involved in from his Varietease outings to the recent high energy “Monster Mash.” True, there were 5 years old ballerinas stomping around like lumberjacks with bursitis, but they added toe circus like quality of the show.

Dance can often be so abstract that even a close reading other program will leave you mystified as to why the dancers were rolling on the floor or flying from the rafters, but Mr. Marchante’s storytelling holds enough concrete to keep you generally aligned with the plot line. Our lead heads up a circus act and as so often happens a lost soul applies for a job with few benefits beyond anonymity and constant travel. That dancer I can only identify as Jamie appears, learns the ropes of entertaining, and falls in love with Willie. As they dance and lip sync through a psychedelic smoke and laser light world, their love blossoms only to fade as a mirage in a crystal ball. It drew more than a few tears from the scant audience.

I mentioned the children, but the bulk of the motion comes from a half dozen professional dancer’s lip syncing to pop songs and climbing around on some marginally OSHA-approved ladders. With no program, it’s a guess as to what exactly is happening, but some of the better segments include the younger cast dancing to Peek-a-Boo with marionette strings other wrists, a dark and murk adaptation of “Fun House,” and a touching wrap up “For the Benefit of Mr. Kite.” While there were some poorly lit moments in this technical restricted play house and the chairs were classic Baptist church basement, this show is worth the trip out to the ‘burbs, providing you can figure out just when it happens again.

For more information on Dancer’s Edge, please visit http://www.dancersedgeinc.com/

The 2009 Orlando International Fringe Festival

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

The 2009 Orlando International Fringe Festival
Loch Haven Park
Orlando Florida
May 14 to 25, 2009

For the past 10 years, I’ve written extensively about the Orlando Fringe. This year, I’ll be producing a show and won’t have time to offer any coverage of the event. There are a number of blogs where public comments on shows will appear, and there will be coverage on YouTube, Radio Rickshaw, Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites. See you in the beer tent!

For more information on the Orlando Fringe Festival, including schedules and tickets, please visit http://www.orlandofringe.org

Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves – A Cabaret

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves – A Cabaret
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
Starring Laura Hodos, Kevin Kelly, Krista Leona Anderson
Winter Park Play House, Winter Park, Florida

When you comb through the personal files of the American Musical Theater, there are plenty of Tramps but not that many Thieves and Gypsies are down right as scarce as flu vaccination in Mexico. Tonight’s fluffy and tuneful collection of songs began with the eponymous Cher pop hit of 1971, and then wandered the highways and low ways of music sung in an informal manner that tried to get people to mill around and buy drinks. It’s a challenge, seating is tight and getting up mid number typically requires 3 to 6 people getting out of your way twice.

Adding some audience participation to the evening was the contractor building their new theatre next door. He gave some thoughts on the whole theatrical process, and took us on a tour of the unfinished building at intermission. I’ll give WPPH credit; they’ve got the chutzpah to expand when many other groups are on the edge of going dark. I put the blame squarely on their focused plan of providing a high quality musical experience with exceptional performers. Having picked a reasonably arbitrary program, this trio of WPPH regulars executed every song with panache. Kevin Kelly got the best numbers – “I’m A Gigolo”, “Serve Yourself”, and wonderfully dark romantic ballad about two lovers trying to kill each other. Yes, it’s Miss Plum in the Music Room with a bouquet of flowers. Of course, both Hodos and Anderson kept up their consistently engaging styling – a song from Gypsy was mandatory, and Hodo’s “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” was nearly as good as here sing along version of “Minnie the Moocher.” Anderson’s “Love For Sale” and opener “He’s a Tramp” gave here the sympathy vote for the evening.

“Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” only ran one weekend, and it’s these short term projects that don’t rely on out of town script that allow the stable of WPPH players to show what they do best. That’s sing with Chris Leavy, banter with the audience, and try to convince us they sound better as we pile on the liquor. I’m just hoping the new theatre will have a bit more leg room so I can buy that extra glass of Cheap Red Wine. And if they could sell proper Martini’s, you might have to stand in line for a ticket…

For more information on Winter Park Playhouse, please visit www.winterparkplayhouse.org

Barefoot In The Park (but not the Neil Simon comedy)

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Barefoot In The Park (but not the Neil Simon comedy)
By Jessica Earley and Brian Feldman Projects
Dickson Azalea Park, Orlando Florida
May 1, 2009

On the surface, this is pretty straight forward – Time Constrained Performance Artist Brian Feldman and his charming girlfreind Jessica Earley invite all the people on Facebook to take a walk through an urban park barefoot. While that might sound romantic, in Florida walking barefoot through the undergrowth might introduce you to any number of prickery flora and toothy fauna, never mind the broken glass. Still, Mr. Feldman is nothing if not dedicated to his art, and to raise the stakes a bit they take their walk blindfold, surrounded by a smallish bevy of photographers. Since there’s a rather steep ravine in this park, some of us broke journalist convention and advise the walkers “You might not want to go that way!” or the more pointed “Stop! You’ll fall!” While watching the pair plummet to certain death might have some temporary entertainment value, we would have had to recover the bodies and fill out paperwork, and we all felt that was a bad trade to let them perish.

Before the walk began, Feldman and Earley taught us the Tree Dance, which involves standing firmly on the earth, feeling its power flow through us, and than waving our twigs and branches in the breeze. As the walk progressed, Ms. Earley presented a scattered nature lecture and the advice not to eat certain plants. No one appeared hungry, and since the blindfolds seemed pretty effective, there’s no telling what they thought they were pointing at. Anyway, I get my vegetation at Publix.

After an half an hour’s stroll, not always on the path and not always moving forward in a monotonic direction, we crossed under a busy street on to a small paved stage where a tiger attacked us. Fortunately, it was a Mascot Style tiger, and rather than ripping us limb for limb, it emitted an electronic growl and danced the Tree Dance with Feldman and Earley. They all took bows, and we all snacked on trail mix, apple juice and water. It turned out that the tiger was vegetarian, so that was a relief.

In the realm of Feldman projects, this was a bit bipolar. A stroll in the park can be just that, but the blindfolds and ravine made this something riskier and not for a solo excursion. Adding a tiger could be viewed as a nod to nature or the invasive species concerns we have in Florida, but it also remained us we ARE in an urban area and polyester is the natural fabric we are most likely to experience without resorting to cable TV.

This Project has an insane number of websites. Pick the one you like:
http://tr.im/barefootrelease
http://jessicaearley.wordpress.com (Jessica Earley)
http://brianfeldman.com (Brian Feldman)
http://tr.im/barefootfb (Barefoot in the Park: Facebook Event)
http://tr.im/barefootrelease (Barefoot in the Park: Google Docs)
When referencing on Twitter, please use hashtag: #barefoot