Do you want to write for Ink 19?

Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

Archive for the 'theater' Category

The Seven Year Itch

Sunday, February 19th, 2017

The Seven Year Itch
By George Axelrod
Directed by Eric Pinder
Starring Sean Kemp and Chloe Brewer
Valencia College Theatre
Orlando, FL

How many people have a door set into their ceiling as the last step of an abandoned staircase? Richard (Kemp) does but its New York and who cares if the rent is cheap? His wife and kid have fled the city heat for New England beaches; he stays home and edits cheap paper backs. Writing is never as exciting it appears to outsiders. His upstairs neighbors fled as well; they hired a cute but clumsy house sitter to water the tomatoes even though they aren’t there to eat them. That would be the drop dead sexy Marylyn Monroe style “The Girl” (Brewer). She’s a model who does nudie cuties in 1950s America; displaying pubic hair was still a federal offense. Both are bored, and Richard is jumpy as he’s trying to lay of the booze and smokes. Sex hangs heavy in the air, and we meet all the women Richard has ever fantasized over. His wife Helen (Evie Schildwacther) calls him daily to check on him but in the days of dial phones that’s wasn’t very effective. This leads to that, and Richard’s only grounding here is loquacious psychoanalyst Dr. Brubaker (Ryan Burke).He charges $50 an hour so Richard is stuck with a cold shower as his comfort.

It’s a pleasantly dated comedy, studded with great dresses and an agony that men have fought against and lost over for centuries. Kemp has a lot of words to remember, and he shines with a clean-cut guilt that makes the show’s resolution a bit of a surprise. Brewer is not exactly innocent in her blazing sexuality; she knows the calculus exactly and has a good time without leaving a scene. Her rival Helen is equally adept; we mostly learn about her through Richard’s flashbacks. Her goodness is hard on poor Richard and she leaves him no excuse for bad behavior. Add an impressive set and some stunning dresses thanks to Greg Loftus and Ashely Montero and you have a classic midcentury sex comedy. The prissiness of the Hayes code has faded but the full on orgy of the hippie generation had yet to ignite. What this gives us a surprisingly codified eroticism and a well-balanced fantasy. You share Richard’s agony but not his ecstasy, and that’s just proper for a college theater production.

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

Romeo and Juliet

Sunday, February 19th, 2017

Romeo and Juliet
By William Shakespeare
Starring Joshua Goodridge and Isabella DeChard
Directed by Belinda C. Boyd
Theatre UCF, Orlando, FL

We all know this drill, so I’ll be quick. Hormone infused teens meet, fall in love and find their families have different ideas about mating. Its sweltering hot and bad decisions fester; cherries are popped that shouldn’t have, promises made that can never be kept, and then a stack of well-meaning bad advice crashes down on everyone’s so-called life. Yes, it’s that perennial favorite romance that I like to call: “R&J”

This particular version drops in on 1920’s Chicago gangland; the warring clans dress in snappy fedoras and suits. It’s implied the fight concerns territory, but that’s neither clear nor important. What is clear are the sharp musical numbers; we open with a rockin’ “Minnie the Moocher” complete with shimmying dancers and a singer clutching an old fashion dynamic microphone. Like all good romantic leads Goodridge was sharp and athletic, his Juliet (DeChard) was wispy and perky and all those other wonderful adjectives a young woman in love deserves. Paris (Mathew Buckalew) was distant and polite; he never seemed willing to fight for anything. Up until he died (tack on a spoiler alert on everyone on stage) he seemed a bit reluctant to marry into this dramatic family. Julian Kazenas stood out as a bitter and violent Tybalt, and our cross gendered casting pick tonight went to a bright and energetic Sami Cunningham as Benvolio. But the show stealer award tonight went to Waneka Leary as Nurse. She’s a woman who knows how to lead and audience to laughter and then get them to drink. She did every comedy gimmick from physical to word play to “lawdy, lawdy” material. I want to see more of her in upcoming comedies.

