Friday, May 29, 2015

Weekend Top 6 Picks for May 30th and 31st

Saturday May 30, 2015
6pm to 8pm Free. "TEXT" group art show. The Barefoot Spa 801 Virginia Dr, Orlando, Florida. "TEXT" features the work of 30 Central Florida artists. The connecting theme of this show is the use of words and numbers in art. Included are paintings, sculptures, photography and multi media pieces. The collection is diverse vibrant and interesting.
This show will be up for the months of May, June and July at The Barefoot Spa. Most of the artists will be available at the reception to speak to you about their art. Please make time in your schedule to support the Central Florida art community!

7pm to 9pm Free. Functionally Literate presents: PINKIES. 1300 Brookhaven Dr, Orlando, FL. Join us on the 3rd leg of our first ever Func Lit Florida Tour, and celebrate the release of Burrow Press' latest book with readings and book signings by:
Shane Hinton, author of Pinkies
Jeff Parker, author of Where Bears Roam the Streets
Erica Dawson, author of The Small Blades Hurt
Books for sale by Bookmark It.
After party at Lil Indies, 1036 N. Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 10pm, with literary cocktails, and jams brought to you by PhDj Dawson.
Both events are free, so bring your book-buyin' money.

9:30pm to 10:30pm Free performance but order food or drink. Son Flamenco. Ceviche Tapas Orlando, 125 W Church St, Orlando, FL. Hot blooded Flamenco dancers.

Sunday May 31, 2015
10am to 12:30pm  $10 Crealde Sketch Class. CrealdĂ© School of Art, 600 St Andrews Blvd, Winter Park, FL. Life drawing session from the nude model.

Noon to 3pm Free. Music at the Casa. Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum, 656 North Park Avenue, Winter Park, FL. Classern String Quartet  The Classern String Quartet combines the Classic elegance of a string quartet with a modern twist by performing pop and rock melodies from yesterday and today.
Each member of the Quartet is a college educated, Classically trained musician that have performed in major symphonies and events throughout Florida.
They have a large repertoire of music and perform anything from Bach to the Beatles, Lady Gaga , the Black Eyed Peas and everything in between.

1pm to 3pm Free. Yoga. Lake Eola Park, 195 N Rosalind Ave, Orlando, FL on the grass on the east end of the park near the red pagoda. Weekly.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Alone in the Universe presented a humerous existential look at the meaning of life.

Big Whoop productions from Vancouver Canada presented Alone in the Universe a one-man sketch comedy experience about the mystery of existence and what it means to be just a dumb human floating in space, examined through characters, mime, music, and stand-up. This Fringe show written and performed by Adam Pateman was presented in the Bronze venue inside the Orlando Museum of Art. Adam who was dressed like a gas station attendant was challenged by an alien announcer to solve the mysteries of life, or the entire human race would be annihilated.

Adam followed with a one man monologue that reflected on his past and present. Of course none of what he said addressed the ultimate question but the point was to go along for a fun ride. He seemed to feel that turning 30 was a major life change. Hair grew in new and unexpected places. The following decades bring much greater surprises.

He ultimately concluded that the meaning of life must be the question itself, that we had been given life and the ability to reason so that we might ultimately ask the question. The sinister alien announcer stated simply "No". It turns out that all of existence came about so that there might be a seventh season of Glee on TV.

Since Adam was wrong the announcer stated that the world would end at any moment. The audience sat in the dark theater and waited. He toyed with the audience by announcing our untimely end several times. Would the show ever end? Were we destined to sit in this dark purgatory forever?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra has a new Musical Director

The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra’s international search for a new Music Director was announced in the spring of 2013. Over 12 months, a committee comprised of orchestra musicians and community members spent over 2000+ hours to screen a slate over more than 275 candidates from around the world to choose five finalists, who each conducted a classical program during the 2014-2015 season.

