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Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

Archive for July, 2014

Next Fall

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

Next Fall
By Geoffrey Nauffts
Directed by Jamie DeHay
Starring Scott Browning and Ryan Dowd Urch
Unseen Images Theatre
Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando FL

Religion can condemn nearly anything, yet sinners have successfully used it to justify their actions for centuries. Luke (Urch) is a great example: he says grace at dinner, reads the bible and cruises for guys. Adam (Browning) is first amused and then offended, but they still stick it out for five years until disaster strikes. A cab whacks Luke and now he’s in a coma and friend and family members are arriving for the potential end of everything Luke. Was Luke a believer? Both his dad Butch (Tim Bass) and his mother Arlene (Lori McCaskill) raised him that way, and even though they split up ages ago, they have faith that God has a plan for Luke as well as the rest of us. Oh, yeah, Luke never came out to his parents, and neither of them can exactly understand why Adam is hanging around. That’s a bit awkward for everyone.

Despite an exposition laden first act, this is a unique story well executed. The normal “gays vs religious” argument is nicely subverted, and Luke and Adam have a sort of Odd Couple dynamic that makes their relation interesting on its own. Browning is a nervous ball of energy; he comes to terms with Luke’s more flexible interpretation of faith but butts heads with the parental units. Urch is the clean, fashionable one, he recommends Adam wear periwinkle, a color straight guys can’t even see. Both the parents are strong and feel like an authentically divorced couple, McCaskill has that old school southern talky charm while Bass mumbles and “Aw, shucks” his way around until an explosion is called for and then he becomes a volcano. Andrea Gentry and Keith Newhouse make of the rest of the cast, they are quite reasonable kids in the background, and provide a solid bed for the fireworks other light.

Is there a divine plan for everyone? Or is life a random collection of tragic events? Since God is bad at returning phone calls, they two are practically indistinguishable, and what would you different if it wasn’t the way you currently believe? Probably nothing, we all have to react to bad events and good events either way and there no backing up. I liked Luke and I liked his family, and their difficult decision is one we all will face eventually. Whether there a “meaning” to a death is one of those philosophical questions best discussed after a few beers, but until the bar opens, this show is a great starting point for either argument.

For more information on Unseen Images please visit www.facebook.com/UnseenImagesTheatre

All New People

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

All New People
By Zach Braff
Directed by Jake Teixeira and Alex Aragon
Point Blank Productions
Presented at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, Orlando FL

Deep dark secrets permeate our lives, they make us unhappy but they also make us interesting. Charlie (Teixeira) snuck off to his buddy’s summer home on some eastern island reserved for rich people. His plan is to do himself in, his dark secret cost lives and was splattered on the front page of The Times. Illegal immigrant Emma (Carol Crosby) had little beyond a British accent when she arrived; she’s on the lam for less public but still heinous reasons. Her refuge is selling overpriced real estate and her chance sales visit saves Charlie’s life but draws the local fireman and connection Myron (Alex Argon). Pretty soon its party time, and what’s party without a Party Girl? Not knowing his plans, Charlie’s buddy sent along a very expensive present called “Kim,” she describes herself as “The Louis Vuitton of Vagina.” It’s one of those wild impromptu parties you never get invited to, but then you don’t have to reveal all your secrets just to reach a dramatic climax.

And dramatic it is, the show starts and ends very darkly but is a screaming laugh fest along the way. Charlie is the straight man; he’s hung up on hanging himself because he did bad, but even worse: he has no friends. Emma is the sort of girl you know he has to fall in love with, it’s in her gawky manners and nerdy glasses and you can still put that chestnut on stage today and damn it, it still works. The comic heavy lifting comes from Myron; he’s crass, obvious and reminds you of an early John Belushi, complete with a drug habit. And little Kim’s as cute as a bug, the sort of microscopic bug that gets under your skin and leaves microscopic little poops.

You’ll have to see the show to get that reference, but all this takes place with a manic energy and disregard for propriety, and the only real down side here is an unusual phonetic alphabet and a very short run. This is a very young cast, all of them are still in school, but they’ve gotten hold of a solid script and made it into something both brilliantly funny and heartbreakingly touching.

Point Blank Productions does not seem to have aw web presence. Amazing.

Oliver!

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

Oliver!
By Lionel Bart
Directed by Tim Evaniki
Musical Direction by Kevin Kelly
Choreographed by Joyce Lemos
Starring Marina Jurica, Eric Pinder and Aalic Anderson
Starving Artists Studios in association with Central Florida Community Arts
Winter Springs High School, Winter Springs, FL

Victorian workhouses must have been a blast, what with all the singing and dancing and vegetarian gruel. Tonight we meet 30 small children who will be spared from the reality of Dickensian living but do their best to put it on stage for our entertainment. Up front we have Aalic Anderson as the titular “Oliver,” he’s small and his projection is a bit low, but he’s cute as a bug and soldiers though this full length, complete with his own solo number and plenty of dancing, dashing and danger. When we meet him, he’s in the workhouse under rotund Mr. Bumble (Thomas Limbacher); Bumble flirts with his house keeper Mrs. Corney (Wendy Starkand). Their romance is train wreck, but Bumble and Corney decide Oliver is a problem and they sell him to an undertaker, only to have him escape in to the demimonde of London. Here the Artful Dodger (Brittany Koscinski) hooks him up with Fagin’s (Pinder) theft ring, and Oliver’s life is never the same. Like all good Victorian misery stories, there’s a happy ending involving a locket, a midnight rendezvous, and the sort of carelessness with small children that always motivates Victorian melodrama.