Act Two took a much darker turn, and not just from the pile of bodies. The music was largely gone, the flirtation of romance collapsed under the attack of family power politics, and even their lighting was dimmer and more moody. Oily Father Lawrence (Jarrett Poore) wiggled like a politician caught with his hand in the cookie jar when he realized the magnitude of his error, and even Romeo gets nasty toward the poor apothecary (Alexandra Pica) as he brow beats her into an illegal drug deal. The final straw came when one of the underlings fired the band. No more jazz for YOU tonight! The stage was a dream, old brick work that would have suited any hipster microbrewery lines the walls and a bridge rose and fell silently to form a high post for the high minded parts of the dialog. Those who insist on their Shakespeare neither shaken nor stirred might wince, but for an updated telling of an old story, this was like a shot of cheap gin in a high class low life dive.

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

A Piece of My Heart

Sunday, February 19th, 2017

A Piece of My Heart
By Shirley Lauro
Directed by Marianne DiQuattro
Annie Russel Theatre
Rollins College
Winter Park, FL

If Coppola ever did an all-female version of “Apocalypse Now”, this could be the script. Its 1960-something and Viet Nam is still just a news item but not yet a revolution. Six enthusiastic yet naïve women sign up for duty in this steamy jungle. Steele (Alliyah Corley) is regular Army intelligence; perhaps that’s an oxymoron but she does her job even if no one pays attention. Whitney (Fiona Campbell) is a bright eyed candy striper, innocent and sworn to remain so even as she picks up a solid drinking problem. Martha (Haley Benson) come from an Army brat background and hoist a pack bigger than she, and Vassar expatriate Whitney (Fiona Gamble) has never seen a man die. That leaves Leeann (Annalisa Moon) who almost blends in, but the experience leaves here confused about what might or might not be her heritage. Ten there’s Mary Jo (Amanda Glace), the guitar playing party girl. She’s not even in the army but is offered big bucks by a sleazy promoter. She doesn’t even get GI bill or VA hospitalization, just raped and infected with PTSD.

It’s hard to point out better or worse acting skill, this show was about survival and performance. Everyone here pulled together giving us a shell shocked experience of war time; they even brought an actual tear to my jaded eye. Not bad for smugly safe Winter Park, they all did a damn fine task. The set was a multi-level, multi-purpose slope; this let the imagined blood flow down into the unused orchestra pit. Besides the featured gals, Nicholas D’Alessandro and Johnathan Garcia played the male roles, each rapidly going from dead to alive to back down to dead. D’Alessandro played an entire command chain, and he nailed it.

This is a story of volunteer ideals turning to nightmares; all their hopes into disdained prayers. From classroom to managing 300 plus nearly dead bodies in a week, this is the same trial by fire their equally naïve boy friends are feeling as the world drops out from under them. The military life is tough but bearable, the camaraderie keeps them afloat, but the tide of unstaunched blood overwhelms them unless they turn off their minds as they surf that wave of body parts. But all nightmares end, and the dawn wakes them up to post war home where things are much worse on a different level. True, in Vietnam bombs and bullets and body parts were a horror, but back home the post-war war battle was all psychological. Job opps were few and stereotyped, racism was as strong as ever, booze no longer dulled the pain and the stronger stuff was stepped on and hard to find.

This show is as traumatic for the audience as it was for the gals and guys on stage. Act One was filled with the horrific and comically gruesome: removing a man’s boot removed his foot. Young local children tried to stab them. Guards were working for the other side, guys died peeing, and the advice given to the newbies was: “Don’t think. Never think. Fill out the forms and move on.” After years of multiple rocket attacks and random death from above, the return to the States was a joyous yet exhausting final to act one. At this point, the play felt complete, and I would have left satisfied. What could they possibly do to top that? Well, that little romp was called Act Two. The girls are home, but not embraced. Jobs are menial at best. Sacrifice was despised. The nation hated the war, and took it out on the returnees; those perpetrating the wars sat back comfortable in their tower office suites. You know the drill, its true for every soldier from Lexington to Mosul. This show may be as close to war as the theatr going public will ever experience.

