Archikulture Digest

Number 47: Fringe 2005 Edition

Taxes – done.

Mother’s Day – done.

Graduation – ain’t gonna happen, so effectively done.

Guilt Season – Done.

OK, let’s party, or at least hit the beach. Fringe 2005 is here, and I’ve taken the plunge and produced a show myself. Can’t really plug it here, but drop by and see if you can find it. I’ll be there, and hope to see you. Meanwhile, here are a few other fun happenings around Orlando.

The Oldest Profession

Written by Paula Vogel

Directed by Douglas E Houston

Theater Downtown, Orlando Fla.

So where to old prostitutes end up? More than a few make it into management, like Madam Mea (Pat Barker). She’s kept her stable of girls together from the early days in Storeyville, bringing them to NYC when New Orleans cleaned itself up. The years haven’t been kind to them or their clientele, but the work is steady and a certain camaraderie infuses the women and the johns, even when money is tight. Watching over them is a patron saint of sorts, the incarnation of happy memories of earlier times, the Angle of Story Vile (Penny Lotoza.) As the Reagan years unfold, costs go up, clients become fewer, and each woman leaves this harsh world to climb that brightly lighted stairway to Hooker Heaven. Eventually only kind hearted Vera (Joan Gay) remains, living on the street and gently starving to death. When she expires, the old world is gone, replaced by the drug addled alley girls and STD. It’s a fall from grace, mimicing “Titus Andronicus,” but with sex replacing the cannibalism.

“Oldest Profession” is funny and fluffy entertainment, brought to life through clearly defined women and their storng positve roles. Mae is the queen of the old guard, feisty and defensive, and bound by the traditions and mores of a wanton woman with pride. Hot on her heels is the proactive and capitalistic Ursula (Gloria Duggan). When Ursula inherits the business, she applies modern management methods, wringing efficiency from ever more obsolescent capital equipment. Lillian (Sara Benz Phillips) is the most lady-like, a Southern Belle who would be as much at home in a diplomatic reception as in a 3-way. Edna (Genie Lindberg) and Vera aren’t that bright, but both enjoy the time they spend with clients, and realize what role they fulfill in men’s life, even when the sex itself becomes a distant memory.

While the first act is riddled with out of date NYC references, there are a steady stream of genuine laughs generated deep in the heart of an audience that huddles in the cool recess of the theater. After we dash out for refreshment though the Central Florida humidity, we come back to an increasingly human and fulfilling story of camaraderie, caring, and even more laughs. Sure, we all end up old, wrinkly, and eventually deceased, but if you have enough fun on the way, it’s the best you can hope for.

For more information, please visit

8th Annual Summer Shorts

Playwrights Round Table

Valencia Community College East and Theater Downtown

When it’s this hot out, it’s best to work on small jobs. Local writers cabal PRT attacks the form with its 8th summer short play festival. In an open call, they chose 7 scripts from 60 plus submissions, and present them at both Valencia East’s Black Box, and the more centrally located Theater Downtown.

“Puffer” (written by Terry McMurray, directed by Janet Raskin) is a wordy little study of a mismatched relation put to the test by an aggressive sushi waitress. Tiffy (Marcie Schwalm) chatters away, while simultaneously listening into every conversation around her and commenting on other women’s clothing. Her closed mouth husband Trevor (Tony DeMil) lives in his own world, ignoring the others but interested in the waitress (Diorama Ortiz). Is she coming on, or just flirting? Trevor fakes death by fugu (The famous yet deadly Japanese delicacy – I swear, they’ll eat ANYTHING over there.) When Tiffy storms out, Trevor offers to date the waitress, but she spurns him. It’s an interesting piece, well done even if the ending is not that satisfying.

Next we experience the incomprehensible “Anti-matter” (written by Joseph Baron-Pravda, directed by Mike Leclair). Its break time in the teachers lounge, and the Freshman Physics teacher (Mick Leclair) is grading papers. He meets the Senior Econ teacher (Linda Durre), and they launch into a rambling discussion of some of the open questions in modern astrophysics and chaos theory. Interestingly, most of the dialog is performed with one or both of the actors impersonating famous actors and cartoon characters. The impersonations are a bit weak, but they thoughtfully say things like “nice Brando impression” to help us out. At the end, we were neither enlightened nor moved.

The strongest piece follows, “The World’s greatest Hypnotist” (Written by Chuck Dent, directed by Bob Lipka.) Schultzie (James Zelly) lives in the state pen, and pretty much runs the place. He and his skinhead buddies messed up a drive by shooting and a few of them were killed. His new cell mate Murphy (Bill Welter) arrives, and the guard (Bret Carson) admonishes “This one’s got to last”. Murphy is a damn good hypnotist, and he’s in to seek vengeance. Both actors deliver scary, believable performances, and the fight scene looks pretty authentic as well. Murphy gets what he wants, and when the guard fails to lock the cell door, you immediately see how this works.

“Therapy” (written by Michael Garvey, directed by Margaret Nolan) explores the world of a young woman interested in Physical Therapy. Although she has strict instructions not to touch patients, Carolyn (Nicole Carson) begins to work over injured Mitch (Daniel Oser), forcing him to bend his knee farther than intended. It’s a bit uncomfortable for both him and the audience, but he’s a tough guy and we’re there to be challenged. When the supervisor (Jill Bevan) return, she takes control of the situation, but Mitch is happy with the treatment. It’s cute, a bit kinky, and draws you in, just like a good story should.

“Digging Into Glass” (written by John Goring, directed by Frank Siano) takes us backstage with a low level production of a Tennessee Williams play. Weak willed Rob (Kane Prestenback) has a casting problem – he’s made his live in girlfriend, Becca (Emily Ocheltree) the lead, but she’s perennially late, and might not be as good as catty Casey (Nichole Urban.) One of them has to go, and he tried to make nice while the woman have a brilliant verbal dual about the crummy careers awaiting each other. I’ve gotten just enough exposure to this process to appreciate the humor, as you will.

It takes a minute or two to get what’s happening in “The House Across the Street” (written and directed by Larry Stallings). German Police detective Victor (Daniel Cooksley) has crossed into France in hot pursuit of a murderer, and needs to borrow the window of Isabel’s (Jennifer Goodson) living room. Neither speaks the other’s language, but they make progress, and a romance might be budding. Isabel’s friend Celeste (Nicole O’Donnell) has decent German and explains a few things to each, and even gets some right. Maybe something good will happen, until Victor’s partner Ernst (Stallings) arrives, and in the end no one gets anywhere. You really want them to date, but they fail, just as their two homelands.

