Florida Festival of New Musicals (Act One)

Florida Festival of New Musicals (Act One)

Florida Festival of New Musicals
The Impossible Club and Love On Ice
Winter Park Playhouse
Winter Park, FL

Every time I turn around, there’s a new theater company or event or marker on my calendar (I only turn around every few daty. Keeps my tan consistent…) “FFNM” is an award logo, but it pushes WPPH into the already active Central Florida new works development cycle already running at both Orlando Shakes and Playwrights’ Round Table and anyone reading in a living room or a coffee house. There are 6 performances, each run three times, and they neatly stacked up so you can catch everything in two evenings if you desire. The bar is open, and there are many quick dining options in the area.

I began with Ned Wilkinson’s “The Impossible Club” (Book, Music and Lyrics by Ned Wilkinson). This was the only complete piece presented, and it’s a clever anti-bullying story aimed at middle school children. Rhine (Shaquille Marcano) is the jock who steals milk money from wussy intellectual Birch (Dab Becker). Birch joins up with hippy jewelry maker Trillium (Devin Tupler) and Rhine merges with Cherry (Rachel Lord) who leads the gymnastics team and is clearly the cool kids in charge. Accusations fly, handmade jewelry is dissed, and its starting to look like the 115th Congress. But spacy Trillium suggests a compromise, and with surprisingly little effort gets the opposing parties on the same page. We discover Rhine is embarrassed because he’s not smart, Cherry hides behind low self-esteem, and we don’t have to be ruled by our hormones, a tough concept to sell at that age. This presentation generated the strongest talk back; multiple teachers in the room wanted a premier in their classroom. This show looks just about ready to roll, but if you’re not in primary education you may miss it if you don’t see it here.

Next up we have a weird sci-fi piece Love On Ice – A Cryogenic Love Story (Book by Bill Nabel & William Squier – Music by Jeffrey Lodin – Lyrics by William Squier & Bill Nabel). December meets May as Charlie Martin marries a much younger Marie. There’s lust in that old heart and cash in the bank and Charles proposes Marie cryogenically freeze him when he dies. She’s reluctant, and when we get to intermission it looks like their roles may be reversed as some words from the author indicate there’s screwball comedy heaven in the second act. But we only get one act, and its not clear we will ever see act two. That’s perhaps the biggest sticking point in this festival: We are all left hanging, and so often a seemingly weak Act One can set up a brilliant Act Two. But this script carries promise; it has the absolute best line in a musical ever as Charles belts: “My colon is as clean as a whistle…” That line alone made the entire festival worthwhile.

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For more information on Winter Park Playhouse and the Florida Festival of New Musicals, please visit http://www.winterparkplayhouse.org

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