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

Josephine

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

Josephine
By Tod Kimbro
Directed by Michael Marinaccio
Starring Tymisha Harris
The Venue, Orlando, FL

Pick a letter, and there’s probably a dead celebrity with a one person show bringing them back to life. Tonight we explore the music and songs of Josephine Baker, French vedette and one of the first African Americans to achieve world renown on stage. The actor supporting her is dancer and local chanteuse Tymisha Harris, and as in all good shows she’s a good physical match as well as a gifted singer and performer.

The Venue stage is an excellent cabaret for this adventure; various period coat racks offer the artist multiple on stage costume changes as Baker ages from precocious street kid to world renowned entertainer to civil rights activist. Baker grew up in racist turn of the century St Louis; career choices included servant, toilet cleaner, and social pariah. A lucky encounter with a French promoter took her to Paris where skin color was a novelty, not a brand and she became show biz wealthy. That is, lots of money when money came in, crushing yet genteel poverty when it stopped flowing.

There’s a good balance between chanteuse and historian here, and every tune was a grand revelation. “April in Paris,” “Bye, Bye, Blackbird,” “Minnie the Moocher” and “Blue Sky” were highlights, but the show stopper was “The Times They Are A-Changin.” Today it’s a sort of period piece, but when backed up by her back story it’s a block buster.

Inside this intimate space Harris was never far from the audience. I won’t say she sat in my lap, but we did negotiate a deal by eye contact. Don’t worry ladies, it was just part of the show. Best of all, producer Marinaccio beat The Venue’s notorious sound into shape. If only every show sounded the clean I’d be there more often. Josephine presents a great story, a great voice and all in a great setting. Josephine est un grand triomphe!

More information on events at The Venue resides at http://TheVenueOrlando.com/

Dishwasher (Orange County Tour)

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

Dishwasher (Orange County Tour)
Created by Brian Feldman
Feb 13, 2017
A Private Residence
Orlando FL

Act 1

It’s a nice night; the sort Floridians dream of all summer. A full moon, clear skies, no mosquitos, temperate breezes. We’re off to a private performance at a discrete private residence. The usual scenesters are already there: a writer, a festival producer, a dancer, a fabric artist, some actors and even a mechanic. We’ve met for the latest Brian Feldman Project: “Dishwasher.” I ate before I arrived, but others were downing vegan tacos and stiff rum drinks. Conversation flowed: a man proposed a Fringe show about changing brakes and charging other people to watch him. Another negotiates a show rating for an upcoming festival; it’s a delicate balance on whether Florida teens can stand sock puppet rape or if their parent’s heads will explode. You know, the usual argy-bargy.


Dishes to be washed, stories to be told.

Feldman remains based in the DC area but currently relaxes on sabbatical in Florida. Feldman pitches a project to me, I pitch one to him. It’s just what we all do – think Big, and try to get others to do the work. Feldman reports I’ve covered his shenanigans over 30 times, a truly shocking statistic. More drinks. More tacos. More fever dreams of theatrical profits. More stiffrum drinks. Pass the gluten free whatever…

Tonight’s concept is straight forward yet oblique: Feldman is here to do the dishes, then grace us with a cold reading of a monolog he’s not seen. The collected experts then jointly which activity Feldman executes best. Dishes are piled up but they haven’t fossilized and the worst thing Feldman looks forward to is some wussy baked-on cheese. Feldman has seen worse, been paid worse. The crowd pulls up chairs, leans against walls, searches for beer in the fridge as Feldman powers up. Like many performance artists, he’s done a stretch or two professionally doing dishes. It’s the epitome of our elder’s advice: “Learn a trade.” Feldman works quickly, accurately, professionally. The atmosphere is collegial. He takes technical questions on hydrohygieneology while telling stories of other “Dishwasher” productions. In other houses mountains of fossilized dishes confronting him. “That One Creepy Guy” invited him in and leers. One gig had a shower in the middle of a kitchen, an awkward situation at best. We learn what parts of Philadelphia lack hot water. We learn dreams of living in Philly as an artist is the life of false messiah.

