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Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

Archive for November, 2012

Play In A Day

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Play In A Day
By Beth Marshal Presents in conjunction with Penguin Point Productions
November 10, 2012
Lake Howell High School, Winter Park FL

“Play In A Day” (Orlando Version) has jumped locations again; it’s left the Orlando Shakes and taken up residence at the relatively remote Lake Howell High. High school has always given me the creeps, but Lake Howell has a beautiful theatre out on Dike Road. The other change for this version of PIAD is the format, writers now must produce a 60 second play (Theme: The Aftermath) and a 5 minute play (Theme: High School). That’s 12 pieces, so I’ll just skim the highlights:

The funniest 1 minute opened the show as Steven Pugh ripped off sunglasses and “Airplane” in “CSPIAD” (Written by Andy Hayes, Directed by Tara Corless). The same team closed the show with the Star Wars heavy “Episode 1/2: The Breakfast Alliance.” Trivia – Half the cast had never seen “Star Wars” and the other half had never seen “Breakfast Club.”

The most proactive title came from Aradhana Tiwari; “My Bald Vagina” (Direction by Jay T. Becker) squeezed its own title in about 6 times, and still had time for two acts. Here young Gwen Boniface has shaved for the first time and is about to disappoint here ballet partner Corey Price. High school is painful enough, no need to go that far.

The best ending came in “Tyler, There Is No Santa Claus” (W: Nicole Carson, D: Lauren O’Quinn Burns). Apparently there’s no time limit on believing in supernatural forces, and I give the writer double bonus points for including the word “Etiological.”

The best five minute play came from Jay T Becker (D: Brennan Nicely) for “The John Hughes Blues“, six students each have an inner monolog as they sit though the platitudes of graduation ceremony. These ranged from career issues to fashion problems. Personally, every time I sit through graduation speech I wonder how they can make them so boring.

The most cynical piece was “Teachers Lounge” (W: Eric Pinder, D: Laurel Clark), Brett Carson subtexts “Why Give a damn?” Alexander Mrazek replies ‘I used to give a damn.” and Candy Heller sums up with “Damn you all.” Education is a miracle – it happens at all.

Lastly, the most minimal play came from Rob Anderson (D: Jim Cundiff). Three words long, “The Aftermath” was the single 60 second play that clocked in at 60 seconds.

All around, a good effort, all of these productions had something to offer and crammed quite a bit into their short time frame.

For more information on Beth Marshall Presents visit

And for more information on Penguin Point Productions visit

Getting to Know Who?

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Getting to Know Who?
Play de Luna
Art’s Sake Studios
Winter Park, FL

It’s another round of rollicking theater and exotic type fonts in the cramped confines of Art’s Sake, here’s what all the fuss is about:

“A Little Help from the Audience” (Written by John Connon, Directed by Simon Needham) introduces us to a couple on vacation in Orlando. Sharron (Crystal Gettings) is drunk on overpriced theme park alcohol, Bill (Billy Askew) smells like a cinnamon cookie and has really angry biceps. He’s here to humor Sharron, but draws the line at being The Guy Dragged On Stage. Rollicking and well-rehearsed cowboy Chase (Jason Fusco) hunts them down in the hotel room, and does what he’s trained for – he gets us in the palm of his hand. You can tell this was written by a man who gets paid to make fools out of tourists.

“The Mugging” (W: John Connon, D: Rowan Bousaid) introduces us to some new ideas in street crime. Derek Angell needs some quick cash, Terri Ganey understand motivation. But she points out Derek merely WANTS money, he doesn’t NEED it bad enough. It’s solid acting lesson for both Derek and us observers, but probably not a realistic defense tactic on the mean streets of Winter Park

It’s all about emotional breakdown and leveling up in “Life Coming Up” (W: Sharyn Rothstein, D: Jennifer Jarackas). This gem also gives us the best line the night: “Depression is like perpetual acid reflux” quoth Abby (Lindsay Hall), and I think Chris (Jay Sevilla) agrees.