Our last piece is anther Jack McGrath identity theft story, “If You Were Me”. White trash Brenda (Nicole Carson) and her husband David (Brett Carson) track whoever stole David’s identity by the thief’s purchases. Time Share salesman Jason (Mark M Daniel) drops by for signatures on the Las Vegas week, only to be ditched by his employer for not closing fast enough. It’s a topic on everyone’s mind, and you’d almost think Brenda and Dave were actully married in real life. And Jason? He’s slick, animated, and had me convinced not to talk to him about money.

It’s always amazing how much you can cram into 10 well chosen minutes, and these shows are well worth seeing.

For more information on Playwright’s Round Table, visit

Play In A Day – Mistaken Identity

Presented By The Central Florida Performing Arts Alliance

Orlando UCF Shakespeare Center, Orlando, Fl.

It’s been a few years since we’ve had a “Play In A Day” event around here. That’s a shame, as it allows our local writers, performers and directors to show what they can do under pressure, and they did well this past Friday the 16th. The premise is simple – a few authors are chosen and given a theme, then in 12 hours they pound out a script, and toss it over the fence to a director. The director gets another 12 hours to cast, rehearse, and block the show. There’s no room for errors, as the audience is sitting there waiting.

While there IS a theme, no one checks to closely as to the authenticity of it, but that a minor point. We open with the creepy “The Thief of Identity” (written by David Lee and directed by Christian Kelty”) A women (Penny Latoza) is lead on stage, bound and blindfolded. As her interrogator (Mike Marinaccio) asks disjoint and unconnected questions, an electric shock jolts her body and is mimicked by an even creepier cellist. Is it a terrorist related atrocity, or a weird sex game? You know how I would vote.

Next comes the playlet hewing closest to the theme – “The Indeterminate Man” (written by David McElroy, directed by Alan Bruun.) A young couple (Tyler Cravens, Melissa Mason) hopes to wed in the Catholic Church, but a previous divorce makes this a remote possibility. The buzz at their apartment door might be the scruffy Father O’Shea (Don Fowler) on his way to investigate. He’s not too interested in the details of past relations, but will bless them for a glass of water, a shot of brandy, and a warm rest room. It seems this is written specifically for Fowler as it allows him full range of his comedic Irish talents, and he build slowly forma stumbling drunk to an impassioned speaker reviling the narrow mindedness of the Church Militant. While the story skates dangerously close to the maudlin at the end, we are rescued, as the dear Father returns for another shot.

In a bold and unusual move, local composer Todd Kimbro (aided by director Julia Gagne) set out to compose a musical in his allotted 12 hours. You hear about people composing hits in an hour or two, but I suspect it generally takes longer. What Kimbro produced was one, long complicated duet that ran through a whole range of emotions. Aided by two excellent singers Rob Berliner and Natalie Cordone, we experienced what might well be the blow out number for a big time musical. Rumor has it there was no written music, and the singer learned the song by ear. Amazing.

Local Fringe maestro Beth Marshall aided by director John DiDonna provide a sexy romance with “The Moment”. Two people meet on the internet, and even a 4th grade teacher can have a sex life as she comes on strong to Chris Gibson. Sure, internet dating has a stigma, but the sparks can fly as the two hit it off until a neat surprise twist ruins everybody’s sex life. Yup, you neve know who you might meet in cyber space.

John Goring takes another look at the French Revolution, one of his favorite topics, with “Just a Flesh Wound” (directed by Tim DeBaun) The aristocracy has done something or another to upset the servants, and they are ready, will and able to discuss the best way of eliminating the upper class. Shall it be a cleaver, drowning, defenestration, or just speaking bad French to them? The last is certainly the cruelest, and when a knife goes awry, it’s the staff, as always, who takes it hardest.

Bridging all these wonderful little tales are a number of loosely related dances numbers by Voci, a group that never fails to intrigue and entertain. While the always start with a bit of a story, it’s just a kick off to some fluid movement, leaving the issues of sexually confused hypocritical spirit dabblers hanging. Still, they liven up the set changes, and make a much more interesting sight than stage hands setting chairs on bright green tape marks. All of these stories are worth seeing again, perhaps in some other longer festival. With the overall high quality of writing, acting and directing exhibited, another one of these micro marathons should appear soon.

For more information on the Central Florida Arts Alliance, please visit

Our Town

By Thornton Wilder

Directed by Katrina Ploof

Mad Cow Theater, Orlando, Fla.

A morbid fascination with the minutia of daily life infuses our culture. How else to explain reality TV, or this perennial favorite drama of small town ennui? Its 5:49 a.m., 1901, in one of those sleepy, self satisfied New England towns that dot Christmas cards and shopping mall calendars. Life is waking up, and Stage Manager Peg O’Keefe stashes the ghost light as we enter, and calls forth the denizens of semi-mythical Grover’s Corners, NH. Doc Gibbs (Mark Edward Smith) returns from the quaintly ethnic side of town, having delivered twins in exchange for a few stuffed cabbage rolls yet to be named. His son George (Craig Weiskerger) shirks his chores, plays baseball, and dreams of the back breaking life of a farmer, plowing fields of Devonian granite plutons. He’s in love with shy, retiring, and intelligent Emily Webb (Sara French), daughter of the town journalist Mr. Webb (Tommy Keesling). There future is to wed, and she to die in childbirth. Of course, we all owe God a death, and when we settle up, He gives us a Windsor chair in the cemetery atop the hill so we can exchange slow gossip about the living until judgment day.

Yeah, you can cut the dramatic tension with a beach ball, but that’s not the charm of the piece. As in any good Ideal Town, everyone pitches in to support and gossip about their fellow man and woman. And as in any good Mad Cow production, polished performers deliver tight well crafted portrayal of people we all left the North to avoid. A stern Peg O’Keefe keeps things moving along, pacing scenes and introducing background data with the authority of a New England Preacher. Gentle people fill the town, like the gentle milkman (John Gamber) and his invisible horse. Keesling and Whiskered have a wonderful little scene where they both flounder feebly, seeking some common ground in their new relation. Settling on chicken farming rather than sex, they accurately capture the awkwardness of two men transacting a woman’s fate – both would rather it be over, and not have to think about the details. Mark Edwards Smith sums up the most subtle issues of small town life, they of Pillar of The Community. His power far exceeds his notional duties, and he’s on call 24 hours a day. He shows the love of community must take precedence over love his own.

We all end up in the graveyard on top of a hill, where the dead have the best views in town. Wilder brings life in full circle here, birth, marriage, and death and leaves some subtle messages. Enjoy what you have while you have it, life is transient and arbitrary, and in the long run, education gets you just as dead as stupidity. That’s Reality Theater, and it gets a standing ovation.

