Categories
Archikulture Digest

Impossible Dream: The Best of Broadway’s Leading Men

Impossible Dream: The Best of Broadway’s Leading Men

Featuring Shawn Kilgore

After an evening of wrestling with Zoom, I needed a break. And that came in the form of a Winter Park Playhouse Cabaret, their second since last spring. But I can’t park out back and then order up a plastic cup of a fine vintage. Instead, I’m sitting in my writing chair at home and listening to Chis Leavy pounding out “Cabaret” as traffic passes by on Orange Avenue. More and more shows are going online; tomorrow I even have a conflict, but tonight it’s all pianos and show tunes, a pleasant relief from the drudgery of daily pandemic life. We our favorite hostess with the mostest Heather Alexander in an elegant red dress and bubbling with enthusiasm. Behind her Chris Leavy mutes, and Mr. Kilgore enters in a black suit that perfectly matches the black piano and the even blacker evening outside the window.

Tonight’s play list is Broadway hit – heavy and naturally focuses on the really good male lead numbers. Mr. Kilgore opens with a medley of Sondheim, “Oklahoma,” “Bye, Bye, Birdie” and “42nd Street.” He sings with a deep tenor and a twinkle in his eye, and yes, the twinkle came though clearly. He discusses big shows he’s acted in (but not always as the lead) and does a nice dissection of Tevye’s plight in “Fiddler on the Roof.” His tsuris partly comes from five daughters, and Tevye knows what’s important in life: A happy wife, good food, status in your and most import: a great deal of distance from the Cossacks. As the showtunes roll by, there’s a steady stream of traffic outside but no pedestrians. The camera is mostly static; an attempted pan is aborted and clearly WPPH is not yet ready for video production. A small unseen audience gives the show some life and give Mr. Kilgore a crowd to work. This helps enormously even if we can’t detect a standing ovation. There are several more of these online Cabaret’s coming up, but dates for most online presentation wander around so stay tuned. I also miss the bar, but I did provide my own preferred Cheap Red Wine: the Black Box varietal called simple “Red”. Can’t get much cheaper than that.

www.winterparkplayhouse.org

Categories
Archikulture Digest

Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust

Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust

Winter Park Playhouse

The Parade of Excellence continues at Winter Park Playhouse. Tonight we have a snappy little cabaret by local fav Faith Boles, a chanteuse who can belt with the best of them. Her story: standard musical theater stuff. Audition as a kid for Liesl in Sound of music and got rejected, but then went on to triumph after triumph. Cruises gigs (no viruses, please), Disney, and eventually to the Valhalla of musical theater in central Florida: her own Winter Park Playhouse cabaret.

As Faith matured and found her place on the musical theater whirligig, her musical selections match here progress. Beginning with “Almost There” from “Princess and the Frog,” “I’d Rather be Sailing” introduced her cruise line days, then “Poor Unfortunate Souls” points us to her Questioning Phase of Life. “I Don’t Know If I Love Jim” brings her to the inevitable romance phase of her life, and “Always a Bride’s Maid” …well, you know where that one leads. Then Ms. Boles makes a darker turn it her story but it’s clear she now trusts this audience with her darkest secrets. Fortunately for her , she’s ended up in Winter Park, and has eased on into the happiest show house in town.

winterparkplayhouse.org

Categories
Archikulture Digest

Christmas Time Is Here

Christmas Time Is Here

The WPPH elves saved their biggest guns for this end of year holiday cabaret. Shawn Kilgore leads the entertainment, hot off his recent run as the lead of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. He’s backed up by special guest Natalie Cordone, the sparkly city girl, plus the more Walmart-ish Aviva Ezring who adds a county, down home flair to the proceedings. The house was comfortably full, and the crowd wore its own festive decorations of glitter, LED’s and cryptic buttons and bows. Standards like “Silver Bells” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem” created the main beam of the project, but there were more than a few minor turns. We heard “Just Believe” from the movie “Polar Express,” some Barbara Mandrel “From Our House to Yours” and “Two-Stepping Around the Christmas Tree”(lead by Ms. Ezring). Mrs. Cordone jumped in for the “Little Drummer Boy / Peace on Earth” reprise of the famous Bing Crosby/Dave 1977 TV special. Christmas feel very natural at WPPH; it’s already a place for glitter and bows and masterful singing. 202o is just around the corner, and we’ll returns to the off-Broadway silliness and the feather and sparkles. Ho, Ho, Home again!