Beverly (Summer Perkins) has an eating issue in “The Chocolate Affair” (W: Stephanie Alison Walker D: Yvonne Suhor). She highjacked here daughter’s Halloween stash and retires to a cheap hotel to wolf it down. Just like those pesky Christmas Ghosts, Mr. Goodbar (Asiel Gonzales) and the sexy M&M (Sierra Vemeyer) call her to task: How can she do this too her child, and should she be sharing with us?

Intermission. People still smoke.

More obsession rakes a relationship in “The Transformation of Linda” (W: Sheldon Senek D:David Meneses) There’s an ex, a stalking and I can’t remember the rest, but I like the anti chemistry between Linda (Rachel Thomson) and Randy (Daniel Baldock)

I’ve heard of this stuff, and by Jove here’s another example. In “Mrs. Jansen Isn’t Here Right Now” (W: Steve Kobar, D: Derek Angell) Chris (Chris Walker) is a defrocked priest hanging out at Benny’s Zebra Lounge. It’s almost last call and he’s buying a drink for lapsed Catholic Mary Margaret (Dina Saunders). He’s her naughty school girl fantasy, wink wink nudge nudge, but deep down it’s all just foreplay.

“High Speed Disconnect” (W: Chris Wideny, D: Stephanie Wilson) is tonight’s cell phone-centric relationship piece, Will Martha (Ayla Parsons) hook up with David (Rowan Bousaid) or will the clutter of too much communication doom them? Beats me.

We wrap up with the kinky “Swing” (W: Thomas J Misuraca, D: John Connon) Ted (James Woodrich) wants tenure and he needs to get on the good side of George (Stan Madras). Ted’s wife Martha (Bethany Ilene Wedlund) drinks a bit too much but is open to anything including George’s wife Sandy (Jennifer Jarackas). Things are swinging a bit too far for Ted, and yeah, the write was messing with Albee’s naming convention. I hope he didn’t get me confused, but Ted sure is.

They pulled in a packed house on a Sunday night, and it was worth the elbows in my ribs. Go with someone you care to sit close to.

For more information on Art’s Sake Studios, check

Best of Broadway 1985-1989

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Best of Broadway 1985-1989
Directed by Wade Hair
Musical Direction by Justin Scarlat
Breakthrough Theatre, Winter Park FL

Pick any random five year slice of Broadway and you’ll get a few hits, a few flops, and a good measure of “safe” revivals. Director Hair combs through his back issues of Playbill and pulled a few dozen songs and puréed them down to two medleys, five ensembles numbers and a few sets of solos. Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” pushes us off the dock; it’s dense and wordy, with “Giants In The Sky (Scarlat) and “On The Steps of the Palace” (Jessie Diaz) showing just how many notes and syllables can be squeezed into a single bar of music. Wade Hair baritones through “I Get A Kick Out Of You” (Anything Goes); he handed out a goodie bag but took it back before we could pass it around. He also impressed with “Anthem” from “Chess,” that show was a hit in London but died in New York. Jamaal Solomon clearly hasn’t missed many choir practices; he wowed the crowd with “River in the Rain” (from Big River) along with Mr. Scarlat, channeled Fats Waller with “Your Feet’s Too Big” (from Ain’t Misbehaving) and called up the angels with “Free at Last” ((Big River). “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” gave us two powerful songs with “A Man Could Go Quite Mad” (Scarlat) and the moving “Writing on the Wall” (Krystal Gillette). Newcomer Kevin Fernandez did the song intros, and found his voice for the ensemble “Do You Hear the People Sing” (Les Miserables). Yes, these songs were cherry picked to match the voices available, and that’s what makes this series an exciting collection of hits and rarities. And who knew a song named “Disneyland” snuck past the lawyers at The Mouse?