The finalists were,  Alondra de la Parra, Steven Jarvi, Eric Jacobsen, Dirk Meyer, and Leslie B. Dunner. On May 4th, patrons of the Philharmonic were invited to the Plaza Live Theater for a Sneak Peek to find out who would conduct the orchestra for the next season. As at the Academy Awards, a single sealed envelope sat on a music stand at center stage. Emily Lindahl was kind enough to be sure I found a seat up front to sketch from. As we bustled through the crowd, she let slip that HE was the perfect choice as conductor. So the list was whittled down to four finalists in my head now. If Orlando wasn't ready for a female conductor, would they be ready for an African American conductor? I didn't get to see every conductor perform, so I am unqualified to decide who should lead the Orchestra into the future. But I was certainly impressed with Alondra and Leslie, the conductors I did get to sketch.

 After much pomp and circumstance the envelope was opened and the tympani drum roll began. Eric Jacobsen's name was announced and the Philharmonic brass section played regal music from the balcony. Hailed by the New York Times as “an interpretive dynamo,” conductor and cellist Eric has built a reputation for engaging audiences with innovative and collaborative programming projects. As co-founder and Music Director of adventurous orchestra The Knights and a founding member of genre-defying string quartet Brooklyn Rider, he may take credit for helping to ensure “the future of classical music in America”. (Los Angeles Times).

David Schillhammer., the Philharmonics Executive Director sat on stage opposite Eric and together they announced the upcoming season. Eric must have some loose ends to tie up because there were quite a few concerts where a guest conductor had to fill in.

Mark Your Calendars! The Music Director Debut will be on Saturday October 24, 2015 at 8:00pm at the Bob Carr Theater. Eric Jacobsen will conduct and Joyce Yang will be on piano. Music Director Eric Jacobsen and the orchestra embark on their musical journey with two concerts featuring Van Cliburn silver medalist Joyce Yang, and a banquet of masterpieces spanning four centuries.

BEETHOVEN  Leonore Overture No. 3
TCHAIKOVSKY  Piano Concerto No. 1
RAVEL  Daphnis et Chloe: Suite No. 2

 For more information about all the other concerts coming up this season, be sure to check the Orlando Philharmonic web site.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Corsets and Cuties bring belly laughs to burlesque at Fringe.

Double Tree Productions presents Corsets and Cuties a Burlesque Cabaret in the Black Venue (The Venue) at this year's Orlando International Fringe Festival. I went to one of their earlier shows at 10:30pm to sketch. What Babs and her troupe do is make burlesque fun and classy in equal measure. A three foot long sausage with balls on the male dancer might not be classy, but it is laugh out loud fun. He also did a number to the song Kriptonite in superman pajamas. When he stripped behind his long red cape, the women in the audience went crazy. He did turn around but kept part of the cape covering his midsection at all times just like the drapery in a Michelangelo.

I love the Three Belly dancers who performed a James Bond themed belly dance.  Theirs is a graceful class act. I wanted to catch their graceful gestures but my sketch was already crowded with performers. Their was a magical effect created by the blue footlights that I would have loved to catch. Sometimes I wish my right hand could move a whole lot faster (for sketching).

The number about the history of the brazier featured Babs in a costume that had impossibly large pillowy breasts. Jaimz wore a German Tirolean costume and the routine has to be seen to be believed. I laughed so hard my sides hurt. The big reveal would often happen with a performer's back to the audience and these performers understand the art of the tease. Performers walked out into the audience and dollar bills would be stuffed into crevices. As the whole troupe took their final bow, a fist full of dollars rained down on the stage. The show is sponsored by Premier Couples Superstore. Every evenings show is different so there are always surprises.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Autobahn shines it's headlights on the drama of road trips.

Handwritten Productions presented Autobahn written by Neil Labute, in the Red Venue of this year's Orlando International Fringe Festival. It presented five one act scenes with the audience voyeuristicly looking through the windshield at couples in the front seats of their car. The show began with headlights shining in the audiences eyes. The first scene featured a young woman, (Kristen Shoffner) in a black skull T-shirt slouching down in the passenger seat. Presumably her mother, (Candy Heller) sat stoic and silent behind the driving wheel. The young woman chatted non-stop while the driver never spoke and always seemed a bit annoyed. It became clear over time that the young woman had beer released from a rehab program. She had learned how to give the staff all the right answers. The one thing she had learned is that she needed to have one person she could always confide in. She informed the driver that it was her lucky day because she would always confide in her. What she confided however was that she couldn't wait to start using again. She missed the rush, the heavenly high. It was clear that the stoic driver wasn't pleased, but she must have had a checkered past as well because the passenger felt no one would take the driver's word were she to try and turn the young woman in.

