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Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

Archive for October, 2016

Play De Luna – Missing The Mark

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

Play De Luna – Missing The Mark
Art’s Sake Theatre
Winter Park, FL

Brevity is the essence of wit, and these ten relationship plays are just that – short and witty. These ten minute plays successfully tackle stories that wouldn’t remain interesting for an hour; let’s drop in on them right now.

“Film Appreciation” (by David Susman, Dir. Clare Ghezzi, with Mellissa Dianna Coakley, Derek Angell, and Will Blanton) takes us into the world of man who speaks only in film quotes. Movie buff Brian (Angell) meets film neophyte Trisha (Coakley) at a Fellini festival and they fall for each other until his quote mania drives her to distraction. It’s a cute and touching look at adapting to a lover’s quirks, and I was happy to hear the younger audience laughing at lines from films their grandparents saw in first release.

“Kill Me, Please!” (by Rhea MacCallum, Dir. Jenifer Jarackas, with Bethany Ilene Wedlund and Jason Fusco) opens on a dark and creepy street. Gloria (Wedlund) dresses hot and bubbles over with perky energy. She hopes to meet the famous “Slasher” (Fusco) and have him practice his art on her face. Despite her effervescence, she’s lonely and depressed and wants to be in the newspaper. All this energy freaks him out a bit, and what fun is killing someone without the fear in their eyes? Can they make it as a couple, or should she break off on her own?

“A Medical Breakthrough” (by Frederick Stropped, Dir. Luis Poggi, with Sarah Yoho and Tim Riedel) introduces us to hyper competitive Mr. Moore (Riedel). He was hanging with his game buddies and they all got to bragging about just what they could place up their poop chute. He won the game, but now he has a live grenade up there and needs help from Dr. Fields (Yoho). Her big question: “Is it alive?” passes the test, and we then get a string of proctology gags that overall work pretty well. I loved her devil-may-care attitude, and Mr. Riedel did seem pretty contrite. And there is a moral: never do this with live ordnance. Dummy grenades are just as good for this contest.

Married life gets compressed into 10 minutes in “Family 2.0” (by Walter Wykes, Dir. David Meneses, starring Chris Walker and Christy Keating). Mr. Walker was walking home from work, bemoaning his crappy marriage, and decides to try a different wife. He gets flowers and knocks on a random home, surprising Ms. Keating, whom he romances heavily for about 5 minutes until her kids come out demanding time and money and attention. So much for the hot sex, and when Real Husband arrives he takes on the role of the family pet. Weird, but so fast paced you never get bored.

After intermission, we jump into “Happenstance” (by Craig Pospisil, Dir. Yvonne Suhor) Cassidy (Rachel Res) and her mild mannered husband Martin (Derek Angell) stop for one of those complicated coffee drinks they refer to as “The Usual.” While he’s off in half latte, triple soy land her ex-BF Abe (Aaron Sherry) appears. Is he happy? She hopes not, and she has the super power of rewinding time to get any answer to any part of his back story she wants. But Abe has a tall, thin new squeeze who wears the pinkest dress imaginable. Who’s happy here? No one, really.

“Pillow” (by Frederick Stroppel, Dir. Chris Walker, with Hayley Haas and Susan Potrock) finds some old friends having a drink and talking about dates that died before the date ended. And when I say “died”, we’re not talking no good night kiss, but a trip to the undertaker. Clearly the darkest of tonight shows, it has some of the tightest, funniest dialog. And take good notes; don’t ask either of these two out after the show.

Chelsea (Joan Erica Rice) is tired of her red neck boyfriend Will (Wayne Wilkins) in “Change of Plans” (by Lydia Hubbell, Dir. Lindsi Jeter). She needs to dump him, and she calls on her extremely gay friend Aidan (Alexis Valentin Casanovas) to play her new boyfriend. It’s a bold strategy, but even when she teaches Aiden to sit with his legs spread and shoulder bump Will, he’s just not as convincing as a hetero. Will appears, does some damage, and leaves, again leaving everyone unhappy.

We close with the fast and funny “Heroes for Hire” (by Matt Einhorn, Dir. John Connon) Sabrina (Marissa Zumbo) runs a boutique PR company, and the tired trio of Sympathy Girl (Lindsi Jeter), Seduction Man (Mark Williams), and my favorite “High Tolerance for Pain Man” (Matt Militano) come to her for help. The plot twists, a cross is doubled, and plenty of lame super hero jokes fly by but it’s up to Seduction Man to save the day. He’s like Ron Jeremy with poor hygiene, but he saves the day. Just don’t google “Cleveland Steamer.”

