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Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

Archive for April, 2015

My Favorite Broads

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

My Favorite Broads
Spotlight Cabaret Series
April 29, 2015
Starring Natalie Cordone
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park, FL

I keep forgetting to bring my Frequent Cordone Cabaret Card to these shows; by now I should qualify for a free drink or a parking upgrade. Ms. Cordone embarks on her fifth WPPH cabaret; she’s been staking out the cabaret territory all over town and in places classy and not so classy. Tonight Ms. Cordone stunned another sold out house; she squeezed into a black and gold sequined gown that just dripped with a rat pack era ambiance. The theme on this spring night was “My Favorite Broads;” it ranged from Peggy Lee to the Bangles to Edith Piaf. While there were a few male song writers and arrangers lurking in the background these were all songs woman made famous. “I Could Have Danced All Night” led into “Loverly” from “My Fair Lady” and then we were quickly whisked to the streets of Paris with Edith Piaf. Piaf’s the sort of woman who broke up with a good man because he became more popular. Men you can always find, but a career is a precious thing. Stalwart Chris Leavy backed Cordone on piano in a natty stripped shirt and matching candelabra as her father made a little archival film. Will these be a DVD release, or maybe tonight will find its way to YouTube? It ought to; this is material that deserves a much wider audience than the few dozen seats that squeeze into greater Winter Park. Even when the Great Wall of Winter Park comes down and the Playhouse expands its hegemony the audience here must remain small and intimate. There’s no Jumbotron versions of Cordone’s “Someone to Watch Over Me” or “Everybody’s Girl;” that pleasure is reserved for those quick enough to take a flyer on a midweek dash of decadence and class. You missed a stunning night; stop doing that. Just let me get my seat first.

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

South Pacific

Friday, April 24th, 2015

South Pacific
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Book by Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan
Directed and Choreographed by Donald Rupe
Musical Direction Jason Bailey
Starring Ali Thibodeau, David Lowe, and Daniel Longacre
Central Florida Community Arts
Presented at the Central Christian Church, Orlando FL

War may be hell, but it’s a great vehicle for a tragic love story. Somewhere down in French Polynesia we find an
island full of Seabee’s and nurses, all bored to tears because those dirty Japs won’t get in range. There’s plenty of time for romance and wonderful duets as well as an early civil rights lesson. Ensign Nellie (Thibodeau) falls for mysterious Frenchman Emile (Lowe) while gung-ho Lt Cable (Longacre) hooks up with seemingly underage daughter of local hustler Bloody Mary (Monica Rae Andrews). Seaman Lower Class Luther Billis (Adam Delmedico) is the American hustler; he wants to get to mysterious island of Bali Hai for the topless native floor show. What could go wrong? Easy. Emile’s first wife wasn’t lily white, and Nellie doesn’t want to be…soiled. Not that way, anyway. With this gold-tinted romance off the table, simpler questions must be answered: Will those Japs get up here so we can kill them? Can anyone find love that’s socially acceptable back in Jim Crow America? And most critically: Can these church seats be any harder to sit on?

When this cast sings it’s a glimpse of heaven, when they are acting the view is slightly lower. Both Mr. Lowe and Ms. Thibodeau can belt with the best: “Some Enchanted Evening” is a refrain they both sang and nearly stopped the show. Andrew’s Bloody Mary is a combination of pathos and capitalism; her solo “Happy Talk” gave her a heart she hadn’t shown earlier; and she and Billis and Cable made “Bali Ha’i” sublime. You’ll hear more than a few other classics here, and you will love them all. As to the speaking parts, the principles stayed believable although some of the minor characters were over the top and there was a great deal of tromping around during scene changes. The show featured nearly two dozen musicians and a follow spot. While this may be a Community Theater they’ve got significant resources and boldly used the space and put the cast in the audience’s lap. While there were a few bumps here and grinds there this was a high quality production that looked and sounded much better than most “community” productions. I just recommend bringing a stadium cushion; these are the sort of church chairs that punish you for sins you haven’t gotten around to committing yet.

