Do you want to write for Ink 19?

Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

Archive for June, 2012

The Undead Acts

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

The Undead Acts
Written by Terri Giannoutsos and Mazzeo Payne
Directed by Terri Giannoutsos
Mad Madame Payne Productions
Theatre Downtown, Orlando FL

Why Zombies? Because they SEEEEELLLLLL!, we established that at this year’s Fringe. And now we have two one act plays filling the late night slot on a suitably Gothic set for “Divine Sister.” The first event is “For Love or Brains.” Even high level executives can get the undead itch, and CEO Milton (Dan “Mongo” Nichols) is reduced to communicating his policies via electronic squawk box. His handler (Anthony Vito) seem uncertain of his lines, rumor has it he first saw the script about dinner time so I won’t hold it against him. Its not clear what going on but a Tim Curry style hooker (Brian Thompson) runs across stage occasionally, and a loose collection of well costumed but confusing characters interact with Milton. Sure, he munches a few brains and I loved his make up but it’s not clear what we supposed to carry home after this exercise.

Intermission time and we are kicked out into the muggy lobby so the crew can set a couch and few microphone levels. “My Undead Ex.” was much nicer experience, the story made more sense and it had some very nice Lady Gaga style dance numbers. Sophie (Caitlin Carney) and Vickie (Pam Stone) are on the rocks; it seems Vickie is spending way too much time with flaming Ryan (Mark Bradley) which makes Sophie morph in a zombie version of herself (Katrina Johnson). The bitchy relationship and Ryan’s flamboyance sold the show, and their production numbers were the frosting on this blood and brain casserole. It’s all light weight fun and just the sort of show to catch late at night with a tropical storm bearing down on your weekend.

The Real Live Brady Bunch

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

The Real Live Brady Bunch
Directed by Jason Newkirk
Starring Tabitha Rox, Tyler Conrady
Breakthrough Theatre, Winter Park FL

Sometime you’ll run into and old TV show of which you have fond memories. And when you see that old chestnut, you first thought, often as not, is “Boy, was THAT a dumb show.” The Brady Bunch is in that camp, but on stage it can take on superb camp value. Tonight someone (perhaps the enigmatic Karen Hill?) transcribed three episodes into a 90 minute show which ranges from very silly to extremely super silly. Here’s the show’s premise – a man with three children marries a woman with three children and they can afford a maid. When these children came from exactly is never discussed, the concept of remarriage was very racy for TV execs of the day and for all we know the missing mates ran off with each other or were killed in a weird love triangle. But the kids all basically get along and have improbable adventures that each take exactly 23 minutes to set up and resolve, allowing time for ads and a few “Station Identifications”.

In the first episode, the eldest Marcia (Adriana Milbrath) find a “Dear Libby” column that convinces them mom and dad are about to split, leaving the children unloved. Mother Carol (Rox) drinks endless cups of Valium laced coffee and never seems to get upset, while Father Peter (Conrady) looks like Jack Nicholson about to chop through a door, but never follows through on this promising plot line. It takes two commercial breaks before anyone ASKS mom or dad but then Libby (Jeff Hole) show up in drag to reassure them that this sort of break up could only happen in Ohio.

Before the next episode, Bobby Brady (Jason Newkirk) powders over his 5 o’clock shadow and conducts a quick Brady Bunch trivia game. Since neither unwitting contestant knew beans about the show this wasn’t terribly exciting. So we moved right into Episode 2: here Jan (Alexandra Milbrath) loses a boy friend to Marcie who actually has boobs. Everyone fuses over the problem, except Marcie who fans the fire until its time for the credits. Sisters – can’t kill them, and can’t steal their looks.

The third episode is the best, it’s called”Amateur Hour” and the kids need to raise money to pay for an anniversary gift. Their only real option is an amateur hour run by superannuated hippy Jeff Hole, but they pull off a decent high energy Beach Boys’ pop number with about 5 minutes of rehearsal. While they don’t win the money, everything turns out just like you’d wish with mom and dad blissfully unaware and Alice (Jennifer Bennett) aiding and abetting.

