“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/


Getting to Know You: “The King and I” Inspires and Delights at the Times-Union Center November 13-18

Energetic, engaging, and entertaining from the overture through the reprise, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I opened Tuesday, November 13 at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Jacksonville. Offering a riveting and visually enthralling adventure, The King and I triumphantly inspires and delights young and old alike. The show runs from November 13-18, 2018.

tue13nov(nov 13)7:30 pmsun18(nov 18)10:00 pmFeaturedRodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and IBroadway in Jacksonville7:30 pm – 10:00 pm (18) Times Union Center for the Performing Arts, Moran Theatre

Based on the 1944 semi-biographical novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon, The King and I is a familiar story that has appeared on the big screen numerous times over the decades. For many, the 1999 adaptation Anna and the King starring Jodie Foster and Yun-Fat Chow likely served as their first introduction to the tale of Anna Leonowens and the King of Siam. Rodger & Hammerstein’s The King and I will be recognizable to film fans, though it presents the timeless tale in a powerful and unique manner only live theater can accomplish.  

Anna in Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I. Photo by Jeremy Daniel, “The King & I” is presented by the FSCJ Artist Series Broadway
Photo by Jeremy Daniel

The year is 1862. Anna Leonowens (played by Angela Baumgardner) is a strong-willed British schoolteacher and a widow who comes to Bangkok at the request of the King of Siam (played by Pedro Ka ‘Awaloa) to educate his many children. She’s part of his bold plan to modernize his nation.

Read interview with Angela Baumgardner here: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘The King & I’: A Treasured Heirloom Comes to Jacksonville Nov. 13-18

Anna finds herself in a world completely unlike her own in this East vs. West drama, yet she refuses to be intimidated by the king and his representatives. When her contract is violated, she does not relent in demanding rectification. The British schoolteacher quickly comes to adore the Siamese princes and princesses in her care. Yet cultural differences, the King’s ego-centric and macho personality, and the demeaning treatment of Siamese women prevent Anna from getting too comfortable.

Through her consistent kindness and perseverance, Anna and the King begin to respect and understand one another. Despite their differences, an unlikely friendship blooms. When she learns the British plan to take over Siam as a protectorate and that the King is portrayed as barbaric in the West, she’s outraged and helps him entertain the British envoy and prove to the world that the King, despite his flaws, is a leader deserving their respect. Anna witnesses true growth in the King of Siam. Drama and differences ensue, but in the end true progress is made and the future of Siam looks to be brighter and more accepting.

The King of Siam and Anna Leonowens in Rodgers & Hammerstein's King and I. Photo by Jeremy Daniel, “The King & I” is presented by the FSCJ Artist Series Broadway

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musical adaptation of The King and I was born when Gertrude Lawrence, who wanted to play the leading role, brought Landon’s novel to their attention in the 1940s. Both Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s wives wanted to see the book brought to life on stage as well. When the gentlemen saw a screening of the 1946 film adaptation, they finally came around to the idea. There was certainly plenty to write about—Eastern vs. Western civilization, female vs. male dynamics, despotism vs. democracy, and so much more. The King and I became the most expensive Rodgers & Hammerstein production to date, debuting on Broadway on March 29, 1951.

This classic Broadway musical has enjoyed a revival recently, transporting a new generation of theatergoers to 1860s Siam. The FSCJ Artist Series musical production masterfully does just that. While at times uncomfortable in an age of political correctness, theatergoers find themselves in a riveting and decidedly foreign world of colonialism and the Orient. The sets, costumes, lighting, and sound captivate the imagination and draw theatergoers into this magical, mystical world so foreign from our own.  Familiar songs like “Getting to Know You, “Shall We Dance,” “Something Wonderful,” and “Whistle a Happy Tune” delight the audience and inspire rousing applause. Producing a well-known Broadway favorite for a modern audience was a monumental task, yet Restaging Director Shelley Butler succeeded beautifully at the Times-Union Center in this breathtaking Broadway musical based on the 2015 Tony Award-winning Lincoln Center Theater production.   

