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Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

Archive for July, 2013

A Life in the Theatre

Friday, July 26th, 2013

A Life in the Theatre
Starring Roy Alan
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
Spotlight Cabaret Series,
Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park FL

Well, they’ve finally done it. Every regular at the Winter Park Playhouse has done a cabaret except the Development Director. Tonight it was Roy Alan’s turn, he appear not in the expected top hat and tails but rather a conservative shirt and saddle shoes. They did give him a little plywood tap stage, and that made up for any downscaling of the elegance. Tonight’s theme was Mr. Alan’s charmed theater career – dance lesson at 4, gainful employment by the age of 8 and offer of a union card shortly thereafter. He then stage managed and was a swing dancer (the stand in for dancers) with a couple of big touring shows, hung out with all the big names back stage, and a curious turn of events brought him down to Central Florida and were glad he came. Despite his hippy head shots there were back stage stories, tales of luck and daring-do, and more tap then I’ve ever seen in a cabaret before. “Putting on the Ritz” came early, and he held back from hair-lipping the chorus. “Never Never Land” from Peter Pan, “Watching the River” run from Loggins and Messina, an Anthony Newly torch song, and best of all, a flirty “Lydia, Oh Lydia” from Groucho filled the bill. The dancing was hard to see but sounded great, the highlight here was an abbreviated “Aggie Tap” sequence for “Best Little Whorehouse” and a full out “Pirate King” from Penzance drew ovations. With the new shorter intermission free format, an encore is required and Mr. Alan went out with a nicely mimed “Slap That base.” Afterwards, no one really zoomed home. Lisa, it’s your turn next.

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

Slow Ride

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Slow Ride
By Joseph Reed Hayes
Directed by Sylvia Viles Vicchiullo
Event 8 of “13 in 13”
Downtown Credo, Orlando FL

Why pay to sit through a show about a psycho family slugging it out on a bus ride to nowhere? Because unlike Thanksgiving dinner, you pay for the right to leave when it’s over. Riding the bus is a monthly outing for these three women: Grandma Jezebel (Jac LeDoux) is an ex-groupie with Ethel Merman insides a screaming to get out. Her daughter Sue (Wendy Starkand) might be the byproduct of an old Foghat tour, but her DNA lacks the fun gene even if she’s had a secret desire to sing opera all her life. Lastly there’s gothic Rita (Kate Lockwood), she’ so dark she thinks Anton Chekov is funny. The trio bitch and argue, debate the merits of sex, whether grandma is a due for the padded cell and generally terrorize the rest of the invisible riders. It’s a very funny ride, much funnier than the whacko rambling you get on regular public transport, and each of the three women seems born for the role. LeDoux did her best to steal the show; she was loud and raucous and told the audience to get their feet out of her way. Starkand went right from teenager to middle age without any of the fun years; her fervent dream is the ability to get out of a chair without making “That Noise.” Clearly she’s the peacemaker, if no more successful than Henry Kissinger was. Lockwood begins by annoying all of us with here prepackaged angst, but by the last scene she had softened into a whole person with actual feeling and vulnerabilities. There’s plenty of gags and some physical comedy, and even though the action flow behind the audience for some scenes it’s a funny and heartfelt slice of life. You’ll stick around to the end, and think how much nicer your family functions could be with some stage lighting and a good director.

More information on “13 in 13” may be found at http://jazzonedge.com/13in13/ or http://www.josephreedhayes.com/

Violin(ce)

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

Violin(ce)
Created by John DiDonna and the Ensemble
Fight Coordination by Bill Warriner
Empty Spaces Theatre C (llaboration) / DiDonna Productions
Lowndes Shakespeare Center, Orlando FL

This is a very stabby show. Imagine a very heavily armed Modern Dance troupe taking the stage, personalizing the violent acts in their own lives, and then working out the their aggression by almost cutting each other into small pieces. Then they hang upside down from the rafters to relax and regroup. This in intensely physical performance keeps a dozen people sweating profusely and moving carefully, all while almost but not quiet skewering each other. Back stage projections give some context to what happing down stage, and an elegant woman plays a violin tying this the oddly punctuated title to the on stage action.