The anguish of an artist.

As he works, our host interviews him, asking excellent questions. Feldman gives excellent, or at least interesting answers. He may be a dishwasher, but he’s also a performance artist. Soon the dishes are done; clean ones go in the dishwasher which stands in as a drying rack; putting in a soap pod and pressing a button would have destroyed the artistic integrity of the evening. Coffee and dessert? Why, thank you. No, black is fine. Tonight we are the Cool Kids, but can never explain why.

Phase Two

Dishwashing. I can’t believe I’m covering dishwashing. But in my experience with Feldman projects this is nothing, I’ve stepped out to cover him sleeping in the street, boxing with his father. I’ve rigged TV antennas for him, hit him in the head with a claw machine, and had him creep me out as a faux restroom attendant. It’s a weird sort of male bonding, but I don’t hunt or golf so what else do I have?

The second phase of tonight is the Cold Reading. Our host has selected a particularly challenging text; it’s Lucky’s speech from “Waiting for Godot.” “Godot” is a surrealist piece by Samuel Beckett and the ultra-marathon of theater: 2 hours of nonsensical text on a plain set where basically nothing happens. I’ve seen it at least three times. One was painful, one hilarious, once utterly sad but always …well… surreal.


Feldman emotes.

Here’s the twist. Feldman can only speak when his head is hat-free. Our Suave Host gives him a tablet with his assignment and places a straw hat with a jaunty blue band on Feldman’s head, and we are off to the races. The hat comes off, and Feldman plunges into a long, nonsensical but very convincing monolog. What did it convince me of? That if you say anything loudly and confidently enough, you can make people believe you. As Feldman chews through nonsense scenery our Suave Host chases him around the room and through the house. It’s one of those doubly connected 1960s ranch numbers that pets love. You can flee in any direction. Feldman deflects, Suave Host attacks. Words fly from the foyer. Words echo from the living room. Syllables and examination point reflect from the dining room light, the kitchen, the closet. Feldman is cornered! Feldman escapes! A left! A right! A declarative sentence! An appositive! The hat attacks! Cover fire from the cat deflects a chapeau attack! The stuttering monolog makes no sense, but the performance does: Art is what you define it to be, and art is what you can convince a grant committee to fund.

The hat is on. The show is over.

Lucky is back in his cage, and it’s time to hang out, trade theatrical horror stories, dream up new projects, recall old friends. We have not changed the world, but we’ve made it worth living in. Oh, you have a 3-D TV? Cool….Let’s watch Deadpool!

For more information on Brian Feldman Projects, please visit

The Physicists

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

The Physicists
By Friedrich Dürrenmatt
Translated by James Kirkup
Directed by Paul Luby
Starring Alex Koohyar, Harry-John Shephard, and Josh Melendez
Seminole State College
Lake Mary, FL

Science on stage is always a dicey proposition: Too much detail and you drive the audience to sleep, not enough and what are you hoping to accomplish in the actual science department? We have here a lecture on scientific responsibility in the sense of “Don’t go looking into a field of physics that might kill a bunch of people.” A noble thought, but practically not very feasible.