Seriously. Don’t. Ever.

And to see what else Art’s Sake offers check out www.art-sake.com

The Glass Menagerie

Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

The Glass Menagerie
By Tennessee Williams
Directed by Beth Marshall
Beth Marshall Presents
The Garden Theatre, Winter Garden FL

Things were always better in the old days – the winters colder, the women more beautiful, the jobs better and better paying. In the case of Amanda Wingfield (Cami Miller) those were the halcyon days on the plantation where she was besieged by gentlemen callers, a polite euphemism for men who might marry her and put up with her brand of crazy. Her lucky suitor was the last-name-only Mr. Wingfield, “a telephone man in love with long distance.” The marriage produced hard working, hard drinking Tom (Anthony Pyatt) and the fragile, crippled and introverted Amanda (Annaliese Moon). If only someone would ask her out and quickly marry her before the issues with this family became clear. That task almost falls on energetic and ambitions Jim (Zack Lane) who works the warehouse with Tom and studies Radio Engineering at night. He’s a keeper, and unfortunately for Laura, someone else is already keeping him.

Dim, moody and a bit depressing, this is the play that put author Williams on the map of great American Letters. In some ways it’s ageless, but in others it’s a glimpse into a different theatrical age. Tom informs us this is a memory play; it’s how he recalls things but he admits the accuracy might be suspect. Pyatt looks like a man that might play fast and loose with truth, assuming there is any, and from the minute he steps in to the dim light there’s no question his destiny lies elsewhere. Ms. Miller offers us the characture of a southern belle gone to seed. It’s a true tragic-comic moment when she appears in the aged and out-of-fashion flounces from her glory days and plays the part of a bubble headed heiress as she desperately attempts to sell her daughter and hoodwink Jim. Ms. Moon, for her part, has a distinct tick and more flaws than just a limp leg. Her world is one of fear and embarrassment and while she knows she has no social skills, she doesn’t want any, either. And as for Jim, he’s a truly nice man, polite and friendly but also not dumb enough to fall for the sales job. Television might be ten years in the future, but he’s the man with foresight and drive. All of these dreams float above a clever set with key lines of text projected on the risers and the walls. The sources are well hidden and as dreamlike as the action in this sad tale. The show runs long; it’s near on to 11 when all over, but that’s about as long as Amanda can keep her hope alive. Please do not grudge her the time.

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

Young Frankenstein

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

Young Frankenstein
Book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan
Music and lyrics by Mel Brooks
Directed by Christopher Niess
Choreographed by Mayme Paul
Starring Kyle Laing
UCF Conservatory Theatre
Orlando, FL

Note to UCF Conservatory Theatre: do more shows like this. After seeing a Broadway series production of “Young Frankenstein” at the Carr I had low expectations but, boy, did this show impress me. Mel Brooks took his funniest script and turned it into this stage show by humming the music to a composer. The result is an all singing, all dancing extravaganza. Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Laing) is set on escaping his grandfather’s legacy. It doesn’t take much to get him on the Transylvania Choo-Choo and rolling down track neunundzwanzig. He leaves behind his lovely, high maintenance, fiancée Elizabeth (Savannah Rucks) and plans to quickly clear the estate and bring home the cash. But when he meets his new lab assistant Inga (Amanda Hornberger), she sings him that traditional Rumanian courtship song “Roll in the Hay.” Here’s a girl that encourages touching, and when imperious Frau Blucher leads them to the laboratory Frederick is soon at work making a new tap dancing monster (Joey Herr). While the monster is rather stiff legged, Laing bends like rubber and taps like a machine.

There’s a ton of sets here but all flows smoothly. Laing is blessed with comic timing and dance skills, and he’s supported by a staff of equally talented swing dancers. I sat second row near the end; the sound was deafening when they reach the climax of “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” Herr’s monster made do with well executed sight gags, particularly in the hermit scene with Jarrette Poore. When he spoke at the end, it was shocking that he had overcome his earlier vocal limitations so cleanly. Kent Collins’ Igor felt over played, but Miss Hornberger’s gleeful lust and Frau Blucher’s (Ally Rosenbaum) frigid frustration balanced nicely. That leaves the tall and elegant Ms. Benning; she was always the fancy dresser who acted like she belonged under a glass dome; it took a monster to show her how to hit those really high notes.

