Tuesday, May 21, 2013
My wife Terry has joined the board of the Orlando Fringe. On the evening of the opening gala, I got her to join me to see her first show this season. We went into the Purple venue which is the round patron's room at the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center. The tiny stage was set up like an attic. Scott Whittemore came out from behind the black curtains with a flash light. I had to stop sketching since the house had gone black. He used his flashlight as a spot light angling it up at a stool. He began to play his ukulele.
Original music, monologues, physical storytelling, dance, ukuleles, and Christmas sweaters help tell the story of a young man seeking to reconnect with his recently departed Grandmother. The theater grew quiet as he used a Quji board to reconnect. Props found in the attic set offered entertaining sidelines into yo-yo tricks and rope lasso dancing. With nostalgia and heart Scott shared the love and respect he had for his grandmother.
The patron's room isn't a great venue because you can hear everyone in the Shakespeare hallways as they laugh and shout. The men's bathroom is also right next to the patrons room and you can imagine how that might be distracting. The intimacy of the production however separated us from the distractions. It was like being alone in the attic while downstairs a party raged. This simple heart felt production was a perfect appetizer, a sweet taste of what this year's Fringe had to offer.I highly recommend the show.
Tuesday May 21 at 5:45PM
Thursday May 23 at 6:45PM
Saturday May 25 at 1:30PM
Sunday May 26 at 9:15PM
Purple Venue (Patron's Room) at the Shakes
$11 plus a Fringe button
Monday, May 20, 2013
In a world full of technology meant to bring us together, why are we still so detached from the people around us? In dis|CONNECTED, Emotions Dance will explore the forces that cause us to disengage and the eternal ties that remain, pulling us back into relationship with one another and allowing us to connect within ourselves.
Larissa greeted me and walked me back stage before the performance. I was to walk center stage about midway through the show and two dancers would dance around me. It sounded simple enough. As I waited to go on, I sketched. The dancers only had a few minutes to stretch and warm up to perform. The venue opened and I noticed people making their way to the seats. Terry was in the audience and she reported that there were perhaps 25 people there. Fringe producer Michael Marinaccio had earlier explained that the first night of Fringe was usually the slowest. He had scheduled all local acts the first night figuring the performers could drum up an audience of friends and family via social media. The dancers lamented that it would be depressing if there were more dancers than audience members. A reviewer could be in the audience however so they needed to give it their all.
The lights blazed and the dancers were on. I could only see occasional legs and arms from my position in the wings. The black wing curtains fractured my view. Besides I was still working on the sketch of dancers stretching. The song, "Addicted to Love" came on and Larissa nudged me on stage. I walked center stage still working on my sketch. Two dancers began a high stakes cat fight over me. I raised an eyebrow shrugged and returned to my sketch as they clawed at each other and competed for attention. I heard laughter in the audience so I suspect the moment was entertaining. The dancers flew off stage still fighting leaving me still standing center stage sketching. When the lights blacked out, I walked off stage. In the wings the dancers gave me a high five.
Seeing dance from the wings is entirely different than watching as an audience member. I have a renewed sense of awe for how hard these women work. When they come off stage they are completely spent and gasping for air. They have only a few minutes to recover before they have to go right back out again. Between dance numbers dancers walked around the stage holding signs that had life affirming notes and doubts much like the woman who announces boxing rounds. One piece had audio of boxing and sports coaches talking about athletes who have to give their all and then push even further. That is standard practice for Emotions Dancers.
Monday May 20th at 8:00PM
Thursday May 23rd at 9:15PM
Friday May 24th at 11:15PM
Saturday May 25th at 12:45AM
Sunday May 26th at 2:15PM
Silver Venue at the Rep
$11 plus a Fringe Button
Sunday, May 19, 2013
On Wednesday May 15th the Fringe National / International Preview was held in the Orange Venue at the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center. 44 shows from out of town performers had two minutes to get patrons interested in their show. If and performer went beyond two minutes, Bikini Katie would get up and escort the performer off stage. Michael Marinaccio, Fringe's producer, and Chase Padgett hosted the event.
The first performer up was Miss Hiccup, Shoshinz from Tokyo Japan, and I placed her in the sketch. Her show is called "A Day in the Life of Miss Hiccup". Her loud flower covered costume was hard to resist. Her physical comedy looks like it could be a fun show. Alexa Fitzpatrick from Aspen Colorado told us about her show called "Serving Bait to Rich People." Alexa works as a bartender at a Colorado dive in a mountain town where men outnumber women two to one. She got serious for a moment, "I'm in the middle of a break up." She paused to let that sink in. "But I'll be OK, the couple was already having trouble." I laughed out loud.
