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Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

Archive for March, 2017

Brian Feldman’s William Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Brian Feldman’s William Shakespeare’s Macbeth
Conceived by and Starring Brian Feldman
Directed by Irene L. Pynn
Brian Feldman Projects
March 20, 2017
Walt Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola Park
Orlando, FL

Is this a performance artist I see before me,
The stage blank, the audience sparse? Come, let me observe thee.
I understand thee not, yet I attend thee still.

Art thou not, weird friend, tired
Of feeling so slighted? Or art thou but
Suffering stage fright, an man unseen
For lo these 15 long, long minutes?
Aha! Thou’st arrived, dressed as a Transformer
For me to write my thoughts.

Thine togs! Girded for the battle, the rink,
The grid iron, perchance to save yourself from harm.
Your text clouds the audience. A small dog protests.

Diction slurs, words repeat; Yet I listen
and on thy tounge and dudgeon gouts of sound
thou said by rote appear. You own the stage.

It is the bloody business which informs
Thy act to mine eyes. Now o’re the one half hour
The script seems dead. You wickedly abuse
The meagre crowd. Yet thy text motivates
True Kubersky’s pen, true patience foreborn
Alarumed the viewing public, the crowd
Who did not appear, nor this show attend.

While Feldman’s ravishing strides, filled with rage
Spewed out fire. Thou sure and firm-set stage:
Hear not the cars, the motor craft, the birds.

The very winos shuffle past amused
And take the present concept for their own
Which now suits you. While you act, I write
Words to record the depths of thy passion.

(A bird flies by. Brakes squeal)

I go, and two hours remain; is this hell?
It is not, Carl Gauze, for it is a show
That’s summons one to Feldman, or to go.

For more information on Brian Feldman Projects, please visit

Destiny of Desire

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

Destiny of Desire
By Karen Zacarías
Directed by Melissa Crespo
Starring Nadya Borno, Tamir Navaro, and Sonia Roman
Garden Theatre
Winter Garden,FL

¡Sexo! ¡Traición! ¡Asesinato! ¡Puntos de Exclamación! Yes, this show has it all, and every line spoken has an exclamation point. Most telenovelas run for months; this one crams everything into two frantic hours. Babies are switched at birth, an evil doctor performs un-needed surgery, lovers cheat, cheaters love, and there’s a good bit of illegal DNA exchanged. The plot is too intricate to render correctly here but we begin with the poor yet honest chorus of Hortensia and Ernesto del Rio (Stephen Lima and Alina Alcantara). We jeer the rich yet evil plot drivers Fabiola and Armando Castillo (Sonia Roman and Demi Castro) as they trifle with their daughter and her ill-classed friend (Navarro and Borno.) But all injustice vanishes by the curtain, and the evil-doers get their comeuppance, up to and including a proper de-wigging.

The anguish is in English and the songs tend toward Spanish; yet there’s no confusion not intended by author Zacarías. The show begins with us in a desolate movie house in Bayarica, Outer Hispania. The screen is torn; we can peer into the back stage as actors warm up, stretch, smoke and hang out. Ancient B&W silents illuminate us as wait for the show to begin in this Cinema Infierno. Once the acting starts, it’s direct and fast. The duo of Navarro and Borno glow with the intense friendship reserved for young women Of A Certain Age. Lima and Alcantara whine and manipulate; they are poor but never completely blameless. Our villainess is blonde peruked Roman; she’s a deadly margarita of a goofy sexuality and bitter social climber. Her husband Armando (Demi Castro) needed one more gold chain to achieve full Jersey Shore Goombahood, and our two romantic leads (Andrew Romano and Esteban Vilchez) emit a goofy well intentioned energy that made the resolution satisfying. I’ve never been a soap fan but this sort of soap is condensed, focused, and not packed with ads. The house was packed the day I caught this fun show; reserve early as they are bringing in busses from The Villages.

For more information on The Garden Theatre, please visit www.gardentheatre.org

An Evening with Mr. Johnson

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

An Evening with Mr. Johnson
By Michael A. Matteo
Directed by Tim Evaniki
Starring Tommy Wooten and Nathan Bonk
Parliament House Footlights Theater
Orlando FL

When your tag line is “And Tommy Wooten as ‘The Penis,” certain standards are set. Perhaps not high ones, but they ARE standards. Men are managed by their Johnson; their partners only THINK they have a hand on the old helm but facts are facts. Note there are two versions of this show floating around central Florida; this particular one is the gay version in the venerable P-House; the hetero one opens in 2 weeks at the shiny new Dangerous Theater in Sanford. But back to tonight…

