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Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

Archive for February, 2015

Henry V

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

Henry V
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Jim Helsinger
Starring John P. Keller
Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, Orlando FL

Into the breach once more; all for a muse of fire on this Saint Crispin’s Day! Shakespeare’s “Henry the Fifth” is not only one of his most active plays, it drips with snappy lines, clearly motivated action and avoids the confusing subplots that appear elsewhere. Young Henry (Keller) takes the throne and plans to claim part of France through a female dynastic line. The French naturally object, claiming the obscure Salic Law forbids this. Never mind the legalities; a case of tennis balls from the French king arrives implying Henry is a frivolous youth. He’ll show them and invades taking Harfleur with some difficulty. His small force is weak and ill, and he heads for Calais for refuge. The French nobility sees this as potential for great sport; they all show up in their finery only to be slaughtered by the English long bows. Henry get the princess, most of France and one of Shakespeare’s best monologs: the St Crispin’s Day speech.

Sent on a wooden replica of the Globe, the eight actors all play multiple roles. Geoffrey Kent presents himself as the very tall Duke of Exeter and as a memorable Icelandic soldier Nym; his beard and excellent presence emanates nearly as much manliness as Henry. Stephen Lima makes his debut on the Shakes’ stage as Henry’s older brother Bedford and as an incomprehensible Scots army engineer; his trademark mean streak is suppressed for the good of the story. Brad De Planch plays mainly the comic roles, but does get himself hung in one scene. This was troublesome and violates the film maxim of “never kill the kid, never kill the dog.” Kate Ingram plays the king of France as well as tutor to the French princess; her best lines come as she helps the princess (Sarah Caroline Billings) learn to mispronounce body parts in English. Billings also fills in as the Herald; she propels the plot and looks nice in her blue velvet valet outfit standing out in the sea of greys and browns. Stephen Watson takes his best role as Fluellen the sycophantic Welsh sapper. Finally Steepen Paul Johnson plays foot soldier Pistol, his character is working another show down the hall acted by a different man. Keller is not only the earnest Henry but also the foppish Dauphin; he even excels as his own nemesis.

There’s plenty of swash, buckle and humor here; the tennis ball scene dumps the case of balls in the front row’s laps thanks to a slightly tilted stage. Henry is a very manly young king, his belt swing below his knees and the Princess’s reluctance to marry him is mystifying. Tonight the battle scenes and preparations were by far the best elements, the romances at the end where Henry awkwardly woos feels forced: there’s not much chemistry there but then this is a dynastic marriage and as long as a few boys pop out, they can each live in different countries. The end was also a bit anachronistic; images of WW2 and the Vietnam Memorial Wall close out the show along with Edwin Starr’s “War! Huh, Yeah, What is it good for?” It’s good for something, or we wouldn’t keep doing it and telling stories about it. Here is a strong, fast moving production with heart and soul and lots of manly camaraderie.

For more information on Orlando Shakespeare Theater, visit
http://www.orlandoshakes.org

Photograph 51

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

Photograph 51
By Anna Ziegler
Directed by Denise Gilman
Starring Jennifer Christa Palmer and Steven Lane
Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando FL

I had this professor once who told us how he ALMOST discovered the tunable dye laser. That near miss parallels the career of Rosalind Franklin (Palmer). She was an expert in x-ray crystallography, a method used to determine the exact structure of complex molecules like proteins and DNA. She left brutalized but tolerant Paris after the war to work at King’s College with Dr. Wilkins (Lane). But what he promised and what he delivered are two different things, she thought she would lead her own research while he expects here to make tea and take pretty pictures. Basically, he’s a patronizing pratt, and this poisons a relation that could have been brilliant. He even secretly shares one of her prize images (the titular “Photograph 51”) with upstarts Francis Crick (Scott Browning) and the wild haired American James Watson (Adam Riley). These boys make guesses, build incorrect models and win the Nobel; she takes the time to get everything right and quadruple check results and dies of ovarian cancer from careless use of X-rays. It’s a love story that never quite catches fire.

Along with the spectacular cast, this show does the best job I’ve seen of how the scientific process works. It’s not all “Aha!” and “Oho!”; there are unending and thankless years of collecting data that may or may not matter. Then there are the professional rivalries, the make and break friendships, the benefits and dangers of collaboration all of which are on par with the misogamy, anti-Semitism and sexual frustration displayed. It’s like real life, but with more maths. Lane is the saddest; he never believes he’s done anything socially wrong even as the audience groans at his social blunders. He insists on being called “DOCTOR Wilkes” but only calls her “Miss” Franklin; he only says “Doctor” Franklin when he has no other choice. Admittedly, women were virtually unheard of in Physics and Math in 1940, but he could be a bit more graceful.