For more information on Mad Cow, please visit

6 Women with Brain Death, Or Expiring Minds Want to Know

Music and Lyrics by Mark Houston

Book by Cheryl Benge, Christy Brandt, Rosanna Coppedge, Valerie Fagan, Ross Freese, Mark Houston, Sandee Johnson, and Peggy Pharr Wilson

UCF Conservatory Theater at The Orlando Rep

For a show written by committee, this isn’t half bad. Eight writers must be some sort of a record, and this team assembles an odd little musical about the demise of modern culture from a female perspective. Well, they said “demise”, but I see it more as a natural progression from where we were to where we will be. Using tabloid headlines as a jumping off point, “6 Women” feels a lot like “Menopause – The Musical”, but with more stable hormones.

We hit all the female hot buttons – game shows, soaps, reunions, sex, and diva-ness. The cleverest segment presents a prom queen now reduced to just a simple head on a plate. Before the “Severing” she was a hot property with a future and a sex life, but now she seems more in need of garnishing as she holds court on a silver platter. It’s more than just catty whining, it’s solid physical humor when her tiara makes her head roll over. The scene is priceless.

Musically, the ensemble does a great job with some uneven material. The bracketing songs “Expiring Minds” and “Tag Out” are wonderfully complex pieces or musical dance and clever lighting. “Toll Road” is another gem, with arty visual backdrop s highlighting the futility of commuting though life’s journey. “Motown Diva”, on the other hand, feels weird, and only runs a merciful few minutes before the writing team calls is quits.

Despite a few uneven songs, I found the show wonderfully enigmatic, provocative, and intriguing, and watching Janine Klein say “I like Republicans” alone is worth the admission. It’s a mind melding opportunity that is highly recommended.

For tickets and more information, please visit

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown – The Broadway Musical

Book by John Gordon

Lyrics and Music by Clark Gesner

Directed by Steve MacKinnon

Center Stage Theater at Studio Theater, Orlando, Fla.

I remember when the funny papers were not only slightly funny, but printed large enough to actully read. King of the 3 panel gag strip was Charles Shultz and his Peanuts Gang. Charlie Brown (Kevin Zepf) and the rest of the kids summarize all of childhood’s fears and pains, and express them with wisdom beyond their ages. Easy enough, when some one with experience is writing your lines. Perhaps not a promising subject for theater, but John Gordon wrought a decent musical out of essentially a series of kid level gags and touching songs about friendship, life and from all I know the ultimate question of the galaxy.

OK, so there’s no plot, the few stock romances you remember from the strip, and scenes all last about 3 minutes, but that doesn’t detract from the childlike joy the show. Everyone up there gets in a good song or two, like the theme “You’re a good Man Charlie Brown”. Charlie himself look sad, pathetic, and in love, and he is well hectored by the strident Lucy Van Pelt (Shannon Bilo) and his smarty pants little sister Sally (Natalie Davidson). Of course, one of the oddest characters is the semi-anthropomorphic Snoopy (Stephen Pugh) who craves food as surrogate love, and spends his odd moments fantasizing about flying a Sopwith Camel in the battle of the Ardennes. He pushes you right up to the “no, I won’t buy that” line, but never across.

Suitable for all ages, this silly but zippy production has some of the cooler lighting effects I’ve seen in the intimate Studio Theater, a well chosen cast, and a the 1999 reworked book. It won’t change your life, but there’s a time and place to return to childhood. The psychiatrist is IN.

To find out more about Center Stage Orlando, please visit

Still Life

By Emily Mann

Directed By Julia Allardice Gagne

Valencia Charter Company

Drugs, alcohol, war, Catholicism – all methods to warp your life, maybe terminally. Mark (Robert Faircloth) looks like a nice enough chap, but he’s murdered a family of 5 in cold blood. Since he did it in Viet Nam, they gave him a medal, but over here you’d do 20 to life if you were lucky. His wife Cheryl (Natalie Rodriguez) survived his beating, her drug problems, and now transfers her love for him to her boy Dan. That’s OK by Mark, as he’s now an artist and hangs out with his artist-style girlfriend Nadine (Lauren Cooper). After three kids and a divorce, she just discovered sex. It’s taken her that long to overcome the church, and she’s just a bit miffed about the delay.

All the stories interleave, but the actors don’t. Pain causes isolation, and in “Still Life” the conduit is solely actor to audience. Faircloth as Mark seems much too nice to fire a gun, never mind wipe out a small family, until the end when his anger rises to reveal the angry streak in his psyche. Rodriguez’s Cheryl carries a broader anger, the anger of a bad marriage and a bad life unanticipated. She automatically evokes the thought “divorced with kids, sentenced to a low end job”, and you want to offer her a good meal. Most intriguing is Nadine, who seems sexy and dangerous, the sort of woman you might spend a weekend in Biloxi with, but no more. These people are us, and not the “us” we like to think we are.

So what’s happening here? Everything revolves around Mark, nice guy mass murderer. And even though all three have some level of intimacy, all ignore each other as they compete to tell us their slice of his life. While we hear the detail, a long sequence of very disturbing slides hovers over the stage. Yeah, the mundane and the horrible are not that far apart, and sometimes it’s only the tone of the news cast that makes a hero into a murderer. And what’s emphasized is that war is indeed a hell on earth, where people die for less than no good reason. Try to avoid it if you can.

For more information on Valencia Character Company, please visit

Mary’s Wedding

By Stephen Massicotte

Directed by Denise Gillman

Featuring Heather Leonardi and mile Marinaccio

Mad Cow Theater, Orlando, Fla

Reality is a dream, love is a dream, and death is the end of one dream and the beginning of another. Out on the flat plains of Canada, Charlie (Marinaccio) helps dad on the farm and loves horses. A new girl Mary (Leonardi) has appeared, an immigrant to the Wild West. Why she and her mother left England is a mystery, but Mary and Charlie meet in a barn during a thunderstorm, and do what must happen in a two persona romances – they fall in love. He’s not an intellectual, but loves “Charge of the Light Brigade”, and hopes someday to lead a futile, fatal charge. Mary teaches him more about poetry and their chaste romance progresses against the will of her mother. Romance without obstacle is no romance at all, and their obstacle is The Great War. Charlie signs up, survives an amazingly long time on the front lines, and gets his charge. But Mary never gets what she wants, and leaves the stage with the remnants of a dream, and noting more.

-bmSoft and lyrical, poetic and dreamy, this lovely little drama is thoroughly engaging and heartwarming. There’s a powerful chemistry between Marinaccio and Leonardi, and they both have the youth and good looks to be convincing with effortless action. Minimal yet clever staging creates a horse barn, a WWI trench, and a herd of horse with little more than motion, light and really strong thigh muscles. Take this show to heart; it’s more than romance, stronger than a convincing anti-war message, and pure, wonderful theater.

For more information on Mad Cow, please visit


Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz

Book by Roger O. Hirson

Directed by John Bell

Starring Paul Gebb, Justin Sargent, Mark Brotherton

UCF Conservatory Theater, Orlando Fla.