A boy and girl sat in a car with a bench seat at a lovers point. The girl, (Jillian Gizzi) was on edge because she thought the boy, (Adam DelMedica)  might want to break up with her. Instead then began to make out. When they come up for air she tells him  about the last boy who broke up with her. She sought revenge by mailing dead mice to his house from different locations. She rejoiced in the fact that police were unable to stop her. The boy's face turned pale as he heard about her fatal attraction and unending need for revenge. He had been happy with their relationship, but now he clearly wanted out but was to frightened to broach the subject.

The scene that hit closest to home for me featured an older man behind the wheel, (Lucas Perez) and a young girl curled up in the passenger's seat (Marisa Nieves Hemphill). From their first interactions I presumed this was a father and daughter. He chastised her for her behavior in a rest stop where her temper tantrum had gotten him quite upset. However, the more they spoke, the less close they seemed. I kept trying to guess her age. When she was curled up in the fetal position she seemed like such a young child but as they spoke she seemed to mature. The drivers affection for the girl seemed fine when I imagined he was her dad but when it became clear he was a stranger, his affection became menacing. He was her driver's ed instructor and he was taking her to a secluded cabin. I wanted to shout out, "Get out of the car!" But instead she chatted amicably seeking forgiveness for her outburst at the rest stop. He spotted a deer on the side of the road, and she begged him to turn around so she could see it. He refused. He was now clearly in control. She curled up again. He asked, "Can I touch your hair?" She asked "Why?" "Because I want to." he replied. The lights dimmed as he ran his fingers through her hair. Marisa, the actress in this scene, resembles a friend of mine who once confided that a relative had sexually abused her. This is more common than I ever imagined here in Florida. Another friend, who later committed suicide confided that her brother had done the same when she was very young. She had blocked that memory for years. When it resurfaced, she couldn't live with it. This scene sticks with me because I wish that the inevitable tragedy could be averted.

The plays title comes from the last scene in which the woman says that perhaps the Germans had it right with their Autobahn in that there should be no speed limits and we should speed through life never having time to see the people speeding past us. We are all in a mad automotive rush, but to what end, what final destination? I can't shake this play which first appeared at the Little Shubert Theater in NYC on March 8, 2004. This is what Fringe does best, five one act scenes that will linger forever. This was the Patron's Pick in the Red Venue so there is one more performance.

Last performance: Monday May 25,  12:30pm to 1:30pm
Length: 60 minutes.
Venue: Red (Shakes behind through the courtyard and up to a second floor theater)
Rated: 18+ for language and sexual themes
Tickets: $11 (+service charge)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

7(+1) Samurai is high energy fun at this year's Orlando Fringe.

Actor David Gaines thanked patrons standing in line for his solo show, 7(+1) Samurai. His show is in one of the largest venues which is a good thing because word of mouth will result in even larger lines. On his own, David acts out the movie 7 Samurai, playing all the parts himself. The result is at times mysterious, and often hilarious. His impression of a frightened farmer running through his field is worth the price of admission alone.

Sound effects play an integral part in every scene and he created them all with his voice from the flump of a falling body to the swipp, chunck, jigga jigga jigga of an arrow slicing through the air and hitting its target.  In many ways it felt like the movie was being projected quickly like in the silent film era. The masks were used to represent the villain and then the quiet and stoic hero samurai who helped the villagers learn how to defend themselves.

As an artist, I had to glance down at my sketch sometimes, and when I looked up, David had become another character. Fight sequences might find him changing character 7 times or more every minute. It was a non-stop fun whirlwind that didn't stop until his open hand with radiating fingers representing the setting sun,
lowered behind his extended arm and the lights faded to black.

This high energy romp is one of my top picks from this year's Fringe Festival. It is a show that must be seen to be believed.

7(+1) Samurai
Only one show remaining: Sunday 5/24 3:45pm to 4:45pm
Tickets are $10 (plus a service charge).
Rating: 7+
Run time: 60 minutes.
Venue: Orange (The Margison Theater inside the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Hoodies opens a much needed discussion about racism in America.

