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Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

Archive for November, 2014

Disorderly Conduct

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

Disorderly Conduct
Play De Luna
Art’s Sake Studio, Winter Park FL

Orlando’s sharpest short play even returns with eight 10 minute events, some by local writers and a few more from national writers. The first act features 4 plays with a unifying thread – “Dates, disrupted.” John Connon’s couple Joe (Ryan Holmes) and Melissa (Ashely Pinnock) retire to a fine restaurant for a first date; her big revelation is she lost 150 pounds, which is pretty amazing. She called her eating issue her “ex-boyfriend” and he appear in the form of spritely Big Bones (Charlie Prince.) Ryan is nervous, Big Bones insistent, and it a takes a strong woman to decide where she is going to go. I don’t know how things with Joe will work out as living with someone who has invisible friends is often more trouble than she’s worth, but she still has here self-worth.

“Zombie Love” (Earl T Roske) goes for the slightly gross; here Emily (Claire Ghezzi) is hot for the nice looking but still undead Walter (Derek Smith.) Her friend Kathy (Emily Cutting) wants Emily to hold out for someone more…lively, but comes around after Walter starts munching on earth worms. I think they were liquorice.

Mark Harvey Levine’s “Face to Facebook” takes us to Café Très Cher; here Amanda (Andrea Gentry) meets up with tallish Marvin and his tablet computer (Yasheera Acevedo.) Marvin relies on his Tablet for advice on everything and his insensitive posting of pictures says “Look at me! I’m so 2012!” Good luck on that man’s sexual future.

We wrap up the act with ‘”The Modern American Romance Not Often Scene” by Mark Troy. Deedee (Jessica Montgomery) brings shy Avery (Jason Fusco) back home, she’s hot to trot and he’s feeling uncomfortably numb. Ruffies are involved, and you wonder: “Can she seduce him, or is he beyond performance tonight?” Motivations are mixed but happiness prevails.

Act Two spread out and covers more material; we begin with “Ambush!” by John Connon. Anna (Joy Kigin) is an ideal middle class wife; she keeps house, cooks, manages the kids and does everything but look Vogue. Her husband (David Rose) tries to do something nice for her but screws up: Anna arranges for her to be kidnapped by the outrageous Gloria Loria (Chris Walker.) She hosts one of those surprise make over reality shows which have some sort of morbid fascination, most of which comes from her out of control personality. There’s a creepy element here, the kidnapping seems pretty real, and you hear genuine fear in here voice before she takes charge of the situation. Bonus points go to the subtle gag about Gloria’s favorite designer Donna Mastadonna. Well, I thought it was funny.

Bad Medicine (by Rachel Thompson) explores the world of medicine run by sales quotas; Doctor (Susanna Potrock) sells pills by the suitcase full to Andy Gion. His minor ailments turn into a whole season of medical contraindications. This show made a real impression on one audience member; she lectured me on this problem at another show the next day.

This evening’s favorite comes from Stan Madray’s “Happily Ever After.” Dashing knight (Alex Ullrich) slayed a dragon and got to marry the princess (Angela Trapp). She’s not only disappointed by his slovenly quarters, but soon discovers he’s rooming with his horse Chip (Matt Dorman). The story is rather straightforward, but Dorman’s horse costume and manners made the show. And the princess? She’ll give it a try. There’s always daddies money.

We close out with another “Dates, disrupted” story. In “Role Playing Night” (by Matt Einhorn) sexy Liv (Jacquelynne Faith Bernstein) misinterprets her husband Mark’s (Tommy Goodman) suggestion for an evening role playing, and he didn’t explain that two other guys were invited so her special gift from the Sex Store wouldn’t work as well as a 20 sided die. Bonus hit points to James (Ryan Kim) and Ian (Nick Leali); they do some fine fake sword fighting and general whining about letting a girl play in their guy games.

It’s only another year before Play De Luna returns; I’ll mark it on my calendar when they announce the dates!