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I , FSCJ Artist Series, Jennifer Melville

We attended the 17th Annual Family Night on Broadway at the Opening Night of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I and the atmosphere was instantly engaging. Events such as these encourage the entire family to come out and enjoy fine theater close to home. We arrived an hour before show time to participate in a variety of kid-friendly activities. The children learned the difference between horns and antlers at the Jacksonville Zoo table, decorated an elephant with MOSH, crafted floating candles at the Jax4Kids booth, made noisy kazoos at the Jacksonville Science Festival table, and thoroughly enjoyed the Green Screen Photo Shoot sponsored by PRI. If you have kids or grandchildren of any age and want to take them to a Broadway musical, I absolutely recommend attending Family Night for any FSCJ Artist Series Broadway in Jacksonville production. We thoroughly enjoyed the festivities and my young theatergoers remained gainfully occupied in the antsy time before the performance began.

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I , FSCJ Artist Series, Jennifer Melville
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I , FSCJ Artist Series, Jennifer Melville

The children were instantly captivated as a ship sailed into Bangkok through the mist at the musical’s opening and they found the princes and princesses of Siam to be the best part of the production. I was worried that themes like colonialism, polygamy, and period-accurate degradation of women would be too heavy for them, but the musical was so tastefully arranged and the unconventional heroine so charmingly portrayed and empowering that we enjoyed the production from beginning to end. The experience sparked later discussions about history, social roles, and other challenging concepts. Fine art inspires and challenges the viewer; that’s part of its power.

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I , FSCJ Artist Series, Jennifer Melville

My young teen walked away with a new passion for a story she previously disliked.  My younger theatergoers (ages 10 and 8) enjoyed the dancers very much, though they were quite wiggly and restless by intermission. It’s a long night indeed. The show started at 7:30 PM and wrapped up with a rousing ovation around 10 pm.   Based on content, length, and weeknight performance time, I would recommend this production for ages 10 and up. Of course, there will always be exceptions. My younger kids enjoyed it, but my oldest got more out of the experience and did not spend the second half wiggling in her seat or yawning dramatically. As a musical theater fan, I personally enjoyed every second. The pitch-perfect musical score made my heart sing and I found the stage crafting absolutely breathtaking.

Two vastly different worlds collide in amusing, at-times shocking, and captivating ways in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I.  There’s something for everyone. If you’re a long-time fan, you’ll appreciate how beautifully it’s brought to life here in Jacksonville and the music will tempt you to sing along. If you’ve never seen it before, prepare for an experience you’ll never forget. Whether attending as a family, with friends, on a date, or as a solitary Broadway enthusiast, The King and I at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts is a world-class experience simply too beautiful to miss.

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/11/14/the-king-and-i-times-union-center/


REVIEW: ‘Savannah Sipping Society’ Opens at Theatre Jacksonville

Savannah Sipping Society, Hillary Hickam at Theatre Jacksonville
Hillary Hickam

Theatre Jacksonville opened the first production of its 99 season on November 2 with The Savannah Sipping Society. It will run through November 18th at 2032 San Marco Ave. Call 904-396-4425 for reservations.

This play is by the writing team of Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten or better known as Jones Hope Wooten. These three former TV sitcom writer s have created their comedy scenarios for several years and their combined plays have close to 4,000 performances. Two of their plays are well known to Jacksonville audiences, The Dixie Swim Club at the Alhambra Theatre and Always a Bridesmaid right here at Theatre Jacksonville.

This is a comedy about four unattached mature women who meet by chance in Savannah, Georgia and spend the next six months developing deep friendships. Three of them met briefly at an exercise gym, then move on to the lovely home owned by Randa Covington and a fourth woman joins them in their “sipping” sessions of various alcoholic drinks as they plan various adventures together.

Savannah Sipping Society, Abigail Hunger, Hillary Hickam and Kelley Norman at Theatre Jacksonville
Abigail Hunger, Hillary Hickam and Kelley Norman

Hillary Hickam is Randa, a very qualified professional architect who is currently out of a job and income. She owns the very lovely house that has a veranda where most of the action takes place. The set by TJ Designer and Technical Tim Watson is gorgeous and you will want to move in. Ms. Hickam’s home is in Jacksonville but she has performed on stage and in film all over the USA. Jacksonville audiences have seen her remarkable performances as Marsha in Vanya and Sonia and Marsha and Spike and as Karen in August, Osage County at Players by the Sea.

Kelley Norman is Dot, the most senior of the four women. Dot is a widow and recently lost her husband and now worries about retirement. Mrs. Norman is very convincing in this role. She has been a teacher in Macclenny, Florida for 38 and one of the mainstays of the Baker County Community Theatre. Theatre audiences are very familiar with her daughter Sara Beth Summers an award winning actress on Jacksonville stages.