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

Steppin’ Out With Irving Berlin

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Steppin’ Out With Irving Berlin
By Roy Alan and Todd Allen Long
Directed and Choreographed by Rob Winn Anderson
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park FL

Irving Berlin was prolific: he started young, worked furiously, and lived to an old age. He left us with music ranging from “God Bless America” to “Putting on the Ritz” and Roy Alan and Mr. Long sifted though this catalog and arranged a fun, upbeat tribute with costumes, tap dancing and a tuba solo. After the mandatory high energy opener, Mr. Alan sings the slightly risqué “My Wife’s Gone to the Country”; I seem to recall this from another show but it’s the sort of knee-slapper you granddad would have an appreciated. Alan returns with “Top Hat, White Coat and Tails”, its sets the standard of B&W elegance this show oozes. Candice Neal plays a Washington Socialite in “The Hostess with the Mostess’ On the Ball”, as we were reminded this week Washington is powered by sex as much as legislature; it just gets better coverage these days. Pricilla Bagley returns to the WPPH stage with the plaintive “The Best Thing for you (Would Be Me) as flirtatious Natalie Cordone makes off with Roy Alan’s heart. Newcomer Victor Souffrant (lately “Mae” in Reefer Madness) joins with Ms. Cordone for the rocking “Shaking the Blues Away”. There’s always a patriot medley (Berlin actually LIKED paying taxes) and the second act spectacle has Mr. Long, Natalie and Victor dancing through “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” While they mentioned Mel Brooks’s great Young Frankenstein version, they didn’t really get the hair lip part right. That’s the only complaint I can find, this show is what you go to WPPH for: great songs, silly comedy and fabulous music by the Leavy/Wilkinson/Forrest house band. Those guys need to get a snappier name.

For more information on Winter Park Playhouse, please visit

The Road To Mecca

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

The Road To Mecca
By Athol Fugard
Directed by Aradhana Tiwari
Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando FL

If you haven’t bumped into this problem, you will eventually: an old friend or relative lives alone, takes care of themselves for a few decades, but now it might be time to, um, you know… Look out for their best interests. Down size. Make sure they get the support they need. Warehouse them.

Miss Helen (Robin Olson) lives in the remote South African desert, widowed and alone since she fell out with the church. Her energies point toward the east, she’s made a folk art replica of Mecca in her front yard. Pastor Marius Byleveld (Joe Candelora) has the paper work in hand to send her to the old folk’s home, but does he have an ulterior motive? Helen’s only friend Elsa (Ginger Lee McDermott) drives 12 hours to see her for one night, Helen’s that last letter was scary. The local natives think Helen’s a witch, and we examine the line between “free spirit” and raging loony. Should she sign or should she not? Was the fire an accident or intentional, and do the children throwing rocks really hate her or is that just their hobby?

With a dreamy new age set and more candles than a Kennebunk Port gift shop, we are clearly in a special place with Miss Helen. Robin Olson plays the role very close to what I know her as in real life – polite, hardworking, but with an independent streak and sense of purpose. As Miss Helen, she encompasses a decision many of have to make – when jobs and spouses disappear but we are still whole, how do we fill the hours? In her case, she sets herself to realize a private vision in a hostile land. Mc Dermott’s Elsa also exhibits independence and a strong moral compass, but she’s more aggressively challenging to the world around her. That makes here more of a lightening rod, and she does take a few hits. Candelora’s minister is the wild card, we start out suspecting that he’s making a play for the house, but by the end we have a completely different perspective, and he reveals himself as a loving man who truly does want the best.

There’s an element of Chekhov here, Road to Mecca is mostly concerned with internal arguments and strained relations between people who are close but in dire straits. The positions and arguments shift gradually like an ice cap breaking up, there is never much room to maneuver and long term goals remain that: long term. I admit the first act was bit frustrating, it seemed nothing was happening, but there was as secret pile of sand grains all about to tip over and cover the second act. I suspect this show won’t ease any decisions you might make with your parents, but it offers the hope a decent answer is always available.

For more information on Mad Cow, please visit


Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

The Harriett Lake Festival of New Plays
November 2 through 4, 2012
Orlando Shakespeare Center

Orlando Shakespeare Theatre (In Partnership With UCF, if you care) is in the process of moving itself from February to November and reinforcing its beachhead as the cradle of new works by up and coming writers. The February dates tended to clash with some other local events, and the November slot is a little less hectic, it falls into that null between October’s Zombie Marathon and December’s deluge of ghostly redemption and saccharine family reunions. In essence, it’s a more intellectual season and a fine opportunity for us theatre goers to give a little constructive feedback. It’s also a bit of sneak preview; one or more of these shows may end up on next season program. My intention here is not to offer detailed commentary, but highlights of the event. Each show is run once, and it is understood that these are works in progress and authors may make significant revisions before you have another chance to view them.