For more information on Art’s Sake Studios, check www.art-sake.com/

The Bacchae

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

The Bacchae
By Euripides
Directed by Michael Shugg
Starring Sebastian Rivera, Adonis Perez, and Adi Martinez
Valencia College Art and Entertainment Theatre, Orlando FL

I’ll say this for Dionysus (Rivera): He’s pretty much a dick. He claims divine birth from Jove via a lightning bolt; it’s a sort of divine artificial insemination that keeps the blood lines strong without all the sordid gossip. He’s visiting the town of Thebes and drops by Cadmus (John Moughan). Cadmus’s killjoy grandson Pentheus (Perez) runs the place and is ticked off. The women have all left town to have a Girl’s Night Out, otherwise known as Celebrating the Rites of Bacchus. Dionysus is a traveling salesman for this estrogen fueled event, and Pentheus isn’t happy with him either. It’s hard to say how divine Dyonius really is, but he’s as hard to keep locked up as St. Paul was in the Acts of the Apostles. Divinity is a skill set: you have it or you don’t. But slick Dionysus convinces Pentheus to have a few drinks, do a little low grade cross dressing, and then leads him out in the woods where Pentheus’s mom Agave (Martinez) kills him in a fury. You want your tragedy done right, call in a Greek.

The setting is minimal and contemporary. Five names are listed under set construction, but the set is just a fire pot with a fake silk flame. Rivera is a rather charming Dionysus when he’s on your side; he looks right out of a medieval pirate tale. Mr. Moughan is elegant and moneyed, a regular Thurston Howell III of the ancient world; he and Bobby Bell as the blind Tiresias make all the old guy penis jokes in the play and they are generally pretty funny. As Agave, Ms. Martinez gets too little stage time; she’s mostly off with the girls and only returns to display the incredibly creepy prop trophy of her weekend and Dionysus’s vengeance. Backing them were two police guards dressed for Ferguson, and 11 chorus members in slightly suggestive clothing. They chant, they dance, they groove to the dubstep, and overall give a contemporary version of this classic.

You can read endless analysis of the plot and debates between the Apollonian and Dionysian dualism, but here’s my take: This piece was not written as the light entertainment we use theater for today, but was a morality play showing people how they were expected to behave. That included honoring the Gods as the Gods wish to be honored, and it’s ok to blow off some steam every now and again and that rule isn’t just for guys. But if you’re going to frolic, frolic responsibly, and don’t wander into the wrong frolic, lest it cost you your head. Good advice for the upcoming holiday season.

For more information on Valencia College Theatre, please visit http:// http://valenciacollege.edu/artsandentertainment/Theater/schedule.cfm/

Playboy of The Western World

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

Playboy of The Western World
By John Millington Synge
Directed by Paul Luby
Starring Evan Chiovari, George Colangelo, and Paul Luby
Seminole State College Fine Arts Theatre, Sanford FL

Thank God we have the Irish to put on stage! Ireland is an endless source of depravation and deprivation, and the animal sprit of storytelling makes their tales of misery and hope tailor made for theater. Chris Mahon (Chiovari) is on the run, he claims to have murder his father (Colangelo) but he’s awful forthcoming about a hanging crime. He appears at a small rural pub run by Mike Flaherty (Luby) and his lonely daughter Pegeen (Victoria Barfield). Rather than eschew a murderer, they take him in, feed him and soon there’s a bidding war between Pegeen and Widow Quinn (Molly Wuerz) for his hand. A decent looking young man without the local poteen fueled brutally is a rare find, whatever his other faults. As time goes by, he seems to be sitting high: the women are fighting over him, the men in awe, and life looks good. Until we discover he didn’t exactly split dead old das head from crown to gob.

