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Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

Archive for August, 2012

Sentimental Journey

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Sentimental Journey
With Natalie Cordone
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park FL

It’s casual week at the usually classy WPPH – Both the bartender and the box office guy wore JEANS! Standards of elegance are slipping in the rain, but not the musical ones: Natalie Cordone kept up the dress code and floored this crowd of older thrill seekers with a solid set of classic standards. Her childhood was spent with Frank Sinatra the rest of the late century crooners, and their hits flowed forth: “Sentimental Journey” and “Almost like Being in Love” and “Made for You and Me” all were crowd pleasers. Ms Cordone chose these songs from fan letters filled with reminiscences; I even found the couple I was seated with met long enough ago to be my folks. As we wrapped up act one, Todd Long came out from behind the bar and joined in a lovely “True Love”, and soon intermission time rolled around. This was Ms Cordone’s opportunity to sing “What Lola Wants” as she tousled the bald spots of older guys on her way back stage for a costume change.

It was about a year ago Ms. Cordone did her first cabaret here, and she admitted she was terrified. Now she seems to have slid into the role with grace and aplomb: Her second act opened with “You Make Me feel so young” and the chestnut “Wind Beneath My Wings”, and then Shawn Kilgore came out to close out the show with “Hello Young Lovers” and “Unforgettable.” There’s always a little fakey scene before the show really ends, we expect an encore and the cabaret singer here always prepare one. Tonight is was “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and while this might be the sappiest song ever written, it’s still the sort of “bring the house down” number that even got the woman in a wheel chair to stand up. You can’t beat this series for intimate elegance, and honestly who cares what the bartender is wearing?

For more information on Winter Park Playhouse, please visit

Mr. Marmalade

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

Mr. Marmalade
By Noah Haidle
Directed by Jeremy Wood
Starring Gwendolyn Boniface, Cory Boughton
Howler Theatre in conjunction with Renegade Theatre
Orlando Shakespeare Festival, Orlando FL

Life is pretty tough when your imaginary friends beat the crap out of you and you’re only four years old. That’s how little Lucy (Boniface) spends her days, she and mom (Candy Heller) live alone, dad is gone and it’s not clearly where he went. Lucy fills her day with love and concern for her imaginary friend Mr. Marmalade (Boughton). Work keeps him hoping 20 hours a day and he can only drop in for a quickie tea party. When Mom goes out on a date, babysitter Emily (Kayla Kelly) invites her boyfriend George (Tiny de Mil) over for sex and Lucy meets his little brother Larry (Miles Berman). Larry’s an older man and more experienced, and at five years he’s tried suicide a few times. Now Lucy is torn – stay with a successful yet abusive imaginary business man, or jump ship for a tender and caring real boy who’s working hard to check out early.

Strip away the icky little girl fantasy element, and Lucy’s story might just mirror her mom’s, except mom seems to be free of any really creepy guys. This theory covers a lot of what’s on stage, it’s sort of weird for a child to invent Mr. Marmalade without having seen someone similar in action. For an imagined role, Mr. Boughton stole the show. He’s an Every Man from high pressure executive to redneck coke head and you want to love him and kill him simultaneously. Mr. Berman is nearly as good as the bouncy suicide child, he’s just a bit angular to pass himself off as five but his eyeball earflap hat takes 20 years off his looks. Ms. Boniface seems just precocious enough to be believable, but the most engaging person on stage was imaginary personal assistant Bradley (BeeJay Auberton), he’s soft and unctuous and as eager to please as a St. Bernard puppy. While the production is sparse, the potato chip orgy was pretty impressive with food flying though impressive oblique lighting. The on stage clutter piles up as does the confusion and hurt in Lucy’s life until Mr. Marmalade come in to clean things up with a leaf blower. He cleaned the floor but polluted everyone life on stage. It’s amazing how much damage one creepy guy can do to people he’s never even met.

