Friday, May 26, 2017

Weekend Top 6 Picks for May 27th and 28th.

Saturday May 27, 2017
11:15am to 12:15pm $12 Beau and Aero: Crash Landing. Green Venue at the Orlando Fringe Festival. 1001 E Princeton St, Orlando, FL 32803. Two pilots perform comedy with balloons and other props. Get it, props...

12:30pm to 1:30pm $12 O-TOWN: Voices from Orlando. Brown Venue 812 Rollins Street Orlando, FL Collected stories from the weeks and months following the Pulse Nightclub attack in Orlando. Created and Directed by David Karl Lee, recipient of The Orlando Fringe 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award
13 and Up - PG-13 Adult Language and Situations.

4pm to 5pm $10 La Reina Yolanda. White Venue at the Orlando Fringe festival. 2121 Camden Rd, Orlando, FL 32803. La Reina Yolanda is one woman's life from childhood adventures to her battle with Alzheimer's. Sometimes the greatest journeys are the ones in our own mind.

Sunday May 28, 2017
11:00am to 12:00pm $12 Evacuated. Pink Venue at the Orlando Fringe Festival. 812 Rollins Street Orlando Fl. Forced to flee Indonesia! The unforgettable true story of a strange girl in a strange land.
2014 Best Female Performance Award winner Erika Kate MacDonald (Tap Me on the Shoulder, Tales Too Tall for Trailers) returns! This new storytelling adventure won the Critics’ Award at the 2016 Cincinnati Fringe.

11:15am to 12:15pm $12 O-TOWN: Voices from OrlandoBrown Venue 812 Rollins Street Orlando, FL  Collected stories from the weeks and months following the Pulse Nightclub attack in Orlando. Created and Directed by David Karl Lee, recipient of The Orlando Fringe 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award
13 and Up - PG-13 Adult Language and Situations.

4:30pm to 5:30pm $9 Trading Soles. Breakthrp8gh Theater at Fringe. 421 West Fairbanks Avenue Winter Park Fl. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Last 5 Years at Fringe.

Really Spicy Opera produced "The Last 5 Years" at this years Orlando International Fringe Festival.Written and Composed by Jason Robert Brown, the musical followed the course of a Marriage over 5 years. Cathy (Suzie Juul) begins by entering the stage and finding a note on a table, announcing that their marriage is over. It is from her lover who has left. it is the bitter ending to what must have been a beautiful relationship. Each of her songs progresses back in time moving towards the sweet memories of the idealistic beginnings. On the other hand, Jamie (Austin Stole) sings his songs in chronological order, beginning with his first glimpse of Jamie and ending with his need to leave a note announcing his departure.

Cathy is an aspiring actress and Jamie an aspiring author. Her career stagnates through a series of auditions while Jamie's manuscript is accepted propelling his career forward. These different trajectories create friction and conflict that wears down their idealistic love. The songs in the show are gorgeous and it is one of my top picks from this years Fringe so far.

The audience gets to experience the rush of first love, a proposal, an affair and the hurt of separation all over the course of two opposing time lines. When Jamie is hurting and given up on the relationship, Cathy is in the feeling the rush of their first date. These highs and lows combined give the play an unexpected resonance and power.

I went to the final performance and was surprised to find two new actors filling the rolls. The female actress (Nicole Kobrich) did a great job but I found it hard to watch the male actor (Steve Halloin) who wasn't projecting and was often off key. He did a great job with "The Schmuel Song" which seemed to be his most polished performance. I've never loved a show, and returned to be disappointed before. As much as I liked the show, it ended its Fringe run with a whimper.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Martin Dockery's Delirium at Fringe.

Delirium is a one man show starring Martin Dockery from Brooklyn New York at the Orlando International Fringe Festival. He is an amazing story teller. His high energy delivery is unrelenting. He has the most expressive hand gestures of any storyteller I have ever seen. His gestures are as expressive as the story being told.

