Created by John Didonna
Choreography by Mila Markova and Serafina Schiano
Fight Choreography by Bill Warriner
Presented at the Orlando Shakespeare Center
“Phantasmagoria” is entering its sixth year, and now I see a sub head “The Darkness Returns: -The First Chapter of Book 2.” Pretty soon they will add a sermon and a collection and Sunday school afterwards. I admired the semi-animated WW1 preshow montage that occupied us as we shuffled in. The Phantasmagoria team has endured up to the end of the war in a dive club in Berlin called “Haus of Magie.” Times are bleak; the manager of the Haus (Warriner) attempts to fire the Phantasms but they out number him, and they have swords. After some internal dissention they return to their old ways: telling stories and dancing in between. You know their motto: “Once a story is selected, it must be told, and once it starts it must be finished.”
A battle of magicians opens the journey; Cyril (Chris Pruitt) as chief phantasm takes on Jenris (Jeremy Wood) and soon dancers are appearing and disappearing in a large foot locker that can’t POSSIBLY be rigged. After all, a girl taps it to make sure. We then dive into a sea of scary tales including “The Black Cat “and “The Tale of Father Frost” and even the perennial “Sleepy Hollow” to fill the night. This show’s puppets start out simple with a sparkling Father Frost and end with a one man rig representing an ominous Grendel from “Beowulf.” It’s not as big or complex as previous puppets, but it’s just as effective. The dance numbers are highlighted with Mila Markova and her daughter Gina on the rings; Mila also did a great job on some red silks hanging from the ceiling.
After the main event three was an abridged “VIP” session outside. Here we experienced belly dancing, a cello solo, sword swallowing, fire dancing and free wine. I’m happy to report no one was injured with this dangerous mix, but it reminds us that story telling will never die. They just have to lay dormant ever so often, long enough for new ones to spawn.