Monday, May 29, 2017

Show Up at Fringe.

Pete Michael Marino from New York City, grew tired of seeing solo Fringe shows about a person's life. He decided to instead create a show built around the lives of members of his audience. He pointed out a quote by Woody Allen that said "Showing up is 80 percent of life. Sometimes it’s easier to hide home in bed. I’ve done both." Since we had shown up for his show, he felt we were all 80% of the way towards an amazing and entertaining show.

Pete picked out a cute young woman from the audience and he dubbed her his stage manager. Her job became to reorganize the chairs and table for each scene. On the back wall of the theater there were large post it notes that were used to define the basic structure for the stories to follow. The audience was asked questions that then became the underlying structure for each scene.

Pete confided that he had been diagnosed with an early case of Alzheimer's.... by his friends. He therefor was fine with staying "on Book" referring to loose notes he had scribbled on a sheet of paper. Much of each scene however was pure long form improvisation and he flew by the seat of his pants. According to him, he had no idea what he was doing which added to the allure that the show could potentially self destruct at any moment. He managed to keep the show light and entertaining despite the challenges.

After the last scene he divided up the audience into sections and invited us all to mingle on the stage for a party. I was assigned to serve imaginary drinks which I did with gusto. Once everyone had imaginary drinks in hand they felt comfortable to mingle and mix on the stage. A string of Christmas lights was unfurled among the party goers. It was certainly a fun and unexpected way to end the show.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

There aint No More; Death of a Folksinger, at Fringe.

Death of a Folksinger is a one man show based on the legends of American Folk Music and the early vaudeville stage. Willie Carlisle took the audience on a high energy romp through the history of the music genera. The scene opened with Willie wearing an old man mask as he sang a lonesome tune. Different characters played banjo, violin, and a squeeze box.

He did a quick series of snippets as if performing with the USO for troops over seas. He would hold the banjo suggestively to his hips and thrust if forward announcing his presence at hill 69. Of course the hill had another number instead. A scroll behind him was turned to show a series of black and white shadow illustrations that visualized the characters in a song.

Described as a haunting and heartfelt hootenanny, the multi layered show had Willie exhausted and sweating as he danced and performed his heart out. The mask he wore had a skull painted on the inside surface and when he saw that he performed with even more gusto to try and save off death. I had fun documenting this very American musical performance.

Beau and Arrow: Crash Landing at Fringe.

A Little Bit Off, from Portland, Oregon presented Beau and Aero: Crash Landing, a show featuring a whirlwind of acrobatic and slapstick antics. Pilot Beau and his sidekick Aero,two bumbling aviators,have crash landed, and will try anything to get back in the air. These foolish pilots live in a world where balloons are bountiful, laughs are abundant, and hardly a word is spoken.

After hearing a plane crash in the darkness of the theater, Beau stumbled out wrapped inside a parachute. A rag doll version of Arrow was thrust up and over a black backstage curtain. The house went black Beau tried to revive his side kick. she was fine, but playfully slid back to a reclined position any time Beau turned his back.

Much of the involved playful uses for balloons. Beau offered a balloon to a young girl in the audience and right before she grabbed it, he let go ad the balloon spit out air and flew away in s spiraling trajectory. A woman picked from the audience held a fool wide hoop which Beau shoot a sputtering balloon through. The balloons always flew off course. Somehow a ping pong ball was thrust inside arrow's balloon. She squeezed the balloon and it shot the ping pong ball right into Beau's chest. He then went into slow sequence in which he acted out his horror ad shock about being shot. He stumbled over to the woman from the audience, and she held him much like the Pieta as he faded away. The sweat on Beau's brow reminded me that all the antics aren't easy.

As a giant 5 foot high red balloon was inflated, the audience was covered with the parachute. Amazingly both Beau and arrow crawled inside the balloon. The audience was warned that there would be a loud noise, and the balloon popped To show that Beau and Aero had both changed into brightly colored acrobat's jump suits. It is rare for a show to make me feel a child like wonder, but Beau and Arrow accomplished that.

Remaining show times,
Sunday May 28, 2017 at 4:30pm in the Green Venue 1001 East Princeton Street Orlando FL.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

We Don't Play Fight at the Fringe.

I was surprised and pleased to see an entire wrestling ring set up inside the Orange Venue at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, (812 E Rollins St, Orlando, FL 32803) for We Don't Play Fight. Professional wrestling is a form of theater in itself with each character having a back story. A wrestling promoter introduced the show explaining that he was searching for new talent to bring to the wrestling ring so that he might earn his way back into the big leagues. A female wrestler built like a tank wanted to begin training. The trainer like a drill Sargent didn't allow her to training in half measures. She had to be all in or she should  get out. He yelled at her and berated her trying to get her to bring some anger into the ring. Her sister who never spoke a word, watched every move. These sisters had been in a car crash that killed both their parents. The shy sister watching the ring hadn't said a word since the accident.

After an extensive slow motion training sequence it was finally time for the brick house sister to have her first match. She was doing great against a low class hick when the referee blew his whistle to end the first bout. she was clearly winning. When her opponent fell to the mat, it made a loud drum like resonating thud. When she turned her back to her opponent to walk to her corner of the ring, he blindsided her and broke her arm in a clear act of unsportsmanlike conduct. The silent sister came roaring into the ring to save her sister. She whaled on the hick who specifically hurt her sister to end her career. He was helpless against the silent sisters fury. She jumped off the ropes to pin him down and then she held him in a menacingly long choke  hold. The promoter desperate for a new wrestler had found a Tasmanian devil the the silent sister. When he offered her the job, she shouted with delight.

People in the audience played along shouting, cheering and booing when needed. The spectacle verged on the edge of art imitating life. An evil clown, whose sloppy make up reminded me of the Joker from Batman,  wrestled against a gold masked Adonis. Story fell to the wayside as the wrest;ling bouts heated up. I had hoped for a solid linear story, but action usurped story structure. Still, it was fun to watch the wrestlers throw themselves at each other in the loud tympani of a ring. Wrestling is big in Orlando right now with Full Sail hosting the WWE. A large wrestling logo blocked views of Lake Eola last month and people were always shooting photos of themselves in front of the garish monolith. There is no accounting for taste. 

Tickets are $12
Remaining show times for WE DON'T PLAY FIGHT:
Sunday May 28, 2017 at  4:30pm

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.