Then there are the lower classes, including the perpetual student Gosling (Ryan Kim). He narrates and does the dirty work; he’s treated as badly because he has yet to defend a thesis. The closest Franklin gets to love is American Don Caspar (Peter Travis); he’s properly respectful and interested enough in her to keep a flame burning. Watson and Crick are a sort of physics comedy team, they’re brash and bold and willing to take risks; their important contribution is making an incorrect model, publish it and still surviving professionally. And that’s how knowledge proceeds: take data, make guesses, talk about them publically, and correct the errors. No errors here tonight, this show is brilliant all on its own.

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

Machinal

Monday, February 16th, 2015

Machinal
By Sophie Treadwell
Directed by David Charles
Starring Rachel Comeau, Christopher Stewart, and Elie Gottlieb
Annie Russell Theatre at Rollins College
Winter Park FL

It’s a dark and slanty world up on stage, dripping of Dr. Calagari and Freddy Nietzsche. It’s some sort of office our young protagonist (Comeau) works for, and she’s not a model employee. But she caught the eye of her boss (Stewart) and that means marriage. While the girl is more iffy than giddy, her mom (Ana Suarez) screams “yes! Yes! YES!” What value is “true love” in the depression of the early 20th century? The girl is freaked out on her wedding night and I’d say “Intimacy Issues” will affect this union. But one night she meets a bright boy (Gottlieb) in a speakeasy. Then she’s as friendly as a cat and even if he’s been around a bit, he’s the man she wants. But what about faithful hubby? Only a ham fisted murder will do, and next stop is the Power and Light department of old Sing Sing.

This story bases on a high profile “Society” murder of the 1920’s, a murder so badly planned even Damon Runyon called it the “Dumb bell murder.” On stage it’s less about a murder or its circumstances than a visual trip into isolation and alienation. Comeau is occasionally sympathetic, more for her situations than her actions. She at her best as the repressed asexual woman forced into something she doesn’t want, but when she opens up with her lover you wonder “what exactly flipped the switch?” Stewart’s husband is properly self-satisfied, and Gottlieb seems like just the sort of guy to charm undies off a nun. But it’s the set (design by Rebecca Kleinman) that dominates everything: secret compartments, dark brooding towers, antiques machinery meant to destroy or at least intimidate the audience and maybe even the cast. Sordid lives and sordid acts are so much better when we can feel morally superior to the actors, and on this set even Piranesi would be scared straight.

For more information on the Annie Russell Theatre at Rollins College, please visit http://www.rollins.edu/annierussell/current_season/index.html

LUV

Monday, February 16th, 2015

LUV
By Murray Schisgal
Directed by Justin Regula
Dark Side of Saturn Theatre
Orlando Shakespeare Center, Orlando FL

There’s more than a bit of vaudeville on this stage; while this is notionally a twisted romance its entertainment value comes from physical humor, word play and suicide jokes. We open with sad sack Harry (Corey Volence) about to jump off a very low bridge. His life has fallen apart, his dreams are destroyed and he packs a noose just to be double certain. Old school buddy Milt (Michael Knight) happens by; he’s so successful he wears imported silk undies and his pits don’t stink. Amazingly, he has just the thing to cheer up Harry: he’s looking to ditch his wife Ellen (Lauren Morrison) who refused to give him a divorce. It’s still 1965 and while there’s sexual revolution, she prefers to sit with Milt in misery for the rest of their natural lives. If only Ellen could fall in love with Harry… Voila! It’s a done deal and they hit it off in mere minutes of stage time. By act two we discover that Harry is even worse than we thought, even the audience is ready to push him over and hold him under.

What works best here is the interplay between Milt and Harry. They push, punch and berate each other like only old friends can, and dish out a few rounds of Dozens to sweeten the deal. Ellen seems too ready to change her mind at the whim of the author, but that girl can flirt and I think all the guys in the audience were picking up on her desires. Some humor derives from the attempts at suicide; both men jump off the bridge only to return slightly damp and uninjured. If there’s one thing Harry should notice it’s self-extinguishment requires altitude, and in a tall city like New York there should be more opportunities than a Central Park ornamental bridge. Intimate, silly, and sometimes a flash back to a time gone by, “LUV” is a lovely evening if you’re a bit bitter on romance in general or a ill-chosen mate in particular.