Hearken back to two ancient times – the dark ages of Charlemagne when knights and barbarians ruled Europe, and the early seventies when self-conscience staginess conquered the musical theater. Pippin (Sargent) grows up in relative luxury, the intelligent son of the greatest ruler of the age, Charlemagne (Brotherton). He’s at loose ends, seeks a quest, and tries everything the world has to offer – college, the army, sex, home life, but even patricide fail to fill his emptiness. His attempt to rule with justice and pity destroys the entire medieval social contract in about 45 seconds, and daddy has to come back from the dead to straighten things out. Pippin’s story meanders back and forth on a circus-like stage, displayed with text and song, dance and light, costume and nothing else. Director Bell dazzles us with an outrageously exuberant minimalism.

“Pippin” relies on and enormous amount disbelief, and the audience gladly hands it over. Leading the foray is the tight, professional dancing of the mysterious Leading Player (Gebb). Part narrator, part spirit guide, he shows Pippin and the audience the path to take, and we gladly follow. Pippin himself seems a bit unsure on stage, as befits a misfit prince, but he’s coddled by his loving daddy, local stalwart Mark Brotherton. The king is human enough, salaciously wondering if his second wife Fastrada (Brooke Gebb) is worth the hassle, but thankful her dense son Lewis (Robert Stack) can behead a Visigoth or two in a pinch. Needless to say, Pippin gets a girl; we keep that much of the old style, with Catherine (Gigi Vasser) as the attractive AND conveniently widowed woman in his life. Pippin has second thoughts about her boy Theo (Jeremy Ashton), but he’s well behaved if a bit obsessed about water fowl.

With a strong supporting cast and the usual UCF mix of students and pros this is a show that works on all levels. The singing and dancing is sharp and sprightly, the staging minimal to the point of negativity and all is pulled together by Eric Haugen’s stunning illuminations and John Bell’s sure hand. Who knew the dark ages could be so enlightening?

For more information on UCF Conservatory Theatre, visit

Many of the shows below are part of the 2005 Orlando Fringe Festival. Visit for Information on tickets and times.

Thrill Me – The Leopold and Loeb Story

By Stephen Dolginoff

Orange Venue

Orlando International Fringe Festival

Sometimes it seems the modern musical is creeping off into progressively weirder and weirder territory. No topic is too far of the entertainment axis to garner a book and lyric credit, and this story of a thrill killing in the 20’s pushes that boundary. Nathan Leopold (Matthew Schwartz) was educated, moneyed, and madly in love with Richard Loeb (Kyle Harden). Today we’d call Loeb a psychotic, but back then he seems just a slightly wild member of the flapper generation. His wildness? He needed to commit daring, illegal acts to achieve sexual satisfaction. Leopold was so head over heals in love that he went along, and as the romance progresses, so do the crimes – first arson and burglary, but eventually they decide on murder, abducting and killing a young boy. Loeb treats Leopold cruelly, and to keep Loeb, Leopold makes intentional, crucial mistake during the murder, and they both go to jail, but at least they are together.

Musically, this story is quite well laid out and executed. There are two potential hits, Nathan’s plaintive “Everybody Wants Richard” and the powerful duet “My glasses / Just Lay Low”. Both Schwartz and Harden have excellent voices, and while there only accompaniment is a piano (Luerne Herrera), they show is enjoyable and well paced. What will keep this an off Broadway story is the brutal, offhand crime it explores and the explicit relation s between the tow men. It’s a good show, but I doubt it will even make the dinner theater circuit.


By Dave McConnell

Directed by Eric Pinder

Brown Venue

Orlando International Fringe Festival

I’m happy to report that Dave McConnell cleans up very nicely. He’s been a Fringe regular for several years with a series of show that focus on the grittier side of urban life (Street Seuss, Gossip). He’s always had a penchant for using untrained actors to increase the reality factor of his shows, but this year worked with Director Eric Pinder resulting in a tight, funny look at how we interact up and down the economic food chain. This Carlin-esque diatribe starts with his tale of passing though an airport and having answer questions that are on one hand stupid, but on the other hand provide some social grease that allows us to deal with strangers in common situations. Yes, the fast food clerk doesn’t REALLY care how you are, but the questions give each of you just enough clues to decide if you really want extra fries.

Dave’s language skills and attitude are preserved, but the honing of the material and timing is a necessary step for him and he kept the audience in stitches the whole hour. Some things have happened in his life (a wife and child) that make him a bit mellower, but there’s plenty of street smart sassiness in this home boy.

I AM the F****ing Show

Starring Sara Jones

Pink Venue

Orlando International Fringe Festival

Damn, she’s good. Sara Jones has more than enough talent to fill an hour of Fringe, and ticket seems cheaper than it ought o cost. Some folks around here have compared her to various stars, and that’s a bit unfair – at the tender age of 22 Jones has enough snap, crackle and pop to stand on her own, and there’s nothing derivative about her style. Her forte is entertaining, not writing, and tonight’s show runs though a passel of standards and a few obscure maneuvers from various Broadway shows. “Don’t tell Mama” and “Everything’s Coming up Roses” are the big up beat numbers to get the crowd roaring, but she’s equally adept at the slow burns songs (“One for My Baby”, “Colored Lights”) that keep the show exciting.

It’s not just songs that fill the stage as Jones executes some very nice transitions, plugs for other shows, and even an on stage costume change. Jones is building her back stage staff, with a musical Director (Jim Rinehart) and show development staff (John O’Malley and Ed Davis) helping make her look as good as she can. This girl has the raw talent, the development, and the lungs to go on to bigger and better things than Orlando has to offer, so I advise seeing her while she still works cheap.

It’s A Wonderful Life

Adapted by James D. Rodgers

The Green Room Company

Pink Venue

Orlando International Fringe Festival

There’s always a church group hanging around The Fringe Festival, and I’m not sure if they want to save us, or just see how the other half operates for background information. This year First Baptist of Orlando drags a truck load of props and nearly 2 dozen actors to the stage and remind us that Christmas is never more than 6 month from where you are standing. Since this slightly sappy story is in the public domain, you’ve seen it 100 times, but briefly George Bailey (Josh Weidenhamer) contemplates suicide because his S&L is about to go under. Clarence the Angel 2nd class (Michael Hammond) come to show him the good he has done, and convince him to stay here and keep making a positive influence on his small own, lest if be taken over by the evil corporate bankers types. Then every one lives happily ever after.

As happens so often with adaptations, the play sticks quite close to the movie and attempts to replicate the scene changes and pacing. Thus, an enormous company slaves to move furniture in and out quickly enough to keep up with Frank Capra’s nicely cut film. I’ll say this – these people were organized but loud. The trampling of feet stops just long enough for the actors to drop their set in place, belt out some dialog, dim the lights, and haul in a new set of furniture. Antique auctions aren’t this organized.