Good sets, good singing, and Busby Berkley energy dancing make this a top pick for this season. I went opening night with a room full of students taking notes, but there are still good seats open. Move quickly, this is science made way too much fun.

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

The God Game

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

The God Game
By Suzanne Bradbeer
Directed by Tony Simotes
With T. Robert Pigott, Brian Brightman, and Cynthia Beckert
Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando FL

It’s so rare to see a good play about the Establishment Clause. Let’s look at the case of Senator Tom (Brightman) and his lovely wife Lisa (Beckert). They’ve kept the romance alive for 20 years and today is their anniversary. But a presidential election is brewing, and when Tom’s old buddy Matt (Pigott) shows up, Tom is in for a surprise. Matt works for the nominee, and was involved with Tom’s Brother until his death. But just because Tom and the nominee don’t see eye to eye, the consensus thinks they could win as a pair. That’s all very cool, but Lisa is unhappy for the intrusion, and more pointedly, Tom would have to fudge over his atheism and pretend to be a little more God fearing just to bring in those down state votes. Lisa is the sort that prays (unsuccessfully) over an injured bird, and she hates hypocrisy about Faith. Can Tom get by quoting Jesus without accepting his divinity? Only a real politician could thread this needle, and Tom really IS the right guy to do it.

Part family drama, part political meditation, this show takes a surprisingly frank and honest look at just how religion creeps into politics. Brightman really does look electable – he’s calm, speaks well, and considers problems from all sides before acting. Beckert’s wife is loyal and true and pissed off; she sort of gets the anniversary intrusion but draws the line at her husband’s potential hypocrisy even though she doesn’t hold God accountable for his. Pigott bounces off the walls as he tries to put a deal together by cell phone. He abandoned any pretense of a real life when he went into politics, so getting on the train with a winner at this level is all the satisfaction he has left. The niggling issue of Tom’s brother’s gayness seems well calibrated; most people will object to a candidate’s sex life but they tend to cut slack on their kin. An idealistic quality permeates this show; most people want politics to work like this: minor concessions on side issues to accomplish a greater good. Does that really happen? I suppose somewhere it does but once you step out of the Zehngebot-Stonerock black box, things get pretty rough.

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

Topsy Turvy Cabaret

Friday, October 21st, 2016

Topsy Turvy Cabaret
Central Florida Vocal Arts
Blue Bamboo Arts Center
October 20, 2016
WinterPark, FL

Say good-bye to the body shops, the tree trimmers, the construction yards, the mini-storage building in that funky industrial are behind Publix. The hipsters are coming, and their first outpost lies in the sparkling new Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts. It’s been hosting a few Jazz concerts, but tonight I came out for a Cabaret by the always sparkling Central Florida Vocal Arts people. The theme is “Topsy Turvy,” this practically means men sing female roles, and vice versa. We opened with an unexpected version of Radiohead’s “Creep” by Theresa Leigh Smith; it took a few minutes to catch on as grungy pop is so far away from the opera and show tunes we associate with this group. The evening then spun through a number of solos and duets; Nisha Carson shined with “The Girl in 14 G” and Spam-a-lot’s “What Ever Happened to My Part?” Andrew LeJeune tackled some famous girl songs including “Vodka,” “Defying Gravity” and Mary Martin’s “Never Never Land.” There were numbers from “Glee” and opera, and the finale was the most interesting piece of all. The group got together and sang every possible Italian musical direction in that particular style from “A Capella” to “Volti Suitor”. The show was fun, the sound excellent, and the seats not too bad. Some thought went into sound damping; this new industrial music space sounds pretty good.

For more information on Central Florida Vocal Arts please visit www.centralfloridavocalarts.com/

For other eveents at Blue Bamboo cener for the Arts, visit bluebambooartcenter.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/bluebambooartcenter/

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Friday, October 21st, 2016

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Adapted by Jeffery Hatcher
Directed by Cynthia White
Starring Tim Williams
Orlando Shakespeare Theatre
Orlando, FL