Leveling Up
by Deb Laufer
Directed by Casey Stangl

What starts out as geeky comedy ends up as a study of insanity derived from the moral ambiguity of a remote control war. Ian (Michael Dritto) is the uber gamer, he makes his living selling double plus good swords and he has the strongest thumb muscles you’ve ever seen. His roommate Zander (Greg Joubert) mooches along but at least he dates a real girl: Jeannie (Danielle Gosselin). She’s the rarest of rare, she, too is a geeky gamer but she seems to prefer sharing consoles with the 4th wheel here, Chuck (Derrick Williams). He has an unusual sense of style, his Yoville pad is the hippest going and he enjoys shopping with women. To prove a point to Zander, Ian takes a job with the NSA driving drones in the hot zone. The difference between World of War Craft and the War on Terror is very slight, and he melts down. Maybe it’s a vitamin D deficiency.

One of the new features of PlayFest is a selection of talk backs. This one is called Three Questions: “What inspired the show? What does the author want to ask the audience? What does the audience want to know?” The give and take was vigorous and positive, there are questions about nitpicky details and a few continuity issues, but overall this is a very promising show. Out on the patio, there’s a little reception. Pay attention and you’ll see the writers heading for the booze, and the actors heading toward the food. See you there tomorrow.

Night Train
by John Biguenet
Directed by Eleanor Holdridge

On one level, this is a sordid little scam, but on another it’s a reflection on happiness and trust and love and all those other nasty little detail s of what makes us “us.” Moderately well-to-do banker Alex Hampton (Mark Brotherton) takes the night train in a Slavic feeling country. He’s alone in First Class until Max (Mark Ferrera) noses in. Max smells like new scams and old cabbage, but Alex is lonely enough to keep up the conversation. Alex reveals a bit too much about himself, drinks suspect whiskey, and is soon enthralled by attractive Marta (Lauren Butler). Well, one thing leads to another, and soon Alex has been bilked out of his money, wife, job, and socks. Believable? Maybe. Possible? Certainly. And it has the best line of the Festival: “She had a face like a manhole cover.”

The Standby Lear
by John W. Lowell
Directed by Jasson Lear

Its drag getting old and an unsuccessful acting career doesn’t help. Augie (Jonathan Epstein) understudies “Lear” but he’s getting a bit forgetful. His faithful but acerbic wife Anna (Anne Herring) arrives with lunch and they run lines until he blanks out and leaves unexpectedly. Other bad news is coming; it looks like it’s his chance to shine tonight but his faith wobbles. How long does he have? You never know, but work is work. The story nicely tracks the original “Lear,” and Epstein’s performance would make a dandy show.

Keynote Address with Jon Jory

Keynote speeches can wander all over the board, but Mr. Jory is an entertaining speaker with a deadpan delivery and sharp comic wit. Tonight he gives a long, meandering family history complete with a grandmother named Cleopatra and a boxer named King Tut, Yukon Gold rush stories and a brief history of how 1400 regional stock theatre companies where virtually wiped out by the talkies. He also has some interesting tales of founding Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven and The Humana Festival in Louisville. He wrapped up with “20 pieces of advice to Playwrights” including such often ignored advice such as “Always have an ending” and “Spending more than a year on a play isn’t writing, it’s OCD.” Good advice, good fun and the price was right.

Jon Jory speaks

Tom Jones
By Jon Jory
Directed by Mark Routhier

Wresting a story from a 900 page novel and turning into a tight, funny and sexy two hours takes a master’s skills. Jon Jory pulled it off tonight, with nine actors breaking walls and simulating sex he kept an audience laughing their golf pencils off. More a no budget, no set production than a reading, director Routhier ignored the Playfest policy of “no blocking” and got a huge payoff in return. If you missed the movie and lost your Cliff’s notes, infant Tom Jones is left on a doorstep of a judge, his parentage is doubtful but not his charm; women from school girls to cougars bed him with ease. He doesn’t exactly resists, but he does hold a flame for Sophie and after duels and trysts and a close call on the gallows the pair are happily wed.