We spend the evening in a classy mental ward staffed by attractive female nurses and the idealistic yet hunchbacked psychologist Fraulein Doctor Matilda Van Zandt (Kristina Bartholomew). Names are long and full of hard consonants; this was a Swiss play written in German and it shows. There are only three patients: Herbert George Beutler (Melendez) who thinks he’s Isaac Newton, Ernst Heinrich Ernesti (Koohyar) who thinks he’s Einstein, and Johann Wilhelm Möbius (Shephard) who thinks he’s himself, but pretends to get regular visits from King Solomon so he can hide among the insane. Actually, Beutler really thinks he’s Einstein as well, but he doesn’t want to offend Ernesti, so he’s doubled up with a more classical physicist. The three spend their time killing off attractive female nurses, all of whom are athletes with medals in judo and wrestling. Local police inspector Voss (Xander Burns) wants Von Zand to hire male attendants; he thinks this would cut down on his paper work. In Act Two several beefy male boxers arrive to keep things calm, some black shirted guards appear, the food gets worse. Now nothing is as it seems. These seemingly happy inmates are now stuck and they bare their souls; all regret that the search for the truths of modern physics has lead to war, and their side might lose.

Like an old science fiction novel, this is a story that was once edgy and thought provoking. But today we realize that while nuclear weapons are pretty darn evil, it doesn’t take much more than acetone and peroxide to blow up a subways station. The dialog here is stilted and lengthy; you often want to fast forward though the excessively formal middle names. Melendez is the brightest point of light, he’s foppish when others are goose stepping and funny when others are depressed. Mr. Koohyar seem sad to be Albert Einstein; while the math was hard he was a rock star in his day and has lots of awards and laws with his name branded on them. Mr. Shepard never seemed genuinely mentally ill, but his earnestness is endearing. These three are the heart of the story; everyone else seems to only exist to set up these three’s lines. When the black shirts arrive the result is inevitable although not set up very well. A world exists outside of this asylum, and that’s where the evil really lies: in the hands of those with an agenda that will use whatever it can to beat down the opposition. Perhaps this is a parable for today’s world situation; but it needs to pick up the pace.

For more information on the Seminole State College Theater program, please visit http://www.seminolestate.edu/arts/theatre/boxoffice.htm

The Great Gatsby

Monday, February 13th, 2017

The Great Gatsby
By Simon Ley
Adapted from a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Directed by Anne Herring
Starring Buddy Haardt and Matthew Goodrich
Orlando Shakespeare Theater
Orlando, FL

Walk into this theater, and you might be walking into the Morse Museum. Art deco lighting fixtures, a marble swimming pool, and back lit Art Nouveau figures back lit with a blue glow, all in service of Fitzgerald’s tawdry tale of jazz age adultery. The American Dream shined brightly after WW1; prohibition was just a minor irritant and the entrepreneur class made alcohol and money easy enough to get. The stock market soared, our enemies were in ruins and high tariffs seemed like a good idea. Jay Gatsby (Goodrich) did OK bootlegging; he bought a mansion on exclusive West Egg Harbor in Long Island. Here he drafts the yet-to-be successful bond trader Nick Caraway (Haardt) to help him meet his long lost love Daisy (Katheryn Miller). Too bad she already has a husband, Tom Buchannan (Christian Ryan). Tom is no angel; he’s blatantly bonking Myrtle Wilson (Georgia Mallory Guy) who’s married to the local auto mechanic George (Jacob Dresch). Daisy Bucannon is torn: stick with her unfaithful husband or become unfaithful herself? Ennui and alcohol are a bad mix, and soon its one, two, three bodies on stage. There’s no room for true love here, only money gets any real affection. Nothing much has changed in the past hundred years, has it?

Despite the juicy sex, the splendid furniture, and the dead bodies, this is a rather bloodless production. Goodrich’s Gatsby is amiable and suave; to him everything is a laugh and even pursuing Daisy seems doomed. Nick sums him up beautifully: “He spoke as if there was money in his mouth…” Haardt’s Caraway is much stronger; yet he seems overwhelmed by the splendor of his position and you sense it’s all a temporary dream to him, a premonition played out by the final curtain. Miller’s Daisy often sounds like a Tennessee Williams heroine; she’s also lost and feeling her little control slip away. Ryan’s Tom was much more menacing; he’s slick and edgy and ready to do the violence implied in the echo of Southern Melodrama. But the man who sold the show was the not-too-bright George. His wife was cheating on him with Tom and was killed by Gatsby in an accident, and when he came on at the end to claim vengeance and justice, it was electric. I’ll also mention the pant-suited Jordan Baker played by Aubrey Saverino; despite all the sex floating around Gatsby, she was the one woman who came across as actually sexy.

