Fringemas In The Park
Created by The Orlando Fringe
by Carl F. Gauze
It gets dark early, but the icy winds blowing down from Georgia have yet to set in. With live theater on a very short leash, this is one of the few chances to observe the holiday tradition of a rich man’s redemption. We begin with a mandatory temperature check (I’m a chilly degree and a half below the “Don’t Fly” threshold). A twinkling electric candle is my entry ticket, and a sparse bar in the Orlando Shake’s courtyard offers a few alcoholic options. Then it’s across the street to the Green Lawn of Fabulousness. I join my fellow travelers and assemble in a group of about twenty and receive orders to keep separate, a mandate honored more in the breach than the execution.
We meet the tightwad Scrooge where food trucks cluster in normal times, and Cratchit is amusingly performed by Joel Swanson (the “Frog Pig” Guy from a recent Fringe Festival). This is by far the best segment; funny and unexpected, and all the gags work. We proceed around the concrete loop of Lockhaven, we meet the famous door knocker, and then Michael Wanzie appears as a very scary Ghost of Christmas Past. Next, an elaborate minuet shows us Scrooge’s past while dancers twirl and spin under the watchful gaze of “The Rocket Thrower” statute, and we end up at the Cratchits’ homey hovel on some cast-in-place rocks near the Science Center. Redemption, generosity and an endless supply of leftover turkey conclude this personal management class. We may be glowing warmly inside, but outside Orlando was getting a bit chilly. It may have been in the ’60s.
I like the production, it was pared down and quick, and like a book we’ve read too may times, it’s nicer to drop into the highlights and leave most of the exposition and moralizing on the shelf. I have now been inoculated for this year’s festivities such as they may be, and it was very nice to see some of my Fringe friends who have been hiding in the basements or crawlspaces for the past year. And there one more highlight – this year’s Christmas lights in Orlando’s neighborhoods are exceptional. The combination of high brightness LEDs and people looking for something to do on weekends gives this year’s house decoration some extra pizzazz. Next stop? New Year’s Eve!