He told a story about his desire to set up a restaurant at Burning man that only served strawberries. The irony was that he wanted the restaurant to have a huge staff of waiters, maitred' and sous chefs. He had a year to plan but when burning Man fast approached, he realized he hadn't done a thing to make his dream a reality. He finally decided to do it himself with a few throw pillows and a cooler. Embarrassed, he set up shop one night as everyone else was partying. He decided to call out to a hulk of a man in a black trench coat and dark hat. He though he had made a mistake as the man approached. however the man sat down and ordered a strawberry dish. Martin realized as he served up the dish that he should make small talk since he was sort of like a bartender. The conversation turned serious as the man related a story about that last time he was at burning involved a relationship with a tragic ending. Just the act of listening helped the man in his healing process. A simple and silly concept served just one costumer, but the interaction changed both men.

Another vivid story revolved around the loss of Martin's dog. His description of why dog ownership is so enticing had me wanting to get a dog for myself. There is something about walking down a street with a dog that is so excited about everything he encounters. As Marti  sat at his computer doing human things, he could look across the room at the dog and there was a realization that they were is that space and time together. Martin was there when the dog had to be put down because of a cancerous growth. The loss was devastating.

So many of his stories were about love and loss. With the loss still fresh in Orlando after the Pulse shooting that took 49 lives we all need to be reminded that love is possible despite the darkness of the infinite universe. It is the one thing that makes sense when facing an indifferent world. The frantic delivery of each tale makes the telling of the stories seem imperative and desperately needed. This is theater at its best with a storyteller relating stories that can touch and perhaps change and inspire anyone who listens.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 10:45 pm EST at the Pink Venue $12 plus a Fringe button.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Trading Soles at Fringe.

I went to a rehearsal of Trading Soles written by Franco Colon. This show is a Bring Your Own Venue production. BYOV venues allow for more choices off of the usual Fringe lawn epicenter of the festival. The rehearsal space was off set from the road so it wasn't easy to find. Actress Crysta Marie guided us in. The empty showroom had a two beds and several night stands. Bodies were lying on the floor.

Director Joseph Adam Gonzolez quickly explained the shows premise. BEN (Justin Cortes), an awkward freshman, meets his new roommate in college, ELI, (Franco Colon)an arrogant, charming sophomore. BEN and ELI are complete opposites and do not get along due to their differences. Ben has enough and tries to move out of the dorm, but that's when the chaos begins. Just when things couldn't get worse, they switch bodies. ELI sleeps in his shoes and then they talk about walking in someones steps. They wake up to find they are in each other's bodies, more like trading souls.

BEN and ELI have no choice but to come together and figure out what in the world just happened. ELI is a closeted gay, and towards the end of the play while in his friends body, he comes out to Ben's, mom (Crysta Marie). Her scream scared me half out of my whits. I wasn't expecting it.

I only got to see the last few scenes of the play. I'm not sure why bodies littered the floor. The sketch was finished in a panicked flash.

TRADING SOLES remaining show times:
Thursday, May 25th, 10 PM
Saturday, May 27th, 7 PM
Sunday, May 28th, 4:30 PM

$10.00 Fringe Button (Sold at Breakthrough Theater
421 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789) $9.00 + $1.25 ticketing fee (ONLINE or AT FRINGE BOX OFFICE ONLY. TICKETS WILL NOT BE SOLD AT BREAKTHROUGH)

Monday, May 22, 2017

La Reina Yolanda at Fringe.

Leesa Castaneda, a a playwright, director and actress veteran of the Orlando theatre scene, is bringing her one woman show entitled La Reina Yolanda to the Orlando International Fringe Festival.

Written and performed by Leesa Castaneda and directed by Paul Castaneda, the play is about one woman's life from childhood adventures to her battle with Alzheimer's. The affection between the actress and director was evident as they talked during the tech. Sometimes the greatest journeys are the ones in our own mind. Yolanda, is a fierce Latina who we follow from childhood to old age. Beset by tragedy, she leans on her sharp mind and family to land on her feet. An advocate for her family and the less fortunate, her mind becomes ravaged by Alzheimer's. She's faced with the fight for her mind, sense of self and the family she has fought hard to protect. When who we are begins to disappear piece by piece, how do we hold on to the essence of what defines us?

Two painting on stage were done by La Reina herself. one showed a priest walking past a gorgeous woman in a red dress and high heels. it was as if the priest were considering abandoning his robes to turn and follow the woman. the other painting was probably a self portrait of La Reina. She looked stoic and strong. This was a tech rehearsal, which involved lots of lighting adjustments prior to a complete run through of the show. We had forgotten to bring tissues from the Shakespeare Theater bathrooms. It wasn't until the last scenes when sleeves had to be used. To see such an inspired and active woman loose her sense of identity was painful to watch.