Penguin Point Productions and Beth Marshall Presented the World Premiere of Hoodies written by Paris Crayton III and directed by Beth Marshall at this year's Orlando Fringe. It is the third in a series of productions addressing racism following the Trayvon Martin shooting. Beth was driving home from a 17 hour long Fringe day setting up for the Hoodies premiere., As she said, "I get pulled over by O-Town's finest. Apparently, I was going 7 miles over the speed limit at one point and swerved a little. (NOTE- I have not had one drink in god knows how long) When the cop is shining his flashlight in the car, he sees the Hoodies posters and asks about the show. I proceeded to tell him about the year-long Trayvon Martin Project and that Hoodies is part 3 and do my pitch. He says" So you want people to come to a show about "cops doing their jobs" (a line that is said a LOT in the play by our cop) for the betterment of the community." To which I reply, the death of black teens is never to the betterment of our community, sir. He went off to run my information and then 2 other cop cars pull up to check on him and come over and to see the Hoodies flyers. As they take them, I say- I have another show at Fringe that you might like better- ha! (meaning Cosmolyrical) and handed these two cops the flyers. Then they all come back over and the cop gives me a warning for my "speeding and swerving" and makes a joke saying "here's a warning for doing a show about bad cops"... I was not amused. Then one of the others said, begins talking about how he once did South Pacific in some community theatre in one of the Carolina's. Again, I was not amused.... Then they said they were "gonna try to make it to them". I asked if I could take a photo of them with the flyers and they said no. HAPPY FRINGE!"

Hoodies presents the story of  “Hooper” Williams, (Stelson Telfort) a seventeen year old black teen who is energetic, smart, and full of life. He is exceptional at basketball and a popular student at his high school. The genius of this play is that you learn to love Hooper through a series of scenes with his family and friends. Much of the cast consists of theater students from Lake Howell High School.  This makes perfect sense since the story is about the senseless shooting of a fellow student.

 The scenes don' t happen in chronological. In one of the funniest scenes, Hooper confides in his mom, Alice (Shonda L Thurman) that he is nervous about asking a girl to the prom. Mom suggests he ask her as if she were the girl in question. Then she starts asking questions about the girl so she can "get in character". As she explains, she is a method actor. When he confides that the girl is white, she says, "You're making this difficult on me." She does play the part however, as a stereo typical Valley girl to hilarious effect. When he finally does ask her out, she replies simply, "No, I have plans." "Mom!" he shouts, and then she explains what he did wrong.

Students discussed the insane action their school took to ban hoodies. A young black student had been shot by a police man while wearing a hoodie and this was the schools knee jerk reaction to protect the student population. Jenny (Momo Earle) a soft spoken Caucasian girl lamented that changing what students wear isn't a solution. Only an open discussion and real change could stop the killing. She had been close to the boy shot and was still devastated by his senseless death. In another scene, Hooper and Jenny meet in the school hallway and they struggle to talk in an awkward exchange. Hooper finally builds up the courage to ask Jenny out and her simply "Yes" eases the tension. They both gleefully shake in delight when they walk away. From that moment on however, the audience knows that Hooper will be shot.

"The Talk" parents have with black teen boys is different than the talk Caucasian parents have with their boys. Rather than "the birds and bees" Hooper's parents explain how he must act when being confronted by a police man. They tell him that he must keep his hands visible at all times and never raise his voice. He should never give the policeman any reason to escalate the situation. "But what if I didn't do anything wrong!" he shouts. "It doesn't matter." he is told that just the color of his skin makes him a suspect in racial profiling..

Frank Stevens (Stephen Lima) is a Caucasian male who is new to the police force. In a conversation with his wife, Katie (Chelsey Panisch) he finds out that she is unhappy with the way that their marriage is going and can’t handle the new pressure of being so closely involved with the death of a young teen. "You think I'm guilty" he tells her. "It didn't have to end the way it did" she replies. "I was doing my job!" he shouts. As an audience member, you can't help but recall how many Germans after World War II also confided that they "were just following orders".

Hooper was shot the night before prom and Jenny came on stage in a beautiful purple prom dress to explain that she would never go to prom. Hooper's mom was so overcome with grief that she couldn't stop crying. Her husband, Jonathon (Barry White) confided that he couldn't stand to see her in so much pain. He felt helpless in the wake of so much pain.