For more information on Dark Side of Saturn Theater, please visit https://www.facebook.com/SideofSaturn

DIVISION: The Trayvon/Jordan Project

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

DIVISION: The Trayvon/Jordan Project
By John DiDonna in collaboration
Directed by John DiDonna
Valencia College Theater
Orlando, FL

This weekend we get to see both ends of the Black Experience in modern America. Over at Seminole College August Wilson’s “Radio Golf” looks at success, while here we look at death. “Division” explores opinions on the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis. Both men died at the hands of civilians, and both murders caught the public eye due to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law. Over the past months John DiDonna and his students, friends and collaborators have interviewed over 100 people, some directly related to the victims and others just people with opinions. The interviews were sifted down to an hour or so of statements, some read with vigor and determination, some hesitant. Together they paint a view of race relations today, and while this project was set in Florida I suspect what was said here could have come from anywhere in the United States.

The project lists 10 co-writers, mostly students, and is voiced by 15 actors including local veterans Avis-Marie Barnes and Dean Walkuski. Similar to “The Laramie Project”, this production does not spend much time on the events, but focuses on community response and self-reflection. Some voices come from the media and explore the tension of “facts, just the facts” vs. “If it bleeds it leads.” Without media attention deaths like these fade, but with 24 / 7 coverage it becomes difficult to process justice. Other facets include segregation, some self-imposed and some relic of the past. “I didn’t know there was a such a thing as white people growing up” and “If it was only about money, poor blacks and poor whites would live together” both carry elements of truth. Racial identity flashed as well; it was pointed out several times “George Zimmerman (the shooter) wasn’t white, he was Hispanic!” It’s a fine point; no one really wants blame via skin tone although it’s common enough. Black Twitter was mentioned as faster communication than any other media; and the question “do whites think everything is about guns and camo?” arises. Ironically, it’s the camo that makes them stand out. As the show wound down, the Talk Back Session began, but my take away from the evenings’ efforts was the line: “Why can’t we all just get along?” I’m not sure why not, but I do know this: We can’t. No matter how well intentioned we all are.

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

Radio Golf

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

Radio Golf
By August Wilson
Directed by Elizabeth Van Dyke
Starring Dwayne Allen, Michael Sapp and Joe Reed
Seminole State College, Lake Mary Florida

It’s the final installment of the August Wilson’s “Pittsburg Cycle” tonight. These ten plays detail the black experience in America from the 1890’s to the 1990′. We started with “Gem of the Ocean” in 1904 where 290 year old Aunt Esther took Citizen Barlow to the Land of Bones to cleanse his spirit. By the end of the century she has passed on, leaving behind a now decrepit home at 1839 Wiley Street. In 1997 Harmond Wilks (Allen) has a decent chance of becoming Mayor of Pittsburg while his buddy Roosevelt Hicks (Sapp) is now a vice president at Mellon Bank. Harmond’s wife Mame (Felichia Chivaughn) is even in line as advisor to governor as soon as the election is over. They have teamed up to redevelop “The Hill,” the now nearly vacant traditionally black area of Pittsburgh. They’ve been buying up abandoned properties (sometimes without all the proper paperwork) including the Wiley property which is still owned by Elder Joseph “Call me Old Joe” Barlow. This is enough to not only derail the project, but send both of them back down in to the bowels of the black middle class.

One cannot find a better semi-crazed rambling monologist than Mr. Reed. He’s just coherent enough to make sense and just off kilter enough to make you wonder if he’s memorizing lines or improvising. Allen’s Wilkes is suave and calm, and in my book he can run any major depressed rust belt town he wants. Opposite him is a bubbly Michael Sapp; he’s in love with golf, in love with hanging with the big wigs, and in love with himself. But that’s OK, self-love never lets you down and it often improves your handicap. The calm center of this show is Mame; she’ll never be on top of the stack but she can pull strings from behind the curtain and that’s often more powerful. Supporting this cast is Nikeem Pearson (Sterling Jackson); he’s a self-employed laborer and hustler and he finds the story’s moral conscience with the line: “The mayor has more keys than the janitor, but they only gonna give you half the keys the janitor has.”

That line gets to the heart of what’s going on here: even with what seems resounding success socially and financially, there’s still a thread of doubt. Hicks is cut into a radio station deal because he’s black, and Sterling thinks Mr. Wilks would only be the black folk’s mayor. And Mame is only considered for the post as an advisor when her hubby is politically ascending. No matter how far you go, it’s never far enough. And over all of this, the ghost of Aunt Ester hovers, doing whatever hovering ghosts are best at: haunting you with the past.