While the whole Johnson Control issue is well known and constantly debated, tonight we delve into the dialog between Ed (Bonk) and his personal Mr. Johnson (Wooten). Ed is torn over lost lovers, Sir Richard of The Lower Regions is only concerned about performance statistics, and we wonder: shouldn’t there be a Fantasy League about this popular activity? The debate is fueled by alcohol and anxiety; Ed is in love with Morgan (Steven Johnson) whose performance gets high marks for sincerity and low ones for the applause. Mr. Johnson prefers the cruising life; even if one experience is shabby there’s always a next time. The debate goes on. Jeff Jones drops in as Ed’s Jewish Mother to tidy up and guilt him into finding a stable boyfriend. And how about some food? There’s always food if you have a Jewish Mother. Morgan reappears, things heat up, Mr. Johnson is happy but we wonder: for how long?

This may well be the best P-house set I’ve seen; it’s an elegant and tasteful apartment that looks so…normal. Bonk’s Ed seems like a sweet guy and you wish him well, but it’s Mr. Wooten that steals this show. Loud, brash and constantly in full on funny guy mode, he steam rolls though any weak spots in the dialog and says just about what you would want him to say. Steven Johnson (don’t get confused, there’s more than one Johnson on this stage) seems rather bland; even when he’s in his full whoopee mode this Johnson is a quiet guy. What we need here is more of Mr. Jones’ Judaic guilt; sex is always more fun if it feels naughty. I’m looking forward to the straight version next month; I suspect the dynamics are similar even if the mechanics aren’t.

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

Viewing Veronica

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Viewing Veronica
By Larry Stallings
Directed by Vicki Wicks
Starring Nicole Andrea Torres, Marcie Schwalm, and Dylan Bruce Thompson
Breakthrough Theater
Winter Park, FL

“Hi mom! I’m dead!” Cuter words were never spoken. Perky yet post mortem Veronica (Torres) passed far too soon, as is the case for almost all deceased teens. There was an obscure medical condition, a split over what to tell a minor about a critical health issue, and a crumbling parental marriage. All good stuff, and all in service to the theatrical interpretation of the afterlife. Veronica narrates to us directly, and only semi not quite but almost boyfriend Kyle has any sense of her presence. The tension here lies between Mother Laura (Schwalm) and her nasty ex Dennis (Kevin Hudson). He’s picked up a younger model Anne (Sydney Annas) and when they are all in the room, sparks fly. At first it appears Kyle might serve to suave Laura’s pain but in act two Kyles dada Ray (Anthony Marando) appears, and everyone goes bowling. Except, of course little Veronica; she’s off to play in the green hills of the afterlife.

While the script is a bit rough in places, and people swap emotional states way to fast, there’s a pleasant melancholy about what was and what might have been. Veronica is largely a commentator to the action; the principle tension here is the old fire between the passive and slightly depressed Laura and the over the top jealousy of her ex Dennis. Why he’s still stalking her is a mystery; he’s got the trophy wife and months sales leader, yet he cruises her house daily. Kevin is the most sympathetic person; even after only two dates he seemed headed down the road to romance. And now he’s thrown into a gatekeeper role as Laura’s shield. Push over, or take charge guy? I think it’s too soon to tell. This is a new take on an old story by a well-respected local playwright, and worth a look.

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/

I Want to Be a Blond Bombshell!

Friday, March 17th, 2017

I Want to Be a Blond Bombshell!
With Noel-Marie Matson
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
Spotlight Cabaret Series
Winter Park Playhouse
Winter Park, FL

Blonde isn’t the big sexual turn on it was 50 years ago, but it’s still a useable stereotype. Deep down Ms. Matson is really a brunette, but she’s discovered the joy of buying Marilyn wigs and telling stories about her movie obsessed bubala. Songs tonight tended toward blonde numbers: “I Enjoy Being a Blonde”, Peggy Lee Disney tunes, and Betty Grable’s film performances filled the bill. But the pinnacle tonight was her tap number; only the second ever in the Spotlight Cabaret series. How did she learn to tap? No expensive lessons for this girl; she did it old school by watching movies and duplicating the routines step by step. Apply that sort of focus in the wrong direction and you can get in real trouble. Her encyclopedia knowledge of Ms. Grable’s oeuvre shined; Grable made a few dozen largely forgotten films, all with the same exact plot. And let’s face it, most movies in those days were written by a plot-o-matic and don’t hold up well. To wit: Grable always had a stock male lead; my favorite was Don Ameche the con artist but all the other men were just cardboard cut outs as well. I’ve seen more than few old movies, and they are all dreadful except for the dance extravaganzas, and of course Groucho. Matson brought all these late night movies back to me, and she’s one of those performers that dominates a room when she needs to. She may have been mousy in the recent “Why Do Fools Fall In Love?” but here she is way bigger than life, and so much closer.