What makes this play so powerful is that you see every characters strengths and flaws in each scene. I recently traveled to Turkey and some people felt I should have bean scared. Ironically a Turkish taxi driver confided that America is a far more scary place. No where else in the world are so many unarmed youths killed. Police in America kill citizens at over 70 times the rate of other first world nations. Hoodies addresses this problem in a very human way. It is theater at it's best because it forces us to took at ourselves and realize that chance will only happen if enough people raise their voice. The cast and crew of Hoodies did an amazing job and I hope the show will find a larger audience. After the show, the theater lobby was crowded full of students holding signs of protest. Don't miss Hoodies!

Where: Silver Venue (Orlando REP, Bush Theatre) 1001 East Princeton Street (Loch Haven Park) Orlando FL

Tickets: $11 + service charge.

Remaining Shows:
Saturday, 5/23- 8:30pm
Sunday, 5/24- 12:30pm

Friday, May 22, 2015

Weekend Top 6 Orlando Fringe Picks.

Saturday May 23, 2015
A $10 Fringe Button is needed for entrance to all shows. Available at the Shakes box office. (good for entire 14-Day Festival.). Anyone can Fringe. I will be at Fringe from 10am to 4pm all weekend doing a Fringe Sketch Tour. If you spot me, be sure to say hi.

11:45pm to 12:45pm $11 + service charge. Moonlight After Midnight. Green Venue (Rep Black Box). 60 minutes. Rated 7+ years old. "A beautiful woman meets a mysterious man in a midnight hotel room. Starring Martin Dockery & Vanessa Quesnelle". I have seen Martin Dockery tell stories on the Fringe stages for the past several years and I am always spellbound.

2pm to 2:55pm $11 + service charge. Tales Too Tall for Trailers. Brown Venue (Shakes inside former Philharmonic rehearsal space). 55 minutes. All ages. "Comedian / Storyteller Paul Strickland  and Erika Kate MacDonald  join forces in this off-kilter musical family comedy! Funny songs, strange southern stories, shadow puppetry, a pet named "Peeve" and more. The final installment in Paul's trailer park trilogy." I saw this show and was delighted with it's humor, innocent and clever use of shadow puppetry and wit.

4:30pm to 5pm $5 + service charge. Judy Garland. Orange Venue (Shakes Margison Theater). 30 minutes. Rated 18+. "That Judy Garland show from last year that sold out four times and wasn't even listed in the program is back in a bigger venue with cheaper tickets." This show had me laughing out loud last year, and I have to see it again.

Sunday May 24, 2015
12:30pm to 1:30pm  $11 + service charge. Hoodies. Silver Venue (Large Rep Theater). 60 minutes. Rated 13+. "The third piece in our Beth Marshall Presents: The Trayvon Martin Project year - long exploration of racism, profiling, gun control and the tragic loss of too many black teens. A raw and powerful socio-political play delving deeply into the core of race relations between blacks and whites today with the purpose of greater communication, healing and celebration of diversity." Theater at it's best. That opens a raw and much needed discussion of race in America.

3:15pm to 4:15pm $11 + service charge. Autobahn. Red Venue (Shakes back courtyard and then upstairs) 60 minutes. Rated 18+.  "From the playwright of reasons to be pretty, Neil LaBute's Autobahn is a provocative, darkly comic portrait of America - "from a make-out session gone awry to a kidnapping thinly disguised as a road trip" - set within the confines of the front seat of a car, a gritty fable about the words we leave unsaid." Incredibly compelling theater. One of my favorite shows this year.

4:20pm to 5:20pm $11 + service charge. Janis Joplin, Little Girl Blue. Gold Venue (In the Orlando Museum of Art theater). 60 minutes. Rated 18+.  "Kaleigh Baker and an all-star band of Orlando's finest musicians, including director Andy Matchett, present an in-depth and passionate look at the life, music and untimely death of one of Music's greatest icons: Janis Joplin. Baker swells in volume as she moves from a solo rendition of "What Good Can Drinkin Do?" to an explosive 8 piece band backing her on hits like Peace of My Heart and Get It While You Can." Kaleigh is the one singer who can truly capture the spirit of Janice when she sings. At the rehearsal I was transported back in time.  If you also see Autobahn the same day, you will literally have to run across the parking lot to catch this show but it is worth the effort.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bubble Gum Party blows up the Brown Venve.

