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Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

Archive for December, 2013

A Taste of Christmas: A Holiday Cabaret

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

A Taste of Christmas: A Holiday Cabaret
With Natalie Cordone and Shawn Kilgore
Musical Direction by Kevin Kelly
December 15, 2013
Club House at Woodlake Villas, Orlando FL

You would never find this place without the yard sale signs and helium balloons, but this snug little venue has by far the most comfy theatre seats in town. I’m still not burnt out on holiday cheer this season; I’ve been avoiding the big name shows just to cover nifty little one shot events like this. Ms. Cordone and Mr. Kilgore have been tearing up the local cabaret scene lately, they’re a great vocal match and tonight they have the illustrious Kevin Kelly to tickle the snow cover ivories for this rousing holiday review. But before the music starts, the preshow entertainment features Mr. Kilgore greeting arriving cars while Ms. Cordone directs parking so we don’t roll into mysterious Lake Giles. Traffic delays and the logistics of getting walkers up the rather distressing steps slowed down the sold out audience, this wasn’t the original venue – that went out of business on short notice.

Once the show began, things flowed smoothly even as a digital blizzard engulfed the flat screen TV. Songs naturally tended toward the holiday canon: “Most Wonderful Time of The Year,” “No Place Like Home for the Holiday,” and “Let It Snow” were some of the crowd favorites. Mr. Kilgore nailed “White Christmas” and Ms. Cordone soloed for a sexy “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, and then they teamed up for what is still considered one of most daring TV duets ever aired – the Bowie/Crosby “Peace on Earth / Little Drummer Boy”. It’s a sweet and sour paring on voices and styles, yet it still is heart stopping after all these years. With a home town crowd, plenty of banter and a popularly priced bar the energy was high, the sweaters tacky, and the raffles winning. They should do this again; there are lots of under celebrated holidays in the calendar that they should sing about.

For more information of Cordone and Kilgore please visit

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
By Barbara Robinson
Directed by Wade Hare
Starring Sharon Barbour Tedder, Russell Trahan, McKenzie Giles
Breakthrough Theatre, Winter Park FL

If a bit of chaos can improve the charm of a children’s Christmas pageant, then the Herdman family is the gift that keeps on giving. Ms. Armstrong (YaDonna Russell) owned this pageant for years until she breaks a leg. This is normally considered good luck on stage, but not for backup director Grace Bradly (Tedder) who now gets the full brunt of the Herdmans: they’re the school bullies and if the church offers free dessert they have no qualms about hijacking all the good roles in the Christmas pageant. With the Herdmans on board everyone else cowers and even Grace’s hubby Bob “Do I Have To Go?” Bradley (Trahan) gets sucked into the maelstrom. But everything works out in the end; the Herdmans discover their nicer side although their advice to Mary and Joseph isn’t all that Christian. They demand to speak to Herod but that’s a whole ‘nother show. Still, the Herdman clan does discover their nicer side and as they pick up some Judeo-Christian doctrine and we learn that it’s possible for even professional sinners to act nice. It’s always the biggest pagans who become the most energetic believers.

There are 28 people on this crowded stage, and most of them are a long way from driver’s licenses. The wildest yet most crowd pleasing was Gladys Herdman (Zofia Miller): with her energetic cry of “Shazaam!” she was the feral child that needed no acting lessons. My favorite was Mrs. Armstrong as the sassy church lady; she said all the things we want to hear but no one dare speak. A close second in the truthy department was little Charlie Bradley (Jason Zavits), he points out the best thing about church was no Herdmans. God may forgive all, but it’s still a pain living under the control of the local shakedown ring. Perky Bob Bradley was everyone’s favorite populuxe dad; he dodges most of the real trouble and always keeps his calm.

In a holiday season dripping with cheerful ghosts and plastic fireplaces it’s nice to see a program that counterbalances the icky sweet with the realities of tough kids from the wrong side of the tracks. No holiday is ever perfect, and you shouldn’t feel bad if a few things misfire. I hear the Fire Department guys are very nice, and just remember – everyone remembers a disaster. It’s from smoke and broken glass that true are holiday memories made.

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

The Light in the Piazza

Monday, December 9th, 2013

The Light in the Piazza
Book by Craig Lucas
Music and Lyrics by Adam Guettal
Directed by Aradhana Tiwari
Starring Laura Hodos, Jennafer Newberry, Robert Johnston, and Stephan Jones
Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando FL

What better place to find love than in post war Florence? Margaret Johnson (Hodos) takes her daughter Clara (Newberry) to visit in 1953; it should have been a second honeymoon with hubby Roy (Mark Edward Smith) but he’s too busy running Big Tobacco to take any interest in his wife. Instead, Clara falls for gawky Fabrizio Naccarelli (Johnston). Mom is horrified and it’s not just that Fabrizio’s a local, but mom has doubts about the mental state of her daughter. I didn’t see anything that odd, but we know mother always knows best. Sure, Clara’s been sheltered and is totally naive about men, but Fabrizio seems decent and they do all the things young lovers do – they “accidentally” meet, they sneak off, and there’s even a little 3rd base action. Their romance is rocky, but Signor Naccarelli (Jones) runs interference for the kids and in the end love triumphs. More importantly, maybe Clara’s doctor didn’t really know what he was talking about. Mistakes were made, but they can be rectified.

The romance is light and fluffy, the production fast yet minimalist with a large chorus providing street ambience as well as a moving art gallery. The sound track tends toward an Avant-gard sound reminiscent of Stephen Sondheim imitating Phillip Glass, but there are occasions where melody appears and always to good effect. Hodos’ “Dividing Day” is the highlight of the show, she’s agonizing over her daughter’s future and her own perceptions, and it’s truly moving. Mr. Johnson gets a few operatic moments including “Il Mondo Era Vuoto” he’s good but sometimes wobbly on the high notes. Ms. Newberry breaks your heart with “Clara’s Interlude” but her show stopper is “Clara’s Tirade”: She may be from North Carolina, but her emotions fit right in with the excitable Naccarelli clan. There are no complicated plot points here, just a simple love story coupled with a bit of cross cultural understanding.

For more information on Mad Cow, please visit

Lot o’ Shakespeare

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

Lot o’ Shakespeare
By Tim Mooney
Seminole State College, Lake Mary FL

Vagabond Shakespearian Tim Mooney is back in town with a reprise of his hit 2011 “Lot o’ Shakespeare” He’s tackling the endless question of “Why do people find the Bard’s dialog so dense?” Is it the antiquated prose, the differing social norms, or is just those odd looking letters that turn “the letter “S” in to integral signs? His approach is simple yet off beat – he emotes one monologue from each of the plays and a few of the sonnets, all chosen by a bingo ball machine. It’s a not exactly cherry picking, but the results are entertaining and you get bits and pieces of shows rarely if ever done and never adapted: “King John,” “Two Noble Kinsmen”, and even the intimidating “Timon of Athens.” The result is enlightening, each monolog stands alone and you don’t have to infer how it came to be as there’s a short introduction. There’s audience interaction, front row patrons experience face to face instruction, a young lady from the audience is introduced to Elizabethan sexual harassment, and those of us lucky enough to fill our “Iago” cards take home a book or a coffee mug. This show may not improve your English lit grades but it’s a pleasant way to fill in the corners in your cultural education.

For more information on the Seminole State College Theater program, please visit

For more information on Tim Mooney please visit</a>