Author Jeff Hatcher breathes new life into this old tale; “Dr. Jekyll” risks becoming the “Christmas Carol” of Halloween. Yes, our not so good doctor Jekyll (Williams) continues to experiment; this week’s potions looks like Absinthe cut with Zerex, and offers a similar effect. Mr. Hyde appears on cue; here he’s shattered into multiple personalities and produces multiple effects on Jekyll, and more interesting he gets the girl Elizabeth Jelks (Gemma Victoria Walden). She’s completely loyal no matter the abuse; and while a respectable job anchors her, all remains uncertain in her world. A turn on the streets isn’t out of the question. Surrounding the doctor we find his lawyer Utterson (Dan Bright), his dissection-obsessed arch rival Carew (Simon Needham) , his close collegue Dr. Lanyon (Steven Lane) and his faithful servant Poole (Anne Hering). All are supportive as needed excepting Carew; his role suggests ancient sacrifice is better than modern theories. Yet all can turn on him instantly and repeatedly and it’s not just the drugs affecting him, it’s whose around when he takes those drugs. If you’re a Jekyll purist you might blanche; but if you’re as horror saturated as I you will rejoice at this invigorating script.

As so many modern plays that Orlando Shakes puts up, this is a non-stop carousel of scene and lighting changes with actors popping between roles instantly and brilliantly. Mr. Bright gets the mousey, sneaky jobs; Mr. Needham plays the larger than life Opera Buffa ones and Mr. Lane is surprisingly harsh. He normally does the “nice guy” characters and it’s shocking when he shows his dark side. Ms. Hering does her best work as the loyal servant but when she dons the scarlet-slathered waist coat of evil, there’s no question she, too, has a heart of darkness. Only Williams and Waldon slide straight into hell with no detours; he represents pride and she prejudice. His pride is the junkie’s dying thought “I can control this” while she hopes “a man loves her and would never really hurt me.” Yes he can, and no he can’t, and not necessarily in that order.

Set, costumes and lights (Bert Scott, Yao Chen and Keven Griffin) are every bit as crucial here as the actors. The set is shallow and yet full of planes; locked doors and hidden spaces appear and disappear as needed and complex light patterns are projected to confuse and disorient. While most costumes are the sort of high Victorian caricatures of great coats and long, unflattering dresses, the Bloody Waistcoats that indicate hallucination are a high point of this show. I received a detailed post show discussion from a purist friend, pointing out all the deviations from the script, and to his horror I applaud them. Hatcher and the Shakes team took liberties and shook this classic out of its straight jacket of too much fog and too little humanity and made it something thrilling.

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

Phantasmagoria VII – The Cards They Are Dealt

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

Phantasmagoria VII – The Cards They Are Dealt
Written and Directed by John DiDonna
Choreography by Mila Makarova
Fight Direction by Bill Warriner
Starring Chris Pruitt, Sara Costello, John DiDonna, and Jeremy Wood
Presented at the Orlando Shakespeare Center
Orlando, FL

Phantasmagoria has been around long enough to justify Roman numerals in the title, and this episode finds us in 18th century Italy, but the lingua franca of the troupe still remains stilted English. The immortality of the storytellers was always assumed, but tonight its confirmed. A new member enters the Phantasmagoria troupe; Alice Liddell (Costello) is a mere mortal, and Byron (DiDonna) brings her in against the advice of Bosch (Wood). It falls to Cyril (Pruett) to mediate, and Alice must prove herself by telling a story. She doubles down and tells two; this is good enough for everyone but Bosch. And as they always say “Once a story is chosen, it must be told; once a story is begun it must be finished.” “Hurray!” you think; no texting interruptions tonight.
Tonight’s adventures come from all public domain quarters. Ambrose Bierce has faded in the public’s eye but his creepy hunting story “That Damn Thing” makes you question the need to really go out in the woods at night for food. Oscar Wilde provides the short and ambiguous “The Harlots House,” then Ms. Liddell gives us the very exciting and little known “The Mezzotint” by M. R. James. My favorite tales came from a German author Heinrich Hoffmann. His “Struwwelpeter” collects stories he wrote to entertain his young child. As all students of second year German know, this are gruesome tales of dismemberment and immolation and abandonment. Aha, yes, kids back then WERE tougher. All are brutal, all are creepy, and all are aimed to keep you on the edge of the chair. And that’s where you spend the evening.
But this show is more than just stories; there’s a dance and performance aspect as well as the rather interesting steam punk audience. Standing in line I complemented a woman on wearing the same hat my grandmother wore in 1950; it’s hard to tell if she was flattered or offended or was really just that old. Inside between stories we have various dance and acrobatics events on rings (Dion Leonhard and Mila Makarova), silks, and the floor. A tarot card theme tied the stories together even if it’s not clear why the Seven of Swords implies separation and the Eight of Swords entrapment.
Arguments flowed between Byron, Bosch and Cyril; but eventually Alice was allowed to remain although it took a sword fight to settle that nit of an issue. The only thing missing this year was a giant puppet; this may be the first giant puppet free show in the series, although there were smaller ones. Come for the audience, stay for the stories, and hang out for the VIP fire dance routine outside. It’s elegant and mysterious, and no matter what they say, you are safe, so long as you avoid the isles and stay at least five rows up.