There’s nothing here that wasn’t in the film, although the scene changes are entertaining. George and Clarence are played well enough, but all the children are just a bit too precious and the ethnic players seem a bit condescending. This show has been selling out, and there’s clearly a market for family friendly entertainment. A visit won’t hurt you, and might entertain the entertainers.

American Obsession

By Alan Sincic

Blue Venue

Orlando International Fringe Festival

OK, what we have here is two separate layers of misdirection. The lowest level, there are half a dozen free form spoken word pieces floating around the stage. Then, the layers are sliced and diced and rearranged to keep the audience from clearly following the action. Reading the handout helps, at least you know what is supposed to be happening, but you still need to pay close attention for quite along time to follow each little absurdist story.

At first, there is pleasant feeling that you have stumbled into a classic Fringe show – all weirdness and precision drill team poetry reading, but after a half hour or so you begin to glaze over a bit – where is this going, how will it end, and why am I not engaging with any of the story lines? Highly skilled people are reading, veterans of many local profession stage shows, and that helps, but by the end of the show I’m lost. When it stops, it stops hard, and as you stagger out into the hall, thinking “yeah… Fringe…weird…”

Working Hard

Written and Directed by Larry Stallings

Brown Venue

Orlando International Fringe Festival

You never know what the neighbors are up to, and maybe you don’t want to. In this inconspicuous suburban house, Roma Rogers (Marcie Schwalm) and Dee Ann Rogers (Laura Rhodes) pretend sisterhood while churning out high concept porno scripts like “Rumple foreskin” and “Jack and his Big Stalk”. All is well until ardent fan Nate Houser (Glen Howard) discovers team and inveigles his way into their lives and business. Annoying as he is, a bigger putz arrives when unctuous Reverend Hollis (Michael Scholl) visits to see if the neighborhood is suitable for his family. Personally, I’d have tossed him out on his ear for prying, but that would kill the story. While Roma deceives the Reverend, Nate brags about his size and the audience gets a steady stream of double entrance, bad puns, and silly movie titles.

While the situations are silly, the point here is to cram as many penis euphemisms into the script as possible. While this has the potential to lead to disaster, I’ll say this – about the time you’re getting tired of the jokes, the show ends, so the fit is quite nice. Schwalm and Rhodes are pretty convincing as lovers passing as sisters, Howard’s Houser skate way past the edge of annoying, and John Minbiole is pretty sleazy as Sammy Swing, the porno producer. It’s silly, you’ll laugh, and best of all and you can steal most of the jokes for your next locker room male bonding experience.

Kama Sutra

By Peter McGarry

Orange Venue

Orlando International Fringe festival

Thirty years of suburban marriage can take a lot out of your sex life. Tristan (Peter McGarry) and Pamela (Sue Warhurst) live deep in a sexual rut until an offhand suggestion by Tristan leads Pamela to move her hips during sex. She’s never thought to do that, due to some combination of repressive Catholicism and a simple lack of creativity. But once she tries it, she finds it exciting, and ends up reading the Kama Sutra with its 592 positions. Tristan has no idea what just happened, and resorts to aspirin and bad jokes to explain his mystification. Cleary, these two have separated on some level, with Pamela aggressively taking up Indian food, dress, and philosophy, while Tristan clings desperately to his English solidity.

The show seems different than the last presentation in 1998, showing sex as the common ground in a relation rather than an activity unto itself. There’s a touching element in Pamela’s attempt to change her life while Trace hold to the past, but there’s also a strong tension between them – once they were in lust, then in love, and now their just in the same house. While Pamela conveys here story with a series of touching monologs, Tristan tells jokes and even addresses the lighting guy. The result is a very lost seeming man, and when Pamela’s nearly escapes to India, she trips, breaks leg, and stays stuck in her old world, albeit with a new view on one of life’s joys. Don’t miss this warm hearted view of love in the fading years.

One Frigid Shiny Knight

By Randy Rutherford

Brown Venue

Orlando International Fringe Festival

This is San Francisco based storyteller Randy Rutherford’s 3rd Orlando Fringe show, and it makes me feel bad I missed the two previous ones. Mr. Rutherford makes a minor career out of the story of himself and his family, and while his life might not be more interesting than yours, it’s the telling, not the tale that makes the show. This almost completely true story (I allow a small margin for embellishment in a good tale) leads us up to Anchorage, Alaska. There Mr. Rutherford failed to find work on the pipeline, but learned guitar from a master musical named Grant. This man was a God and Master to him and all his students, and Grants girlfriend was the beautiful Cassandra. While Randy was taken by here beauty, he knew enough to leave her alone until Grant took off for a year and gave him vague orders to keep an eye on her. And you thought YOU were in a pickle over a date.

While telling the tale Mr. Rutherford picks away a guitar, and you can tell he took his lessons well. You see bit of the musician’s bag of tricks, as a few oft repeated chords quickly begin to sound like a catalog of hits. If there a flaw here, he doesn’t play enough – he mentions some complicated fretting that he saw on Grants desk, and I’d have loved to hear him play it. Does he get the girl? It’s not important, it’s his ability to magically move Anchorage to a stage in Central Florida that makes this a must see show.

Welcome to the Family

By Nicole Carson

Directed by Ashland Thomas

Blue Venue

Orlando International Fringe Festival

Hey, it’s about time we had some FEMALE nudity in this Fringe! Playwrights Round Table, a local writing group, presents this piece with a style strongly reminiscent of early Saturday Night Live and National Lampoon sensibilities. The slightly annoying bracketing device places us all in a sweltering studio for a test transmission of a new subscriber based reality show. I guess this is different than cable, but a strident Crowd Motivator (Jessica Huckaby) keeps us all in line and reminds us to applauded when ever the lights go out. Yes, MA’AM!

-bm- This TV show mixes dysfunctional family bliss and fake but funny ads for products that aren’t that far from stuff you really can buy. It’s so hard to make fun of reality today; it has already beaten you to it. Parenting the unstable Jefferies family are doddering father Carl (Larry Stallings) and bumbling mother Peggy (Joan Gay). Their children have had such crummy marriages they decide to kill the fiancé of youngest son Pete (Ashland Thomas) to save them all the heartache. Pretty Annie (Nicole O’Donnell) dodges a falling plant and an arrow, leaving the scene bloody but in a touching, funny way. Along the way we meet the twin charms of daughter Beth (Liza Gonzales) who makes out with boyfriend Tony (Daniel Oser) until young Eddie shakes them down for cash. Maybe their not really THAT dysfunctional…

Gross humor, a few solid fart jokes, and reality parody add to the strong female nudity to make this a crowd favorite. Strip down to your undies and join them in the sweat box.