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

Almost, Maine

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

Almost, Maine
By Joe Cariani
Directed by Angela Cotto, Wade Hair and Nathan Jones
Breakthrough Theatre, Winter Park FL

When not under 15 feet of snow, Maine is a scenic place filled with stunning scenery, quaint villages, and a north wood desperation that can lead to all sorts of misery. Love and Budweiser are often the only release, although ice fishing and lumbering have a certain appeal as well. This perennially popular collection of slightly surreal love stories takes place somewhere up in the “The County” hundreds of miles from Crab Apple Cove and that L. L. Bean outlet store. It’s so far North they even forget their proper down east accents.

We open with Pete (Nathan Jones) sitting out in the cold with Ginette (Taylor Duford). She’s a bit friendly, but he’s one of those geeky guys who can’t pick up a sex cue if it fell on him. But in Almost, things DO fall on you. He points out that even if he and Ginette were sitting in each other’s lap, they are still as far apart as possible, because walking round the earth takes a long time. Perhaps wisely, she tests the hypothesis.

In “Her Heart” Glory (Allie Novell) discovers that while the guide book says you can camp in people’s front yard, her erstwhile host East (Matthew Villegas) finds it awkward. She just needs one night; she’s here to see her dead hubby’s spirt ascend with the Northern lights. East volunteers to reassemble those broken pieces of heart. It’s his job. Up country Maine – it takes all kinds. “Sad and Glad” takes us to the Moose Patty Bar where sad people can drink free. This is probably a poor business plan and a poor social policy in a place where opportunities are few and winters long. Jimmy (Jonathan Raffoul) isn’t taking up the offer even when he finds his ex-girl Sandrine (Vanessa Toro) is here for a bachelorette party, and it ain’t with him. Things are glum until he finds his self-effacing and misspelled tattoo is actually going to take him somewhere better, emotionally.

In the charming “This Hurts” Steve (Beejay Aubertin Clinton) physically can’t feel pain until he meets the abused Marvalyn (Duford) in the laundry room. It’s not her clocking him with an ironing board that hurts, it’s when he finds out he can actually feel love if his dufus big brother will let him. The romantic highlight of the night comes with “Getting It Back”. Gayle (Bridget Lindsay Morris) is fed up with Lendall (Thomas Solar); she brings back her love like its December 26th at the Mall. He gives hers back as well, but shrunk down to a small memento. Just like a guy: no commitment until just before the utilities are cut off.

Act two picks up with a fine bromance in “They Fell”. Randy (Eric Callovi) and Chad (Coletyn Hentz) trade dating horror stories and plan their next man-date. One offers going bowling, a few beers and a snowmobile ride while the alternative is bowling, a few beers and a snowmobile ride. Or maybe they can just fall in love, which has already happened.

“Where it Went” takes us to a more mature and bitter relation between Phil (Kevin Hudson) and Marci (Missy Miller) who are out skating. She misplaced a shoe but they both misplaced their teenage romantic feeling a few decades ago. A shoe SHOULD drop here but there’s no room to rig it and she will have to go home shoeless to figure this one out.

“The Story of Hope” brings things back around to where we began. Hope (Morris) takes a cab from Bangor out to see Daniel (Nic Jewell). She wants to accept his offer but the very real time warp of northern Maine makes her offer a few decades too late. Strike while the iron is hot, look before you leap, and be assured one of these is bound to be wrong. Lastly we enjoy “Seeing the Thing” which may be the sexiest of the shows. Dave (Hentz) has been snowmobiling with Rhonda (Devon Allyn Warner) for almost a year, but shes never invited him in for a beer or anything beyond that. Here she’s the romantically clueless one, and he’s the suave guy who offers up art of love. When she finally gets the drift it still takes 5 minutes to strip off the winter weather gear. And what of Pete and Ginette? Well, I think she cheated and just went around the block but that’s OK, now they are now close as possible.

For more information, please visit http://www.breakthroughtheatre.com or look them up on Facebook.