That reminds me, there was a guy seated in the front row who had the loudest guffaw of a laugh, I've ever heard. One performer commented, "I love your laugh, It's like you're hurling acceptance at me." Oddly a woman in the audience chimed in saying she hoped it would stop. Chase was very diplomatic and stressed that different people have different laughs, and at the Fringe , laughs from all walks of life are accepted. Sadly the guy seemed to have become self conscious and didn't laugh as loud or as often. Then again, seeing 44 previews in a row can wear an audience member down.
I was impressed by the performance of Qurrat Ann Kadwani from NYC. First off she lamented that her parents gave her a name that no one could pronounce. I can identify with that. She switched characters often as she talked about what it was like growing up Indian in the Bronx. I circled "They Call me Q" in my program. Jason Nettle educated us about Fetishes. He said Bronnies and Clappers are individuals who get off on "My Little Pony." He said he could explain why Michael keeps asking George for a Blimpkin. I obviously have much to learn, so I circled "Fetish" in my program.
Patrick Combs got one of those fake checks from publishers Clearing House for $95,000 dollars. He thought it would be funny to deposit it at his bank signed with a smiley face. He forgot about it and later discovered that his Bank (Bank of America) had cashed the check and he was $100,000 richer. When he went to the bank to straighten things out he was greeted by armed gun men in black suits. His two minutes were up at the mic, and the audience all went awww. Because we all wanted to know what happened next. Bikini Katie walked him off stage with "Man 1, Bank O" written on her thighs.
Chase Padgett and Paul Strickland teamed up to do a guitar duo. They made up lyrics on the fly and Chase came up with lyrics about laughter that tied into the evenings ongoing theme. I circled, "Chase and Paul: Solo Shows are Hard". Gemma Wilcox from London took us for a ride in her "Magical Mystery Detour". She played a dog, a driver and a motorcycle side car, switching between characters in an instant. I suspect this show is a must see, although she moves so fast and so often, she might be hard to sketch.. "Little Pussy" by John Grady isn't about Sex, but about a little kitten named faith that he rescued from sprawling LA traffic. Martin Dockery is a master storyteller. I saw him last year and recognized his frenetic energy. I definitely want to see "The Dark Fantastic".
Saturday, May 18, 2013
I decided to go to BART, an arcade and bar on Mills Avenue that I have never been to before. Chan Sterling was checking his portable microphone and speaker. It was tinny but would have to do. Lead by Ruby Darling, Skill Focus Burlesque Dancers arrived and sat in the cushy lounge seating. The entire cast of Jet Backpack and the Battle at the End of the Universe arrived all at once. They were all in their intergalactic costumes. There were photo opportunities of Jett and his crew playing video games.
Earth Girls are Easy was on the wide screen TV but music drowned the sound track. Paintings by Parker Sketch had just been hung earlier in the day. Parker arrived with a few friends and he let me know that several of the smaller pieces had already sold. A woman asked me if I was the Painter, Sketcher who was on the poster. I didn't know what she meant at first, but finally realized she was referring to Parker Sketch.
Suddenly a gaggle of screaming women entered the bar. Two of them climbed onto the bar, dancing and making out. One girl had a long pink penis shaped water pistol filled with vodka and she was offering shots to all the men. I couldn't bring myself to purse my lips in front of the phallic dispenser. One woman had penis shaped antenna and she was the one to go up to the mic to promote the Bachelorette show. I was given a business card with a tiny plastic bag of white powder stapled to the back, I did a detective wet finger taste test. It wasn't cocaine but powdered sugar, then again, I have no idea what cocaine tastes like. The Bachelorettes vanished as suddenly as the arrived, probably off to the next bar. Suddenly the bar was relatively quiet again.
John Bateman took to the microphone and sang David Bowie's "Space Oddity" with lyrics that had been altered to the Jett Backpack theme. Kevin Sigman as the sinister Doctor Saurian also stepped up to the mic. Matt McGrath shouldered up to the bar with model Sierra Missed. She had an angular futuristic hair style that made her appear like an exotic futuristic replicant from Blade Runner. I had sketched her just last month at the RAW event at the Abbey. I didn't recognize her at first since she was all green when I sketched her, but she recognized me. Matt pointed out that I'm probably the only person in town who can get away with scrutinizing someone for several hours without appearing creepy. With my sketch done, I contemplated wandering off to another bar on the crawl, but decided one sketch was enough for the night.
