Tuesday, July 8, 2014
On April 14th local production companies had two minutes to showcase their Fringe shows at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater's Margeson Theater (812 E Rollins St, Orlando, FL). I go each year to get a feeling for which shows I can not miss. George Fringe Wallace and Michael Marinaccio acted as the MCs while Brandon Roberts acted as the Shepard's hook to stop any acts that went over two minutes. Brandon was dressed in a giant fluffy diaper and had angel's wings and a Cupid's bow. I was hoping each act would run a bit long just to see what he would do next. He even tried to become part of the act when Enui, a circus arts acrobatic troupe took center stage. He stood tentatively on a teeter board but ran off when the acrobats bounded in.
The program had thumbs up and thumbs down symbols for easy future reference. Acts I gave a thumbs up to, included: The Downtowner's The Real 50 Shades of Gray (Hair). These plucky seniors aged 66 to 99 sang songs of love, lust and life with passion. A plant in the audience got up and stripped as they sang. The audience ate it up. I liked, Camino Flamenco, The Aqua Saga and Jekyll N' Hyde: a Rap Musical. I was saddened to hear that the the lead actor in Jekyll N' Hyde, Carl D. Kirkmire just recently died at the age of 32. His performance at the Fringe preview was stellar and a real talent has left the stage.
Jeff Ferree introduced his puppet show, The Girl Who Fell Up the Chimney" by riding a tiny clown sized bicycle around the stage and shooting silly string at the audience. Last year he juggled spaghetti. His previews are always an inspired mess. I tried to sketch the puppet show at the Fringe. It was in a small closet which for some reason had a fire place. You had to lie on your back with your head in the fireplace to see the show. Unfortunately, the button to turn on the lights didn't work no matter how many times I hit it. I'm sure it was a great sketch opportunity lost. Squeaky Wheel productions presented a song from Seasons which was incredibly sad. This show is my pick as the show that should go all the way to Broadway.
All together, 41 shows previewed that night offering an amazing variety of possibilities. Sometimes a preview can be alluring but that hint is lost in the final hour long production. For instance I loved the tender tall of love found in a Vietnamese karaoke bar, but Reincarnation Soup, ended up being confusing to follow since the actor jumped between so many different personalities in the final production. I felt shanghaied. Then other times it is nice to go to a show at the Fringe with no preconceptions and be pleasantly surprised. That is what the Fringe is all about, discovering something new and unexpected at every turn.