www.winterparkplayhouse.org

Categories
Archikulture Digest

Keep Living, Keep Loving

Keep Living, Keep Loving

Featuring Patrice Bloomfield

You know this young woman is serious about her jazz. She appears in an elaborate black and gold skin tight dress that screams: “This is jazz. Stand back!” Ms. Bloomfield’s recent addition to the WPPH all-star roster takes us down the road of midcentury smoky hits. True, she opens with the chestnut “My Favorite Things” but soon we are down her real path. She showcases her biggest strengths with these classic thrillers: “Summertime,” “Mr. Man,” and “Loving That Man of Mine.” Her pace leans toward the slow and smoky, and Mr. Chris Leavy backs her up and tones down his own piano theatrics. This gives Ms. Bloomfield a chance to strut her stuff with no unintended musical overkill.

Once we are all jazzed up, Ms. Bloomfield pops up with the required Disney medley, then brings us some solid Rat Pack era material to close out the back end of the show. Here we hear “This Could Be Love,” “Ain’t Nobodies Business but My Own” and “God Bless the Child.” Anecdotes and a real sense of joy fill in between the songs and soon “When You Wish Upon a Star” points up that it’s time to finish our drinks and step out into the soggy Florida twilight. Plenty of great material and a solid jazz and Disney base make this an outstanding cabaret with a sold-out house. Watch for her to return in the near future, and book your seats early.

winterparkplayhouse.org

Categories
Archikulture Digest

Out of My Dreams

Out of My Dreams

Winter Park Playhouse

We are slowly working our way through the cast list of WPPH regulars in this cabaret series. Hanna Laird has appeared in a number of recent performances. She began her as a child and built a career on that base. Now at an age where its legal to drink and do all sorts of other fun stuff, she regals us with her life’s story. In her red evening dress, she belts “Super Hero Girl” and ” A Dream Came to Life.” Of course, there’s a romantic element here with “Out of My Dreams in Into Your Arms.” Like many actors, she doesn’t really fall into any of the classic roles like “Hot Chick” or “Quirky Girl Friend.” I can’t say that been an issue for me, but I sympathize with her plight. As we come to know her, she demonstrates a real talent I’ve not seen in her before, she has classic opera training and belts out a number from Gounod’s version of Romeo and Juliette. I was impressed. And as always with opera, I have no idea what the lyrics say, but the emotion honed with teen age hormones blasts though loud and clear. Too soon it’s time to go (they are tightening up in the “One Hour” rule) and I walk out in to the still shimmering midsummer evening. The cars don’t even have headlights on yet, and frankly, when you leave a cabaret, the sky should be black.

winterparkplayhouse.org

Categories
Archikulture Digest

Make Mine A Double

Make Mine A Double

Winter Park Playhouse

Keven Kelly can’t get enough of performing in the Winter Park Playhouse piano lounge. He’s returned in his shark skin suit to take us back to those glory days of Las Vegas high life. He starts out light with a Playhouse Medley and “A Foggy Day In London” and “Blue Sky.” This sets the bar; we are not here for show tunes or punk rock or hip-hop, although he does slip in a slicked back Sir Mix-A-Lot song. That’s almost worth a plaque in the men’s room. Anecdotes cover his strained relation with the French language and the usual early days of entertainment tales. The audience was completely on his side, and he even let us sing along with a few numbers. As the songs flowed, we anticipate the big “A guy walks into a bar…” contest. My minimal entry didn’t make the cut, but those better joke writers found their reward in a shot of Jack Daniels, Frank Sinatra’s favorite tipple. Like all these lobby parties, the mood was light, the crowd enthusiastic, and the show just long enough you’d want one more track.

aditionally, Kevin has been a featured soloist with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra although his favorite form of entertaining is simply crooning in a cabaret setting. Kevin also has been teaching voice and piano lessons for nearly 20 years.

