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Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

Archive for June, 2016

The Dream of the Burning Boy

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

The Dream of the Burning Boy
By David West Read
Directed by Beejay Aubertin-Clinton
Starring Gary Norris and Alex Bridgeman
Breakthrough Theatre
Winter Park FL

Even High School teachers can have deep dark secrets. That’s what makes English Professor Larry (Norris) so hard on his best student Dane (Bridgeman). Dane has his own set of problems; they are the sorts of things you would expect: uncertainty about is future, pressure to conform, a weird sister Rachel (Allie Novell), and unexpected death. Rachel wears pajamas to class and has more attitude than a street gang. She and Dane do an experiment; they swap papers and learn that Morrow DOES grade Dane harder than Rachel. And like all high school student, they are intimidated by Dante’s Inferno and have trouble seeing to their own middle class lives in classic literature. Over enthusiastic guidance counselor Steve (Kyle Kilgallon) offers no help, just sappy inspiration posters that make your teeth wince.

So the ending is cute and hush-hush; even the publisher won’t reveal but it’s solid and mundane enough for tonight’s dramatic purposes. Mr. Norris has the wound up tight and hates his future like any good mid-career high school teacher with the burden of actual students. You know something’s cranked him, and could he please resolve it or at least not let it spread into his professional career? Bridgeman feels like a typical high school student: basically good, mostly ambitious, and ripped by hormones that only a stint in the military will clear up. Novell was often creepy; her antsy sister act snapped answers back before questions were asked, and she always emitted that subtext of “none of your business, screw you for asking.” She just wants to be alone in her self-pity. Count your blessings if you never have to return to those hallowed halls of teen angst and not fitting in with your peers.

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/

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/

Carol Stein

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

Carol Stein
Spotlight Cabaret
June 16, 2016
Winter Park Playhouse

Carol Stein has yet to find a country she can’t sing about. Mrs. Stein travels extensively and compulsively and has the stories to prove it. Singing and playing piano, she opens with “Come Fly Away”, and we are off to hear about the capitals of Europe and other points of interest. “I’m a Londoner,” “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square,” “Fiddler’s Green” and “The Drunken Scotsman” take us through the United Kingdom, then “Hat’s Off to Beer!” slips right in. All savvy travelers know beer is the one safe thing to drink no matter where you go. “I Love Paris,” Wonderful Copenhagen” and “Slow Boat to China” move us along; her voice is strong and fearless, even in the distant reaches of the new lobby extension she was clear and present. Mrs. Stein really flashes her piano skills in “Carol Corner”. Here she pounds out “This Land is Your Land” in the style of Mozart and Rachmaninoff; these were composer selections from the audience. I almost gave her “Joey Ramone” but that would have been cruel. This show went a good bit past its allotted hour, but when it wrapped up the closer was “Someday We’ll Meet Again” by Dame Vera Lynn. You may remember that song from “Dr. Strangelove;” it’s a great ending to an evening or an antiwar film.

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

Rattlesnakes and Talk About The Passion

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

Rattlesnakes and Talk About The Passion
By Graham Farrow
Directed by John DiDonna
Valencia State College, Orlando, FL

The program calls Graham Farrow’s work “visceral;” that means actors swear a lot and do nasty things to each other. There’s no connection between these one acts save man’s inherent inhumanity; but at 45 minutes each this does make for a quick and fun evening’s entertainment. “Rattlesnakes” takes us to a seedy hotel room where McQueen (Kyle West) sneaks in for an illicit rendezvous. He’s a happily married gigolo here on a mission to satisfy Shelly (Alyssa Dowling) but he didn’t expect to find three thugs in the closet. These masked men are married to three of his clients, and they are out to “do him up a right treat.” (Farrow is British, the evening is packed with Britisms.) The leader of the pack is Hanson (Luis Landa); he wields a Bowie knife bigger than Trump’s ego. The boys have their fun, but McQueen starts talking about how bad they are as husbands, how loveless their marriage are, and touchy-feely about listening and all these bad boys go soft. Two split but Hanson sticks around to watch from the closet as Susan humiliates McQueen. Then there’s a gun shot and a double cross and an ending that shows a lack of familiarity with murder scene protocol as taught on “CSI.” While the story is a contrived and message heavy the ultra-violence disturbs; but it’s the gritty reality of the sex trade that will really make you wince.

“Talk about the Passion” paints a more believable picture; Evelyn (Courtney Yakabuski) is a big time publisher with a serial killer’s story on her best seller list. Hapless Carroway (Sean Kemp) waits all day to see her; she blows him off but he attacks her. Turns out his kid was a victim of the serial dude and he’s a little upset no one listens to him. It’s an excellent point; anyone can be a victim but the killer’s mind is always more interesting. It feels odd he’s making money; that’s been outlawed over here for a while but maybe it’s possible in the UK. We live out this hostage situation completely vicariously; you might even feel a twinge of some Stockholm syndrome. Evelyn emits heartless bitch rays constantly; she is hard to sympathize with. Carroway is not only more likeable, his character feels more real and alive than anyone else tonight.

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

The Brothers Size

Sunday, June 12th, 2016

The Brothers Size
By Tarell Alvin McCraney
Directed by Bobby Bell
With Jim Braswell, Stelson Telfort and Clinton Harris
Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando FL

There’s heaping helping of bayou mysticism and Bobby Bell symbolism here, but deep down this is a straightforward tale of brotherly love. Oshoosi Size (Telfort) did some time; now he’s on probation and crashing on his brother Ogun’s (Braswell) couch. “Get a job” is his mantra, and when Oshoosi drags his heels Ogun hires him to help in his car repair shop. Elegba (Harris) is the Bad Idea Bear here, he draws Oshoosi off to party time and toking some parole breaking reefer. But Ogun isn’t all about tough love; he fixes Oshooshi up with a car that Elegba immediately puts too bad use. The small town sheriff’s siren screams, and its time for some real brotherly love and a big dose of Yoruba and Santeria mysticism.