I'm curious about that Bachelorette show now.
Remaining Show Times are:
5/18 at 7PM
5/19 at 4:20PM
5/22 at 9:30PM
5/24 at 11:15PM
5/25 at 9:15PM
Where: Gold Venue at Theater Downtown, Princeton and Orange
Tickets: $10 plus a Fringe Button
Friday, May 17, 2013
Sisyphus Productions presents Macbeth at this years Fringe Festival. This stripped version of Shakespeare’s classic play of corrupting ambition and madness remains faithful to the text while incorporating grotesquely seductive movement and macabre visuals. The show explores the role of fate as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth yield to the seductive prophecies of the trio of witches and embark down a long road on which “blood will have blood.”
I went to a final dress rehearsal at Edgewater High School just a few days before the play hits the stage in the Shakespeare Theater. I bumped into actress Sarah Lockard in the Shakes and mentioned that I would be sketching Mac... She stopped me and said I couldn't utter the title in the theater. You see, the play is cursed and uttering its name will bring down the fortunes of any theater company. Paul Horgan explained at the Fringe Pub Crawl that theater companies that were struggling would stage Macbeth and then falter. It was a self fulfilling prophesy.
Michelle Kraus does an astonishing job as Macbeth's wife. She seduces Macbeth, played by Jason Skinner, into committing murder to make his way to the thrown. He is filled with self doubt and loathing but her pure unfaltering lustful ambition sways him to the deed. As he laments the bloody dagger, she takes charge snatching the dagger from him and washes it clean. The simple set of pillars and blocks gradually tumbles into ruins as the play progresses. Later Lady Macbeth is plunged into darkness and insanity trying to rub the invisible blood from her hands. Michelle looked off stage in my direction. Her eyes blazed with horror. Although the room was bathed in florescent light, her intensity was frightening.
Holly Harris had three actors cloaked in a stretchy material and their graceful gestures became strange featureless abstractions. Their writhing fluid movements were creepy and effective. Jimmy Moore who directed the play along with Michelle confided that the Fringe play he worked on last year wasn't very good. However he has every reason to be proud of this ambitious production. This huge cast of at least 15 actors gives the play a dark and epic feel. Although the blood red walls of the auditorium seemed appropriate for the production, I need to see the show again on the dark moody Fringe stage complete with lighting effects. I have no doubt this production will shine bright. You should see this hour and a half production, just don't utter the title in any theaters halls. If you order tickets inside the theater, refer to it as "The Scottish Play". "What's done can not be undone."
Saturday May 18th at 9:00PM
Tuesday May 21st at 10:00PM
Saturday May 25th at 7:00PM
Sunday May 26th at 1:45PM
Where: Gold Venue in Theater Downtown, 2113 N Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL
Tickets: $10 plus a Fringe Button
Thursday, May 16, 2013
The Dark Side of Saturn presents Key of E. Andy Matchett of Andy Matchett and the Minks wrote all the music for this original apocalyptic rock musical. I went to a rehearsal in a small art classroom on Colonial Drive near a sushi place. Andy welcomed me and apologized that some of the bigger effects might not happen at this rehearsal. I was happy just to listen to his amazing music. Andy began singing with Minks band members Abraham Couch, Brandon Kalber and Randy Coole. I quickly sketched Andy and was surprised when actor Cory Violence replaced him at the mic singing "Just Can't Wait for the Game to End".
Cory takes on the lead roll of Ethan, a disillusioned hipster who dreams of how he might become a John Connor or Road Warrior hero if the world were to suddenly end. As he sang of this apocalyptic bliss, his girlfriend played by Marissa Ashley interrupted to try and get him home. She had to play the roll of annoying reason as he drank himself to oblivion. His dream of the world's end is suddenly realized when he is engulfed in a huge tsunami wave that leaves him stranded on a desert island. The wave was executed with an ingenious effect with a parachute of plastic littered with garbage taking on the roll of the oceans surface. Andy stepped in as the narrator letting us know that the other characters on the survivor's island were figments of Ethan's imagination.
