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Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

Archive for April, 2016

Life’s Not Fair: Teen Angst on Broadway!

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

Life’s Not Fair: Teen Angst on Broadway!
Concept by Angela Cotto and Wade Hair
Direction, Musical Direction and Choreography by Angel Cotto
Breakthrough Theatre
Winter Park, FL

We see a lot of revues and cabarets in the cozy Breakthrough space, and this is one of the best. The theme is Teen Angst and the music comes from some obscure shows like “13 the Musical,” “Carrie,” and “Bring It On” as well as some established hits like “Spring Awakening,” “Hairspray” and “American Idiot.” The cast is large (of course) and when they stomp their feet, the whole shack shimmies. We open with Carrie’s “In;” it’s an ensemble piece complete with complex choreography (Cotto again) and a strong lyrical line. Michelle Bateman comes out next for a solo “Mama Who Bore Me” from Spring Awakening and then the funniest part of the lineup: “Hairspray’s” “Mama I’m a Big Girl Now” complete with dragged out parental units. Hanna Roman returns with “All Grown Up” from “Bare”, and Alyssa Mason and Joseph Sikkema give us a heartbreaking “Super Boy and the Invisible Girl” from “Next to Normal.” Small spoken scenes break up the musical flow, and by the time we get to “Screw Loose” we’re all glad the teen years are behind us and the tedium of mowing lawns and paying mortgages are the only things that disturb the calm of life. Too bad this is only running one weekend; it’s the sort of show you go into with no expectation and come out singing the chorus of “Totally Fucked” all the way from Winter Park to Orlando.

For more information, please visit http://www.breakthroughtheatre.com or look them up on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Breakthrough-Theatre-of-Winter-Park/

Psycho Beach Party

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

Psycho Beach Party
By Charles Busch
Directed by Frank Hilgenberg
Choreographed by Darci Ricciardi
Starring BeeJay Aubertin-Clinton, Carol Adubato and Alan Brown
Theatre Downtown
Presented at The Venue, Orlando FL

There’s not much set behind the row of heads in the front, and I do miss that over-sexed surfboard from the last performance of this show. It’s a gender bent version of the 1960’s; flat chested Chicklet (Aubertin-Clinton) wants surfing lessons, but the guys on the beach think she’s too feminine. They also think she’s a little crazy; there seems to be multiple version of her including the sexually charged “Ann Bowman.” Hunky Kanaka (Brown) sees his way clear to give Chicklet some lessons on the board, and while Chicklet is easy enough to handle, Ann Bowman destroys his manhood. Deliciously geeky Berdine (Jenny Ornstein) is Chicklet’s one real friend, and even she’s a bit freaked out. The sex knob get turned up to 11 when Mrs. Forrest (Adubato) arrives, but all works out in the end. Who would want get an STD from a surf movie?

While there is no set and the sightlines are terrible, this show pumps out silly humor and innuendo and keeps the audience laughing. Abertin-Clinton is almost cute enough to hug, and he switches effortlessly between his alter personalities. Brown’s Kanaka is the calm center; nothing seems to bother him so long as the surf is up and the girls get down. The B couple in this coconut oiled epic is Yo-Yo (Scott Gilbert) and Proveloney (Coletyn P. Hentz.) It takes them a while to acknowledge their true feelings, but it’s a revelation when they do. There’s even an alternate male lead; elegant Star Cat (Jake Teixeira) offers the girls a more intellectual style of male grossness. Star Cat competes with Kanaka; he’s clearly the more interesting and intelligent option.

It’s good to see the Theatre Downtown team in action again. This show was close to sold out and the audience energetic and positive. Wacky social commentary, true love and true lust don’t need to be separate. Try to get a seat on the side; if you don’t you’ll miss the boys paddling out to catch the big one.

For more information on Theatre Downtown, please visit http://www.theatredowntown.net

Hello Dolly!

