Sunday, October 30, 2011


It would be a fiendish, horrific tragedy if you didn't get to see Phantasmagoria. Tonight is the final show starting at 8:30pm at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater's, Mandell Theater. I arrived early and started blocking in my sketch before the audience arrived. I love these final moments as the actors stretch, warm up and joke to break the tension. The actors gathered in a circle and held hands. Director, John DiDonna said, "Lets build a bridge to next year. Make these final performances fiendishly dangerous. See you on the other side guys." Brittany Wine shouted out, "Love you all!"

All the actors layed down on the floor and they were covered with black blankets. John warned, "We have a full house tonight with 98 people. Check your extremities, don't leave anything sticking out." A female voice boomed over the sound system, "Five minutes to house open." Members of the cast shot back, "Thank you five." The room grew deadly quiet and then the audience walked in to find their seats. One actor rose quietly, the blanket still covering him to strike a ringmasters theatrical pose. As the blankets were lifted off, the actors came to life in their costumes of blood red and black. The costumes designed by Jennifer Bonner were lavish and stunning. A scrim behind the actors often acted as a screen for projections of animations and titles.

Each of the acts were built around horrific folklore and poetry. Edgar Allen Poe's "Masque of the Red Death" resulted in the whole cast dancing, celebrating and then succumbing to the pestilence of the red death. No one was spared. Phantasmagoria was a whimsical and horrific poem by Lewis Carol.
“Allow me to remark
That ghosts have just as good a right,
In every way to fear the light,
As men to fear the dark.”
I enjoyed "The Picture of Dorian Grey". In this act a painter created a stunning portrait of Dorian Grey. When Dorian viewed the painting, he saw it morph, revealing his inner dark self. The picture took on a horrific visage because Dorian was morally bankrupt. In the end Dorian died taking on the horrible appearance in the portrait and the painting returned to its former splendor. A life sized skeletal puppet was used to portray his inner self to great effect.

Music of Eric Satie played during an elegant and beautiful aerial act. Tiny Gina Makarova performed on a suspended hoop while Mila Makarova and Dion Smith performed suspended in silks. Satie's music expressed the melancholy inner yearning of the creative spirit and the women floated weightless in its ethereal embrace.

The most stunning puppet was the Jabberwocky from Alice in Wonderland. An actor on stilts acted as the hind legs of the creature and a long silver spine snaked down from head to tail. The head was immense being controlled by a strong puppeteer. A small army was needed to control the beast. I wish I had been fast enough to get a sketch. This show is the perfect Halloween treat.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at


Beth Marshall said...

I it such a great show.
Excellent sketch.

Anonymous said...

This is going to blow your mind. There was only one puppeteer on the Jabberwocky's head, Susan Woodbury. Everyone did a fantastic job on that story, and the utter chaos I wanted to create, punctuated by sharp, staccato attack on Pandora.
Great sketch of the show. Thanks!

Bill Warriner, fight director for Phantasmagoria 2