The Merry Wives of Windsor

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

The Merry Wives of Windsor
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Brian Vaughn
Starring Suzanne O’Donnell, Jean Tafler, and John Ahlin
Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, Orlando FL

As dirty old men go, Sir John Falstaff (Ahlin) is ambitious: he plans to seduce two respectable women simultaneously, and he’s not planning to bathe for either of them. He just needs their cash, so it’s not like he’s a serious home wrecker. When he proposes this to his drinking buddies, even they find the idea so repugnant they refuse to deliver the letters of seduction. That falls to Boy Scout Robin (Luke Timmel). He may be young, but he knows when to put his hand out. Mrs. Page (O’Donnell) get the first letter; she’s shocked and amused, and when the second letter alights next door with Mrs. Ford (Tafler) they concoct a scheme worthy of Lucy and Ethel. Not only do they hoodwink Falstaff, they nail him three times in a row. He’s clearly a philosopher focused on that very small head of his. Like all Shakespearean comedies there a sub plot over on the other network; it involves a three way attack on the maidenhead of daughter Anne Page (Danielle Reneè). There’s the goofy and shy Slender (Rashad Guy), the pompous and overly French Dr. Caius (Chris Mixon) and the rockabilly slick Master Fenton (Christopher Joel Onken). Only one can have her, and every adult with a dog in the fight has a wacky scheme to match her up to their own desires. Good thing teens always outsmart the old folks.

While this is one of the repertory shows, the set is unique to the production. It’s a Populuxe dream of suburban post war odd angles and bright colors; the women are in happy aprons while the men commute off on empty freeways to jobs selling us the future. Mr. Page is played by the smiling Jamil A. C. Mangan; he’s improved his position in society from his role in Mockingbird while his neighbor Mr. Ford (Warren Kelly) takes on a surreal comic role as the nearly cuckhold husband. The pair fit together well; when they show up in golf drag in the last act you’ll never take up the sport without thinking of them. But Mr. Kelley’s funniest work comes as he poses as Brooks; he’s a flamenco master as he pries plot points out of the suspiciously unsuspicious Falstaff. The other outstanding male role was Dr. Caius: part maitre’d, part wily swordsman, he did his absolute best playing the man so full of himself he had to carry the extra hairpiece in a suitcase. Other noteworthy roles were poodle skirted Mistress Quickly (Allison DeCaro) and scheming Master Shallow (Mark Ferrero) in his fez. Why a fez? Why not, that whole Raccoon Lodge thing was big in those days.

While the original jokes struggled to get a laugh (“cuckhold” was a laugh line in 1602, today it’s a Jeopardy question) there was plenty of over the top silliness here. The show occasionally took time out for some 5th wall shenanigans; Halloween costumed dancing and inexplicable choreography jarred the audience from complacency. The set (by Bert Scott) was bright and cheery; bars and beauty salons replaced all those dreary Shakespearian settings with their poor plumbing and bad ventilation. This is nowhere near a traditional production, yet it takes on a glow of nostalgia and a 1960’s innocence, and even Falstaff ends up a sympathetic stooge to his own pretentions. Odds are you don’t remember the 60’s anymore: it’s not just the lack of drugs; it’s more likely your lack of old age. Trust me, EVERYTHING back then looked like it was shot in “Living Color,” just like this “Merry Wives.”

For more information on Orlando Shakespeare Theater, visit
http://www.orlandoshakes.org

Doubt – A Parable

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

Doubt – A Parable
By John Patrick Shanley
Directed by Beth Marshall
Starring Michael Wanzie and Ginger Lee McDermott
Beth Marshall Presents
The Garden Theater, Winter Garden FL

There are two typical outcomes of Catholic School: you find a teacher that inspires your love of learning and the Saints, or they beat the crap out of your knuckles. The first option comes from avuncular Father Flynn (Wanzie). He coaches basketball, holds bull sessions with the boys and he is often the only male figure in a boy’s life who doesn’t beat him. The second option is entombed in Sister Beauvier (McDermott). She runs a tight ship and takes no guff from anyone, including innocent Sister James (Chelsey Panisch). Sister Beauvier is convinced Father Flynn is abusing the single lonely black student, and she sets off to bring him down. The evidence is scant, the suppostions are long and shadowy, and there’s no solid evidence either way. But she fears no one and nothing in the world including hellfire and damnation in her pursuit of the truth. He’s Saint Frances, shes the Spanish inquisition. Did he do it? He’s not confessing, but this IS his 3rd parish in five years.