For more exciting information about Howler’s Theatre, visit

Art of Murder

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Art of Murder
By Joe DiPietro
Directed by Tabitha Rox
Thriller Theatre
Presented at Breakthrough Theatre, Winter Park FL

I’m under a gag order to not reveal the surprise ending of this Chicago Cross Jostle of a murder mystery, so I’ll let you check Twitter or Wiki Leaks if you really want to go in knowing the ending. And if you do, I’ll bet you’re the sort of person that reads Agatha Christie backwards and checks out the hard Sudoku puzzle answer in Sky Magazine before you fasten your seat belt. So here we go – Jack Brooks (John Reid Adams) is a hot shot artist, aiming for his first million dollar sale with “Study in Red #4”. True, the painting is mostly yellow and looks like it was painted in an adult enrichment class are Marks Street Senior Center, but who are we to question the artist? His wife Annie (Jennifer Rae) paints as well, but she’s noticeable lacking in sales potential. Still, the flamboyant dealer Vincent (James Newkirk) keeps her on payroll, mostly to placate Jack. A dinner party is planned along with a murder, a fake murder, an intervention, and confrontation and for all I know a paint spattered orgy. They even sent the help (Carol Palumbo) out to have sex with her boyfriend all night long, assuming he was that good. Did anyone die? Can’t say. Did they get away with it? Can’t say. Did the butler do it? Can’t say. Was it Miss Pigment in the atelier with a palette knife? DO NOT PRESS ME!

So what is there to say? Annie was the only sane person on stage, she was well motivated and well composed and even splattered in stage blood and chicken guts she was loveable. Mr. Adams took a more psychotic turn, you really wanted to hate him, and you did. Mr. Newkirk’s flamboyance occasionally wore thin but he mixed a hateful cunning with a dismissive arrogance, and you believed he could, in fact, run a successful gallery. And what of the maid “Kate”? Her British accent and undergrad degree in Chemistry and extensive time back stage made her suspicious, but just how suspicious? Suspicious enough TO KILL? DO NOT PRESS ME!

Tonight’s murder and its accoutrements isn’t as important as the gags, silly over acing and constant scarf flipping. This is ultimately a comedy and while anyone could die at any point, your glad most of them stuck around to tell more jokes. Miss Marple this isn’t but “Art of Murder” engages and entertains and never bothers with all the CSI – Winter Park techno mumbo jumbo. Bring a date, leave a body.

For more information on Breakthrough, please visit or look them up on Facebook.

Thriller Theatre information may be found at

Twelve Angry Men

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Twelve Angry Men
By Reginald Rose
Directed by Stephen Jones
Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando Fl

Bismarck once almost remarked “Only men with strong stomachs should watch justice or sausage being made.” The process behind justice is delegated to the common citizen and while high paid specialists argue the law, those who finally decide justice are much less focused. In this hot, sweaty jury room, a dozen men wrestle with a possible fratricide by a 16 year old boy. It seems pretty open and shut; motive, means and opportunity exists, there are witnesses and evidence, and more importantly all these men all wish they were somewhere else, preferably air-conditioned. Only Juror #8 (T. Robby Pigott) has qualms. While he is reasonably sure of the guilt, it’s not beyond a reasonable doubt. The argument he starts is loud and raucous, and nearly drives the cast to blows several times. Is justice done? No one knows, but the process was served and that’s all you can hope for some days.

This is a guy show if ever there was one. The all male cast covers the full section of society: Juror #12 (David Shipman) is a fatuous ad man, Juror #9 (Terry Olson) limps alone in his twilight years, Juror #5(John Bateman) carries a double burden: he’s from the slums and cheers for Milwaukee. Juror # 7 (Josh Geohagen) helpfully intones: “That’s like getting hit in the head twice a day” as two baseball tickets melt away in his pocket. Once the seed of doubt it sown, the individual experience of these men helps convince more to waver. The hold outs are Juror #10 (Joe Reed) who believes that by yelling louder he becomes more correct, and Juror #3 (Philip Nolen) tries to recover his own lost son by convicting the boy in the dock. Does any of this make sense? No, but after this emotional give and take, there’s nothing left to say, and the deliberation ends.

Are all jury room this dramatic? Probably not, but you hope they are when your called to decide if some poor schmuck was really drunk. The only technical issue I have with this play is the room was cold; we should have had to sweat with the cast to get the full effect. Beyond that, the cast was brilliant, the timing tight, and the emotion raw. This is a great way for Mad Cow to end its run on South Magnolia, let’s hope they keep up the good work in their new home.

