“The Taste of Sunrise” is a Play from Two Worlds, English and American Sign Language

“The Taste of Sunrise” is a Play from Two Worlds, English and American Sign Language

Florida State College of Jacksonville DramaWorks Review

DramaWorks presented playwright Suzan Zeder’s dynamic and intriguing “The Taste of Sunrise” November 8-11 at Nathan H. Wilson Center for the Arts in Jacksonville. Directed by Professor of Theatre Ken McCulough. It was his 49th production as the head of FSCJ’s Theatre Performance at South Campus. As a critic, I have seen most of his work over the years and have always looked forward to his productions, which ran from musicals to comedy, to serious and have been always entertaining and thought-provoking.

In “The Taste of Sunrise” he presented a play from two worlds with two languages: English and American Sign Language.

The play was set in a town in the Deep South during the years of 1917-1918. The play opened with a baby name Tuc being born deaf because of Scarlet fever. The rest of the play follows Tuc as he grows up adjusting to life and learning sign language along the way. His Father (Gabriel Alexander Pride) is persuaded to send him up North to a prominent school for the blind whose theory for the deaf was forbidding them to use sign language and pushing students only to learn to speak. (An ideology no longer used in this field).

Taste of Sunrise, FSCJ DramaWorks

While he is there, his father dies and he is suddenly an orphan. Tuc meets a young girl Maizie (Cameron Raine Smithgall) who becomes a close friend. Tuc was played by Lance McGlockton, a First Coast Technical College student. His performance was excellent. Tuc never spoke, only signed (something he had to learn to do in this role). Translating his gestures to live words was Allen L. Melton acting as Tuc’s voice. All the hearing actors constantly had someone on stage that would sign what they said; similarly the deaf actors had someone to speak the words they signed.

A number of people came in to Tuc’s life and included Emma (Autumn Franks), Nell Hicks (Betsey Totten Darnell) , Izzy (Erin Stephens), Clovis (Kendric Harris), Hunter 2 (Michael G. Muse), Dr. Graham (Carl Stokes), Dr. Grindly Mann (Angus Reid), Roscoe (Zach Beers), Hunter 1 (Joseph Mercedes), Nurse (Kaitlin Cody), and Patron 1 (Michelle Hamilton).

Taste of Sunrise, FSCJ DramaWorks

Florida State College of Jacksonville has an American Sign Language/English interpreting program and students from this program were among the ever present interpreters on stage for this production. They were Gabriel Babbit, Kristina Clifton, Elizabeth Hunter, Dylan Randall, and Jessica Rzemien. The interpreters were assisted in their roles by Pamela Bernkrant, a Professional Interpreter, Lori Cimino, an Instructional Program Manager for ASL/English Interpreting, James Pope, a Professor of ASL and Amy L. Ryals, a Language Consultant.

The technical aspects added much to the enjoyment of this play. Award Winning Scenic and Lighting Designer Johnny Pettergrew along with this staff and the students in the technical classes at FSCJ produced an excellent setting for this play. A floor to ceiling backdrop against the rear wall flashed colorful photos of settings germane to the action of the play.

Taste of Sunrise, FSCJ DramaWorks

“The Taste of Sunrise” is the middle play in playwright Suzan Zeder’s “Ware Trilogy, a series about the complexities of deafness that took her thirty years to complete. “Mother Hicks” and “The Edge of Peace” are the 2nd and third parts of this trilogy. The final play has Tuc going back home , still deaf of course but is able to make a living doing odd jobs and as a mechanic.

I thought that this play would have been one performed in St. Augustine, Florida since it is the home of the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. It was obvious that this is an expensive play to do and FSCJ is to be commended for the fine actors and outstanding production. Twelve hundred students from the St. Augustine school attended a performance as special guests of the Wilson Center.

PRODUCTION TEAM

Ken McCulough (Director), Johnny Pettegrew (Scenic & Lighting Design), The Costume Crew (Costume Design), Bob Rupp (Scene Shop Supervisor), Mike Wills (Sound Design), Brandon Gelinas (Sound Assistant) , Grace Guevarez (Stage Manager), Adis Alic & Sierria Henry (Assistant Stage Managers), Tara Paige (Poster Design & Program Layout), Brenna Anderson & Elizabeth Stermer (Property Supervisors)

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/11/13/the-taste-of-sunrise-florida-state-college-of-jacksonville-dramaworks/


REVIEW: Jacksonville University College of Fine Arts Delights Audiences with “Into the Woods”

Jacksonville University College of Fine Arts, Into the Woods

Jacksonville University presented four performances of James Lapine’s award winning musical “Into The Woods” from November 1 to 4 at Swisher Theatre.

This musical won three Tony Awards on Broadway in 1987. It was made into a movie in 2014 with Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp and grossed over 200 million dollars at the box office.