For more information visit


Written by Brendan O’Hara

Directed by Joshua Horn

Pink Venue

Orlando International Fringe Festival

This is the show that bought dozens of umbrellas and nicely left them laying around in case it rained. “Zen” showcases the multimedia talents of Joshua Horn and his friends, taking a Greek Chorus of small tragedies from 6 lives and weaving them together. The Zen 6 are stereotypical by intention – a single mom (Tammy Kopko), a self centerd rock star (Brendan O’Hara), a wispy poet (Jill Jones) ,a closeted student (Jarred Sharar), an Angry Young Man (David Hippchen), and a hooker (Cindy Pearlman). Each gets their moment in the colored spot light, sequentially describing the axis of their misery, their hopes, prayers, and dreams. They want nothing more than love, safety, and interesting stability. The stories are completely orthogonal until the very end when they all pair up, but not necessarily in the classical romantic mating you’d expect. What they get is what you get – an island of calm in a torrent of sensation. Zen will find your center.

Karaoke Knights

By Tim Mooney and Ray Lewis

Yellow Venue

Orlando International Fringe Festival

Fringe is a nest of one man shows, as there’s just about no other way to make a living at this job. Perennial favorite Tim Mooney (Molière Than Thou, Criteria) returns with the interesting results of a recent personal project – he wrote a song a day for a year, then selected the best for this quirky performance. Mr. Mooney likes Karaoke, and from my experience professional actors are much better at this imported art form than the drunken masses.

Notionally, Mr. Mooney plays a number a characters singing for themselves and their imagined audience. Sometimes he sounds like Tom Waits (Charles), sometimes he sounds like a Latin Lover (Sergio), and sometimes he’s just a regular guy in a sweat shirt. There is some risk in seeing this show, as several audience members make the supreme sacrifice, standing on stage awkwardly while he croons to them. Or you can sit along the side of the stage, and He’ll give you a beer for your trouble.

The songs are loosely connected, but with complicate lyrics that remind me of that old band “Sparks.” If you’re dieing to sing karaoke at Fringe, the show is defiantly for you. If you just like Tim Mooney, that’s another good reason to drop by. And if you want to be on stage but basically lack talent, he can cover that for you as well, and then you to can become a Karaoke Knight.

For more information, visit


By Reid Nicholson

Yellow Venue

Orlando International Fringe Festival

Writer’s block isn’t pretty. And neither are shows about the topic, as evidenced by Reid Nicholson’s hour long ramble about his years in the film industry. His tells of endless unproduced scripts, but his years in Hollywood yielded precious few anecdotes of egos and sex and over indulgence we crave. As a certified member of the Writers Guild of America, it seems he should have had a little something to work with. At first this looks like a comedy, but no one laughed, and there is no sense of failed jokes. Then it appeared a drama, but nothing engaged me or made me wonder what would happen next. Perhaps he attempted a stream-of-conscience piece, but he kept using complete sentences. The audience remained completely quite, except for some guy with a cough, and we all had no idea what he was trying to prove. Perhaps if he had done it in the nude?

To The Winner

Written and Performed by Wilson Loria

Directed by Fernado Calzadilla

Pink Venue

Orlando International Fringe Festival

Childhood certainly has its charms, both in the living and in the remembering. Looking back, we see a distorted sense of time and scale, with things and events and emotions flowing and interweaving to produce a dream like reminiscence. The slight Wilson Loria flows about the stage, recalling this state of being, revealing his childhood feelings for Neptune and the mermaids. This childhood was typical, with signs of love at a distance and a growing understanding of the adult world. This stream of conscience story is half spoken, half sung, and half danced, leading the child Loria to the accordion. This complex yet despised instrument is capable of emitting the lost sounds of far, far away, just like childhood itself.

One leave the space feeling confused, yet reassured – childhood IS alive here and lovingly captured by the white face and stocking cap of a clown half prepared to perform. He is a mirror of his beginnings, when he is still only half ready to live in the harshness of the real world.

Boy Groove

Orange Venue

Orlando International Fringe Festival

You might dismiss them as fluff, but Boy Bands are a powerful economic engine designed to extract money from the 13 years old set. Designed with care of a fighter jet, 4 men of carefully balance style and energy are selected to get teenage groins hot. After intense training, the music business sets them on stage for a few years, milking them till nothing is left. Boy Groove tells the story of selection, training, exploitation, and ultimate collapse of one such group. More sincere than Spinal Tap and funnier than the Monkees, Boy Groove drags you in to the world of luck by selection. There’s Cute Andrew, Hunky Kevin, The Angry One, and Subtly Gay Lance. These boy dance and sing for an hour, hitting lights and cues with the precision of a real Boy Band, only to flame out when they loose grip on the fact they are choose, and not intricacy talented. Fast and furious, the story is gripping, tender and funny. Great songs, great dancing and great acting makes “Boy Groove” is one of the best shows at the fringe this season. Dance on in.

For More information, visit

The Incubus

Written by John Chatterton

Directed by Esther Daack

Green Venue

Orlando International Fringe Festival

It seems that even the “legitimate” spiritualists of the 19th century used tricks to call forth the spirits – after all, if there’s no apparition, there’s no pay. Its 1875 when scientist and all around fool Professor Vickers (Tim Evanicki) seeks to confirm or deny the truth of spiritualism. More than that, he seeks long dead friend Edward (Curt Whirl). After accusations of impropriety with a junior officer, Edward accidentally shot himself while cleaning his gun. Wispy Michael (Kevin McIntyre) looks a lot like him, and with the aid of his manger Smythe (C. J. Jackson) they convince Vickers they are legit, and Edward is with grasp. Soon enough we see that no relation here is Platonic, but it takes blackmail to convince Vickers the whole thing was a sham. He looks so hurt…

While we never see the cool, disembodied head-in-a-box from Fringe preview, this is a nice look at the gullibility of an intelligent man. Desire clouds what scientific discipline he has but he nearly does find his friend. While this goes on, the audience gets a full frontal view of the deceptions and how they were pulled off. You think they wouldn’t work today, but people always see what they want.

Vickers is full of himself, and feeds details to Smythe and never challenges an apparition or ectoplasm. Michael and Smythe form a perfectly match set of con men, nasty and self serving, and you do feel sorry when Vickers loses cash, face, and worst of all, a change to reunite with a friend. Despite a set piece falling down, this story not only grips and entertains but reminds you – keep skeptical.

For more information visit

The Have Nots

Pink Venue

Orlando International Fringe Festival

Improv – when its’ good, its’ very, very good, and when its’ not, well, take a guess. This three person troupe from South Carolina takes dozens of audience suggestions, yet uses very few of them in their games. Are they…blocking? Picking and choosing? Say it ain’t so! We tossed out 20 or more accents, and didn’t even get a Texas drawl out of the group. While this bunch drew laughs from the local Improv heavyweight, the humor was thin, no new surprises appeared, and I often thought of turning on my cell phone, just to give them some bait to work with. They were energetic and fast, but they just don’t seem that funny.