The island had a typical bossy leader who felt he knew all about survival, sending the women to scavenge for food and clean camp. Ethan didn't notice how this annoying character resembled himself. All the people on the island were there to help him survive and avoid his usual path of self destruction. Like the island on Lost, this place is a bit surreal. When Ethan discovers a bottle of whiskey he comes face to face with a dark red eyed demon. His life could return to normal if only he could only put the cap back on the bottle.
Key of E an Apocalyptic Rock Musical
Thursday, May 16 at 7:45PM
Saturday May 18 at 3:00PM
Sunday May 19 at 7:45PM
Wednesday May 22 at 8:00PM
Saturday May 25th at 11:45PM
Green Venue in the Rep
$11 + a Fringe button
P.S. At 8:45PM tonight (May 16th) a certain Urban Sketcher will make a cameo appearance at Emotions Dances' dis/CONNECTED in the Silver Venue which is in the Rep Theater. I really can not divulge details, if I told you, I'd have to kill you.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
On May 6th, Skill Focus Burlesque held a dress rehearsal, or rather an undress rehearsal for their upcoming Fringe show, "Skill Focus Strikes Back". The rehearsal was at Dancer’s Edge Studio (7351 Aloma Ave, Winter Park, FL). A large white curtain hung in front of the stage becoming the modesty curtain for performers as they got into costume. There were still under aged dancers in the back studio so someone stood at the door blocking the view of anyone trying to glance in. Last year, Skill Focus was a last minute substitution at the Fringe and Ruby felt it was a hot mess, but this year she wanted her troupes ready for a blitzkrieg.
Skill Focus will be performing three unique shows at the Fringe this year in the green venue. Sci-Fi-A-Go-Go has characters from Star Trek, Star Wars and other intergalactic adventures. Classic Consoles features video game themed characters and Arkham Asylum has Batman characters baring it all. Ruby Darling asked all the dancers to join her in warm up exercises. Everyone stretched and practiced some kicks. Then every performer in turn got into costume to perform their routine.
The guys were up first. My favorite routine had Nekkid RoboJoe wearing so many sweaters, that he resembled that kid in his winter clothes in "A Christmas Story" who couldn't put his arms down. He needed help getting the last sweaters on. When he began his routine, he flexed his muscles and the sweaters made him resemble a very warm Hulk. His thin black pant legs looked like burnt match sticks supporting a huge marshmallow. As he struggled to remove the sweaters one at a time, Ruby shouted out, "No triangle face!" Although it might be a struggle, she wanted it to look sensual. I was laughing till my sides hurt. It didn't matter what was at the center of the Tootsie Pop.
Stage Kitten Miss Terri Guest helped in a Classic Consoles number holding the Pong Ball in a heated Pong match. She strutted back and forth with Vanna flair. Suddenly she bent over in pain. At first I thought it was part of the routine but she sat beside me with tears in her eyes and Ruby asked if she could help. A stray ligament caused the pain and another stage kitten had to take her place. The show must go on. After Miss Terri recovered, she had a pointer for all the performers. She said is is much sexier to unbutton blouses and shirts from the bottom up. I'll have to remember that the next time I unbutton a dress shirt. I tend to forget to unbutton the sleeves and end up straight jacketed until I can yank my hands loose. Definitely not sexy.
Who: Skill Focus Strikes Back
Where: Fringe, Green Venue in the Rep
May 16 at 11:15PM
May 21 at 8:45PM
May 18 at Midnight
May 24 at 7:15PM
May 19 at 9:30PM
May 25 at 10:15PM
Fan Service Finale:
May 26 at 7:45PM
Tickets: $10 + Fringe Button. 18 or older only.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Back in January at a Florida Creative's happy hour, I first found out that Ryan Price was planning to produce a Fringe play built around "The 39 Steps" a 1915 adventure novel written by John Buchan. It was later adopted by Alfred Hitchcock in a 1935 film. Becky Lane is directing this adaptation in which every show will be improvised based on audience suggestions. In early rehearsals Becky told me that the cast did view point sessions in which the actors walked an imaginary grid and worked as a group becoming a cohesive cast.