Chiovari displays a good balance of put-upon charm combined with ballsy bravado. He’s a low grade con man at the open and a journeyman at the end; he’s driven from the town but not without a better pair of boots and a better sense of what he can get away with. Colangelo stole the back half of the show, his crown may have ached but he’s funny and dramatic and playing his role for maximum sympathy on stage and off. I loved the cat fight between Barfield and Wuerz; Wuerz seemed the better catch excerpt for the fact Barfield had money. And the love of money is up there with the love of booze and the love of misery in these sorts of Irish kitchen sinks. High marks also go to Christopher Logan as Shawn Pegeen’s ineffectual suitor. He may be mopish and weak on stage, but he gets one of the slyest laugh lines in the third act when his drunken compatriots hand him a rope and tell him “you do it, you’re the least drunk.”

And that brings up an odd point of this performance – it’s a rather broad comedy and was funny, but drew few and often isolated laughs. Perhaps it was the small house or the three page phrase book in the program (required reading) as the brogue is thick and the language almost Gaelic. It’s the sort of show that requires strict concentration by the audience. When originally staged the show brought on riots, but the political and cultural offences that may lurk here are dulled by time and space. There’s not smell of peat fire in the theater and the whiskey looks watered, but this is a solid Irish drama executed with panache.

For more information on the Seminole State College Theater program, please visit http://www.seminolestate.edu/arts/theatre/boxoffice.htm

Julie and Mary and Ethel and Babs – A Tribute to the Great Ladies of Broadway!

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

Julie and Mary and Ethel and Babs – A Tribute to the Great Ladies of Broadway!
Spotlight Cabaret Series
With Laura Hodos
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
November 19th, 2014
Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park FL

Most cabaret acts struggle with the choice between obscure songs that have personal appeal or going for the big name, big hit material audiences applaud the loudest for. Tonight Ms. Hodos swings for the popular fence, choosing material from the biggest voices and biggest shows of the biggest hits of musical theatre. Her sample set settles on these four voices: Julie Andrews (Marry Poppins, Sound of Music), Mary Martin (Peter Pan), Ethel Merman (Annie Get Your Gun, Gypsy) and Barbara Streisand (Yentl, Funny Girl). It’s a tall order Hodos has placed for herself, but she of all local actors is up for it. After all, she IS a belter, and numbers like “Everything is Coming up Roses” and “Gonna Wash Than Man Right Out of My Hair” are slam dunks, but obscurities like the Morris Chair themed “My Honey’s Loving Arms” or “Moonshine Lullaby” are equally well received. Along the way we pick up some show business trivia – Sean Connery was in the chorus of “South Pacific” and Mary Martin felt “Television wasn’t my medium” leading to her current obscurity. When the evening was over, there was the mandatory encore this time sung with musical director Chris Leavy; they did a fine duet of “Just In Love” and then they packed us off into the harsh Orlando winter night. I had to walk a half block in sub 70’s temperatures, and nearly had to button my coat. That’s a good cabaret – A warm soaring high, followed by the cold crash of real life outside.

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

I and You

Monday, November 17th, 2014

I and You
By Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Aradhana Tiwari
With Karleigh Chase and Mike Mitchell Jr.
Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando FL

Life is unfair. You’re pining away with liver failure and few hopes for the future, and the damn system still wants you to produce a display board on Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.” That’s Caroline’s’ (Chase’s) view, but school mate Anthony (Mitchell) insists on getting her help. She knows she’s better at graphics, a master at glitter, and there’s artistic paper on hand, because you never know. He’s charming yet insistent; he won’t take no for an answer even if he insists on eating pop tarts and loves basketball and sort of thinks he can fix a beeping smoke alarm. He’s also wrapped up about 19th century American poetry, and what’s with that? Anthony’s a persistent young man and after an intermission Caroline comes around: Whitman DOES rule, the world needs to know more about him, and Anthony really is a good guy. But then he whips out this creep story about a kid keeling over during the game and dying. If that can’t get you a pass on an assignment what can?