While I can’t say much for the plot, this production never took itself seriously, and everyone did their best to camp it up. Whenever a sex joke could be inferred, it was paraded up and down and made to work. I either never watched this show, or blanked it out, but yeah, the Brady Bunch is very dumb very funny and filled with unquenchable energy.

For more information, please visit http://www.breakthroughtheatre.com

Suds: The Rocking 60’s Musical Soap Opera

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Suds: The Rocking 60’s Musical Soap Opera
By Melinda Gilb, Steve Gunderson, and Bryan Scott
Directed and Choreographed by Roy Alan
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park, FL

Cleanliness might be next to godliness, and that’s why the guardian angels of the Laundromat Dee Dee (Heather Alexander) and Marge (Laura Hoods) drop by the Suds Fluff and Fold just in time to prevent depressed manager Cindy (Joanna Yeakel) from spin drying herself into the great beyond. Maybe it was just a cry for help; after all she did dump in a whole bottle of fabric softener first. She’s all down and out because her pen pal dumped her, and you can imagine nothing is worse than being dumped by a guy you haven’t actually met yet. Dee and Marge don’t offer great advice, and one of them even runs off with Mr. Right (Christopher Alan Norton). Some how, that didn’t seem like an angelic thing to do.

But who gives a used anti-static rag about plot? This who event is about singing and spin drying your love life. The music sticks to the mid century pop standards although occasionally we are threatened with a Rolling Stones lyric if only to remind you that the big bad world is still out there. Back then, if you didn’t get the “fall in love draft deferment” they could send you off to a sweaty jungle where keeping a well pressed uniform in impossible. I could list all the songs here but that would take a while but if you’ve ever bought one of those “Billboard Top Hits of 196x” disks, all those track are on stage tonight. The music is as good as it always is, Ned Wilkinson adds some brass to the standard Leavy / Forrest piano/ percussion line up, and three of these 4 singers have the Equity asterisk next to there names, and all for good reason. I happened to catch the preview show, dire forecasts of collapsing set pieces and show stopping missed note never came true and the worst accident that almost but didn’t quite occur was an potential wardrobe failure from Dee Dee’s green polka dot bodice. Bring the kids, bring the old folks and bring that basket of unwashed darks towels, tonight everything cool is happening at the Laundromat!

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

The Pitman Painters

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

The Pitman Painters
By Lee Hall
Directed by Bobby Bell
Starring Mark Lainer, Mark Edward Smith, Tommy Keesling
Mad Cow Theatre Orlando FL

“Great art only comes from genius. Anyone can create art. The only thing that really matters about art is how it makes you feel.” Tonight we explore these three possibly inconstant ideas amongst the coal pits of depression era Northumberland. It’s a Monty Python grade stew of confusion and pretense punctuated by the occasionally flag waving lecture about the transcendence of art. Back in those good old days, a boy of 10 or 11 rolled out of bed one morning and then spent the rest of his life digging coal by hand for 10 hours a day, and got paid for over time if he was lucky. Culture of any sort was off in distant Newcastle, and cosmopolitan London might as well be on another planet. But these weren’t brutish men, they discussed politics and heard about science and even hired lecturer and low grade artist Robert Lyon (Keesling) to expound “The Meaning of Art”. Officious George (Smith) tracks minor infractions and enforces the most obscure rules this side of St Andrew’s golf course while his buddy Harry (John Bateman) interprets everything in terms of redistribution of wealth. After a nearly unintelligible clash over what “meaning” means, Lyon suggests these men of the earth try paining on their own. It’s shy Oliver (Lainer) who “gets” it, soon he’s attracted the attention of the dilettante collector Helen Sutherland (Amanda Schlachter) who offers a stipend. Oliver wavers, and then refuses as he feels safer among his mates underground. A wise choice, after the Ashington Group makes a splash, their style of naive Social Realism faded from popularity, and they return to what they know best – risking life and limb underground for starvation wages and no insurance.

