Sunday, October 12, 2014

Phantasmagoria V "Death Comes for All" in Orlando

This is the fifth year that creator and director John DiDonna has brought classic tales of horror to Orlando in the form of a Victorian Steam punk Circus troupe called Phantasmagoria. Each year has progressed the story of this troupe's back story and interpersonal drama. For many millennia they have had to tell the stories as a matter of life and death. Once a story is started it must be finished. This year in the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center's Mandell theater, platformed walkways are set up behind the audience seating. This allows the cast to circulate around and behind audience members. It is a theater in the round and you have a front row seat to experience the horror first hand.

 Since this was a rehearsal, there was a fight call that went over the fight direction by Bill Warriner. There is one spectacular sword fight that features three combatants. Even at quarter speed, the fight seemed dangerous as the three blades flashed in the stage lights. Being so close to the action you might find yourself leaning back in your chair for fear of being slashed. Megan who was juggling all the sound and lighting cues was able to act out all the staging so the lighting designer by Hatem Habashi could set the lighting cues. She playfully stomped on projected beetles that scurried on the floor.

Phantasmagoria presets tales of terror from diverse authors such as Lewis Carroll’s Hunting of the Snark”, Charles Dickens Captain Murderer and many others including horrific folk tales, legends and myths from around the world!

In the tight intimate space, you will find the cast often inches from you.  During one tale, Mercury (Kaitlin Elizabeth Baxter) was behind me laughing maniacally and then gasping in horror. Having the cast so close ensures that even a sketch artist can get sucked into the drama that unfolds. The classic Edgar Allen Poe story, "The Pit and the Pendulum" had Leon (Joseph Josh Geoghagan) lying in the grasp of much of the cast. They held him aloft and then embraced him as the straps held him down in the story. Dana Mott had created wonderful projections that had rats scurrying on the floor while the shadow of the pendulum arched gracefully downward. Poe was also represented in an abridged telling of "The Tell Tale Heart" which is one of my favorite stories of horror insanity and suspense.

An Indian horror story had  Seraphina (Serafina Schiano) return from the dead as a demonic creature with multiple arms and flowing red drapery as she took vengeance on her three self centered brothers. Exotic Indian dances were beautifully choreographed by Mila Makarova and Dion Leonhard.  This show is a great way to gear up for Halloween.

Mark Your Calendar!
WHAT: “PHANTASMAGORIA V–“Death Comes for All” 
WHEN:  Oct 10th – 31st 2014
Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening performances.
Special Monday performances Oct 20th and 27th.
Halloween performance October 31st.
All evening performances at 8:30pm (Box opens at 7:50pm/Doors at 8:15pm)
WHERE: The Mandell Theatre, John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center Loch Haven Park, Orlando, FL (Corner of 1792 and Princeton)
TICKETS: General Admission $20.00 / Student and Senior $15.00 (VIP Tickets available – $25 for all performances leading up to Halloween / $30 Halloween night. Includes drink/special gift/photo op with cast/reserved seating/Post show performance)

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

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