La Reina Yolanda will have performances in the WHITE Venue
Remaining show times:
Monday, May 22nd 5:30 PM
Wednesday, May 24th 5:30 PM
Friday, May 26th 7:00 PM
Saturday, May 27th 4:00 PM
Sunday, May 28th 6:00 PM

The Orlando Fringe runs through May 29, 2017 in Loch Haven Park. Go to the Orlando Fringe website at for tickets and the Festival Dates and location.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

#Kander and Ebb at Fringe.

This musical cabaret featured the works of Broadway composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb. They wrote music for such musicals as Chicago, Cabaret, Zorba, Fosse, and Kiss of the Spider Woman. The Canadian singer, Ryan G. Hinds, came out with bright red glitter lipstick, his suit and skin glowed orange in the hot stage light. The pianist seemed bland by comparison, only lit by the glow of light off of the sheet music. I couldn't catch the lipstick in my sketch. 

The show combines musical theater with celebrity gossip. He had Liza Minnelli as a mentor and she inspired his career. Chita Rivera was also a major source of inspiration. The songs were romantic and funny. He told the story of a musical set at the sea shore. When he heard the musical as a high school student, he suddenly realized that the lyrics could be interpreted as being rather dirty. Songs about splashing in the waves could be reinterpreted as being about pleasure filled orgasms and maybe a golden shower. 

The singer met both Kander and Ebb loving one and being snubbed by the other. It was a fun cabaret and the final song seemed to come too soon. When the audience stood for a standing ovation, the singer shouted out, "Oh sit down! Of course I'll do another song." It was typical of the light hearted humor that was laced throughout the show. If you love old school Broadway musicals, then this is the show for you.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Phantasmagoria's Wickedest Tales of All at Fringe.

Phantasmagoria: Wickedest Tales of All will hit the Orlando International Fringe Festival with a vengeance. I sat in on a  tech rehearsal in the Orange Venue (Margeson Theater) inside the Orlando Shakespeare Theater. I sat in the top row of the theater. The huge cast was rehearsing a waltz. With so many actors on stage, the challenge was to keep couples from bumping into each other.  Once the dance was worked out, the actors were released to go back stage, and get into make up and finish their elaborate costuming. John DiDonna came up to the back row to say hi and offer me a chance to sketch the back stage chaos. However, I had to run in order to get to another show.

Stage hands started sweeping the stage and then someone discovered a quarter sized hole in the stage floor. It was fun to watch actors, stage hands, the tech and director all standing around the hole to figure out how to patch it up. should a performer's heel get stuck it could be a tragic moment. The fight choreographer stuck his finger in and said, "This will seal it up, I'm sort of like the Dutch boy." Someone else suggested that they should get an actor to stick their finger in and then rip it off leaving it behind in the hole. Corks were considered and of course Duct Tape fixes anything. I didn't stick around to find out how the mysterious hole was eventually patched.

The driving premise behind the show is that any story that is old must be told until it is complete. Some stories are so horrific that the cast can find themselves in mortal danger. There was a drone perched on on of the boxes, so I am left wondering how it might come into play.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Weekend Top 6 Picks for May 20th and 21st.

Saturday May 20, 2017
1pm to 10pm Accidental Music Festival Marathon! 80 West Grant Street, Suite 11, Orlando, FL 32806. Accidental Music Festival's Marathon AMF celebrates the emergence of Orlando as a hotbed of contemporary classical and creative music on May 20th. Featuring 18 ensembles and soloists performing a day-long concert of music almost exclusively by living composers at the Sodo Shopping Center, the event seeks to highlight the work of new and established groups dedicated to new music. This year there will also be family-friendly events during the day, including acoustic and electronic instrument petting zoos, where kids of all ages can test out instruments and learn about making music.
1:00p - Valhalla Quartet (student ensemble)
1:30p - Opera Orlando
2:00p - nullstate
2:30p - UCF Percussion Ensemble
3:00p - Yen-Yaw
3:30p - Alterity Woodwind Quintet
4:00p - Elizabeth Baker
4:30p - Continuum Quartet
5:00p - Helena
5:30p - dbDuo
6:00p - Luis Guerrero
6:30p - Belt & Ramirez
7:00p - blacksunblackmoon
7:30p - Lush Agave
8:00p - Hippocrene Saxophone Quartet
8:30p - Moloko Plus
9:00p - Thomas Milovac Unit Colossus
9:30p - Ensemble AMF