Marlafaye, the woman who moved to Savannah from Texas is played by Abigail Hunger in her 3rd performance at Theatre Jacksonville. As Lala she was the funniest actor in The Last Night of Ballyhoo. Then in a complete reversal, she was the very serious Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall. She is back to her unique comic ways in this show and is very funny, as a women who lost her dentist husband to his pretty much younger dental hygienist but is planning her revenge on her ex husband. Miss Hunger dresses strangely in this role and has long black hair that looks like a dead squirrel.

Savannah Sipping Society, Kelley Norman, Sommer Farhat, Hillary Hickam at Theatre Jacksonville
Kelley Norman, Sommer Farhat, Hillary Hickam

Actress Sommer Farhat is Jinx, a life coach who plans many of the adventures taken by these four ladies. Ms. Farhat has been in many plays on TJ’s stage, both comedy and serious roles. She has a role of some authority in this play; she speaks in a clear voice that is remarkable that came in loud and clear to me sitting beyond the middle of the theatre.

One final cast member has a cameo role as Grandmother Covington that is comic and brief. Barbara Stevenson is line perfect since she has no dialogue at all.

Jason Collins directed this play and the program listed his many directing accomplishments all over this city. He is also a fine actor and has performed in variety of roles and he really loves comedy. Jason is a member of the inprov group, the Awkward Silence.

Savannah Sipping Society, Abigail Hunger, Sommer Farhat, Kelley Norman and Hillary Hickam at Theatre Jacksonville
Abigail Hunger, Sommer Farhat, Kelley Norman and Hillary Hickam

This show marks the Jacksonville debut of Costume Designer, Amanda Moore, who went to school in Gainesville and her costume accomplishments are well known there. She will be back, she is good. Miss Moore had these ladies changing clothing many times to show the passage of 6 months time in their lives. And I was impressed with the wardrobe selections for everyone.

The open night audience consisted of mainly married couples who loved this show and laughed long and hard all evening long. As I sat there, I thought it was exciting to be drawn into a comedy in which female characters are the driving force. 2018 is truly the year of the women. Many are running for political offices all over the country. Women have exercised their rights in the work place! This play is funny and shows us the potency and power of friendships in our lives. Don’t miss this show; it is well worth a little over 2 hours of your time.

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/11/06/review-savannah-sipping-society-theatre-jacksonville/


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/


REVIEW: Wait Until Dark at All Beaches Experimental Theatre

ABET, Wait Until Dark

ABET, All Beaches Experimental Theatre, opened its second production of the season, at his new home 544 Atlantic Blvd, Neptune Beach with the classic thriller, Wait Until Dark. This play by Frederick Knott debuted in 1966 and ran for 373 performances. It had star power with Lee Remick in the lead for which she was nominated for a Tony Award. Warner Bros-Seven Arts made a movie that starred Audrey Hepburn who won an Academy Award for her role.

fri26oct(oct 26)7:30 pmsun11nov(nov 11)9:00 pmWAIT UNTIL DARK(october 26) 7:30 pm – (november 11) 9:00 pm ALL BEACHES EXPERIMENTAL THEATRE

This play is an electrifying thriller about a young lady named Susy who is blind due to an auto accident. While in the hospital she meets and marries a freelance photographer Sam (Kyle Reeves) and they live in a small basement apartment. The time is the 1990s.

This nail-biting drama finds three con men intruding into the blind Suzy’s home while Sam is away on a photo assignment. It seems that when in Canada on assignment, Sam accidently brought home a doll which unknown to him is stuffed with high grade heroin and these three bad boys of society want it so badly they would kill to get it.

ABET, Wait Until Dark

While Susy is out shopping, the trio of crooks meets in her apartment. Here we met the head of this trio is Harry Roat Jr. In some very interesting casting, Roat is played by a woman, Milan Alley who arrives wearing a long shoulder length wig, shorts and rose colored glasses. Ms. Alley is from Tallahassee, Florida and made her local debut as a singer in one of the major roles in Madam Bonaparte at Players by the Sea. She also played by two roles dressed as a male in this play and we leave those for your to discover when you see the show. Alley more than captures the psychopathic energy of the villain Mr. Roat.

One of her or his criminals is Mike Talman played by David Girard who is well known for his many outstanding performances on local stages. Mike agrees to visit Susy and pretend that he is an old army buddy of Sam’s and is just passing through the city. He spends his time looking for the doll while talking it up with Susy.