This Invisible Frisbee Productions rehearsal was held in a Winter Garden warehouse just two days before Fringe opened. A huge ventilation fan moved the humid air. A tarp was put on the floor because in one scene there is a murder and they didn't want the corpse to have to lie in saw dust or metal filings. In this rehearsal the cast of four went over the introduction and the sequence of events that were needed to get the audience feedback. Since I was essentially an audience of one, Becky had me fill out eight chalkboards with answers to two questions. One question was to write down a job of someone in my party that was suspicious. I've found people to be suspicious of artists so that was my first answer, the others that I recall were a teacher and mailman. The other question involved picking a character trait of someone in your party that they are proud of and then write down the opposite. I recall writing excitable, angry and sloth. Those chalk boards were hung on the front of the boxes and helped defined the backgrounds and personalities the characters.
My other responsibility was to hand out playing cards that each character picked to choose their roll in the comedic drama. Max Hilend, the wild card, was hilarious as a lazy sloth of an artist. He spoke slowly with little to no enthusiasm. He discussed the one painting he does a year, and even the cast was laughing, and peaking at the words that defined his character. Nadia Garzon with a red rose in her hair was funny and entertaining as a high strung excitable art teacher. I decided she had to be the lead character, Hannay, based on her hilarious performance. Megan Borkes was a disgruntled spy and in a scene with Nadia, the two played off each other wonderfully. The villain was the black bearded Christian Cheker in his black shirt and military cargo pants. To me these roles seemed predestined. It is exciting watching the scenes unfold with the even actors not knowing what would come next.
The sets were defined with the boxes rearranged in each scene as chairs as well as a table, ladder and a window on a tripod. Nadia stayed in character as Hannay and had me laughing consistently with her innocent enthusiasm and endless curiosity. I glanced over to see the director, Becky, laughing out loud as well. It was such a delight to know that this performance was unique and as an audience member, I helped mold the performances. As Hannay was entertaining the spy in her home, Max opened the window and blew a dart into the spy's neck. That sudden murder changed Hannay's fate, forcing her to follow through on the spy's mission, now being accused of murder, and on the run from police and the villain who was easily identifiable because of a unique, sometimes rude feature picked by the audience.
The cast took me on an amazing playful ride while asking me to suspend disbelief and fill in what was needed with my imagination. Be sure to check out this show at Fringe, your experience will be new and completely unique. It is theater in its truest form with murder, intrigue and plenty of laughs and unexpected turns.
Where: The Pink Venue
Tickets: $11 along with your Fringe button.
Thursday May 16, 2013 at 6:00PM
Saturday May 18, 2013 at 6:45PM
Sunday May 19, 2013 at 11:15AM
Tuesday May 21, 2013 at 11:15PM
Wednesday May 22, 2013 at 9:30PM
Saturday May 25, 2013 at 4:30PM
Sunday May 26, 2013 at 2:45PM
Monday, May 13, 2013
A couple arrived with merchandise stacked up in a little red wagon. They set up a table in the tent and over multiple trips with the red wagon they moved their wares. I couldn't make out what they were unpacking from this distance. I didn't notice any police in the time it took me to sketch, but if all the tents were full of crafts, there must have been police there. The Best in Show Award went to Jeff Nelson for his inlaid wood furniture. The next Fiesta is November 2nd and 3rd.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
For Cinco de Mayo, Terry and I went to the courtyard outside Cantina Laredo. A stage was set up for "Up Beat". The performer out front played saxophone, flute and some sort of clarinet. Oddly he seldom face the audience, preferring to face the piano player. Terry said that he must be shy. I waited the longest time before I could work him into the sketch, I never knew what he would be playing. I finally gave up and just had him singing into the microphone. When he played sax, he would get off the stage and saunter up to the tables. The orange tent across the way served tacos and there was a tent for margaritas.
The guitar player looked like Jimmy Buffet and he sang "Margarita ville." The piano player noticed me sketching and he said, "Be sure you get my good side." He then turned around and shook his rump. I'm not sure if he meant I should ketch that. The drummer's girlfriend was seated behind Terry and I. She would shoot photos each time the band started a new set. The drummer, Antone Affronti, owns a frame and mat shop called Custom Framing. I got his card since I haven't used a framing shop for a while. If I ever put on a gallery show, I'll need lots of frames made. The frames I have made myself are getting quite beat up. He had quite a collection of drum sticks and I wondered if he would break a few, but he never did.
Some women danced to the music and I'm sure as if got later that the place would be hopping. It was a sunny yet cool day, perfect to relax and sketch in the shade. After the performance, we went to see Iron Man 3.