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

Hello Dolly!
Book by Michael Stewart
Based on “The Matchmaker” by Thornton Wilder
Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman
Choreography by Ellie Potts Barrett
Music Direction by Jamey Ray
Directed by Jennifer Cavenaugh
Starring Jessica Raspolich, James Blaisdell and Taylor Wright
Annie Russel Theatre, Winter Park FL

Hello, Dolly? Are you in there? This classic musical is one of the biggest hits of the midcentury musical theatre golden age, and here the sets and costume glimmer while the lead seems curiously disinterested and disconnected. Dolly Levi (Raspolich) suffers from widowhood and a small purse; her Yentl hustle keeps her going and her jaundiced view of marriage colors her attitude. While notionally hired to provide rich and cranky Horace Vandergelder (Blaisdell) with a young, compliant wife, Ms. Levi sets her cap on his bank account. When he leaves Yonkers and travels to new York for the final paperwork his clerks Cornelius (Wright) and Barnaby (Chase Bahorich) sneak along with him intent on seeing the stuffed whale and maybe, just maybe, kissing a girl. The all get more than they set out to achieve.

Mrs. Raspolich looks suave and statuesque but offers little emotion or reaction to anything. Her stakes are high and her temperature low; is she just an ice cold cruiser in a man’s world? Vandergelder and the clerks are much more animated; they approach trouble with a Keystone Cops energy and you feel no matter what they say, they mean it. Irene Malloy (Emily Walton) got the raw deal here; she was offered Vandergelder’s purse for her honor but she ends up with the more active and friendly Cornelius. Pick love or money; it’s hard to get both. MiKayla Philips plays the teary-eyed daughter Ermengarde; she’s in a permanent snit and fells like the one really high maintenance person on this stage.

The Rollins scenic crew did wonders with the simple stage and complex lighting; there’s glitter and feathers and a confetti cannon, and deep down in the pit an excellent orchestra led by Jamey Ray plays as good as any Broadway ensemble. The dance numbers took center stage here;Ms. Barret stuck close to the film’s choreography but never let it feel old; after all this show is an old friend that should never let you down. Its big, it’s brassy, and just falls a little short of excellent.

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

Zanna, Don’t!

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

Zanna, Don’t!
Book, music and lyrics by Tim Acito
Additional material by Alexander Dinelaris
Directed by Tim Evanicki
Choreography by Keith Wilson
Musical Directing by John T Gardener
Starring Alexander Browne, Matthew T Walker, and Adam Delmedico
Tim Evanicki Productions and Watermark Publishing Groups
Presented at The Parliament House Footlights Theatre
Orlando FL

In the sparkly world of Zanna (Browne) society has inverted; the straights get picked on and prevented from attending proms. High School is still a special level of hell no matter which way you swing, but when new kid Steve (Walker) arrives, he blends in quietly to the football team. The king of this campus is chess whiz Mike (DelMedico) and they make a pretty couple of brains and brawn. We need a crisis, and with the school play looming Mike suggests a suggestive show: one about straights serving in in the Army. Talk about pushing limits, you Spartans! It’s a musical to boot, Mike estimates he can knock it out in a week or so. Meanwhile Zanna serves as the Heartsville High matchmaker; he does his magic with a pink glitter wand and small bird named Cindy. When Steve (Walker) and Kate (Noa Carmel) fall into forbidden love Zanna finds a spell to unite them at the cost of swapping the entire universe. We end with boys kissing girls and same sex couples fading back into the mist. So this is the message I see: we can have thing one way or the other, but never both at the same time.

Packed with great songs, clever staging and box full of audio problems this is a show with good intentions that needs some technical clean up. The singers are often hard to hear and with intermittent microphones they don’t project to the back rows. Brown’s Zanna is funny and physical, his wand drags him around the stage in a way Harry Potter would never approve. DelMedico is his usual chaming self, and Walker takes a very funny approach to the football hero whose low man on the high school totem pole. Staging makes good use of minimal props and effective lighting, and even though Cindy bird misses a few cues, she’s charming if a bit contrived. Better sound will make a better, show, I suspect this problem will soon be fixed.