ABET, Wait Until Dark

Conman # 2 is Juan Ocharan who pretends to be Sergeant Carlino of the local police department investigating a murder of a woman in the neighborhood. He of course is looking everywhere for the doll. Mr. Ocharan is doing his first non singing role; has been a student in the UNF chorale.

Another character is the young neighborhood girl Gloria, who lives upstairs, who is a good friend to Susy. Nine years old Tatum Matthews is an excellent actress and very entertaining and engaging in this key role involved in dealing with these undesirable thugs. This is Tatum’s first non-musical role, and she has sung in several musicals at Alhambra Theatre and Dining. She has been cast in the upcoming production of Elf at the Alhambra.

ABET, Wait Until Dark

Actress Jenna Bourne, in the most demanding role of her acting career, is very convincing as a blind woman. She impressed us with her constant attention to finding her way at home as some who has no sight. Facially she expresses the fear, doubt and desperation that she finds herself in and then expertly turns things around in her favor for a thrilling hold-your-breath finish.

Franklin Ritch makes his directing debut with this show. He has been a performer in 3 musicals on local stages with Into the Woods and Madam Bonaparte at Players by the Sea and Celebration at ABET. Mr. Ritch also designed the set that is outstanding considering the small amount of space he had to work with and the incredible number of items on it.

The title of the show is Wait Until Dark, and to forewarn you. Yes, you sit in the dark in the 2nd act, with parts of the show being done in with the lights out but it lasts a very short time.

Don’t miss this true classic of theatre that will keep you spellbound. Call for reservations 904-249-7177 or visit www.abettheatre.com

PRODUCTION TEAM

Franklin Ritch (Director), Ramona Ramdeen (Stage Manager), Maureen Johnson (Assistant Stage Manager), Laura Young (Properties), Bryan Frank (Light/Sound Design) Hunter Steinke (Backstage Crew)

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/11/06/review-wait-until-dark-at-all-beaches-experimental-theatre/


“Let’s Do the Time Warp Again!” at the Island Theater

This October, the talented cast of The Island Theater warp right onto the stage and into the minds of the patrons. Directed by Breanna Shuman and Kayla O’Connor, the production does not miss a beat as it draws the audience further and further into the science fiction story widely known as the Rocky Horror Show! The audience is encouraged to dress up and either buy a bag of props or bring your own (see approved prop list below).

Usherette/Magenta (Caitlin Charrier) opens the show with “Science Fiction/Double Feature” as she sets the mood for the entrance of Brad (Daniel Blair) and Janet (Samantha Eigenmann). Blair and Eigenmann have great on-stage chemistry as they romantically perform the duet “Dammit ,Janet!”. Here is the first chance to participate by throwing confetti or rice on the stage. Followed by the duet “Over at the Frankenstein Place” while the phantoms hilariously provide back-up vocals whiling popping out from the curtains. Since the lovebirds are stranded they have no choice but to seek help from a nearby castle. Greeted by Riff Raff (Bobby Bickle) and Magenta, the couple senses that they may have made a mistake as explained by the Narrator (Elizabeth Stitt) in her perfectly eerie deadpan delivery. When Janet and Brad witness the castle’s inhabitants sing and dance “The Time Warp”, the shock that they feel is palpable.

Now is the time to brace yourself because you will be introduced to the star of the show, Frank ‘N’ Furter, expertly performed by Nikloas Wendorf. I strongly believe that his performance rivals the iconic Tim Curry’s performance in the 1975 motion picture version. My jaw actually dropped as Wendorf belted out the tune “Sweet Transvestite” which only was the beginning of his extremely entertaining portrayal of Frank. As Frank reveals his creation, the audience gets another chance to participate by snapping their gloves. The big reveal is the laboratory birth of the ‘perfect’ man, Rocky, played by Chase Lawless who kills it as he flexes his muscles and gazes longingly into his cast-mates eyes when he interacts with them in “The Sword of Damocles”. Once again, the audience is treated with Wendorf’s outstanding vocal performance in “I Can Make You a Man”. Another one of my favorite Island Theater actors bursts onto stage as Eddie (Josh Katzman) singing “Hot Patootie”. Act I comes to a close with the reprise of “I Can Make You a Man”.

During the intermission I had a palm hitting forehead moment when I realized that I should have dressed up for the show. Two audience members were pulled onto stage to compete in a contest for best costume. Therefore, I highly recommend that you attend this limited run in costume with props in hand. The show itself is over the top fun but audience participation brings it to the next level.