Mr. Mitchel is the most insistently charming young man; he’s polite, helpful, willing to go the extra mile and also he’s more than kinda cute. Ms. Caroline is cranky, insistent and carries a Costco sized bag of shoulder chips. Still, you cheer for romance, it comes grudgingly but bigger and more metaphysical issues lurk here. Director Tiwari teases them out slowly to give this show a big build and a big payoff, and I’ll just leave it at that. And who knew plush turtle planetariums were A Thing?

This script was read a while back at New Playfest and not picked up, but here it is and I’m glad. It’s good to see more of those New Play Network shows getting traction in town. Small and intimate, this is a heartwarming yet chilling foray into hope, romance and spoken word. Plus, you’ll get that remedial Walt Whitman brush up in case his works come up in next month’s sales meeting. You never know.

For more information on Mad Cow, please visit http://www.madcowtheatre.com

Isn’t It Romantic? A Tribute to Rogers and Hart

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

Isn’t It Romantic? A Tribute to Rogers and Hart
By Todd Allen Long
Music by Richard Rogers
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart
Directed and Choreographed by Roy Alan
Musical Direction by Chris Levy

Before there was Rogers and Hammerstein, there was an equally successful Rogers and Hart. That earlier pair wrote 28 musicals in 25 years, most of which were hits on Broadway. Rodgers wrote the tunes, Hart the lyrics and Hart was stubborn; once a word was on the page, he rarely changed it. These guys were born into the Tin Pan Alley ethos of immigrant New York, and tonight’s sound relies more on those simple “Moon-June-Spoon” lyrics; the more syncopated Jazz influenced sound that filled the middle part of the 20th century is largely missing. There are six performers tonight, all using their real names. Todd Allen Long and Janine Klein collaborate on a rollicking “Too Good for the Common Man” while he shines alone on “I Could Write a Book.” Heather Kopp’s best number was “10 Cents a Dance.” This is the sort of number that requires the singer to sit in older balding men’s laps, but Kopp picks an inappropriate customer, only to then demand a full 20 cents for her error. Noel -Marie Matson had a nice duet with Jamie Lowe on “Manhattan”, followed by Heather returning for a fun but silly “Way Out West.” Steven Flaa had his best number in the gentle “My Romance”; it was touching without sadness. Some of the more modern sounding songs included Klein’s “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” and her duet with Mr. Long on “Lover”. This show presents a calmer, more relaxed collection of songs, yet it offers the sort of calming musical edutainment we have all come to love in the soon to expanded Playhouse.

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

Trevor

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

Trevor
By Nick Jones
Directed by Christopher Niess
Starring Colton Butcher, Maddie Tarbox and Victoria Gluchoski

Once upon a time, I thought a pet chimp like J Fred Muggs would be the coolest thing. Then I turned 8 and realized a chimp is a cranky, difficult animal that bites hard, poops inaccurately and is stronger than the Hulk. That’s the first time I felt old. But I sympathize with Sandra (Tarbox); she’s raised Trevor (Butcher) since he was a few days old, and with her husband gone Trevor’s her only hold on sanity. But even that’s marginal; Trevor is sentient but has the attention span of a 2 year old and a fixation with Morgan Fairchild (Alyx Levesque). He met her as an animal actor; his goal is to make it in show business and gain acceptance as a human. But next door lives Ashley (Gluchoski) and her infant; she’s rightly scared of Trevor. After all, he has a history of stealing cars and parking them in people’s front yards. It’s about time to bring some adult supervision into Sandra’s daily life.

There are several strong elements here. First, this is an astonishingly physical role for Mr. Butcher. He’s constantly climbing the furniture, throwing tantrums, and physically representing a chimpanzee without the need to put him in an animal suit. Ms. Tarbox represents a more intellectual problem: pet owners are convinced that little fluffy understands every word they speak perfectly, but here she and Trevor spend the evening talking past each other. She feels he can be reasoned with, but only to a point. The closest they come intellectually is when they use sign language, but even that is restricted. Certainly Trevor knows a few words from his TV acting days: Agent, star, action, rewrite. But none of this is apparent to Sandra. Trevor even has a muse, the white tuxedoed Oliver (Carlos Ashley). He sometimes represents Trevor’s deepest desires of acceptance in the human world, but it’s not a world either of them truly understands. Rationality lies in Ashley and avuncular policeman Jim (Eric Eichenlaub). Misunderstanding a kitty or schnauzer will lead to little more than chewed furniture and territorial markings, but misunderstanding a powerful animal seeking alpha male status might be fatal.