American Cake

Blue Venue

Orlando International Fringe Festival

Chicago based Jonathan Pereira returns with another enigmatic think piece, this time focusing on the absurdities and contradiction of American Politics. The centerpiece of the act is a cake – heart shaped, lit with candles, and frosted with ooey gooey frosting. To him, cakes are symbolic of family and America, brought forth in happy times (and sometimes sad) as a celebration of life. He offers some to an audience member, sings them Happy Birthday, and then proceeds to eat the entire cake as he muses and rants about the corruption of the system and all the presidents from Washington to Bush 2.

You may remember some of the scandals, Harding’s Teapot Dome and Jefferson’s slaves, but some of the critiques are obscure – illegitimate children, latent homosexuality, and routine financial and political crimes. But the point remains – all our leaders and all of us are fallible, and somehow that makes us one. Thought provoking yet not transforming, “American Cake” provokes memories of who we are, how we got here, and what it means to be American.

Horror Over Drinks

Written and Directed by John Bateman

Pink Venue

Orlando International Fringe Festival

Is it really worth going back? Did high school affect you so strongly that you yearn for the faces of friends gone by above friends new found? Back in ‘78, Nosferatu Academy graduated a stellar class of axe murders, demons, and generally unpleasant folk who have now aged, perhaps mellowed. They return to the roost to reminisce and get shit face drunk. Pin Head (Josh Geoghagan) got out of his box and writes poetry, Jason Voorhees (Mike Czech) never really fit in, but still has a place by Crystal Lake, and Fred Krueger (John Bateman) made it big in the stock market boom. Jason still pines for Carrie (Laura Wetering), but she married Fred as a trophy wife, looking the part with a tight white dress and expensive faux jewelry.

With clever costumes and a full bar, this story is funny yet drags more often than it flows. Pinhead look s great and his nervous, jerky energy make him a monster to be reckoned with. Jason is a bit slower to win over the audience, and his hockey mask and slow deliver make him less of a scare than a bore. Bateman’s Freddy is full of swagger, but not much else and even the beautiful Wetering doesn’t generate much sympathy. Not as bad as some, not as good as other, this show is for the die hard 80’s horror fan. Pin Heads sum it up best – “Let’s go to a bar, get liquored up and kill some college students.” Go for it, boys.


Written by Christian Kelty, Seth Kubersky, and Mike Marinaccio

Directed By Seth Kubersky

Starring Christian Kelty and Heather Leonardi

Green Venue

Orlando International Fringe Festival

Sure, you THINK it would be cool to be a porn star. And maybe it is, but after 5000 on-camera orgasms, Claude St. Cum (Tracy, played by Kelty) finds the job as thin as a rubber and thinks about culinary school. Icky. There’s sex in his life, but no love until he stumble into innocent Angie (Leonardi). They play video games until dawn and then date for a few months while Tracy keeps up his secret career and a chaste relation. Not only ashamed of his job, he’s haunted by the memory of his brother (Marinaccio) while his “best friend” Phillip (John DiDonna) struggles to keep him in the business. A man’s got to eat, and it’s not like he has many other skills

This is the fringe “A list” talent show, and the team pays off with a strong, unexpected drama. Kelty looks almost as tortured on stage as he seems in person, even though he’s surrounded by the buxom and sexy Nikki Darden and Sara French as Venus and Honey pot, the catty costars of the porn empire. While the show has some nudity (I like Christian, but there are certain aspects of him I’m not interested in seeing), tons of strong language, and simulated sex acts, it’s really a moving exploration of how an ideal situation still makes you completely miserable. Having said this, there’s plenty of humor, particularly from director Kubersky who plays the near mute camera man on set. He’s not ready to step up to the porn bed, but the chance arises and he prefers to keep his pride. Hovering over the show is a multimedia screen, which helps set place and time in this interior view of professional screwing. Between scenes, we get a reading of the Biblical “Song of Solomon” by Rus Blackwell reads it in his best Southern Baptist voice. This ancient sex poem somehow made it past the council of Nicea, but its connection to the action is a bit loose.

“Obscenity” is not in it self obscene, although it’s what we look for at this adult theme park of theater. The obscenity in the show is Tracy’s unwillingness to either commit to or abandon Angie or his career – he can’t have both, and it hurts. Bad.

For more information, visit

The Trial of Dody Boyle

Written by John Kelly

Directed by Caroline Ross

Green Venue

Orlando Fringe Festival

The Irish are an endless source of material. Perhaps it’s their roughish charm, their wonderful brogue, or their penchant for booze and horses. Local actor John Kelly has mined the that vein for his first writing foray, “The Trial of Dody Boyle,” and made a fun story out of petty crime. Dody Boyle (Marge Hider) clips coupons while hubby Jack (Kelly) shoplifts to do his part for their retirement. This time he picked up a nice camera as a gift, but forgot to steal the manual. Dody needs some instructions, and takes it back to get the manual. She’s busted for her trouble, so Jack seeks out legal advice from sleazy lawyer, Aloysius Maguire (John Hill). They trade lawyer jokes for a while, and then devise a stagy to keep Dody out of the slammer. Their day in Geriatric Crime Court under judge Scragg (Caroline Ross) goes well enough until prosecuting attorney Carrie Clopper (Jackie Klein) find a loophole. Somehow, I get the feeling John has been down this path himself, but that’s just a guess.

The show is cleverly written and has solid laughs, although in places it drags. I like the gratuitous lawyer jokes, and Jack’s sincere prayer “Dear Lord, please don’t hurt me today.” Kelly clearly wrote this for himself, and it does show his talent in a good light. Supporting him is the pathetic looking Dody and the very oily John Hill, the ultimate TV lawyer. Ross looked good as the wishy washy judge, and new comer Jackie Keen held up very well as a security guard and prosecutor. It’s a fun show, in need of some minor tweaks, but it pulls a steady stream of chuckles from the crowd.


Voci Dance

Yellow Venue

Orlando International Fringe Festival

I know little about dance except for what the occasional Bob Fosse flick teaches, but I always enjoy this innovative group of amazingly supple people. Perhaps what make their dance so entertaining is its complete self consciousness, self consciousness to the point of ignoring almost every other art form. Voci moves to its own vocabulary, semiotics, and logic, making it mystifying and intriguing tot uninitiated. This round of Voci Dance focus on the annoyance of telephone is our daily live. We in the audience have to mute ours, but they let their ring, beep and boop as they writhe on stage.