For more information on the Footlights Theater, please visit http://www.parliamenthouse.com/footlight-theatre/

Dear Francis: An Evening of Sinatra

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

Dear Francis: An Evening of Sinatra
Spotlight Cabaret Series
Starring Kevin Kelly
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
April 14, 2016
Winter Park Playhouse

Tonight finds Mr. Kelly in a much dressier mood than the last time I saw him; on the Winter Park Playhouse stage he’s dressed to the nines in black and white tux and tie. Always a charmer, tonight he’s picked a Frank Sinatra theme and mixes medleys with standards and a few “Man Walks into a Bar” jokes. There’s the “Too Marvelous for Words” medley, the Trump approved “Here’s to the Losers,” “Twilight Time,” and Kelly’s reminiscences of early home life where his loving parents introduced him to old blue eyes. We can’t avoid “The Lady is a Tramp,” I believe it’s required by Winter Park City Ordinance for any and all Sinatra shows. “Our Love is Here to Stay” fired up the crowd, and the banter with Mr. Leavy on keys reminded us this is Kelly’s 6 show in the lobby, tying him with Ms. Natalie Cordone for “Most shows in front of the big glass window.” The prescient “Five Minute More” ended the main segment of the evening; it accurately predicted the closing time after the encore number “Put All Your Dreams Away.” It was a dreamy show, its one of the quieter performances of this year’s cycle but one of the most focused.

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

The Bourgeois Gentleman

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

The Bourgeois Gentleman
By Moliere
Directed by Kathleen Lindsay
Fight Direction by Bill Warriner
Choreography by Dion Leonhard
Starring Frank Petruccelli and Carolyn Ducker
Valencia College, FL

Isn’t this script supposed to rhyme? I can’t see who did the translation but the original is presented as a series of couplets, and somehow that was lost moving this show to English. Monsieur Jourdan (Petruccelli) has money but no status, and birth in the late days of the French empire is more important than ready cash. The Monsieur is more than happy to lend a few hundred gold Louise to Count Dorante (Celestino DeCiccio) as he seduces Marchionesses Dorimene (Courtney Yakabuski). Of course, fat old Jourdain thinks he has a shot at her negotiable honor, at least until his wife (Ducker) busts him. His own daughter Lucile (Jossette McCausland) must marry into nobility, and when she prefers a commoner it takes an elaborate yet unlikely farce to convince Jourdain to let her have the boy she wants.

Production values are high and performance skills not so much; Lydia Milich’s set looks wonderful with thrilling lighting, but the action on stage is hard to follow and often overplayed. Mr. Petruccelli talks fast but not clearly; even in the front row I had trouble following him. Ms. Ducker is the clearest and most honest actor; she’s light on fake French accent but gets her lines and her frustration across. Cleonte (Kidanny Gonzalez) and valet Covielle (Sebastian Rivera) pull off what chemistry we find here; they are one of the few pairings with a good sense of comic timing. Yakabuskis’s Marchioness is the only actor who plays for seriousness; this gives her a dignified and mysterious air that contrasts strongly with glad handing count Dorante. Jourdain is the intended fool here; his pretense is played upon by everyone but his wife, and even she now knows she got a bad deal. It’s a stage classic, but it’s a hit or miss show.