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

Beatnik 2

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Beatnik 2
Produced by Beth Marshall
With Sam Butcher, Bret Carson, Janine Kline and Adrian LePeltier
11-7-2014
The Venue, Orlando FL

There’s a melancholy mood in the air this fall, the sort of feeling that comes upon high school seniors about two weeks before graduation: the fun is over, big changes are in the air and uncertainty lies ahead. The Venue is doomed in its present location, although it will hang on longer than that other place across the tracks. But enough moping – what exactly happened tonight?

It’s the second incarnation of Beth Marshall’s “Beatnik”, a multimedia show that simulates the hipster hippie scene most of these performers grandparents might have experienced. Milling about pre-show are ardent petitioners; we are asked to scrawl unreadable signatures on improvised clip boards. What other method do we have to assure living wages all over the earth? A man in tie dye offers discount acid from a small brown bottle, it’s not exactly Owsley and I’ve been waiting all week for the walls to melt and swirl. In the populous bar area the bar tender occasionally runs across the street to pick up a few more obscure brews that have run low. Adrian LePeltier appears as the eminence gris of the establishment; his bold hair contrasts with his sharkskin suit as he encourages peace, love and excessive alcohol consumption. Silent Bongo Brett punctuates the evening with drum riffs but no vocals; his beats and snaps and triangular glasses say more than words. MC’ing the evening is local bad boy Sam Butcher; he’s in full sardonic sarcasm mode. Tonight he despises what we adore and adores what we despise, which is principally Sam Butcher.

The inner sanctum is guarded by grimacing bouncer Terri G, and we enter Plato’s cave of entertainment, hoping to see a glimmer of the past on the back wall of this cramped theatre. Butcher rails against Chance Gordy, landlord and evil capitalist; Gordy makes no response but is represented by a woman in disco cowboy wear. Dancers dance the “Rites of Late Winter”, spoken word artists speak, and there are raffles. There are always raffles. Butcher heckles an audience which is full of out-of-town Fringe producers cruising for out-of- town artists. Amanda Grey sings a sweet folk song as I squirm on the hard metal seat. More comedy; someone gets boffo laughs off “cancer” and we awkwardly pretend to laugh at the Ionesco joke. Do people still stage Ionesco? And if so… “Why”?

Another raffle. Another plaid shirt. Hippies never wore plaid; that was for Lutherans with working class jobs. While the entertainment flies by faster than a punk set, the authenticity of this show is iffy as there is absolutely NO noticeable body odor. And I personally know that many of these people hold down regular paying jobs.

A raffle. An airline pilot does a few minutes of his stand up philosopher routine; he’s a natural to work the Fringe circuit as he has jump seat privileges on a major carrier. A magician levitates a flower, and in a nice flourish he sets it on fire. Poof! Now Janis Joplin rises from the dead, and delivers a drunken rendition of “Me and Bobby McGee” before face planting in front of Mr. Butcher. You begin to sense why Bobby slipped away,

We now approached the show’s climax, Butcher heaps abuse on the woman from Mr. Gordy’s office, she reveals a deep dark breath gasping secret, and voila! A fuzzy happy reunion! All we need now is some dance action from Blue and her troupe, and it’s off to claim our raffle prizes and grab a few more beers. Overall, VERY entertaining, even if everything this show knows about hippies comes from the movies.

For more information on Beth Marshall Presents visit http://bethmarshallpresents.wordpress.com/

More information on events at The Venue resides at http://TheVenueOrlando.com/