3pm to 11pm Free. Swamp Sistas La La at Orlando Fringe 2017. Outdoor stage Lock Haven Park. Orlando songwriter Beth McKee and Park Ave CDs are co-presenting the fifth annual Swamp Sistas La La, a family friendly, musical gathering of female-fronted acts, on May 20 from 3 to 11 p.m. on the Fringe Lawn Stage in Loch Haven Park. The musically diverse lineup ranges from singer songwriter to folk rock, a capella, rhythm and blues (both kinds) and Hip Hop, plus Orlando's best story teller.
The event is part of the Orlando Fringe Festival and will raise money to help Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida fight local hunger with a virtual fund drive at Funds raised will go to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida Summer Hope for Kids program to feed kids from low income families this summer, when no school means no school breakfast or lunch to many who need it. The campaign will run from April 26 until the end of the day on May 20th, cash and check donations will also be accepted at the La La.
Performing at the La La are:
LUVU, E-Turn, Terri Binion, Lynn Drury Music, Beth McKee, Sybil Gage & her Catahoulas, O-Sky, Helena, Renee is a Zombie, storyteller Madeline Pots, Kayonne Riley Music, Ka Malinalli and Loi Jeannette.

7pm $12. O-Town: Voices from Orlando. Fringe Brown Venue Orlando International Fringe Festival 812 Rollins Street Orlando Fl. David Lee, recipient of the 2016 Orlando International Fringe Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award has created an original theatrical event that shares stories and experiences from the days, weeks and months following the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub attack that occurred in Orlando on June 12th, 2016. Interviews, blog postings and stories from the Orlando Sentinel newspaper come to life on stage in a very personal and intimate way through a company of 18 local Theatre Artists.

Sunday May 21, 2017
11pm to 5pm. Free. Streetscape Arts Market on Pine Street. CityArts Factory 29 S Orange Ave, Orlando, Florida 32801. We are starting a quarterly arts market downtown on Pine Street. We are looking for artists, artisans, crafters, jewelry makers, musicians, and food vendors.
Our goal is to continue growing the arts scene downtown. This will be a fun outdoor event that happens once a quarter. Spread the word and get in on the ground floor. 10x10 spots are going for $10. Email today for an application.

2:30pm to 1pm $12. Phantasmagoria's "Wickedest Tales of All". Fringe Orange Venue Orlando Shakespeare theater, 812 East Rollins Street Orlando Fl. Called “One of the most unique theater troupes in the country.” by Good Day Atlanta, Phantasmagoria returns to Fringe with its all new touring show “Wickedest Tales of All” - Haunted Storytelling, Phantastical Dance, explosive stage combat and puppetry all woven into a tapestry of macabre and whimsical horror. Featuring works by Poe, Dickens, and tales of legend and folklore, this acclaimed Victorian Horror Troupe is sure to chill and thrill all audiences!

10:30pm to 3:30pm $12. Corsets and Cuties- A Burlesque Cabaret- #Flawless. Fringe Black Venue, The Venue 511 Virginia Drive Orlando FL. Corsets & Cuties are back for round 3 of Fringe in an all-new review. Listed among the Best of Orlando Burlesque (Orlando Weekly), the Cuties are celebrating the best of the City Beautiful bringing their unique mix of talent & cheeky humor to the stage. Sponsored by Premier Couples Superstore, audiences have the chance to win fun take home prizes. With a different guest star featured each show- we invite you to see why the Cuties are #flawless. 18 and Up - Nudity, Sexual Content. 60 minutes.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Corsets and Cuties - A Burlesque Cabaret - #flawless

Corsets and Cuties has a Fringe show this year titled Flawless in the black venue which is in "The Venue", (511 Virginia Dr, Orlando, FL 32803). When I arrived for the dress rehearsal, everyone was working their way through the final dance number. With that worked out they then started to get into their outfits. Corsets had to be laced. Barbie Rhinestone leaned forward as another dancer pulled the laces tight. "Can you breath?" she was asked. When she said "Yes", the laces got pulled tighter. Each corset had a different letter on the front, like an O, and a T. The letters finally made sense when all the dancers lines up on stage and spelled Strong.