For more information on Mad Cow, please visit

Rock Orlando, A Musical Review

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Rock Orlando, A Musical Review
Directed by Paul Castaneda
Musical Direction by Katrina Johnson
Greater Orlando Actors Theatre, Winter Park, FL

I’m happy to report G.O.A.T. has a new space, and it’s less than a stone’s throw from the Publix liquor store on Aloma Avenue. Tonight was the first chance for the public to check out this cavernous new venue located in the Crealde Business Center in Winter Park, and I do believe it has promise. Right now it’s more of a “performance space” than a “theatre”, there are some lights propped here and there, tables and chairs scattered about but no real focal point beyond a piece of 1970s totemic art high over the entrance. The other weird feature is a row of mini-blind covered office windows near the ceiling. Suits vs. Mohawks – is there a potential culture clash working?

While the room is way too lively for good singing right now and there’s a weird buzz from the A/C, G.O.A.T put on a typically outstanding revue of show tunes, some from previous productions and some from possible future projects. “Rent” got it fair share of numbers, many of which involved Adam McCabe standing on tables. Another featured show was “Spring Awakening” with McCabe covering “Don’t Do Sadness” and Katrina Johnson with “Song of Purple Summer.” Johnson and Kevin Sigman came out for “Super Boy and Invisible Girl” and “Pinball Wizard”, and then Johnson and Jolie Hart almost stopped the first act with “Take Me Baby” from “Rent”. They really love that show here.

After a short bar break (with VERY popularly priced drinks) Jamal Solomon took the stage with a rocking “Feed Me Seymour” from Little Shop of Horrors, then and even more impressive “Gethsemane” from “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Ms Johnson had just nailed Judas’ “Heaven on Their Minds” and if you were going to tackle that notoriously hard show, you’d have trouble finding two better voices. Overall, this was a promising start, and while you can’t see this place from the street, it’s not that hard to find, parking is great, and there’s plenty of restaurants and bars in easy reach for pre or post show refreshments.

For more information on Greater Orlando Actor’s Theatre, please visit http://

A West Side Love Story

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

A West Side Love Story
Officiated by Eric Pinder
Starring Paul Castaneda and Leesa Halstead
August 4, 2012
Orlando Shakespeare Festival, Orlando FL

(AT RISE – A semi dark performance space. A PROJECTION SCREEN displays archival stills from an ancient WEST SIDE STORY production at a LOCAL COMMUNITY THEATER. We recognize the BRIDE and GROOM. In the final frame FRANK HILGENBERG FACE PALMS.)

I thought they were married already; they always acted that way in public. But then what do I know? This isn’t a kiss and tell column, it’s…well, it’s a stream of consciousness, without the emotional baggage of Mrs. Dalloway. The Bachelor Party has come and gone, no major arrests to report, and now it’s time for the distaff pay off. Mysterious people fill the audience; we all have multiple lives and are unaware of those our friends inhabit. Young children running across the stage unaware they should be looking cute, elderly relatives are helped to their seats as they look confused by the seemingly random gender parings in the audience. But this is no Bridezilla Rampage; it’s the Groom who seems most freaked out. I can’t detect a His Side / Her Side seating assignment so I go to the farthest seat in the back. Here I can watch the crowd and if necessary, escape gracefully. To me it’s just another theatre wedding, but with rumors of open bar after the formalities!

(SFX – Ch-chhh. CH-chhh. Ch-chhh. GROOMSMEN enter, dressed in formal black, wife beater tee shirts implied. Smoking fake cigarettes, they harass STRAIGHT MALES STAGE RIGHT and FLIRT WITH STRAIGHT FEMALES STAGE RIGHT. Lesbians are ignored. BETH MARSHALL intones a FRINGE-LIKE PRESHOW. We are encouraged to take pictures and text, but NO RINGTONES. Audience exhibits barely suppressed CONFUSION.)

The groom’s party enters led by John DiDonna, local impresario and minor Party God. He’s with the wedding’s graphic designer (Adam McCabe) and the groom’s soon-to-be stepsons. They smoke but don’t share. The Officiant (Pinder) appears and like most of the crowd, he’s wearing Red Converse. I haven’t seen this many Converse sneakers since I last went to Will’s Pub. Cognitive dissonance: we were told: “NO ONE but the bride wears red! Penalties will be severe!” but almost everyone has a splash or red somewhere.