The Bubble Gum Party is a splash of color at this year's Orlando International Fringe Festival. The  Silver Dollar Productions singing trio consists of Robbie Bubble (dad), Debbie Bubble (mom), and Abby Bubble (daughter). They sing sugar sweet pop songs with a twist. The show stars Summer AielloSarah French, and Keven Kriegel. The book and lyrics are by Kevin and Sarah, and the music by Ned Wilkinson. I met the cast briefly before the show and Kevin gave me a "Blow Me!" button that I proudly sport on my art bag. Blue Estrella had invited me to the show.

The show is billed a wholesome family fun, yet every song has hilarious double meanings. As the poster says, "Fun for the whole family" and "Not suitable for children". Sarah was adorable as the child in this high octane Partridge family. Dad dropped hint after hint that he enjoys a muscular mans body while Debbie seemed oblivious to his wandering lust. Sarah announced that she likes "sexting" but to her that is any text with some hip urban attitude.

Every song in the show was laugh out loud funny and the audience was on there feet clapping and dancing. The show began with Sarah shouting out to the audience, "Who's been to a Bubble Gum Party before!" The audience sat silent. "Well who hasn't been to a Bubble Gum Party before!" The audience cheered. "Yay!" From that moment on, the energy never dropped. Abby wondered how many bubble gum balls she could fit in her mouth.  Debbie thought two balls were enough for her, but Robbie could fit or dreamed of fitting far more. What followed was a fun hour of laughter and sexual innuendo. I laughed so hard, that at times it was hard to draw.

The sock puppets that represented stereo typical racial types made me a bit uncomfortable but they were so un-pc that I had to laugh.  Robbie held a guitar but clearly couldn't play. Perhaps this was a poke at lip syncing divas. This boisterous family did however know how to sing into their brightly colored mics! If you love laughter and having a good time, this is the show for you.

Bubble Gum Party
Remaining show times:
Friday May 22,  9:45pm to 10:45pm
Saturday May 23, 3:15pm to 4:15pm
Sunday May 24,  3:15pm to 4:15pm
Venue: Brown (Shakes former Philharmonic rehearsal space)
Rating: 13+
Length: 60 minutes 
Tickets: $9

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Nick Paul's Impossible Feats of Fake Magic offered comedy and Magic.

Nick Paul's Impossible Feats of Fake Magic in the Fringe bronze venue inside the Orlando Museum of Art was a highly entertaining hour of magic. Nick is an Orlando native and this was the first time I had to sketch his act. A helium balloon was suspended in the middle of the stage. Nick eyed the balloon and with a flourish decided to cut the ribbon that held the balloon to the stage. Amazingly the balloon remained hovering where it was rather than floating to the ceiling. He then waved his hands around the balloon to show that there were no rods or supports holding the balloon in place. Next he tried to move the balloon by pushing and pulling it with no effect. I actually used to show a YouTube clip to my Full Sail students in which a mime tried to move a helium balloon. Darko Cesar, a former Disney Animator turned me on to this entertaining piece. We used it to show students how an animators job is to imply stress and strain by using exaggerated poses. When done right the unbelievable becomes plausible.

Nick asked an audience member to pick out a long word in the Fringe program. An envelope taped to the back of the trunk was opened and somehow that work was written on the sheet of paper inside. I tried to figure out the trick but in the end enjoyed simply being amazed. Nick's wife joined him at the end of the show and somehow she was quickly transported inside a small box when behind a curtain for a minute. Her hand waved from a small hole in the box and that was the end of the show. People didn't know if they should leave. At the exit several audience members approached Nick, concerned that his wife was still locked away in the box.  I don't know if she ever got out. Of course all magic is fake, but Nicks physical comedy and audience participation made it a fun and entertaining show. He performs magic regularly at Walt Disney World where magic is expected.

Venue: Bronze
Length: 50 minutes
Rating: 13+
Tickets: $10 (+service charge)
Remaining Show Times:
Wednesday May 20, 2015  5:30pm to 6:20pm
Sunday May 24, 2015        8:15pm to 9:05pm