With clever staging and fervent pace, this is a classy but not overwhelming story. The rotating stage from Les Misérables returned with a smaller diameter; it efficiently brought us props and people and yet never appeared obtrusive. Atmosphere is everything here; we are back in the roaring twenties with the roar damped down to let us see the lives of the unhappily wealthy. And as I’ve always held: money might not buy happiness, but it allows you to be unhappy in much nicer surroundings. And these are VERY nice surroundings.

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

Picasso at the Lapin Agile

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

Picasso at the Lapin Agile
By Steve Martin
Directed by David Russell
Starring Robert Johnson and Wesley Slade
Mad Cow Theater, Orlando FL

Third time’s a charm for me; I’ve seen this script twice before and missed hearing many laughs but tonight this show hits on all comedic cylinders. It’s just another night in a Belle Époque Parisian dive in Montmartre. The Lapin Agile hosts artists and writers; it’s a good place to find absinthe, romance and heated discussions over things most people don’t care much about. Albert Einstein (Slade) drops into meet his girlfriend The Countess (Lily E Garnett) at a different bar. This is odd as Einstein never did accept the Uncertainty Principle. Tonight he’s still working on that relativity thing but kindly spares us the Tensor math. Other members of this hemi- semi-demimonde drop in: Suzanne (Sarah Lockard) seeks out the dashing Picasso (Johnson), art dealer and raconteur Sagot (Glen Gover) wanders in to flash the free Matisse he scored, and Charley Schmendiman (Benjamin Smith) comes in to brag about how smart he is. Presiding over the show and speaking directly to the audiences we have Freddy (Joe Llorens) and his wife, mistress and barmaid Germaine (Sarah French). Lastly, there’s no Green Fairy, just the prostate fairy guarding the men’s room Gaston played by Tommy Keesling.

So why are we all here? That question leads to a spirted talk back with the consensus landing somewhere between “Art is a Science” and “Science is an Art”. Slade’s Einstein felt cocky and confident; this was a man who knew something profound but hadn’t completely explained it to the world yet partly because he had the yeoman’s task of coming up with a new branch of higher math. Art made Johnston’s johnson horny; while recharging he cranked out art so fast we still haven’t found it all. Smith’s Schmendiaman looked sharp in his matching plaid coat, vest and pants; he was vaudeville personified and shows up a key element of fame. Picasso and Einstein did something new and documented it; but if all you do is make a pile of money the best you can hope for is your name on a building or a financial crisis. The females mostly stuck to the ingénue roles. It’s pure sex, and if that sex involves a famous dude, so much the better. Sarah French’s Germaine has seen it all, Sarah Lockard’s Suzan wants to see more of it, and the Female Admirer (Karie Ford) is eager to buy tickets to the next show. How do you get women? Martin teaches: Get famous first.

As comedies go, this one explores far out on the “why are we all here?” axes. True, there are jokes and gags and spit takes (or there ought to be) but deep down Martin examines both our place in the universe and “What does it all mean?” vs. “Bartender! Another round plus some jaeger shots!” This is a challenging play and the comedy on the page quite fragile. Thanks to comedy mega-director Dave Russel, this show is in good hands and delivers on the promise one expects from a wild and crazy Steve Martin script.

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

Why Do Fools Fall In Love?