(SFX – “AMERICA” from “West Side Story” blasts. The BRIDAL PARTY enters. BRIDE LOOKS HOT. Bride’s maids look SLIGHTLY LESS HOT.)

The sound stops abruptly. Negative points on tech savvy. Lighting is sort of dark, not as dramatic as is could be. The upstage wash could be exploited better. I’m nit picking, but hey, these are professionals up there exchanging vows, not some incautious teen agers from different gangs. Imminent sex is no excuse for bad sound or lighting. The Officiant complained to me in the lobby he is marrying the couple but can’t get married himself. I sympathize, but his Converse are better than mine. Now a pair of singers step up, a guy and a gal, very pro. Next a single woman in a Little Black Dress. She drops a few bars. Laughs it off, as if to say: “It’s the thought that counts.” Ok, now down to business…

(OFFICIANT steps forward, makes noises. GROOM stammers and almost cries, but ultimately keeps his composure.)

Note: Groom can’t project for crap.

(BRIDE belts out her lines.)

Bride projects like she’s auditioning the lead for a Community Theatre “Hello, Dolly!” She gets more laughs than Mr. Groom. I’m sensing how THIS relation will pan out. The Groom tells the step kids how much he loves them. They accept this situation wordlessly. But honestly, what’s the worry? It’s Evil Stepmothers that you’re always hearing about.

(OFFICIANT breaks up. OFFICIANT recovers with a cute gag.)

Now people are talking on stage, something about vows. I think they wrote their own, nothing about “death do us part” so they ARE optimists. No one from the Weekly or Sentinel is evident. No sign of The Park Press or Ledger, either and I never can pick out The Watermark’s writers. Looks like I’m it for this show.


Ok, just about done. Parents are thanked, crowd thanked, not a bad house. A partisan yet favorable crowd, maybe a dozen empty seats and a Standing Ovation, that’s a given. I know maybe 20% of the house. The Unknowns must be relatives, day jobbers, significant others of those I’m not sure about. Nicole Carson is here, and somehow that validates the whole event.


Thumpa-thumpa-thumpa outro. Damn, it’s loud. Needs more bass, a touch of reverb wouldn’t hurt, make the space feel a bit bigger. The hug and kiss line grinds to a halt. I rave dance with the sound tech. Not sure who she is, I’ll bet she’s Zanna’s replacement.


Geez, look at all this food! Empanadas and plantains, beer and theatre wine. Gotta mingle; see you next week. At least we know GROOM and BRIDE have a tax write off. A small point of stability and that is no small thing these days. I wish them well, and thank them for the great dinner. This was fun!

For more information, you’ll need to look on Face Book or some other social network, or just hang out with the right shoes.


Sunday, August 5th, 2012

By David Goggin
Directed by Roy Alan
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park FL

If there was ever a mulligan stew of old vaudeville gags, this is it. You’ve got your leper humor: “A Different Transition”. You’ve got a ballet in habits number: “Benedicite”, a blow out kick line: “Just A Couple of Sisters”, plus Pope Jokes and all the third grade humor you can swallow: “How do to make Holy Water? Boil the Hell out of it!” and don’t forget the drug humor, even if the bartender had no idea what it was about. .

The premise is a fundraiser for the Sisters of Somewhere in New Jersey; they need money to bury their dead after an unfortunate case of vichyssoise poisoning. Mother Superior Mary Regina (Cami Miller) represents all that is holy and paperwork friendly in the universe and that made her foray in the wonderful world of Amyl Nitrate so funny. Supporting here is Sister Mary Hubert (Lorri Key), she has the soul of Soul in her heart and along with Sister Mary Leo (Kayla Kelsay) they whup butt in “The Biggest Ain’t the Best.” Tonight’s real party girl was Sister Robert Anne (Kate Zaloumes). She might be in the witness protection program and she seems the most secular of the sisters. Technically Sister Mary Regina’s understudy, she does finally get a solo with “Playing Second Fiddle” but I’d advise Sister M.R. to be careful about starting any cars with her around. Lastly, there’s sad little Sister Mary Amnesia (Natalie Condone). She forget her name and background and searches for divine revelation; but Praise the Lord and pass the truth serum, she remembers and brings it all home with “I Could’ve Gone To Nashville.” This twisted little country rocker could fit right into Hedwig’s Angry Inch. By now I think most Catholics are comfortable with making fun of the nuns in their childhood and enough of us Protestants get what the deal is so this show is safe for nearly all degrees of religious fervor. Silly and sanctimonious, it’s no penance to sit through this traditional laff riot!