Act II really delivers as the pansexual sweet transvestite separately seduces the newly engaged couple explaining to them that pleasure is no crime in his exquisitely seductive voice. Even though Janet thoroughly enjoyed her time with Frank, she is mortified when she witnesses Frank with Brad and runs into the arms of Rocky while crooning “Touch-A-Touch-A-Touch Me”. The newly sensually awakened Brad becomes upset when he sees that as been intimate with Rocky and expresses his feelings in “Once in Awhile”. Meanwhile the audience is throwing toilet paper rolls onto the stage and one gets caught in the rafters. Riff Raff slowly releases the paper from its captor while amusingly scolding the audience for the infraction. Josh Katzman storms the stage again as Dr. Scott. When Frank learns that Brad is associated with Dr. Scott, he accuses them of investigating the castle for the FBI. Dr. Scott reveals, with the support of the full cast, that he is actually searching for his nephew Eddie in “Eddie’s Teddy”. Having seen too much Janet, Brad, Dr. Scott, and Rocky are frozen to the floor by Frank as the crew sings “Planet Schmanet Wise Up Janet Weiss”.

Frank announces that they are all aliens who have deviated from their original mission to explore the delights of earthlings. Magenta declares that it is time to go home but Frank insists on putting on a floor show instead. While still under the control of Frank, Rocky, Brad, and Janet join Columbia on stage in bustiers and garters to perform in the floor show. Frank pleas his case with Riff Raff and Magenta in “I’m Going Home” to no avail since they have had quite enough of Frank’s shenanigans and desire to return to their planet where they can Time Warp Again. Releasing Janet, Brad, and Dr. Scott, Riff Raff and Magenta depart leaving Janet and Brad to ponder about their evening in “Super Heroes”. Delightfully the Usherette returns to recap the events and wrap up the production with “Science Fiction/Double Feature (reprise)”.

Bravo, bravo, bravo! I cannot express how thankful that I am to see classic performed on the stage of The Island Theater. Led by the amazing Nikloas Wendorf, every cast member shined on the stage. Bobby Bickles, once again, displayed his impeccable acting skills while proving that he has the style to expand his range with every performance. Daniel Blair and Samantha Eigenmann blossomed and grew in each scene transforming from innocence to not so innocence with breathtaking ease. Chase Lawless is the perfect man for the role of Rocky and was a pure delight to watch. I could sense the passion that Josh Katzman has for acting in both of his scenes as he throws his entire being into his roles. Breanna Shuman and Caitlin Charrier also shined as they executed their on-stage and behind the scenes capabilities as music director, choreographer, set design, and costume design. Last but certainly not least, the narrators/phantoms Elizabeth Stitt, Kayla O’Connor, and Sophia Sedlak provided the crazy glue that held the whole production together with their amusing contributions. Thank you all for making it a night to remember.

Please join the cast and crew for one of their remaining shows. I promise that you won’t regret and I won’t tell if you won’t! Don’t forget to purchase or bring your own props as audience participation is key to boosting the strong talent of these thespians to higher and higher heights. For a complete list of audience participation guidelines and future productions, please visit www.theislandtheater.com.~Theater Buffette

Approved Rocky Prop List

Confetti

Newspaper

Rubber Gloves

Cell Phones or Flash Lights

Noise Makers

Playing Cards

Toilet Paper

Toast

Brightly Colored Water Guns (Water only)

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/10/28/lets-do-the-time-warp-again-at-the-island-theater/


Ridin’ Out The Storm ‘PONTYPOOL” At PBTS

Looking around the Players by the Sea Studio Theatre ahead of the opening of its new psychological thriller “Pontypool,” the anticipation for what was to come was building. Audiences were warned that there was no intermission and once seated, there was nothing to do but ride out the storm.

fri26oct(oct 26)7:30 pmsat03nov(nov 3)9:00 pmPONTYPOOL7:30 pm – (november 3) 9:00 pm Players by the Sea Theatre

Set in a fictional Florida town of Pontypool, reworked to bring the destination south from Canada to Jacksonville. The script was edited by local playwright extraordinaire Kelby Siddons with permission from author Tony Burgess to change the original snowstorm to hurricane – a force of nature all Floridians can relate to and following the latest rash of terrifying storms, rightfully fear.