This is one of the most unique musicals in that the script combines several fairy tales into one story with the paths of familiar characters crossing and changing their lives. The cast is large and it takes a skilled Director Kimberly Beasley to keep all those hoops in the air without losing sight of the lives of the characters.

Jacksonville University College of Fine Arts Delights Audiences with “Into the Woods”

JU musicals are known for having wonderful voices in their musicals and there was a stage full of excellent well trained actors and singers. In addition to singing the cast engaged in witty word play and well-executed physical comedy.

The first act concerns a baker (Axel Berry) and his wife (Isabella Martinez) who have no children due to a curse placed on them by The Witch (Emily Pate) that requires them to obtain four items to lift the spell. They must find a white cow, the red cap of Red Riding Hood (Kelly Wolfe), hair the color of corn from Rapunzel (Jackie Glassman) and a slipper pure as gold.

Jacksonville University College of Fine Arts Delights Audiences with “Into the Woods”

Many characters are encountered as the action progresses including Cinderella (Shauna Clark), her mother (Candace Dickens), her step mother (Sarah Stepp), Florinda (Melissa Allen), Lucinda (Andrea Vilarino), Jack of bean stalk fame (Joshua Andrew), Jack’s Mother (Alexandra Gravine), Rapunzel (Jackie Glassman), Rapunzel’s Prince (Nic Gonzales), Granny (Cailyn Cook), Steward (Abrien Nelson) ,Snow White(Kalei Dela Cruz) and Sleeping Beauty (Rachel Sandowski). Christopher Mandel plays Cinderella’s Prince and the Wolf. Joseph Mahoney is the Narrator and Mysterious Man. The voices of Nati Gonzales as the Giant, and Cinderella’s father (Ben Beck), are heard over the sound system.

All come to realize that their hopes and dreams have not been fulfilled; the lesson learned is that actions have consequences and we must go “into the woods: and confront them.

This musical is the very first performed with computer generated music rather than a live JU orchestra. Under expertise of Music Director Benjamin Beck it sounded excellent. This was also training for those cast members who are planning to go into professional theatre upon graduation since many theatre to control cost use similar systems now.

The only glitch technically was when a microphone of the Narrator went dead in Act I and it was difficult to hear him above the music. He came back with a new mike in Act II and that was appreciated by audience applause.

Jacksonville University College of Fine Arts Delights Audiences with “Into the Woods”

Scenic Designer, Brandon Lettow,  filled the stage with hugh tree trunks to create an interesting forest. Lighting Designer Austin Kelm further presented a foreboding forest.

Costume Designer Curtis Williams created the authentic fanciful and colorful costumes.

The cast, besides having such talent voices that handled Stephen Sondheim’s amazingly complex lyrics and music, presented enjoyable witty word play and well-executed physical comedy and thus a musical that was uproariously entertaining.

Coming up in the spring, JU will present another well known musical “Legally Blonde”. Plan to see that one for sure. JU and Swisher always take a commendable and flexible approach to theater prices that everyone can afford.

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/11/07/jacksonville-university-college-of-fine-arts-into-the-woods/


DUAL CRITICS REVIEW: World Premiere of ‘String’ at Jacksonville University College of Fine Arts

Jacksonville University’s Theatre Department presented the World Premiere of “String,” the first full length play in JU’s history written by a current JU student and produced by the theatre department.

Carlos Adorno, who is now in his third year at JU, penned this family drama and also appears on stage as Chris. In the program credits, Adorno credits Professor Brian Palmer, Dr. Tim Snyder, and Professor Erik DeCicco for their assistance in bringing this story to life.

The show is set in New York City, and most of the action occurs in the modest apartment of “Ma,” a middle-aged Hispanic woman, portrayed very realistically by freshman Nati Gonzalez in her first JU production.

As the play opens, we see Ma with Chris (Paul Evans III) and Shakespeare (Owen Betancourt), her two middle-school age sons. Aunty, Ma’s sister, soon arrives with presents for the boys; a remote control truck for Chris and a guitar for Shakespeare. The guitar is related to the play’s title, as much of the play is about Shakespeare’s efforts to become a professional musician. Aunty was portrayed by Zoë Lin Rosas, a JU senior with a number of impressive credits for appearances in JU musicals. We especially remember her as Little Becky Two-Shoes in “Urinetown.”

After a short blackout, the play moves ahead. Chris and Shakespeare are now grown men who continued to live in the same apartment with their mother. Shakespeare, portrayed by Michael Gonzalez, a JU sophomore, is a serious musician and songwriter trying to make a living with his talent. Chris, portrayed by playwright Carlos Adorno, is more business-minded. And while he has a nondescript job, he makes enough money to help his mother supplement her meager income.