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

Why Do Fools Fall In Love?
By Roger Bean and Jon Newton
Directed by Roy Alan
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
Winter Park Playhouse
Winter Park, FL

Why DO fools fall in love? Some sort of biological imperative, I suppose, but that’s not as much fun as watching them do it, over and over. Tonight we visit the not-that-swinging 60’s. Formica panels and avant-garde wall hangings define the space, over permed hair and loud dresses define the fashions. While wedding bells rings for Millie (Heather Kopp) there are rumors about the groom’s fidelity. Unfortunately the actual wedding is now in the handles of mom and an aunt and dammit, it’s going to be perfect! At t-minus 3 days, all Millie’s friends come over to celebrate with cupcakes and Tang margaritas. There’s slutty Sally (Allyssa Yost), shy Florence (Noel-Marie Matson) and ditzy Dee-Dee (Molly Jackson). They are full of advice and tequila, and Millie is in a bind. Stick it out so the parents can brag about the quality of the hor d’orves, or face reality and destroy the post war ideals of sexual relations in a modernizing universe? I’ll say this: this living room is no bastion of radical feminism.

With a deeper than normal plot line this girl’s show of dealing with unsteady fidelity is packed with great vintage songs, and not all of them are from the all-hit radio canonized playlist. Heart breakers include “Hurt So Bad” and “Goin’ Out of My Head” but then we hit obscurities like “I Stand Accused (Of Loving You)” and “Untrue, Unfaithful (That Was You)”. An anachronism slips in; Elvis Costello co-wrote “God Give Me Strength” in 1998 but it fits with in the mid-sixties material that paints the musical back drop.

Ms. Kopp is the perfectly rationalizing perma-victim; when her friends point out her man has been seen in public with another woman, she rationalizes instantly and says “they’re just friends…” Ms. Yost finds herself on a cusp; while she sees the most men they all treat her as if she sees the most men, and her reputation keeps just ahead of her honor. Ms. Matson’s the ugly duckling but has the best chance of a happy future if she can only get over her shyness for one short hour. And while Ms. Jackson often comes across as whiney, she finds the best comic moments. Example: she put olives on her fingers, admires them, then eats them and has to dry mouth through her next lines. The singers are as superb as always, the microphones are bit hot, and drama intense by WPPH standards, but this show hits the hits, dodges the easy tropes, and put up some interesting and unusual music while never straying from approved feel good roots.

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

Ben Franklin: An Ingenious Life

Monday, January 16th, 2017

Ben Franklin: An Ingenious Life
Created and Performed by Ray Flint
Presented at the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre

“Sometimes opportunity knocks more than once,” and that sums up the life of America’s first true polymath, Ben Franklin. Today’s youth knows him best for his work on the $100 bill, but in his lifetime he was a printer, a political activist and a major technology innovator in a land that still feared Indian attacks. Like all good one man evenings, Ray Flint has the middle aged, successful build we associate with Franklin. He’s done his research and knows about as much as one can about this man who would be 311 if he were alive today. Interesting factoid: Franklin was the youngest son of a youngest son going back 300 years. Well, someone has to do it.

We meet Mr. Franklin in his study at the Santos Dantin Theatre space; here he discusses his childhood, the misery of being indentured to his older brother and beaten regularity as an act of brotherly love. He became good at printing and better at writing; his letters to the editor were anonymous yet well received. He ended up as the biggest print shop in Philadelphia, and after he retired in his 40s he took up politics. London and Paris were his preferred postings; he was the colonial agent to the Crown for the colonies of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Georgia. When the Unites States came to be he badgered the French government to support the colonies with troops and skillfully used an age-old European grudge to our favor.

As Franklin, Flint keeps us on our toes and he clearly holds more anecdotes than will fit in to an already lengthy 90 minute evening. Unlike many one person shows there’s an intermission; it’s a risky business in these days of short attention spans. After the show Flynt hangs around (out of the heavy wig and constraining waistcoat) to answer historical and not so historical question about himself and this project. This is the sort of history we can all enjoy: enlightening, bright, and no scary essay questions on the test.

For more information on Mr. Flint’s show, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/FlyntPlay/