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Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

Archive for May, 2014

God Is A Scottish Drag Queen II: An All New Testament

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

God Is A Scottish Drag Queen II: An All New Testament
By Michael Delamont
Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, Yellow Venue

So I’m walking through the beer tent and God (Delamont) comes up to me in mufti and says “So where’s me feckin’ review?” And I had to confess my sin in blowing Him off, after all He was selling out and you can’t get a ticket. Then He gave me commandments inscribed on a glossy postcard, they included some new ones: “Thou not give away the punch line.” Fair enough, but the next one was “Thou shalt not give away the premise either.” For a creator of both the heavens and the earth, He’s a bit of a nudge. What does that leave for me to discuss? Prepare for the plague of raucous laughter, the plague of preshow announcement, and a plague of snakes eating male privates. He’s funny when he wants to be, but if you piss him off you may never find parking.

This production is part of the 2014 Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. Information on tickets and show times may be found at http://OrlandoFringe.org/

The British Invasion

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

The British Invasion
Written and Directed by Kerry A Giese
Musical Direction by Amanda Hudson Giese
Choreography Hanna Klein
My Dream Tree Productions
Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, Pink Venue

The history of Rock and roll might be a blur to today’s listeners, the sounds of rockabilly, do wop, soul, disco and punk may all feel contemporaneous, it’s like George Washington and Abe Lincoln golfing together. But these sounds all appeared at various times, and built upon each other to give us the monoliths of Sirius XM and Pandora. A real mile marker was the British Invasion, a period that runs from 1963 to the rise of the psychedelic movement around 1966. The British Invasion bands were led by the Beatles, but there were dozens of other’s. Today the music would be called power pop – strong hooks, a verse and chorus structure populated by mostly male vocals, lyrics focusing on the fun part of love, and a guitar and drum basis. We open with the first play of a Beatles song in America; “I Want to Hold Your Hand” tore up the charts and we then plunge into subsequent hits from Eric Burdon to Tom Jones, the Stones and the Who. The show is chatty and well-conceived, but occasionally the harmonies jar and even at this end-of-the-run show the voices aren’t always in harmony or on cue. But I sang along, clapped my hands and answered trivia questions and had fun; view this as a friendly night of Karaoke rather than a real tribute concert.

This production is part of the 2014 Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. Information on tickets and show times may be found at http://OrlandoFringe.org/

20 Nothing

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

20 Nothing
Directed by Debra Christopher
Last Minute Panic Productions
Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, Green Venue

Kids these days! With their Instagrams and text messages and student debts that would make a third world county blush…deep down their hopes and fears aren’t any different than any generation before or likely to come after. There’s a fear of GMO and Terrorism, but they forget nuclear holocaust and polio. But the basic needs of acceptance, community, love and getting a decent job remain, those are eternal issues and this string of vignettes tackles all of them head on. The show is presented as a series of 20 or so vignettes, each is a nice study scene but they do not form a coherent story: it’s as if these young people are thrashing about and reaching out, some ask the question “What are we to do? Where are we to go?” while others report back “I went here, I did this, I felt this way.” It boils down to sex and booze and instant communication, there’s an awareness that the Permanent Record I was told about has moved from a file in the principal’s office to a hard drive in the cyberspace. Ultimately, these indiscretions will fade, and these people will fill our roles when we are gone and they will complain to each other: “Kids these days!”

This production is part of the 2014 Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. Information on tickets and show times may be found at http://OrlandoFringe.org/

Punk Grandpa

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Punk Grandpa
By Laura Force Scruggs
Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, Blue Venue

When you settle in for a one woman show based on an older male relative, you know it’s just a matter of time before the abuse stories come pouring out. But that never happens here, this grandpa seems to generate nothing but loving moments and adventures aimed at 5 year olds. Scruggs show us family pictures of Grandpa and her family, they’re black and white or Instagram faded color, but these are no products of hipster software, they’ve aged properly in shoe boxes tucking closets and attics. Her ancestors look like mine, natty men in fedoras and women in print house dresses, perched on front porches or proudly polishing new cars. Scruggs is a breathtakingly fresh story teller; I’ve heard enough abuse tales in this business to last a life time. And her grandfather looks like a real ladies man, ready to fluster bank tellers and checkout clerks all over town.