`The guys have two friends who visit regularly. Ray (KJ Lindsay-Weston) is a happy-go-lucky buddy who is quite funny. Lin is portrayed by JU graduate Matthew Robertson, who has appeared in several plays in New York. Lin is a tall handsome man, but is somewhat manic and at times bounces around the stage like a rubber ball. He accompanies Shakespeare to The Fat Kat night club where he meets and becomes infatuated with Ally, portrayed by Kristen Oliver, a JU junior who recently appeared in “Mamma Mia” at Theatre Jacksonville. She falls for Lin; he is a bit goofy but is also lots of fun.

A crisis develops when Ma tells Chris she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Shakespeare becomes very upset when he discovers Ma has told Chris previously and a heated discussion of family finances follows.


And you’re probably wondering if Shakespeare really sings in this show. No, although he pretends he sings. The music we hear off stage is that of Casey Gullede, who composed the music and lyrics for the play. He is a Senior Music Theatre Major at JU.

The next to the last scene has Shakespeare with his bags packed to fly to Florida for a night club tour. When he opens an envelope expecting to find a small royalty check for a record he recently made, he finds a check for $9,000 instead. Since he has a bright financial future, he gives the check to his family to cash.

As critics, we generally do not reveal the endings of plays especially if they have a couple of weeks to run, but since ‘String’ ran only one weekend, here it is: the final scene has family and friends waiting in Ma’s apartment as Shakespeare is flying home from Florida. Suddenly, they learn from a TV announcement that the plane has crashed! Curtain!

Congratulations to Carlos Adorno for this complex play and we hope to see more in the future. It was well cast and splendidly directed by Erik DeCicco. The full house Saturday night audience appeared to really enjoy it.

The creative team included Erik DeCicco (Director), Taylor Crites (Stage Manager), Esther Olivo and Candace Dickens (Assistant Stage Managers), Brandon Lettow (Technical Director), Samantha Catone (Lighting Designer), Brian Champion (Prop Master), Candace Dickens (Sound Designer), and Erik Blomgren (House Manager).

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/10/15/string-jacksonville-university-college-of-fine-arts-review/


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  9. FREE TICKETS! Tampa Improv 11/27 Stand Up Comedy Show

    November 27 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm UTC+0
  10. FL Orchestra Happy Hour Concert – Nov 28

    November 28 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm UTC+0

Upcoming Events

  1. Miami/Brickell Festival of the Arts

    October 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - January 15, 2019 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  2. Comedian Gerry Dee World Comedy Tour in Naples, Florida

    November 21 @ 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm UTC+0
  3. Ocala Balloon Glow

    November 23 @ 5:00 pm - November 25 @ 10:00 pm UTC+0
  4. 9th Annual Shopapalooza Festival, Part 2

    November 24 @ 10:00 am - 5:00 pm UTC+0
  5. Lake Helen Christmas Parade & Santa’s Village

    November 24 @ 4:00 pm - 9:00 pm UTC+0
  6. Christmas in the Country – Lights Display, Hay Ride & Festival

    November 24 @ 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm UTC+0
  7. Soul Beach: The Outdoor R&b / Jazz Concert & Comedy Show on the Water

    November 24 @ 7:30 pm - November 25 @ 1:00 am UTC+0
  8. 15th Annual X-Country Marathon, 30K, Half-Marathon & 5K

    November 25 @ 7:30 am - 2:30 pm UTC+0
  9. FREE TICKETS! Tampa Improv 11/27 Stand Up Comedy Show

    November 27 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm UTC+0
  10. FL Orchestra Happy Hour Concert – Nov 28

    November 28 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm UTC+0

Join our Fun Network

  1. Miami/Brickell Festival of the Arts

    October 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - January 15, 2019 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  2. Comedian Gerry Dee World Comedy Tour in Naples, Florida

    November 21 @ 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm UTC+0
  3. Ocala Balloon Glow

    November 23 @ 5:00 pm - November 25 @ 10:00 pm UTC+0
  4. 9th Annual Shopapalooza Festival, Part 2

    November 24 @ 10:00 am - 5:00 pm UTC+0
  5. Lake Helen Christmas Parade & Santa’s Village

    November 24 @ 4:00 pm - 9:00 pm UTC+0
  6. Christmas in the Country – Lights Display, Hay Ride & Festival

    November 24 @ 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm UTC+0
  7. Soul Beach: The Outdoor R&b / Jazz Concert & Comedy Show on the Water

    November 24 @ 7:30 pm - November 25 @ 1:00 am UTC+0
  8. 15th Annual X-Country Marathon, 30K, Half-Marathon & 5K

    November 25 @ 7:30 am - 2:30 pm UTC+0
  9. FREE TICKETS! Tampa Improv 11/27 Stand Up Comedy Show

    November 27 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm UTC+0
  10. FL Orchestra Happy Hour Concert – Nov 28

    November 28 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm UTC+0