This is a brilliant comedy working on multiple levels. The rollicking cast each hold separate voice and separate attitude toward both life and art. While the accents are thick as porridge, you can make out the sputtering anger of not “getting” what looks like it should be simple to “get.” Keesling’s art instructor suitably rumpled, and even though these men become his friends he’s not above exploiting them. The one “real” artist in the cast, Ben Nicholson (Trevin Cooper) cattily explains that hanging out with Ms. Sutherland is post sale service necessary to collect the next commission, “even if the customer has her head up her ass”. On a deeper level, this show compliments the recent “Red” across town: here at the bottom of the artistic heap we see the same veniality and sheer self promotion that hangs paintings on gallery walls and feeds the vanity of the well-to-do. What we learn in both “The Pitman Painters” and “Red” is that great art achieves greatness not by the skill of the painter, but by the fashion sense of collectors and galleries and how the painter manipulates those forces. Woe to those who buy paintings that do not hold the collectors eye!

For more information on Mad Cow, please visit http://www.madcowtheatre.com

Next to Normal

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Next to Normal
Lyrics by Brian Yorkey and Music by Tom Kitt
Directed by Timothy Williams
Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando FL

So these two guys are sitting around and one says to the other: “A musical about Electro Convulsive Therapy! No one’s ever done that before!” and here we are. Diana Goodman (Melissa Minyard) never got over the death of her 18 month old boy Gabe (Brandon Allen Wood). He’s dead and gone to her husband Dan (Stephan Jones) but to Diana he’s now a whiney and persistent teen age apparition demanding her time and energy. She even makes him sandwich for lunch and reminds him about Key Club and Football practice. While Dan is the most tolerant supportive husband imaginable, their real live daughter Natalie (Emily Walton) is about ready to bug out and her boyfriend Henry (Damian Barry), while supportive, is wondering if any of this might be genetic. Diana tries drugs, therapy, hypnosis, herbs and after a while there are only two options – Big Nurse, or The Big Sleep.

You might argue this is an opera; the whole story is sung or at least recited. Minyard is effortless as a singer, dark songs like “You Don’t Know” and “The Break” are Tony material and while the rest of the cast hustles to keep up with her, they’re never far behind. Jones gets his most powerful number with “I Am the One” and there a sweet ballad between Henry and Natalie in “Perfect for You.” The supporting actor Dave Shipman plays the various medicos that rule Diana’s non-imaginary life, he gets some truly funny stuff air guitaring “Dr. Rock” and reciting all the pill combinations that Diane has to keep straight. Both Emily and Henry start every interaction with “Hey” and exude that awkward adolescence that says “I’m actually cool / I feel like a dork.”

Musically strong and internally dark this rock musical feels like it’s ready to explode into a rock concert on every song, the guitarist (D. J. Pipkin) struggles to keep the sound from blasting into concert hall amplitude, and they keep the drummer (Landon Baker) hidden behind a screen least he deafen us. “Next to Normal” is a challenging show for both audience and cast, but Director Williams keeps our meds just right.

For more information on Mad Cow, please visit http://www.madcowtheatre.com

Dead Body Friendship

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Dead Body Friendship
Written and directed by Gabby Brown
Breakthrough Theatre, Winter Park FL

You know the old saw about real friends helping you move bodies, that’s the crisis facing nerdy Ben (Tim Walczak) when his party girl date Angelica (Kimberly Bonny) pops too many pills and drifts off into that great skank palace in the sky. Before this, things were going well, for a comic collector like Ben any female attention is a big deal and one with a kink for peanut butter – well, praise the Lord and pass the chunky! Ben’s sex maniac buddy Franklin (Brandon Lopez) suggest cutting the body into teeny tiny pieces, his platonic yet attractive friend Farrah (Madison Graham) votes for the trash chute, and the debate was on. Whatever method they choose, it must be quick and quiet lest chain smoking landlady Ms Englund (Stefanie Lebiwitz) call the cops and evicts them all.

