Renaissance Theater • Orlando, Florida
by Carl F. Gauze
One great thing about the Ren, they keep the bar open during the show and they pour ‘em strong.
Tonight, we re-imagine the glory days of 1920 prohibition in Lenox Ave. Alcohol flowed then just as it does today, except these days you need 21 years on your card to get a good hangover. As we have proven over and over, passing laws to make something people like illegal rarely works. Tonight we have a busy bar off in the corner making complicated cocktails, e-payments only, but it’s not that faithful to the 1920s. They don’t take cash here—it cuts down on the odds of a robbery. Our seating is cabaret random; I met an unexpected friend and we told guy stories between numbers. It’s an immersive space with the action all around us: tucked up with the band above on the balcony, down on the floor, around in back, and almost in your lap. Bits of Fosse-style dance pop up, the blues are belted by some singer who don’t really seem that unhappy, and acrobatics and wild dancing keep the evening flowing.
While we find a wisp of plot, the main emphasis involves high-energy swing dance and smoking renditions of classic blues tunes. “Worried Blues,” “I’m Just Wild About Harry,” and “Bad, Bad Girl” shined for fast numbers, and slower ones like “Ain’t Nobody’s Business,” “On This Island,” and “Autumn Leaves” gave us breathers.
There’s no intermission, so running back to the bar or into the restroom is at your discretion. You might miss something, but that’s the point: a non-stop, high-energy evening with feathers, fedoras, and no G-Men out to spoil your fun.