A long piece with the full troupe called “Kite Tales” opens the main show. The cast is clothed in body suits and nearly transparent pajamas. Fluttering about the stage and telling us… what? No idea, that’s the sweet mystery of the art. Telephones play an increasing role as we proceed, and they dance around internet dating, chasing girls while others keep pulling on the electronic leash, and finally my favorite, “Pining”/ “Sure he’ll call…” We’ve all waited for the special someone to call, constantly checking to see if the line is alive and agonizing whether to call ourselves or hope the other party will. In this innovating piece, 6 woman dance with six phones, some so antiques they have dials. They all do not quite the exact same thing at almost the exact same time. It’s beautiful, touching, and funny. Does he call? Well, I’ll not say, but the suspense is worth the trip to the great sight lines of the Yellow Venue.

More information on Voci Dance is available at

Vocal Fusion


Blue Venue

Orlando International Fringe Festival

Orlando seems a growing hotbed of vocal talent. “2:4:Five” looks like the next up and coming group in the wacky world of a cappella, a genera of music that eschews conventional instruments. They replace brass and woodwind with carefully calibrated grunts, groans and a spectrum of other sounds that got you in trouble in high school. I suspect the name comes from musical notation and the fact that there are 5 of them on stage, and they make a sound that is distinctly modern. The pop on stage to the disco classic “Staying g Alive”, and while tenor Earl Elkins can’t quite reach these Barry Gibbs tight pants high notes, the arrangement comes very close to the lush, over produced sound of the 70’s. There were a few more oldies, but their focus on more modern pop and rap stuff like Coolio and Eminem.

Combined with their own solid reparatory, these guys have the vocals down but were plagued but a bass heavy sound system that buried there words in the small over heated Blue Venue. Interspersed with the music were a few hit and miss comedy bits revolving around “Why Instruments suck”. The best of these involved two of the guys with guitar masks and tutu’s doing a respectable segment of The Nutcracker. Silly, but fun. I like these guys, but they need to keep their shirts tucked in and get the sound mix clear. Thumping bass is cool when your cruising Mills Avenue, but not everything should be set to 11.

For more information on 2:4:Five, please visit

archy & mehitabel

By Mel Brooks, George Kleinsinger, and Joe Darion

Directed by Patrick Flick

Starring Michael Andrews, Sara Jones, and Stephan Jones

Mad Cow Theater, Orlando, Fla.

“archy and mehitabel” is one of the finest interspecies musical comedies ever staged in Orlando. Sensitive, intellectual blattella germanica archy (andrews, no caps tonight, please) pours out his heart by stage jumping into a typewriter, one key at a time. Trapped in the lowly role of nature’s disgusting scavenger, he yearns for more – artistic recognition, freedom from discrimination, and a slightly better class of apple peelings. But love looms larger in his life – he’s stricken by mehitabel (Sara Jones), an alley cat with the morals of… an alley cat. It’s not exactly a reciprocal relation, as she threatens to flatten him more than once, but they some how have reached an understanding – she sleeps with her own species, but after the post-coital cigarette, she comes back to him for philosophy and sympathy. When unwanted pregnancy strikes, archy encourages mehitabel to seek employment as a house cat. The food is regular, but the terms are tough – put up with children, and no tomcatting around. She chafes, and in the end we find we can’t change people, cats, or cockroaches, and they are happier being themselves.

As unlikely a tale as this is, it’s a perfect vehicle for michael andrews in his nebbish mode – goofy costumes, nervous looks, some great songs for him to hammer out. I’d list the titles but you’ll hear them all anyway at the show, and with recent arts funding cuts, something had to go. Sara Jones has the earthy sexuality one hopes for in a fishnet-wearing alley cat. I felt kitty-ish myself, and tried to catch one of the feathers emitted by her costume as it floated past me in the front row. Supporting Archy and his girl is a wonderful Stephen Jones as big bill the tom cat, and tyrone tattersall the theatrical cat. Jones can overact with the best on command, a skill essential to his role. Whether he’s threatening archy, running away from his kittens, or making mehitabel read Shakespeare, he’s the pillar of nonsense that makes the unlikely love story seem natural in comparison.

While set with an odd cast of characters, it’s a common enough story – you are who you are, who belong where you are. What’s unique is the intellectualizing of the insect kingdom – see this show and think twice about squishing that palmetto bug. He may be somewhere on the Barnes and Noble best seller list.

For more information on Mad Cow, please visit


By David Ives

Directed by Jay Hopkins

Jester Theater Company

Studio Theater, Orlando, FL

They billed this as “5 absurd comedies”, but I think they are more silly / funny than absurd. Godot is absurd, but two mayflies making out are cute. That’s where we open this ensemble set with “Time Flies.” Jason Horne and Natalie Cordon buzz into her lily pad with bent feelers and fun little bug bodies strapped on their backs. They met at a swarm, and she invited him back for some stagnant water and gnat flakes. While a sonorous Davis Attenborough (Jay Hopkins) expands on the low status and large sex drive of the species, our two lovers come to a shocking realization – if it isn’t’ sex on a first date, it’s no sex ever. I don’t find that absurd, just efficient.

A quick blackout transitions into “Degas, C’est Moi”, the make-believe world of a young man (Horne). Today he fancies himself as Edgar Degas, famous painter and sculptor. It’s not delusion, just a day dream, but it flows by so effortlessly that you wonder if you shouldn’t try it yourself. As he runs errands, eats lunch, and meets his work-a-day wife (Cordone), the rest of the ensemble floats by him as a mélange of deliverymen, clerks, and denizens of the city. It’s absolutely beautiful.

After a short and early intermission, Norman (Ryan Leyhue) is on his way to the airport in “Arabian Nights.” Time is tight and he wants a souvenir from this Middle East trip. The Interpreter (Jamie Bridwell) introduces him to shopkeeper Flora (Cordone) and translates everything from the mundane to the phantasmagorical phrases of Scheherazade. Norman doesn’t just need a souvenir, but “seeks a great treasure here in this shop” which may just be retiring Flora. It’s fun, but the weakest piece in the show.

Next we go back to the beginning of time and meet Canaphit (Hopkins) and Gorph (Horne) in “Babels In arms”. They arrive, sweating and groaning, carrying the world’s heaviest foam block. There’s some business about building the tower of Babel and whether God is up or down or everywhere, but this is the sort of piece that really shows off the comic ability of the cast – they can pull solid laugh out of people by making faces lifting a box. Here’s where Mr. Leyhue gets his best line as the eunuch dressed in harem pants: “Bite me. It’s my JOB!”

We wrap up with an odd little Agatha Christie parody, “The Mystery at Twicknam Vicarage.” It seems deceased Jeremy (Horne) has slept with everyone else on stage, more or less successfully. He’s even made it with the couch and wing chair, but now someone ventilates his ventricles. We run time back and forth, and while everyone is a bit strident, they are all guilty, including Jeremy himself. Heck, even the furniture wanted him dead. “(F)IVES” is fast and fun, and great look at just how much you can accomplish in ten short minutes with a great cast.

For more information on Jester Theater Company, please visit

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