Some numbers were outright hilarious. This is burlesque with a comic twist and it will shock and amaze you. The group numbers celebrated all that is good about Orlando. You kind of expect delays and some glitches in a rehearsal and there was a problem back stage between numbers. A workman in a black hoodie came out tightening screws with a drill. Well the worker turned out to be a performer, and a sexy one at that. In one dance, a guy sat in a chair and a female performer did a handstand and leg split right in front of him. He was supposed to grab her hips but he grabbed her legs. They had to do the move over again, and then one more time during the performance. 

If you want a lighthearted and fun Fringe evening, then I would suggest  stopping out to the Black Venue for Flawless.

Show Times:
Price: $12

Thursday May 18, 2017 at 11:59pm
Sunday May 21, 2017 at 10:30pm
Wednesday May 24, 2017 at 9:00pm
Thursday May 25, 2017 at 11:59pm
Sunday May 28, 2017 at 9pm

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

O-Town: Voices from Orlando

I was still reporting about the Orlando International Fringe Festival last year when the horrific shooting at the Pulse nightclub happened on June 12, 2016. Fringe is once again going to burst onto the Lock Haven Park complex bringing drama, and comedy for a solid week on unrelenting theater and fun. Last year after the shooting I asked Orlando artists to go to the Falcon Bar to create 49 portraits of the innocent lives lost at Pulse. Those 49 portraits were then exhibited at the Orlando Science Center and on that evening I was interviewed about the project. That interview then became the source of inspiration for a monologue in O-Town.

Prints of the 49 portraits hung behind the stage giving the somber impression of prison bars. The play is based on a series of interviews conducted mostly by David Lee, of people who have been affected by the tragedy. It opens with a monologue inspired by Our Town written by Thornton Wilder. The opening described Orlando on the eve of the shooting. People and places would be very different the next day. A homeless man would be lighting candles at the Dr Phillips memorial site each night, a costume shop owner would soon be creating thousands of rainbow ribbons...

I spoke with Christopher Hanson multiple times about how he survived that night at Pulse. The actor playing Christopher told the story of survival and personal responsibility with humor and lots of heart. Then the actor playing me took to the stage. I was surprised to find myself tearing up based on things I had said a year ago. It seems like a lifetime ago. People in the audience were also getting choked up. One woman cried through the whole show. I had just one paper towel I had decided to bring in from the men's room.

Other monologues described fighting hate with love using Angel Action Wings made of PVC and and white fabric. People who planned to protest the funerals of Pulse victims were blocked by these angels who would sing to drown out their hate. A first responders wife described how her husband was changed by his evening in the aftermath of Pulse. He would experience PTSD from that night onward and there was no disability for the mental anguish. Had be broken his leg then there would be help.

These stories are all part of the larger picture of an entire community trying to recover from a horrible act of violence. A year later and the scars are still there, but Orlando had answered with love and acceptance. Hateful people still thrive, feeling invulnerable in a country in which politics encourage hate and accusations.  They try to cause senseless harm, but love is stronger that hate. It was an emotional night. After the show. I was hugged by several people who recognized me. I shut my eyes and felt the warmth. Tears streamed down my face.

All the monologues in O-Town: Voices from Orlando will be presented together on the Eve of the one year mark of the attack on Pulse Nightclub on Sunday June 11, 2017 at 7pm at the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center in the Margeson Theater. Profits will benefit the onePulse

I can't recommend this show enough. The monologues focus the audiences attention on aspects of the tragedy that never made their way to mainstream media outlets. It is a human and multi layered fabric. I met the actor, Daniel Cooksley, who played my part on stage. He said he had never performed a part with the subject sitting in the audience.

Fringe Show Times:
May 17, 2017 at 6PM
May 20, 2017 at 7PM
May 22, 2017 at 7PM
May 26, 2017 at 8:15PM
May 27, 2017 at 12:15PM
May 28, 2017 at 11:15AM