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

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Saturday, April 2nd, 2016

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
By Christopher Durang
Directed by Eleanor Holdridge
Starring Anne Hering, Philip Nolan and Carol Halstead
Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, Orlando FL

There’s a sense of predestined misery in both Russian literature and in Hollywood supplicants, but the Russian stuff always seems more human. In this mash up of any number of Chekhovian plays and Chekhovian motifs and Chekhovian props and Chekhovian deconstructions, we find one of those oh-so-human stories that the Russian master loved to pen. Vanya (Phillip Nolan) and Sonia (Anne Herring) live in a lovely and decaying country house left to them along with their names by a pair of arty community college professors. There’s a third Sister Masha (Carol Halstead) whose escaped to a fading career in the lime light; she’s also collected more ex-husbands than the Gabor sisters. She has a boy-toy audition partner Spike (Benjamin Boucvalt), and when I say “audition partner,” you know what I mean, nudge, nudge. Say No More. Officially she’s there to attend a costume party, but her secret mission is to sell the house and the cherry orchard, small as it might be. Sonia confronts her mortality, Masha her fading career, and Vanya the march of technology. Hurray for licking your own postage stamps! And as for Spike, well, he can hump mud and have a good time. He, too is timeless until he’s not.

The jokes connect, the set (by Dan Conway) is gorgeous and a background track of loons and owls is just at a liminal level. Supporting actor Fredena Williams as soothsayer and voodoo mama brings out the special comedy in the show and wispy Nina (Kathryn Miller) is ethereal. Nolan is calm and soothing; his final monologue rant is breathtaking. Hering transforms herself from ugly duckling to beautiful swan using her Maggie Smith impression; she gets an Oscar for playing a woman who doesn’t get an Oscar. Just this concept gives double bonus points to writer Christopher Durang. Halstead’s fading beauty offers a Mrs. Robinson eroticism, and she does look good in those pleather pants. Mr. Boucvalt is not very likeable; this is exactly what the role needs complete with a boy toy build and a flexible sense of who his next partner might be. This is a brilliant end to this season’s cycle, full of laughs and sobs and a few S.O.B’s.

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

The Fabulous Lipitones

Saturday, April 2nd, 2016

The Fabulous Lipitones
By John Markus and Mark St. Germain
Lyrics by Mark St. Germain
Music by Randy Courts
Directed by Karry Giese
Theatre At The J
Maitland, Fl

Barber Shop Harmony comes from a distant era and frankly it’s not doing all that well today. While the harmonies are tight, the charts complex and musical terminology a bit alien to “regular” musicians, it’s a fun and distinctive style you can’t miss from a mile away. Only problem is the praactioners are all getting old and dead, and young whippersnappers prefer to remix and listen to Led Zeppelin on Vinyl. In fact, lead singer Andy of the Fabulous Lipitones died in his final performance yet his group won districts. It’s true heroism, yet it leaves his fellows behind and they are at a loss. If they can find and train a replacement they might win Nationals, but it’s a long shot. Wally (Brett Carson) is gung ho to carry on. Phil (Bob Brandenburg) is done with the whole business, and Howard (Bob Hay) can’t decide, but he knows his invalid wife needs him. Enter potential replacement Bob (Giovanni Barrio). He’s a bit more ethnic than they would like, but he’s got the voice and music in his bones. Plot points ensue, and when we are done Phil repents: “I was a bit hard on you there, Bob.” Bob nails him right back: “Oh, no you weren’t. That was simple racism.” Touché, and we are off to the bright lights.

There are a few rough spots here and there, but this is a funny and engaging story and the singing it’s all that bad. Bob Hay is the guy you’d drink beer with; he’ll agree to anything and make you think it was your idea, even when it was’t. Carson is the dedicated man; he lives for music and needs it more than even beer itself. Brandenburg is the tough guy; sometimes he’s more than Trump harsh and you hope to see him soften. But everyone loves Bob; he takes advice, makes good suggestions even as he misundertands the subtlety of George M. Cohen lyrics. But we do find a happy ending, and the singing is as fun as anything else. Under the direction of Mr. Giese “Theatre At The J” continues to make interesting and engaging theatre that avoids its own stereotypes. They’ve even popped for decent chairs; nothing spoils a good show like a sore butt. Now, if they could only bring back the intermission Knish…

For more information on Theatre At The J, please visit https://orlandojcc.org/arts-culture/