-bm

winterparkplayhouse.org

Categories
Archikulture Digest

A Breakthrough Family Christmas

A Breakthrough Family Christmas

Breakthrough Theater

I’ll say this for Breakthrough: they give their youngest actors their biggest roles. It’s holiday cabaret time, and both the up and coming and season veterans take the stage to sing an eclectic program of songs. Young Tino Sanchez starts us off with a solid “Mr. Grinch.” He’s young, but still finds the bitterness in the original material. Tanesha Bridenback admits “her family kind of sucks,” and that’s why some of us flock to musical theater. She drops “Grown up Christmas List” and leaves us wanting more. then there’s a delightful dance accompaniment from Josiah and Brianna Betancourt as they sing “Winter Wonderland” About half way though the evening Marcus Davila leads us in the fun sing-along “Dominick the Donkey.” Dominic help Santa tackle the steep slopes of the Dolomites that the flying deer can’t go. My personal fave came from Iris Johnson and her backup singers in a soulful “The Christmas.” I recommend more sassy backup singers for the holiday revues; they keep the sappiness under control. Also on my hit list you’ll find Vicki and Marty Wicks recreating the well-known David Bowie / Bing Crosby “Peace on Earth /Little Drummer Boy.” Here we learn Bowie hated “Little Drummer Boy;” this only raises him even higher in my estimation. We wrap up with and ensemble number, and MC Wade Hair even broke up a little for us. Nothing says Christmas like a large man crying in joy.

www.breakthroughtheatre.com

Categories
Archikulture Digest

Christmas Is…

Christmas Is…

Winter Park Playhouse

Time to break out the loud sweaters and raid the costume shop for a seasonal tie. Todd Allen Long comes out from his box office to do his holiday special in this funny and occasionally heartwarming entertainment. We start with The Grinch and end with Hallmark Holiday specials, and along the way we sample a Robert Goulet rarity “This Christmas I Spend with You,” Todd’s special version of “All I want for Christmas is…FOOD!” and then he and pianist Chris Leavy replicate the David Bowie / Bing Crosby classic “Little Drummer Boy” duo. I saw the original airing, and at the time was shocked that Bowie was on TV, shocked they he looked normal, and even more shocked when I heard how good the pair sounded. Tonight’s shining star of a song came with Todd’s very special “The 12 Shots of Christmas.” He edits out the boring parts that come after the gift of “Five Margaritas” and then skipped to the end. A tight gag is a good gag. We even took a look into his midwestern Catholic memories, thus covering all the essential holiday excess groups: Food, Booze, Love, Decorations, and Animated Holiday specials.” If you only see one Holiday Cabaret this season, here’s the fun-est one.

winterparkplayhouse.org

Categories
Archikulture Digest

By The Light Of The Silvery Screen

By The Light Of The Silvery Screen

Winter Park Play House

I type “Laura Hodos” almost as much as I type “Chris Leavy.” It just shows the sort of people I hang out with. Ms. Hodos returns to Winter Park, backed by Mr. Leavy, and delivers her infectious enthusiasm and winning charm, as well as a stack of the music she likes best. Her love of these tunes carries thought in her voice and patter, and she even has one of her favorite wigs (the one with black bangs) along to support her in an elegant Flapper Revival style. Tonight’s running gag is: “I’m going to sing the most popular of all move musical numbers” only to sing some Judy Garland hit that’s NOT “Over the Rainbow.” Along the way we hear its hit after hit. There’s the legally mandated medley of Disney hits from Bare Necessities to the Lion King to with upon a star. There’s a number for “Perils of Pauline”, one from Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5,” an old chest nut “The Trolley Song” and even a James Bond medley covering everything from “Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” to “Live and let Die.” Did she sing ALL the movie hits? No silly, we’d still all be sitting there with a bar tab from hell if she sang EVERY hit. But we enjoyed the hour she gave us, and she sold each one was sold with a fun back story and a rousing presentation. Laura Hodos: a gal who keeps on giving, cabaret after cabaret.

winterparkplayhouse.org

Categories
Archikulture Digest

Baubles, Bangles and Beads

Baubles, Bangles and Beads

Spotlight Caberet at Winter Park Playhouse

Breaking news! Natalie Cordone pulls ahead of crowd favorite Kevin Kelly in the race to see who can do the most WPPH cabarets performances, and she does it in style wearing a flash gold sequined gown that just scream “Musical Theater Geek.” Tales of making it big on that long lonely highway we call Orange Avenue filled the hour; Cordone has one of those charmed careers filled with chance auditions, lucky breaks, and people who saw what she had even if she didn’t at that particular moment. Backed by the perennial pianist Chris Leavy, she takes us down a primrose path of B’way standards. The headline number “Baubles, Bangles and Beads” comes from the rarely produced “Kismet” captured the crowd, and we then careened through “Shall We Dance?” to “Think of Me” from Phantom” to a delicate “Ave Maria”. Mr. Leavy even wrote her a mash up of “Diamonds are Forever” and “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” Cordone relates challenges she overcame, and when her sweet NYC apartment deal fell apart, she decided it was easier to make rent in Orlando and let us enjoy her vocal skills. Nobody’s gonna rain on HER parade; she’s just a girl who can’t say no when we ask her to sing.

winterparkplayhouse.org