While the plot has a few holes here and there, the story rolls a long and kept the audience in stitches. Even though she spends the second act dead, Ms. Bonny has the toughest roll – she’s groped, fondled and abused but seemed happy enough in the post show reception. I liked Ms. Graham’s puppy love looks and attraction to the nerdy guy; she seemed most mature and realizes that nerdy guys can get high paying jobs in information technology. The icky side of romance came from the Fonzy-influenced Franklin; he was horny enough to take on the chain smoking landlady Ms Englund. Franklin might not be the brightest cell phone in the crowd, but he’s the guy you’d want with you if you were looking to start a bar fight. This flighty comedy is the freshman work of ms Gabby Brown, she bragged she “writes like a guy” and I admit, there were a few lines in the show I could hear myself say.

This show was presented as part of the 2012 Orlando International Fringe Festival.

For more information on Breakthrough Theatre, please visit http://www.breakthroughtheatre.com

The Divine Sister

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

The Divine Sister
By Charles Bush
Directed By Tim DeBaun
Staring Cory Boughton, Cira Larkin, Gloria Sicoli
Theatre Downtown, Orlando Fl.

What would we do in theatre without Catholics to kick around? It’s just another day in the cloistered life of St. Veronica’s – young Agnes (Rachel Comeau) experiences visions, Sister Walburga (Larkin) takes mysterious notes for the “Mother House” in Berlin, Sister Acacius (Sicoli) coaches wresting, and mother Superior (Boughton) seeks funding to rebuild the whole ornate pile from local Jewish philanthropist Mrs. Levinson (Carol Adubato.) Everyone has a secret or five, and the just because someone took a vow of chastity doesn’t mean there was never a bun in the oven.

As Busch comedies go, this one is consistently funnier and more subtle than, say “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom”. Boughton’s Mother Superior switches readily from complete veniality when dealing with skeptical Mrs. Levinson to actual heartfelt care when dealing with closeted Timothy (Logan Curran). Sicoli’s wrestling angle doesn’t slide into the easy gag of lesbianism, and when Larkin descends into the catacombs with Brother Venerius (Curran again) it’s what I always imaging Goth Sex must be like. The gags fly fast and furious, and while I can’t begin to explain how all this fits together; there’s a steady roar of laughter amongst the statuary. That’s another highlight, this Tommy Mangieri set actually looks more authentic than actual churches I’ve seen in Europe. Even the air conditioning is on your side, while the TDT lobby can be toasty in the summer, it’s blessedly cool inside the chapel.

For more information on Theatre Downtown, please visit http://www.theatredowntown.net

Spot Light Cabaret with Laura Hodos

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Spot Light Cabaret with Laura Hodos
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park FL

If Ms. Hodos hadn’t confessed to shopping at Ross, I’d have thought we’d stepped into a high class joint with a fancy piano player and professional chanteuse…oh,wait, we DID. I’ve seen several of Ms. Hodos’ solo shows, and each feels classier than that last. Tonight’s selections were loosely themed around songs from classic Paramount musicals and semi-obscure Broadway shows like “Roar of the Greasepaint” (Too many Rings around Rosie). Both Betty Hutton and Jeanette MacDonald made the selection list, and there was even a bit of a singer cat fight when WPPH regular Natalie Cordone appeared; rumor has it there might be a cabaret cage matching the near future complete with ring announcer and card boy.

After the mandatory booze refueling intermission, local piano prodigy Alexander Oyen snuck onto Mr. Leavy’s piano bench; he’s still young but boasts and impressive trunk full of new songs including the moving “Break Free.” He’s a local artist to watch, and one other local group snuck a song in the wrap-up mega mix – “Cinderella’s Song” from The Oops Guys “Bitches of the Kingdom” filled in between a Miss Saigon number and the only song Richard Rogers wrote without that other guy. Now that the Spotlight series is in its second year, it’s beginning to take on a creative life of its own and tying together other seemingly unrelated events. Mein Gott, there’ve created a rhinestone studded monster!

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