For more information on Central Florida Community Arts please visit http://cfcarts.com/

Putting It Together

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

Putting It Together
By Steven Sondheim
Directed and Choreographed by Roy Alan
Musial Direction by Christopher Leavy
Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park FL

If George Gershwin is a lecture in elementary arithmetic, Steven Sondheim is a pop quiz in differential calculus. Sondheim has cranked out over 20 major shows, many of them Broadway blockbusters complete with film adaptations, T-shirts and plush toys. He self-curated this particular collection; picking and choosing story songs to spin together a straight forward cycle of post-Calvinist romance. Man One (David Thome) is the Big Daddy Warbucks type: older, successful, and lecherous. He’s been married to Woman One (Kate O’Neil) since before the Big War; she’s resigned but still infatuated and willing to put up with more BS that you can shake a portfolio at. Number One flirts with Woman Two (Natalie Cordone) and brags about it to Man Two (Johnathan Fadoul). MT might not be as rich yet but he’s got more steam in his boiler and makes much more progress. Kevin Kelly fills in as Man Three; he says grace, embellishes the curtain speech and gets his action as Woman One’s house boy and everyone else’s weak willed conscience. Complicated? Not by Sondheim standards; the story is cardboard but the lyrics are Kryptonite.

So what songs did they sing? There’s material here from over a half dozen shows, yet nearly every song stumped me. My internal monologue ran: “Oh, yeah, that’s from…ah…’Company?’ ‘Merrily We Roll Along?’ ” and “That was in ‘Forum?’ Really?” Ok, so my memory is weak and the material is challenging, but a good challenge brings a greater reward. Act One runs us through the story above with highlights including “Lovely” (Ensemble), “Pretty Woman” (Thome and O’Neil) and “Unworthy of Your Love” (Cordone and Fadoul) and “Could I Leave You” (Kelly and O’Neil). Act Two conducted a post-game interview, everyone got to sing about themselves. Here “Ladies that Lunch” (O’Neil) and “Mary Me A Little” (Fadoul) jumped out, along with the ensemble “Getting Married Today.” The music was indeed difficult; it’s the only time I’ve ever heard Mr. Leavy express frustration with a show, and multi-instrumentalist Ned Wilkinson retreated to Switzerland for the show. But there were no missed notes, no missed cues and while this was a workout for everyone from the front office to the back row. It’s the sort of show that gives bragging rights, especially if you actually can identify the source of each song as they come up. You’d have me beat soundly and Sondheimly.

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

Orlando Fringe Local Preview for Mature Audiences

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015


Orlando Fringe Local Preview for Mature Audiences
Starring Pepe and Brandon Roberts
Orange Venue
Orlando Fringe Festival
Loch Haven Park, Orlando, FL

Once the bouncers tossed out all the small children and church ladies from the packed Orange Venue, local Hispanic wannabee Pepe took the microphone and the brunt of the technical problems as he ran through a collection of the more adult material offered at this year’s Fringe Festival. The adult shows often emphasize boobies, pee-pees, poo-poos and always incudes at least one JuicyJuice “Big F.” As I’ve mentioned, good previews and good shows don’t always correlate, but here’s my starting hot list for this festival: “”Dumpster Cats,” “969: Stonewall,” “Tell Me On Sunday,” “Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll,” “The Lion Queen”, “Acrobat,” “The Wait List Murders,” “Lay Ms.,” and ” Bubble Gum Party.” Check back in a few weeks and see if I contradicted myself.

This show was part of the 2015 Orlando Fringe Festival. Information on tickets and times for any of the events may be found at www.OrlandoFringe.org.

Orlando Fringe Local Preview for General Audiences

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015


Orlando Fringe Local Preview for General Audiences
Starring Eric Pinder and Brandon Roberts
Orange Venue
Orlando Fringe Festival
Loch Haven Park, Orlando, FL

Eric Pinder puts on his clown feet and hires a miniature Officer Krupke (Roberts) as he hosts three minute snippets of a selection of 2015 Fringe Central Florida based shows. Here’s a few productions from this Island of Misfit Actors that looked strong: “Egg Tooth,” “Poe,” ” Shadow and Lights,” “Clink,” “Nick Paul: Impossible Feats of Magic”, “Just This Once”, and “Hoodies.” Be aware that I’ve often observed some shows preview better than others but this is a start; check back over the next few weeks as their true colors surface.