For more information please visit http://www.phantasmagoriaorlando.com or www.Facebook.com/PhantasmagoriaOrlando”>ww.Facebook.com/PhantasmagoriaOrlando

A Spooky Night at Breakthrough- Mature Version

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

A Spooky Night at Breakthrough- Mature Version
Directed by Vicki Wicks
Breakthrough Theatre, Winter Park, FL

It wasn’t so much “night” as “late afternoon,” but there were a few good scares in this short play collection that features more than a few local writers. We open with “Bloody Mary” (by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa). Here film nerd Ben (Andrew Emory) heads out with his GF Laurie (Saige Love) to Camp Where-in the Hell to make a horror movie. As they drive, he keeps chanting “Bloody Mary;” 49 recitations might make her appear. While he’s basically a dick here, the script is filled with funny dialog and a long-suffering but faithful woman. Another rib tickler appears in “Sunny Side Asylum” (by Larry Stallings). Kimber (Sharon Tedder) drops by to see about entombing her schizoid mother; but Nurse Betty (Carla Davis) is late bringing the paper work and Dr. Slaughter butchers his attempt to bluff. All is well until Farmer Bob gets loose, then it’s even more unseen blood and guts.

“How You Will Die” (by Irene Pimm) takes a while to get going; here Vicki Wicks runs an establishment that purports to show you your last moments. The price is high and Young Markham (Marcus Davila) can’t pony up the $5k to see if the drug lords will snuff him so it’s up to wealthy dowager Julia (Ginny Fraebel) to help. She shares her experience, Markheim tries a fast switch, and we find out all the results are the same: Death at a ripe old age surrounded by family. If only it were true…

A more complicated piece comes from Joe Kolasa’s “An Unorthodox Exorcism” which finds Howard (Mark Davids) possessed by an elderly Jewish demon who thinks the A/C is too cold. While the older priest (Stallings) can’t budge him, the hipper young priest (Jonathin Vasquez) shames the demon out, only to have the demon move next door. Steve Yockey provided “Bed Time;” here Violet (Grace Trotta) and Julie (Love) discus the dead body of little Billy, who is missing little bits of himself. If only we knew who killed the little guy….

Rochelle Curbow Wheeler gives us “The Darkness.” Sam (Tracey Jane Smith) is haunted by the ghost of her mother (Davis). The ghost throws things, leaves clues, and tortures her as her as she mourns the loss of her child and husband. Her remaining son Felix (Tyler Krutch) cheers her up with vanilla milk, but it’s not enough to overcome the weird adultery that drives the haunting.

Miss Smith wrote the clever “Who’s Afraid of the Boogieman?” Vivi (Sharon Tedder) flirts with the bogeyman (Davila) she hired to keep her sugar-fired child (Avery Smith) under control. Who knew Boogiemen sing up for LinkedIn, or that anyone is on LinkedIn? When she send him upstairs to do the job, it turns out he really IS going to steal the kids, and what fun is that?

Local Impresario John DiDonna sent in a one man monologue called “Home Safe.” Here Sean Kemp explains how much he loves little kids, and he loves them even more if they are dead. By far this was the disturbing story made more so by Kemp’s enthusiastic demeanor.

“Blood Pudding” (by D. Richard Tucker) recasts the vampire experiencing into the 20th century. Barry (Vasquez) gets serious with Lucinda (Trotta), and its time to meet the parental units (Stallings and Wicks). They’re vampires, and the term “lifestyle” arises. Barry is nervous, but the folks calm him down and teach him vampirism is a lot like joining the Republican Party.

In “Morning Becomes Olestra” (By Aguirre-Sacasa) crude, obese Mark Davids works as night watchman at the donut factory as his wife lives a frustrated Tennessee Williams lifestyle. Eventually she calls a night time repairman (Christin Santiago) to fix a mysterious fridge. He’s a total stud muffin; they do it six ways from Sunday, and best of all, he’s a vampire, and not the Republican kind. And once again, Mr. David finds himself dead. He IS good at it. There are ups, there are downs, but overall this is an excellent shorts program with a consistent theme.

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/