For more information on Winter Park Playhouse, please visit

Billy Bishop Goes to War

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

Billy Bishop Goes to War
By John Gray with Eric Peterson
Directed by Eric Zivot
Musical Direction by Philip King
Starring Timothy Williams
Mad Cow Theater, Orlando Fla.

Periodically we send off a few million of our best and brightest to kill off a few million of the other guys best and brightest. It keeps the population in check, I guess, and it provides endless tales of bravery and murder old men tell to their grandchildren Billy Bishop’s (Williams) progress from failing cavalry officer to top Air Ace is as brave and bloodless as any, but it’s never boring. Bishop began his career as a cavalry officer riding hoses thought the mud and nearly being drummed out for lying and cheating in military school. To his generation the war seemed like huge fun and they hoped it wouldn’t end too soon. They got their wish, and while pulling his horse out of the mud Bishop spots his first airplane. A drunken conversation clues him in; soon he’s flitting about the sky as an observer and then a pilot. His attitude toward war wanders around, he ranges from disgusted to overjoyed at the opportunity to killing Germans, even though he never actually met one. All this blood and death leads to a chest full of medals and congratulations from the King himself. Amazingly, Billy dies of old age with 72 kills to his name.

While musical director King pianos his way through the show, this Williams” tour de force evening. He does all the storytelling; drinking and singing and building airplanes out of bar stools to demonstrate his escapades. There’s an old truism in aviation: “You can’t tell a flying story without using your hands” and he even has a few models to demonstrate his Top Gun skills. The songs are old timey and sentimental, the beer is alcohol free, and none of it seems real until you go home and look up the Arras Front than Lewis guns and Bishop’s record. Behind Williams’ charm and sparkle lies as morally ambiguity a story as you could tell, and the sort of thing that would encourage small boys from a rural town to sign up for death and glory. Bishop was the lucky one, medals and honors and a whole play written about him, but the odds, well, they are against most ordinary men.

For more information on Mad Cow, please visit

Moon Over Buffalo

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Moon Over Buffalo
By Ken Ludwig
Directed by Shelly Ackerman
Starring Larry Stallings, Denise Glickler and Marcie Schwalm
The Princess Theater, Sanford FL

A couple of generations ago, all the old vaudevillians were setting out to pasture while the smart ones jumped into TV. The days of touring quaintly names Podunks like Peoria and Poughkeepsie, and small screen variety was the future. Everyone tells this to aging trouper George Haye (Stalling) but even as the audience dries up for “Private Lives” in rep with a much reduced “Cyrano,” he won’t take his wife’s (Glickler) advice: retire or change media. His daughter Rosalind (Schwalm) bailed; she’s marring goofy but promising Howard (Anthony James) and her ex boyfriend Paul (Drew Storie) is back as stage manager. Now all we need is alcoholic bender and an unwanted pregnancy, and we can start slamming all those doors on stage.

The more doors the bigger the farce and this is a four-door comedy. The premise is sound, Stallings is pretty much what you would want in an old vaudevillian, and the rest of the cast gets off a few goods ones as well. Schwalm really looks like she wants out of show business (she’s that good on stage) but when the chips are down, the greasepaint drags her back. Glickler and Stallings act like a real married couple, not exactly in love but not exactly ready to carry out their threats even though Eileen (Ashton Symonds) feels the brunt of Stallings’ fading libido. The broadest comedy comes from seamstress Ethel (Kagey Good) she offers selective deafness and full metal elderly humor, while the silliest is clean cut Howard. This is a classic comedy, executed by a classic community theatre comedy troupe.

For more information on The Princess Theatre, please visit