Number 1: December, 1999

Number 1: December, 1999

Yes indeedy, there is kulture in the great
metropolis of Orlando. And it truly is a kulture with a K, just like
Krab in the local grocery store. It’s not quite as good as real Culture,
but is cheap, available, and generally tastes good enough for whatever
purpose you have at hand. Just like Krab.

Besides a vibrant musical scene, Orlando’s theater and arts scene has
more interesting things happening. Here are a few that occurred in the
past few weeks. Where the heck were you?

Amadeus Theater UCF
By Peter Shaffer
Director – Donald Seay

God’s gifts aren’t distributed very evenly. Virtuous non-virtuoso
Antonio Salieri hears the most sublime music, yet he can’t write for
diddley. Beauty drips from the fingers of vulgar upstart Wolfy Mozart,
who can improvise concerti while filing his nails. Oh, the indignity! In
that most musical of cities, Vienna, the court of vacuous tone deaf
Joseph II draws the best European composers and musicians. Fame,
fortune, or dire poverty are passed out by the whims of court politics,
and Wolfy has stepped into the wrong pile. Salieri’s resentment grows
along with Mozart’s fame, and he swears to block both God and Mozart at
any opportunity. As court composer, Salieri has weapon, motive, and
opportunity. Wolfy doesn’t stand a chance. Driven to poverty and
madness, Mozart dies far to young, leaving the most magnificent body of
work ever composed.

‘Amadeus’ represents the most challenging production from Theater UCF
this season, with over 30 on stage actors. The troupe is well up to the
task, with the astounding Kareem Bandealy as Salieri presenting a
virtual one man show. Never off stage for more than a few minutes at a
time, he grabs the story in one hand and the audience in the other,
dragging both through his treachery toward Mozart. Mozart (Scott
Borish) keeps pace, with his braying laugh and petulant Chico Marx
look. Jordan Reeves as Emperor Joseph II provided a suitable straight
man for the on stage machinations and a cast of valets spend most of
their time adding and removing furniture for the aristocratic classes.

The first act dwells on Salieri’s presumed bargain with God and rise to
peak of the musical serving class. In the second act we understand God
neither needs to bargain, nor is under any obligation to keep His side
of it. Mozart’s miserable career peaks with the famous Requiem Mass. He
dies valiantly, only to be slid off the back of the stage into an
unmarked grave. Grasping vainly for success, Salieri understands how far
from greatness he remains. Abandoning God and virtue, Salieri betrays
not only Mozart, but art as well.

Kentucky Claus & The Redneck Elves
at Performance Space Orlando
Written & Directed by Jonathan M. Vick

Happy Holidays. Mama and daddy burned to death last Christmas cause no
one checked to see if the tree was flammable. Now older (but not wiser)
brother Nate (Jonathan Vick) tries to keep the family together till
Blake (Bobby Algur) is old enough to keep himself, and maybe find him a
woman. Brother Zeke’s (Ken Jordan) out for blood ’cause he thinks Nate’s
sleeping with his Bertha, but holds off killing him until after
Christmas for fear of missing out on the presents. Jake and Stuart want
to flee to LA for a singing career, Boon has to wear mama’s clothes
after getting frostbite on his butt, and everyone’s snowed in, there’s
no eggnog, and the truck keeps blowing up. And they shoot Kentucky
Claus in the knee. AND there’s no women. Damn.

Crammed into the intimate space of PSO, the cast and a full house make a
tight fit, with people running around at full tilt, often in pitch dark,
throwing punches, shooting guns, and generally raising heck. The action
is fast, the jokes are furious, and despite the obligatory red neck
bestiality, the play is a scream. Vick not only writes a clever parody
of the classic poem ‘Night Before Christmas’, but builds it into a tight
comedy performance with a well rehearsed troupe. Stuart (Anthony Gobbi)
even does a respectable Blue Christmas to cover up some set changes.

The joy of “Kentucky Claus” flows from the semi-functional family
structure we all inhabit. Bad thing happen to good people, but funny
things happen to these people. Who of us hasn’t blown up a truck, set
the house on fire, left a dear relative to freeze in the woods, or slept
with a psychotics girl friend? And aren’t these foibles all the more
endearing on the eve of that most sacred of Christian holidays, when the
stores are all closed and we have to improvise dinner out of beef jerky
and yoo-hoo? Kentucky Claus will have you spitting your chaw out your
nose. Bring a hanky.

Lady Windermere’s Fan
by Oscar Wilde
Read by Orlando Theater Project and Seminole Community College

In the oh-so-proper 1890’s beautiful and astoundingly naive Lady
Windermere (Gina Riviera) believes any gossip that comes her way.
Coupled with her husband’s slightly mysterious business arrangements,
she begins to doubt his fidelity. The flirtatious Mrs. Erlynne (Jennifer
Nelson) has taken a strange grasp on the hearts of all the men in
Mayfair, and Lord Windermere seems to pay for her upkeep! The Duchess of
Berwick (Christine Decker) firmly believes all men are scum, and who is
Lady Windermere to doubt? Couple this with the Victorian habit of asking
half a question, getting half an answer, and interpreting the results in
the most awful way possible, and the classic drawing room comedy ensues.
Wilde rescues this dreadful form, using it as a stalking horse for his
steady stream of sound bites. If Wilde were alive today, he’d be
president.

With a minimal set, but very nice costumes, this differs from a full
production only in the players have librettos to read. Prior to the
play, Butler Parker (Bill Mitchell) flits around the lobby, assuring
guests they will each have the best seat in the house while chiding maid
Rosalie (Dana Wilson) to dust, clean, sweep, anything. A shame he wasn’t
able to pass out small glasses of Sherry.

Wilde spent his career as an aesthete commenting on the mores and
vanities of fin-de-siecle society. Lady Windermere lampoons society
through the popular theater of the day, played to absurdist limits.
Nobody takes any care to verify their worst fears, more for politeness
sake than any real lack of curiosity. People prepare to leave house and
home and fly away, based on nothing more than overheard gossip,
misplaced sense of honor, and blind misunderstanding. Lady W is herself
thoroughly good, and it takes a thoroughly good woman to do something
thoroughly stupid.

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