While the chorus was young and hard to hear, the adults were excellent. Ms. Jurica played Nancy, the moral heart of the story. She also got the best songs and the best crowd response, the Boisterous “Oom-Pah-Pah” gave her voice a solid showcase which was enhanced in that great battered woman ballad “As Long As He Needs Me”. The person doing that needing was the barely constrained Bill Sykes (Adam McCabe,) he was rough and tough and not afraid to slap anyone around. Mr. Bumble did a fine job on “Boy for Sale”, but it was Eric Pindar who stole the show with his uber Hassidic beard and “You’ve Got To Pick A Pocket or Two” and the realpolitik ballad “Reviewing The Situation.” This entire enterprise was backed with a live 21 piece orchestra, and the sound in this High School auditorium was very impressive. This is a family friendly classic, and the whole show was plenty of fun for everyone.

For more information on Starving Artists Studios lease visit starvingartiststudios.com.

For other Central Florida Community Arts events, please visit cfcarts.com

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Music and Lyrics by William Finn
Book by Rachel Sheinkin
Directed by Be Boyd
Choreography by Be Boyd and Tony Pracek
Starring Amanda Wansa Morgan
Theatre UCF, Orlando, FL

The problem with high school is it seems so important at the time, but as soon as it’s over no one else cares. The Spelling Bee is sort of like that; even a national win might not really change your life. Ms. Peretti (Morgan) won way back when, and now she’s the top Realtor in Putnam County. Sure, spelling is important in Real Estate, but not much more so than in any other profession. But her win did have an effect; she relives that win vicariously every year as a judge and organizer of the local Bee. It’s populated by the by the sort of misfits and distorted personalities that all high schools lay claim to: Olive Ostrovsky (Katherine Darby) has been abandoned by her parents, Marcie Park (Willow Draper) has a tiger mom and failure is never an option, Logainne S. (Leigh Green) has two daddies and a speech impediment, and William Barfée (Austin Palmer) is a tall mucous laden boy with one foot firmly on the Asperger’s Spectrum. And let’s not forget Leaf Coneybear (Pracek), the socially maladapted home schooled hippy child. He makes his own capes and says “hi” to his siblings Dandelion, Bark, and Pine Cone and he happens to be the dance captain for this fine show. These kids spell words that even the New York Times crossword editor won’t touch but in the end only one can win. And winning isn’t all that important, finding a place in life is.

This show draws additional spellers from the audience since we can’t have too many of the “real” spellers kicked out until they each get their big moment. While everyone had fun and cut out finely exaggerated characters, Mr. Palmer and Mr. Pracek might possibly have been the most fun. One thing that really impressed me was Raleigh Mosely II as the comfort counselor Mitch, he’s notionally here to close out some mandated community service, but he has a stunning gospel singing voice and ought to have a church or a record deal or both. As the guiding angel of the show, Ms. Morgan was kind, firm and in control, she even handled over-sexed Vice Principal Panchi (Carlos Ashby). He has a crush on her and a chip on his professional shoulder, but even he added additional energy to the already sugar high show. This is a great summer comedy, and has a strange split schedule so it will be around for another month. And don’t be afraid of signing up as a volunteer, they soft ball you by asking you to spell “cow”, then kneecap you with Zymurgy.” You can spell Zymurgy, right?

For more information on Theatre UCF visit http://www.theatre.ucf.edu

The Receptionist

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

The Receptionist
By Adam Bock
Directed by Kevin T. Becker
With Alea Figueroa, Josh Geoghagan, Rebekah Lane and Kevin Sigman
DiDonna Productions/ The Empty Spaces Theatre Co(llaboration) at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, Orlando FL

Somewhere in that vast plain between “1984” and “Our Boarding House with Major Hoople” lies this tale of stifling menace. Beverly (Lane) answers phones, chats with friends and diverts a steady stream of calls to voice mail. While the voice mail boxes fill up, her boss Mr. Raymond (Sigman) is nowhere to be found. Lorraine (Figueroa) arrives late as usual, and the phones keep ringing. Then Mr. Dart (Geoghagan) arrives, he’s silent, persistent and carries one of those little cop steno books so something is obviously up. Lorraine flirts fearlessly, she’s attractive but worried about getting a man, and Mr. Dart seems to fill her bill. When Mr. Raymond does show up, he’s worried; one of his torture cases has gone slightly wrong. His error ripples outward, and soon everyone in this foul business is getting some sort of Karmic revenge.

Little of consequence appears to be happening; Beverly could just be routing insurance claims from her chirpy demeanor. She, too carries a sense of morality; she does not approve of Lorraine dating married men. And Sigman is distracted, clearly something is happening in his life that outweighs his job, and while Lorraine may get disapproval from Beverly, they are close to being best friends. The menace exudes from both the neutral air of the room and from Geoghagan’s stiff but precise attention to detail. The other three pile the tinder, and he sets it on fire.

While the pre and post show discussions spoke at lent about the meaning of names, water imagery and the story of Narcissus, this story reads as an allegory for the torture and other unpleasant actions in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and where ever else people go to get their brains peeled back. Here the menace is insidious, it’s not just the unfortunates that are at risk of disappearing, it the torturers as well as well. It’s the sort of unbridled paranoia that Communist Russia, McCarthy era America or Nazi Germany bred: and there’s only one way of staying healthy: keep your head down, stay unnoticed, know nothing, help no one, trust no one. Not bad for a little show that ran on the premise “Ask me about my process.”

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