This show was part of the 2015 Orlando Fringe Festival. Information on tickets and times for any of the events may be found at www.OrlandoFringe.org.

Bad Dog

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

Bad Dog
By Jennifer Hoppe-House
Directed by Mark Routhier
Starring Ginger Lee Mc Dermott, Jennifer Bonner, and Susan O’Donnell
Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Orlando FL

It’s only funny if you haven’t lived this story yourself. Molly (McDermott) is a triple threat: drunk, junkie, and speed freak. If it buries the pain, deal her in. True, she straightened up for a decade and married uber-tolerant Abby (Bonner) but last night something snapped: she drove her car though the side of their house after nearly running down a guy with a dog in a park. Why here? Why now? Why at all? There are reasons; they are nominally small but still big enough to push the triggers the fire up the emotional maelstrom. Sister Linda (O’Donnell) arrives first; she can hold her pills and liquor but not a stable relation. Becky (Ann Hering) is hot on her heels; she’s counting on daddy to make a down payment on a house assuming Molly doesn’t clean him out first. Lois (Elizabeth T. Murff) is mother to this nest of idiosyncratics; she’s still angered about the divorce 30 years ago but sucks it up when “that man” Walter (William Metzo) arrives with his less-than-trophy-quality wife Sondra (Gladys Rodriquez). Walter is self-absorbed; Sondra fears Spanish people, and its time for everyone to rip poor Molly to shreds. Hope she can make it back from the ER in time to catch the second act.

The pain is real here; Molly’s descent is inexplicable as others around her handle their vices and intoxicants with style and no arrests. Perhaps she needs the excitement of crisis, perhaps it’s a slow suicide or perhaps she just flagellates herself for missing her own self-expectations. The onion is peeled slowly and tearfully; and while everyone wants to help, none know how. Walter offers money but no emotional support, Sondra offers different drugs but no roach clip, with Linda its love that doesn’t heal; with Lois its discipline that hurts yet does not correct.

The theme has been explored on so many stages it’s hard to find much new but Hoppe-House digs in the corners adding what new perspectives the 21st century might offer: Hybrid cars, postmodern therapy methods, lesbian relations. None will help poor Molly, and like a delicate old house from another century endless effort and expense must be invested to even keep the facade from crumbling. Is it worth it? You can always find another old house, but ruined siblings are different: you’re obligated to burn everything you have and follow them to hell. That’s the conundrum on this stage: We, too, love Molly. But we are so done with her BS.

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

Songs My Mother Sang

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

Songs My Mother Sang
With Noel-Marie Matson
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
Spotlight Cabaret Series
Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park FL

Ms. Matson can sure sell a song. I’ve never seen a bad singer in this lobby, but this woman could sell show tunes to an Eskimo. As in so many cabarets, we learn about her childhood and her amazingly supportive mom. Reminisces bring back the romantic days of compact discs and VHS exercise tapes, and I see the sad news: my own nostalgia is now sadly out of date. Matson found her inspiration in her mother’s heroes “The three B’s”: Barbara Streisand, Bette Midler and Carol Burnette. Streisand and Midler are perennial cabaret favorites, but Carol Burnett is better known for comedy than vocals. We get a sample off all three in sequence, the Streisand numbers are so bountiful Matson scrunches them all down to an extended medley beginning with “I Am the Greatest Star” and ending with “Enough is Enough.” Mom sang while vacuuming; it must have been a very quiet Hoover but the homey quality slips into her Midler selections. Those are more 1980’s movie oriented and Matson takes a bold step and presents a respectable cover of “Wind Beneath My Wings.” It’s a bit wedding-centric, but as I said Matson can sell a song. The Burnett material was the most intriguing, it ranged from “Shy” to “Happiness is a Thing Called Joe” and I’ll bet you can’t hum either of them. Burnett is full of that old school musical sound but it’s on the very edge of the Great American Songbook repertoire and underperformed. Matson punches out with a rousing “On a Clear Day” and an even more energetic encore “Everything is Coming up Roses.” It certainly was, and all thanks to dear old mom.