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

Mid-Life! The Crisis Musical

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Mid-Life! The Crisis Musical
By Bob Walton and Jim Walton
Directed by Michael Edwards
Musical direction by Chris Leavy
Winter Park Playhouse
Winter Park FL

It’s so cute watching middle aged people complaining about getting old. Like they didn’t know it was coming… Yeah, we all age, but at least this show offers a path to aging with some grace and humor. Sure, there are prostate jokes and “can’t find my glasses” humor and for goodness sake, an actual “sex with sheep joke.” Just what is this world coming to? No one has on-stage names; we are down to our AARP number and the cast goes by clever monikers like “Woman 1” and “Man 3.” Knowing the cast from other projects sure helped me but I keep forgetting the tall blonde’s name. She’s friendly and always hugs me so why complain?

Songs are split among all possible combinations of singers; there’s a strong ensemble opener “Lies!” Later the guys get together for “Weekend Warrior” where Glen Gover, Shawn Kilgore and Todd Alan Long all warm up for the middle aged basketball tournament. Fortunately they never takes the court. One thing I’ve observed about age: Guys should NOT play B-Ball with youngsters. You’d be surprised how useful functioning knees are.

HEATHER! Yes, HEATHER ALEXANDER. That’s her name. Blond. Hugs a lot. Curtain speeches. The tall blonde one. It’s so obvious now that I remember. She belts it with Krista Leona Anderson and redheaded Lourelene Snedeker for “He Got What He Deserved.” That song is tonight’s other racy admission; it seems all vows are not equally sacred. A sad segment “The Long Goodbye” had these middle agers taking even older parents to the park on a “Play Date;” next the company reunited for “I’m Not Ready.” Too bad, the system ain’t stopping and backing up just for you. Alternately funny then touching, you don’t have to be old to appreciate the fine singing and sometimes silly humor on this stage, but it doesn’t hurt.

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

Tape

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

Tape
By Stephen Belber
Directed by Pam Harbaugh
Theater on the Edge
Edgewood FL

Theater in the Dark, more like. This intimate 30 seat playhouse is a trick to find after sunset; give yourself plenty of time to circle the block as it’s easy to miss the parking lot. But once inside, your journey is rewarded with tough, heart wrenching action in the style of David Mamet. There’s a notional “preshow”; while the audience negotiates arm rests Vince (Zack Roundy) checks into this shifty Motel 6 room in dubious Lansing Michigan. The filthy, peeling wallpaper attempts to cheer up the space; it’s only friend is a lonely single bed whose mattress is stuffed with desperation and unsatisfying sex. Cheap beer is drunk or dumped down the sink; this saves someone’s kidneys the bother of turning Joseph Best Beer into something tastier, like piss. Vince came here from Oakland where he pursues a career as a volunteer fireman and pot dealer. He’s here to meet his high school buddy Jon (Joey Ginel). Jon’s first film will screen at the prestigious East Lansing Film Festival; no small feat for this small town boy. Both these guys dated Amy (Megan Raitano); Vince was with her longer but Jon went all the way and it grates on Vince to this day. They argue, fight, drink and even smoke some pretty authentic dope until Jon confesses to a crime that may not have occurred, and it falls to Amy to sort out these two losers before retreating to her own safe life.

What was really going on here? That’s the charm of the show. No one is straight up about anything; its all conflict based on incomplete information, speculation, and a miss remembered past. Roundy keeps up the pressure, he’s a tough, manipulative guy and you think he might have done well in law or politics. He dresses for the street, and seedy as this motel room is it seems like a small luxury to him. Ginel may be more desperate but he dresses better and folds when pressed. He has yet to learn how to get a patron and squeeze them for money but I suspect he’ll pick up on that skill soon enough. Raitano feels the most balanced, she has a good job and a non-psycho boyfriend and she makes Vince jump when she calls in her local cops. With multiple layers of meaning and murky motivations, director Harbaugh finds the path to forge this testosterone and alcohol into a coherent, gripping production. Then there’s the set; semi working plumbing and absolutely filthy walls and furniture completely discouraged anyone from crossing that invisible wall. The only thing missing here was the mustiness and stale cigarette smoke Motel 6 uses for disinfectant. With the demise of Theater Downtown, this company looks like our new go to for serious modern American drama.

For more information on Theatre on the Edge, please visit http://theaterontheedge.org/ or http://facebook.com/TheaterOnEdge