The story may be simple but the staging adds layers of mysticism and symbolism. The stage is bare except for a ring of sand and few galvanized buckets. A corresponding ring of chimes and a painted tire are up in the light grid but they are hardly noticed; they are some sort of heavenly goal no one will ever ascend to. Braswell’s Ogun fumes and sweats and cares; he’s the guy with the boring and peaceful life ahead of him and he wants to spread that giving tree to his brother. When Oshoosi rejects that stability of sweat and small gains, we see the basis of the stereotypes that may always persist. True, he has his own wild ambition but it’s in direct opposition of the local white power structure everywhere and that’s not healthy. Lastly we have Harris’s limpid Elegba; he and Oshoosi were better than buddies in prison, and it’s not clear just how deeply Oshoosi wants to revive that relation here on the outside. These names are no accident; there are deeper, darker tales of forbidden religions buried in this script. There’s even a whisper floating about that McCraney may be the next August Wilson. That’s a strong claim, but one this show does nothing to dissuade.

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

We Don’t Play Fight

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

We Don’t Play Fight
Written by Jason Static
Directed by Jason Skinner
Starting Kelly Malik, Justin Mousseau and Gary Bell
June 4, 2016
CONQUER Pro Wrestling at the
Orlando Shakespeare Center, Orlando FL

If you missed this show, you missed one of the biggest “WTF – did that REALLY happen?” moments in Orlando Theatre. Tonight’s performance mixes traditional theater with its less admired but more profitable cousin, Professional Wrestling. Blind promoter VK (Justin Mousseau) can judge a wrestler’s potential by sound alone. Courtney Jones (Malik) fights off a mugger; although he can’t see her moves he offers her a contract and rent free training to become a marketable pro wrestler. The training coach (Static) is unimpressed; VK’s request to give her a crash course and prep her for an upcoming bout earns the retort: “I’ll train her, and I’ll break her balls.” Nice. But never mind the mechanics of her body, Static is brutal and drives her away, she returns in the next scene, and goes on to headline the match. What makes her change her mind? Beats me; but just take a conflict pill and don’t over think the show. Comic relief Barefoot Barry (Gary Bell) adds some sharp and stinging humor; he may be a drunk but he’s a damn funny drunk and he kept the story from sliding down into a pathos sleeper hold.

So where’s the weirdness? That’s in the ring. Act 2 is a full up professional wrestling match with five matches, a ring announcer (Daniel Maxwell Shaw) and a ref (Tom Matthews). The tag team match between flamboyant Haitian Sensation and a crazed guy in clown make up tangling with the Siegfried and Roy of wrestling, Kodi and Kiko, had dozens of well executed holds, falls and grapples. But here’s the zinger: In the Irish Jack vs Chris Melendez match we discover Melendez has a prosthetic leg due a to war wound; Irish Jack pulls the prosthesis off and forces Melendez to hop around on his good leg; and Melendez still pins that heel Irish Jack. That alone is worth the price of admission. More weirdness ensues in the title round when Jones goes up against a guy who’s twice her size and three times as strong. The match is wince inducing from the physical mismatch, and the win seems as contrived as it could be but the crowd loved it. The ending is predictable but the action was solid; the full sized ring in the Margeson Theatre made a wonderful noise when anyone hit the mat. I’m not sure if this show will reappear in the area soon, but even if you’re not a WrestleMania fan it’s certainly the most unusual thing you’ll see on a stage.

For more information on CONQUER Pro Wrestling please visit https://www.facebook.com/conquerprowrestling

Avenue Q

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

Avenue Q
Book by Jeff Whitty
Music and Lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx
Directed by Juan Cantú
Music Direction by Heather Langs
Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando, FL

It’s always nice to be naughty, and what’s naughtier than nice puppets having sex? “Avenue Q” is the sort of play you should never bring your kids to but for a first date it will sort out a lot of unknowns very quickly. Off in that seedy part of Puppet City live those down at their luck felt characters: Princeton (Adam Hose) owns one of those useless degrees chained to him with unpayable loans; Kate Monster (Christina Sivrich) occupies a despised underclass; Rod (Hose) just might be gay; and Gary Coleman (Faith Boles) fades from child TV star to building superintendent. There’s love, lust, drinking and a hint of drugs. The Bad Idea Bears (Kurt von Schmittou and Sonia Roman) egg people on and keep the plot interesting. Great songs backed by a live yet invisible trio fill the evening; with titles including “If You Were Gay,””Everyone’s a Bit Racist,” and “The Internet is for Porn” you get a good idea of where we are going.

On stage actors dressed in always-invisible-black operate the puppets; some of the puppeteers normally operate small fish at a large Theme Park down the road. As they move around, occasionally there’s some cross casting between the puppeteers and ever so often there are two puppeteers to give better hand gestures. Voices are solid as well; Brian (Paul Padilla) sings a solid “I’m Not Wearing Underwear Today” while Maya Handa Naff as Christmas Eve performs the Asian Stereotype “Can’t Pronounce the “L”” number “The More You Ruv Somebody.” Ms. Sivrich doubles up to cover the role of Miss Piggy, I mean Miss Lucy, as the voluptuously predatory woman out to destroy Princeton. While the show presents a tolerance and understanding message, the real point of this is rude, naughty fun with puppets saying nasty things, acting like jerks, and reflecting real human’s values. They are NOT just well intentioned dust mops. Big fun, big laughs, and here’s how you know this show is selling fast: they set up an auxiliary bar in the lobby to cover the load.

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