Florida Festival of New Musicals (Act Three)
Age of Innocence and Giglio
Winter Park Playhouse
Winter Park, FL
We wrap up this weekend’s festivities with a monster adaptation followed by a show tailor made for Winter Park Playhouse Age of Innocence Music by Ted Kociolek and
Book & Lyrics by Walter Holland & Ted Kociolek brings Edith Wharton’s popular book (and recent hit movie) on to the musical stage. The cast is enormous, I counted fifteen readers but you could easily add more. The story takes place in Gilded Age New York where you had money or you didn’t exist. The matronly women ruled the city, financed by their robber baron husband’s forays into coal and oil and automobiles. They obsess of what addresses are “fashionable” and how best to display wealth “tastefully.” They also worry a great deal about controlling sexual relations, especially for their children. Young Newland Archer is at a delicate age; he’s in love with May Welland, but intrigued by Countess Ellen, Mary’s sister. He senses the danger he’s in, but immediate marriage implies a bun in the oven and “decent” people wait a few years before any serious canoodling. Who will he choose? There’s plenty of room for fancy costumes and elaborate sets and while I’d love to see this fully up and on its feet, not many producers around here have the resources. There’s plenty of solid music here but the song that sticks with me comes from Todd Allen Long banging out “The Banjo Song,” a supposed mistral tune that drips far more sexual innuendo than I thought he could project. Later, he passes through the set once more playing just the chords, and gets a house-rattling laugh.
I closed out my tour of duty in Musical Theater Land with Gigolo – A Cole Porter Review</b Concept by Paul Gilger. Gilger is a multiple threat, he builds buildings on the side, big ones. Ones you see in the paper. Ones that belong to rich people. But here he built a cleverly conceived show based on Cole Porter’s songs and the life of Porfirio “Rubi” Rubirosa (Google him with caution.) Tall and rather innocent looking Zack Nadolski plays Rubirosa, although that name is never mentioned on stage. He passes out roses to the women in his life (Melissa Minyard, Kelly Morris Rowan, Natalie Cordone, and Kayla Fischl). They represent various classes of women he’s been with: countesses, movie stars, wives (he had five, just not all at once) and countless wives of friends. Being a Song Cycle, there is no dialog, just Porter’s lyrics from well-known tunes (Let’s Do It, You’re the Top, and Night and Day) to more obscure works (Die A Little, Laziest Gal in Town.) There’s no moral judgment here, and he gets ALL the girls, but it’s a good excuse to sing our way thought the Porter song book and feel good about the journey.
Overall, this was an excellent festival with solid houses. Perhaps a copy of the scripts left about in the lobby would help us understand and appreciate the missing second acts, or perhaps spending more time on each story so it could get a full reading would reduce the disappointment I heard from some audience members asking, “What do you mean, we don’t get to see the ending?” That’s the reading process: sometimes you only get though the first act.
For more information on Winter Park Playhouse and the Florida Festival of New Musicals, please visit http://www.winterparkplayhouse.org