A story like this doesn’t drift along; it must be born on the backs of a powerful cast. Fortunately, that’s what we have even to the point that Mr. Wanzie nearly went into to the priesthood. He’s imposing but gentle here and you feel he’s applying his fatherly impulse to help young men in need of help. Ms. McDermott is equality strong as the negative force. She suspicious and dogged and has time left after acting as a second layer of defense in the war against teen age shenanigans. One of her front line teachers is the innocent and engaging Ms. Panisch; she loves learning and loves history and that is not acceptable at St. Nicholas: education in this parish must suck any joy out of intelligence, thus guaranteeing a compliant, superstitious and bigoted parishioners. Who else would put up with this crap? The fourth leg of this educational table is Mrs. Muller, the mother of this unseen minority child. She sees St. Nicholas as her boy’s chance to get into a good college and out of this world of diminished expectation and racism. If there’s a hint of impropriety, so be it. Her son is “different” and her husband beats him for it. Anything Father Flynn does HAS to be gentler.

The topic of priestly impropriety is nothing new, it was a running joke in the National Lampoon Magazine in the 1970’s and goes back centuries before that. We achieve no moral judgment here, but rather focus on the damage suspicion and gossip inflict. The strict strictures of the church cut both ways: Sister Beauvier has no way to bypass her compliant and possible complicit management, and Father Flynn has no way to recover his public reputation. It’s a balance that can be easily exploited by either side; leave smart people around complex power structures long enough and they WILL abuse them. Maybe Ms. Muller’s boy can escape, but maybe he’ll just graduate from one trap to another. Those in power rarely welcome questions, and questioners learn to shut up or get squashed. That’s the will of God as explained by Sister Aloysius Beauvier.

For more information on Beth Marshall Presents visit http://bethmarshallpresents.wordpress.com/
For more information on other The Garden Theatre events, please visit www.gardentheatre.org

Cabaret

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

Cabaret
Book by Joe Masteroff
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Directed by Kenny Howard
Choreography by Blue Star
Musical Direction by John DeHaas
Starring Blue Starr, Griffeth Whitehurst, and Rob Stack
Artful Events presents Gen Y Productions
The Abbey, Orlando, FL

I suspect Berlin wasn’t THAT much more decadent than any other Eurocapital in 1936, but this wildly successful play and the related film have burned Berlin in our minds as THE epitome of decadence. Sally Bowles (Blue) dances in the dive Kit Kat Klub, she’s billed as the “Toast of Mayfair” but is more likely a working class girl out to escape a drunken daddy. She sleeps with the club owner and dances under the direction of The Emcee (Whitehurst) but latches on the American writer Cliff Bradshaw (Stack). While unpublished and broke, it’s the promise of success that attracts her and unlike dear old Max he doesn’t beat her. As the Nazis rise to power, their landlady Fraulein Schneider (Rebecca Fisher) cuts here rent and houses and increasingly entrepreneurial tenants. Fr. Schneider dates fruit merchant Herr Schultz until Cliff’s buddy Ernst Ludwig (Alexander Mrazek) flashes his armband and recommends she break it off. After a war and a revolution, she’s the ultimate pragmatist and ditches the hop of love for the hope of keeping her boarding house license.

With Blue Star as the choreographer the dance was the thing here. Incidental motion for “Welcome to Berlin” and “Kick Line” captivated, and more rigorous numbers like “Two Ladies” and “I Don’t Care Much” jumped. Blue has a very impressive voice and drilled “Don’t Tell Mama” and “Maybe This Time.” Mr. Stack didn’t sing much, but was well cast as a writer in search of a topic. Meanwhile Mr. Whitehurst’s Emcee felt more like he was cruising than running a show, and his odd use of suspenders was…odd. The Schneider / Schultz romance felt true, Mr. Ba’aser even pulled off a foxtrot. Sedate as it was it was a major extension from his more typical over the top comedy. Natalie Doliner played Frau Kost, the working girl who was related to a large sector of the Kriegsmarine. She must have been VERY good; most of the Germany navy was based up in Hamburg 300 kilometers away. A live band backed all this goodness with a barrelhouse sound, the drummer was particularity adept at little flourished of emphasis.

This show is a popular property; I’ve even seen it done at the Jewish Community Center. It remains a big seller because it has so much to offer: the world may be collapsing, but love and sex and disappointment persist, people make hard choices and live with the results, or sometimes they don’t. With Blue’s dance troupe backing the show, it’s a visual treat packed with timeless songs. You’ll have to pick your favorite to hum on the way out, and you won’t even have to worry about air raids. Not yet, anyway.

For more information on Artful Events, please visit http://www.artfulevents.com/

For more information on The Abbey’s eclectic programming, you should click on abbeyorlando.com