This production is part of the 2014 Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. Information on tickets and show times may be found at http://OrlandoFringe.org/

Under The Rainbow

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Under The Rainbow
By Alan Gerber
Starring Crystal Lizardo, Steven Flores and Sarah Purser
Opera Theatre Project of Valencia College
Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, Silver Venue

This may be opera, but it’s Opera Lite. Kevin (Flores) wants to marry his boyfriend (Peter Langford) and his priest (Ricardo Dominguez) naturally refuses. The priest holds to his convictions so tightly that a 2 minute duet with the Injured Activist (Purser, who was knocked over in the opening) convinces him that love is more important than theology. He’s either a wishy-washy Catholic or a bigoted Unitarian, but he’s quickly on board the Gay Marriage train. After a stop in a jazz club where Chardonnay (Courteni Dunbar) is scatting, we head to the altar where Kevin breaks down because mom (Lizardo) has refused to attend the service. I can see shy she’s miffed; she discovered Kevin’s intentions when she got the wedding invitation. But hold off, there no failing diva here, no alternative path, no hero riding in to rescue anyone, just Kevin’s Guardian Angel (Emily Grainger) who sits down with mom and talks her into loving her boy no matter what. After that epiphany it’s a joyful “I do” or two and the credits roll.

I liked the singing, but I’m mystified by this amazingly short story. Clocking in at 35 minutes, there’s little motivation and even less struggle. People certainly want things but the composer hands them out freely and we never get a chance to invest in anyone’s journey. With no work for the protagonist and a nearly nonexistent antagonist the audience never comes anywhere near a tear. Perhaps it would be more appealing suing in Italian and we had to deduce the story form the emotional content of the music, but in English everything is telegraphed in bright red letters. But come for the music, the four piece group sounds like a small symphony and the voices are clear and well sung. Ignore the libretto, its light weight and forgettable.

This production is part of the 2014 Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. Information on tickets and show times may be found at http://OrlandoFringe.org/

Something’s Weird in Weeki Wachee

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Something’s Weird in Weeki Wachee
By John Ryan
Directed by Christian Kelty
Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, Orange Venue

It takes a bit of stage craft to put a whole underwater show on stage, even in a capable space like the Orange Venue. John Ryan mashes up Old Florida with Grey Gardens and we meet the famous mermaid sisters Pandora (Elizabeth Murff) and Patricia (Peg O’Keefe). They’ve retired and are holed up in a moldering cracker house and surviving off pickled vegetables and old memories. Charlie (Ryan) shows up one day, broke and looking for work and the sisters take him in. He is young and healthy and they need some help, and surly he can bide by one simple house rule: “Never look in the pantry.” That’s where the pickling operation operates, and it’s obviously a big trade secret. John keeps running into dashing Money (Ryan Dowd Urch), he’s the big mystery and the reason for the season in the pantry. But the story isn’t as important as the gags, this is a joke a minute experience fueled by great writing, great direction, and some of the funniest gals in Orlando.

This production is part of the 2014 Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. Information on tickets and show times may be found at http://OrlandoFringe.org/

FrankenChrist: The Musical!

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

FrankenChrist: The Musical!
By Thom Mesrobian
Music by Elaine Pechacek
Directed by Mark Hatfield
Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, Yellow Venue

Jesus may be coming soon, but after 2000 years even the most devoted are getting antsy. A group of high tech Christian kids (Nathan Bonk, Tyler Conrady and Carly Skubick) decide if He won’t show up, they will remake Him in their own image. This is such a unique idea that the New Age Rat Pack (Frida Soderdahl, Benedict Heaps, and Carlos Leon) decides to do the exact same thing. The sing songs and steal technology from Jurassic Park, and soon we have two competing Christs – one who’s all Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and the other a hippie with COEXIST tattooed on his hiney. It’s all good fun, and the music is pretty decent. There’s the obligatory Andrew Lloyd Weber riff (Franken Christ! Superstar!) but everything else is an original. “Let Your Kingdom Come” has a churchy feel, but by “Virgin Shores” and “We Were Wrong” the show takes on a modern pop feel of upbeat energy and melodic harmonies. “What Have I done?” adds a dreamy dance sequence, and by the end of the show everyone realizes that while messing with Science is dangerous messing around with Divine beings is even more likely to get you spanked all the way to hell.