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

Metamorphoses

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

Metamorphoses
By Ovid
Adapted by Mary Zimmerman
Directed by John DiDonna
Valencia College Theater, Orlando FL

Pride. One of our greatest sins; and one that’s even tied itself to this script as the “Originally Produced” and “Premier” production crews are in the program. It’s a writer thing and even though those folks are nowhere near central Florida (and probably wouldn’t come here on a bet) they ought to be careful and this production shows why. Ovid collected stories of Gods and demigods; jotted them down, and somehow his manuscript survived to the 21st century. His tales are full of archetypes that we all know from the sacrilegious to the ultra-rich. For example: King Midas (John Moughan) is wealthy as Zuckerberg but he has aspirations to top Warren Buffet or maybe even Bill Gates. He’s nice to a smelly drunk and unknowingly finds the grace of the God Bacchus. Offered a magical reward, he foolishly asks for the Golden Touch but he fails to think things through and now he can’t hug his daughter or eat. Is there a cure for hubris of this magnitude or is he doomed to be a figure of speech for all time? We leave him to hang and proceed with more stories of romantic love and self-love and incest and pride. Like all good myths there is a moral; this often boils down to “do your civic duty” or “don’t get to big for your britches” or “don’t confuse love with lust.” Valid social criticisms never age.

“Metamorphosis” is often performed with water features on stage, and this production headed that way with a multi-level set lined in Neoprene. But rather than water falls there were water leaks and the acting was better than the plumbing. Colored lights did a reasonable job of adding moisture and the dry set took nothing away from the production’s impact. A cellist (Jean-Marie Glazer) added acoustic punctuation, his was no chamber music cello but a postmodern instrument plucked, bowed and taped into submission. The cellist also plays Narcissus; I’m sure there’s a dig in there somewhere but I thought he did a great job.

As the evening would down, we heard the story of Baucis and Philemon. They’re an old couple who are the only locals to offer hospitality to the Gods. The hospitality is repaid as was that of Midas, but this couple was wiser. Rather than seeking wealth, they sought simultaneous demise so neither would have to live without the other. Gods and genies may grant gifts, but they are devious and clever and one should only accept them with great care.

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

Red Light – The Bad Girls of Broadway and Beyond

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

Red Light – The Bad Girls of Broadway and Beyond
Directed by Wade Hair
Choreographed by Lori Babson Jessup
Break Through Theater, Winter Park FL

Naughty, naughty, naughty! Wade Hair returns his Venue-winner Fringe show of yore to his Winter Park stage with more songs, more sex toys and more singers. The songs are ruder, the sex more explicit, but being Central Florida we are protected from any real nudity by county approved pasties. There’s a collection of Big Show Tune hot numbers: (Big Spender, Black Boys/ White Boys, Toucha- Toucha- Touch Me) some Top 40 pop tunes with no redeeming theatrical value: (Hot Stuff, I Kissed a Girl, Lady Marmalade) and best of all some ultra-rude parodies of clean cut Disney tunes. These included “A Whole Nude World” (Johnathan Raffoul and Yesi Jasmine) feature a rather impressive strap on and simulated doggie sex, “Let it Go” from “Frozen” with Mellissa Habegger as she thaws her nether regions, and another “Frozen” number “My Legs Are An Open Door” by Marissa Quijano. Sex sells, but no sex sells like unauthorized Disney Sex.

The program brings a drag element to the stage; Cody Donaldson is VERY convincing as Dr. Frankenfurter in “Sweet Transvestite” and while Marc Anthony Garcia never took any vocal leads, he has an early Mick Jagger look that kept everyone on their sexual toes. This show invoked a good deal of role play as well; Mr. Raffoul was tied up and ball gagged and I do believe that was Breakthrough’s first actual bondage scene. There were some exceptional impressive sex toys, and most of those came out of their boxes for those Disney numbers. If you missed this at Fringe this is an even better opportunity to see something sexy in Winter Park; just don’t bring your church glasses as they may fog up.

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