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Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

Archive for November, 2010

She Stoops to Conquer

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

She Stoops to Conquer
By Oliver Goldsmith
Directed by Katrina Ploof
Starring Brian Brightman, Tommy Keesling, Stephan Lima, Melanie Whipple
Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando FL

The path of love is paved with brambles, and in rural pre-Napoleonic England the mores and social coda made even the most innocent flirtation fraught with sexual innuendo. Shy Charles Marlow (Brightman) is on a mission to get wed, and he’s assisted by wingman George Hastings (Kevin Zapf). Their target – the belles of Richmond Hill: Constance Neville (Elizabeth Tackas) and Kate “I’m hot to trot” Hardcastle (Whipple). On defense we find jovial Mr. Hardcastle (Keesling) and his second wife Dorothy (Karel Wright). Mr. H favors of any sort of normative heterosexual consummation, but the Mrs. has smoked herself into paring Constance with her conniving son Tony Lumpkin (Lima). Tony would rather hang out at the Three Pigeons Tavern and spend mommy’s money and Constance has a crush on Hastings, so the three conspire to pair her off with Hastings. No one is any worse off for the dealing, except Mr. Hardcastle and Mr. Marlow have differing opinions of the house at Richmond Hill – one thinks it an inn, the other his castle. Thus, a comedy of manners. It’s a classic of missed hints and broad assumptions, and still terribly funny to modern ears.

The manners of the rich aren’t like ours, at least not in the details, and money addles the brain, or so it is thought by those who lack it and that drives the roar of laughter surrounding Brightman as everyone’s straight man. Keesling has a heart of gold and a perfect slow burn, Zepf gets most of the soft side kick grade laughs, and it’s Mr. Lima who plays the devil incarnate – even as the Hardcastle and the nubiles figure out that Mr. Marlow has deceived himself, Lima convinces them to keep the secret and send his mother and nearly everyone else on a wild chase that kept the groundlings laughing and stamping. Even the supporting actors all had their moment – Leander Suleiman gave a rhyming exposition to shove us off the dock, and Michael Osowski , Ron McDuffie and Brent Wakelin may not names tied to them in the program, but they pulled their weight in chuckles and we are all the more entertained for their hard work. It great comedy with bustles and jack boots and one of those little bells to summon a servant when they need to bring a plot point out on a tray. Even the fireplace looks convincing, in a comedic way.

For more information on Mad Cow, please visit

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Monday, November 8th, 2010

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Music and Lyrics by William Finn
Book by Rachel Shrinking
Directed by Randy Tapper
Starring Rob DelMedico, Krystal Gillette, Erynn Hair, and Derik Lawson
Breakthrough Theatre, Winter Park FL

You may think kids don’t have all that much to worry about, but that just shows you’ve aged faster than you think. Adolescence is tough enough without having to prove you’re the best gosh darn speller in the county, and this year’s Putnam County spelling bee pulls together the desperate and geeky, children and adult alike. Organizer Rona Lisa Peretti (Hair) seeks love, acceptance, and the smell of old glory from when she won this very bee while Vice Principle Douglas Panch (Del Medico) returns from therapy in his used car salesman coat and reads the hard words.

Meanwhile the kids battle on in their own world with their own problems – Abandonment, hippy parents, gay parents, over achieving parents, and even excessive mucus production. The words are hard, the competition harder and the scene hysterical. Del Medico exudes a pompous and narrow view of the world; he obviously has bigger fish to fry than this Bee. John Gracey plays Chip Tolentino, the Boy Scout with an inconveniently excitable penis, while Leaf Coneybear (Heath Boyar) lives in the woods and makes his own clothes. Yeah, his parents look and smell like Jerry Garcia, but what’s a child of nature to do? As the female lead, Gillette’s Olive has the nicest voice and the gut wrenching songs, she was brought up by a dictionary, and her real father is rarely in her life.

There’s a silly energy here, and with audience members helping the cast as supplemental spellers there’s a good chance you can share in the fun on stage. The jokes work, the acting is a good several notches above 8th grade and while the songs might not exactly be infectious, this is a cool and crisp production of a relatively family safe evening’s entertainment.

For more information, please visit