With fast paced direction and scenes as short as 3 lines, this show might be impossible to fully stage without losing its kinetic momentum. But as a zero frills comedy with a voice over reading stage direction and brilliant comic actors charging full speed into the lusty past, it’s as funny as anything I’ve seen on the Margeson stage.

By Lia Romeo
Directed by Michael Marinaccio

Here’s another internet heavy production, although it’s less apocalyptic than “Level Up.” Despite the title, these for vignettes have only the loosest association. The first segment has an awkward high school girl performing an awkward strip tease to win a boy. An unauthorized video goes viral, she’s on TV the next day, and next thing you know she’s going to prom with Justin Timberlake. Beyond that, she’s an awkward and lonely as before.

Only the terminally uncool aren’t in World of Warcraft, here a burnt out computer programmer hooks up with an underage battle pattern in real life, leaving her burned by her own deceptions

Next some valley Girl types get stuck in a dead post prom party where they meet a guy who (gasp) isn’t on Facebook! They’re out of phase with the truly cool kids, and aren’t wise enough to hang out with anyone with fewer than 800 friends on FB.

The Last segment explores the potential for inappropriate liaison between a lonely high school teacher and one of her students. He’s willing to wait her out, after he’s seen her boobs on line. She wisely declines, but thanks him for the compliment.

While well written and produced, these shows seem perfect for a low budget fringe production than a full up set in the Goldman. The play resembles Almost Maine”; people are put in awkward situations and then given a soft ware out without any rancor or bitterness from the author. However, large parts of the story are built on hot technologies that might not be so hot in five years, and has the potential to become dated quickly. Was IS Justin T up to these days?

Three Wolves and a Lamb
by Yussef El Guindi
Directed by Laurel Clark

I went into this sex farce expecting a chewy lecture on Arab Israeli relations, and left with one of the best pieces of stage direction this week. Idris (Jon Beshara) hails from West Bank, his wife Rachel (Sara Oliva) is more a Tel Aviv girl. They met protesting each other, but the sex overcame all those endless debates about partition and the Gaza Strip. They are planning a weekend long meet up for war ravaged children with exciting events like “Finger Painting for Jews and Arabs” and “Conflict Resolution Through Mime.” Peace Facilitator Tom (John Connon) slathers New Age Self-help Corporate Newspeak on the problem, and his toasty hot wife Francine (Melanie Whipple) brings the slightly inappropriate art work. Turns out there some Payton Place action here, and while the Bacon Exclusion act of 4000 B.C. applies to both Idris and Rachel, they love ribs but eschew carbs. I have no idea how they will ever stage the paint ball orgy, but the stage direction you don’t want to miss is: (THEY FREEZE AND CONSIDER THEIR SEX AND CARBO OPTIONS). This may not end sectarian violence, but if it gets people screwing instead of bombing, they’ve made progress.

The Cortez Method
by Rob Keefe
Directed by John DiDonna

They saved the most brutal for last. Bill (Phillip Nolen) and Sara (Suzanne O’Donnell) want a baby, badly, and that’s how they get one. Bill’s dead beat brother Water (Kenny Babel) appears in search of $30k to buy a welding truck and a peek at his family heritage. Too bad all Bill’s money is tied up in a kitchen remodel and now that Sara is preggers, he’s been doing shift work transporting Hillbilly Heroin around the Southeast. There’s way more screaming on stage than you need to feel the anger here, and I never seen Mr. Nolen commit a capital offence on stage before, but tonight he stumbles across that boundary. Crossbreed “Virginia Woolf” and “Glengarry Glen Ross” and add a few quarts of blood and there you have “Cortez Method.”

For more information on PlayFest! and other Orlando Shakespeare Festival projects visit