Sunday, September 20, 2015
I always tell people that if you sketch on location, some drama always unfolds. David Lee invited me to sketch at Saint Mathew's Tavern (1300 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL) and there was drama in spades. I found a seat in the corner of the bar next to a large speaker and got to work. I sketch in bars all the time but I seldom get to experience this level of heart felt camaraderie and gut wrenching drama. From the outset I felt this was a bar where everybody knew my name and I was invested in these peoples lives. This was interactive theater at its best.
Joe's NYC Bar is an interactive, improvisational, immersive theatre experience in which the audience is transported to a bar on Manhattan's lower east side. Debuting as part of the 2001 Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, Joe's ran for 4 years and 76 performances. This past March Joe’s returned from a ten year absence and was greeted with positive reviews from critics and audiences alike. The show sold out 5 of 6 shows in March and then all 4 performances at the 2015 Orlando International Fringe Festival. Ten years later, Joe’s has proven to be a concept and piece of theatre more relevant and popular than ever.
It was hard to tell where the play stopped and the inside jokes began. Some of the funniest moments were so topical that they had to be improvised. A straight laced Republican in a suit (Tim Williams) sat at my end of the bar and he seemed a bit out of place when everyone else was sleeveless or in T shirts. In a heated scene he confronted everyone saying "You don't know me. You don't know what I've been through." This was true of everyone in the bar. What unfolded slowly, pealed away the layers to expose the inner pain that drove defensive behaviors. Much later in the evening, the Republican returned to the bar and found his recently separated wife (Anitra Pritchard-Bryant) was present. The bar went silent before the couple confronted each other.
Christian Kelty originated the idea for this interactive show. The seed was planted when he worked in a Renaissance festival show that invited the audience to participate. In this age of social media people are often interested in the endless drama that surfaces online every day. We have become a society of reality show voyeurs. In this everyday bar setting it becomes easy to let go and become part of the scene. Over the course of the evening it was possible to get to walk a mile in each character's shoes. Even in this rehearsal, I wasn't sure who was an actor and who just happened to be there for a drink. With a sold out show, that fourth wall must be even more blurry. Add a couple of drinks and the line is further blurred. Live local music acts fill out the evening, making it a typical night in the Mill's 50 bar scene. Don't just go to see a show. Be the show.
Running September 13th-October 18th
Sunday Matinees ONLY!
3:00pm doors 3:30 Showtime
Tickets available at:
$17 in advance / $25 day of show
The stellar casts features: Anitra Pritchard-Bryant, Ali Flores, John Connon, Michael Marinaccio, Jenn Gannon, Simon Needham, Christian Kelty, David Lee, Tim Williams and Jodi Chase.
9/20 The Smoking Jackets
9/27 and 10/4 Eugene Snowden (The Legendary JC’s) and Friends
10/11 DJ Jay Ross Barwick