This production is part of the 2014 Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. Information on tickets and show times may be found at http://OrlandoFringe.org/

Escape From Baldwin Park

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Escape From Baldwin Park
By Steve Schneider
Directed by Jay Hopkins
Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, Green Venue.

It helps if you know all the local references, but even if you don’t this is a damn funny show. The year is 2020 and Baldwin Park has been reduced to ruins. The city has surrounded it with a concrete wall (we LOVE our multibillion dollar civic improvements here) and inside those walls a mutant community survives: animals talk, gangs rule, and property values are in the flusher. But Commissioner Patty Sheehan’s (Maria Ragin) airplane has crashed and the Sherriff (Bill Warriner) needs to get here out, fast. Tough guy Gecko (Robert Wright) can clear his record AND get a fixer upper in College Park if he springs her within 24 hours and his story gets 24/7 coverage on Channel 13 (Matt Horohoe and Darby Ballard). This is every action move you ever made out to but with better choreography.

This show packs laughs and action into just about the right length of time. The props are cools (a cardboard cab made from recycled Dog Power Robots stuff) and the fight scenes are action packed and well-choreographed by Mr. Warriner. Daniel Cooksley shows up as the cowardly limping professor with the techno magic need to resolve the plot, and a ring girl (Katy Votapka) keeps the fights moving along. Out of towners may be a bit befuddled, but this as good an introduction to O-town and its politics as they will find.

This production is part of the 2014 Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. Information on tickets and show times may be found at http://OrlandoFringe.org/

Sarah and Oscar

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Sarah and Oscar
Windwhistle Theatre
Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, Pink Venue

There’s an endless fascination with Oscar Wilde in the theatre community, but Sarah Bernhardt gets short shrift these days. I suspect that’s because Wilde left stacks of scripts and novels and wonderful sound bites while Bernhardt only left us memories of her performances. The two were contemporaries and Wilde Wrote “Salome” for her, it was surrounded by controversy and banned, which helped sales enormously when it was eventually produced. Wilde went to jail, and Bernhard went to America, she died wealthy and he a poor and broken man. In this spare two person production we hear their overlapping stories, Wilde is portrayed with a rather clipped accent and a cadaverous face, Bernhardt with a studied, precise French accent that enunciates each syllables slowly and correctly with a Gallic precision. These are nearly two separate stories, contemporaneous but not closely intertwined. You probably know the high points of Wilds life but Bernhardt’s is equally as fascinating; she went from courtesan to stage with success and aplomb in an era when “actress” often meant something much coarser. Wilde is more confessional and Bernhardt more reserved, but both are relics of a century past but they would fit on the cover of any tabloid today.

This production is part of the 2014 Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. Information on tickets and show times may be found at http://OrlandoFringe.org/

Marathon

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Marathon
By T. J. Dawe
Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, Yellow Venue

An hour of T. J. Dawe is like a year with a psycho analyst but much cheaper and you get beer afterwards. Mr. Dawe continues to reveal his soul to paying audience; this show follows on to the Enneagrams show from a few years ago. Enneagrams are type of personality classification system, a stripped down Myers Briggs for those not in Human Relations. Tonight he discusses the Three Instincts – Self Preservation, Sexual and Social. We all possess them, one is strong and one is weak and the weak one is the one you brag about when you do it. Example: I was very proud when I actually sent a text. So I’m Socially Weak. Dawe builds his story on one of those childhood failuers that no one makes movies about, he goes out for track and field in his very small school, signs up for the most difficult of the events, and comes in last. He attmpts to pass out the second worst runner and not come in last, but he fails there as well. Unlike Rocky, no music swells, and no crowd applauds, and he must face his own failure. But in that failure he’s found growth, or at least self-acceptance. And even though he has found his milieu and routinely sells out on the Fringe circuit, he’s still filled with self-doubt. You just want to pat him on the back or shake his hand. But mostly, you’ll want to buy a ticket from him.

This production is part of the 2014 Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. Information on tickets and show times may be found at http://OrlandoFringe.org/