Things start in a comic vein with “A Little Slap of the Stick.” Here John DiDonna and Mila Makarova act out a comic scene silent film style; the climax involves half asleep DiDonna French kissing his mop. “Meanwhile, Back in the Old West” feature all the male players cheating at poker and then settling the pot by a careful analysis of the odds of any given poker hand and then beating the crap out of each other while the women look on and then throw them all out into the manure filled street. Another comic scene has Miles Berman and Corey Volance as two timid fencers; they do a god job of not threatening each other until someone dies, humorously.

Swordplay and rough and tumble dominated the night, and the dancing, while well executed never generated the excitement the fighting did. The most moving part of the show was the interlocked narratives of spousal abuse and family fights and schoolhouse bullying, these stories took the physical act of motion and tied it rational. Mr. Warriner fight choreography was stunning, from the climactic melee to the slightly silly James West “Beat ‘Em Up, One At a Time” scene. There was even a disjoint-feeling aerial number with dancers hanging upside down off white fabric tied to the ceiling, but at least they didn’t cross swords while hanging like bats. Fights scenes always perk up otherwise staid Shakespeare comedies, but a full hour of sword play grew tiring.

For more information on Empty Spaces Theater Company, visit http://www.emptyspacestheatre.org

Bus Stop

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Bus Stop
By William Inge
Directed by Tim DeBaun
Starring Jamie Cline, Jamie-Lyn Markos, and Tim Bass
Theatre Downtown, Orlando FL

Sixty years ago the bus was a reasonable way to get around. No slower than a train and covering more territory than rare and exotic commercial air service, it had the advantage of hitting all those little burgs in the flyover states. Tonight we are somewhere between Kansas City and Topeka and the snow is coming down hard. This little bus stop run by straw widow Grace (Carol Adubato) and naïve Elam (Rachel Haas) is the one refuge on the prairie as road crews dig out the two lane ahead. Dance hall floozy Cherie (Markos) fears for her limited virginity, wild cowboy Bo Decker (Cline) has decided to marry her and steal her off to remote Montana, not necessarily in that order. It may be rape and flight across state lines, or it may be the best chance either of them will ever get. Bo’s long time buddy Virgil Blessing (Jeff Hole) is heartbroken; Grace finds a cure for headaches from double-entendre-spewing Carl the Bus Driver (Larry Stallings) an alcoholic child molester and Shakespearean declaimer Dr. Lyman (John Moughan) passes on seducing Elma in the Topeka library, preferring to continue preserving his liver in rye whiskey.

Well-cast and played for laughs, DeBaun’s production aims for fun and avoids the potential menace and moralizing that hangs bout the story. Stallings got the biggest laugh of all on a “pulling out” joke; his slow burn set a laugh length record for Theatre Downtown. Cline was at his rollicking best with a mane of wild hair and the physical presence that out-sized the lethargic yet deadly Sherriff Will Masters (Bass). As the lonely diner owner Ms. Adubato proves middle age doesn’t kill your sex drive and young Ms. Haas observes and attempts to grasp the complexities of adult sexual games. The most touching performance came from Mr. Hole, he knows it’s time to break up when his best friend finds a better one so it’s off to Albuquerque and another lonely ranch job for him. Lastly I’ll mention the wonderful bluster of Mr. Moughan, he may be drunk but he can bluff his was though Shakespeare and failed academic career yet still retain some sort of self-respect, even if the pain will never ever leave him.

More than a “slice of life” evening, “Bus Stop’s” comedy is a prismatic view of love. There’s the flush of commitment from Cherie and Bo, the desperate adultery of Grace and Carl, the potential for consensual abuse between Lyman and Emma, and the self-imposed rejection of Virgil. It’s amazing what you can squeeze into one little diner out there where the tumble weeds are the only other action.

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