The sets an uncanny likeness to any B-grade station with its control booth and flashing “on-air” sign above the sound-proofed door, a cheap desk and office chair and a poster of the kitten dangling perilously from a tree branch, the pad of one paw resting on the second “N” of its ironic directive to “Hang In There.”

Following an introduction by Players’ new executive director Suzanne Hudson Smith, it was difficult to determine when the production was actually underway. A cast member tidying up, the soft chatter of the crowd, nervous throat clearing and a saxophone honking out a choppy rhythm in the background. We all knew something was happening. We just weren’t sure what.

Themes of uncertainty and confusion echoed through the show that clocked in just over an hour. Directed by Stephanie Natale Frus, Pontypool takes audiences on a frenetic journey in real time. As the impending hurricane builds outside the radio station, DJ Grant Mazzy played Terrence Scott is trying to find his footing on a local program dedicated to news, weather, traffic and punctuated by a little light jazz. He shares with listeners an odd encounter with a strange woman on his way to work. As he attempts to decipher the mornings’ happenings, reports begin to trickle in of other bizarre circumstances that quickly escalate into violence and mayhem.

The pacing of the show is such that it doesn’t allow time for one event to sink in before facing another and another. It’s a deliberate plot move that makes audiences feel as overwhelmed as the characters but it never really finds its footing.

There was a few moments of levity in the spaces between violent and unexplained episodes. Bryan Martins shines as man about town reporter Ken Loney, a strange little fellow who the station allows to deliver reports from his “news helicopter” which is actually his car. Martins never actually sets foot on the stage save for a brief appearance from a side door where he delivers a perfect enactment of news coverage during the hurricane. The remainder of his performance is done behind a screen, which creates a dark and surreal look at his character’s realization of the enormity of the situation and his descent into the madness of it all.

All the while, things are breaking down at the radio studio as the personalities struggle to come to terms with the outbreak of violence as one of their own falls victim to the virus. Laurel Ann played by Deena Davis spends the length of her stage time issuing guttural sounds from the control booth as the DJ and station manager Sydney Briar played by Amanda Jackson watches helplessly. Austin Kelly is delightfully unhinged in his portrayal of Dr. John Mendez, whose clinic served as ground zero for the outbreak. Dr. Mendez begins to unravel the nature of the virus before he is overcome.

Just as the characters – and the audience – begin to understand the circumstances, the fabric of the premise begins to unravel.  Whether its a deterioration or a heightened organization as the play suggests, what was initially a clever plot devise to address the power of the spoken word overtakes the message. And what is left is a bloody stump of an otherwise entertaining concept. “Pontypool” ends just abruptly as it begins just like to the hurricanes that just skirt our coastline but fail to make landfall, leaving us wondering what all the fuss was about.

 

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/10/27/ridin-out-the-storm-pontypool-at-pbts/


Avoid The Splash Zone: ‘Pontypool’ at Players By The Sea

Players by the Sea is storming its studio stage with an immersive psychological thriller designed to captivate audiences in real time. “Pontypool” tells the story of a massive storm that causes the townspeople to develop strange speech patterns and commit horrific acts of violence.

The hour-long show has no intermission. Once the audience is seated and the virus takes hold, there is nothing to do but ride out the storm. “Pontypool” opens Oct 26 with an original art exhibit entitled “Verba” by Drew Edward Hunter on display in the lobby. The featured works are inspired by the production.

fri26oct(oct 26)7:30 pmsat03nov(nov 3)9:00 pmPONTYPOOL7:30 pm – (november 3) 9:00 pm Players by the Sea Theatre

The production runs through Nov. 3 on the Players by the Sea Studio Stage in Jacksonville Beach. A special show will be staged on Halloween that promises to deliver an extra bite (www.playersbythesea.org).

Terrence Scott plays radio DJ Grant Mazzy who is trapped in his studio with his staff. The cast also includes Amanda Jackson, Bryan Martins, Deena Davis, Austin Kelley, Kevin Turner and Rich Pintello. Mazzy takes to the airwaves to warn listeners about the devastating virus and its unlikely mode of transmission. It’s vaguely reminiscent of Orson Welles’ 1938 radio adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel War of the Worlds. The broadcast warned of an alien invasion and generated a nationwide panic.

Avoid The Splash Zone: 'Pontypool' at Players By The Sea
Avoid The Splash Zone: 'Pontypool' at Players By The Sea
Avoid The Splash Zone: 'Pontypool' at Players By The Sea

“I think there are some parallels there. This show was originally written by Tony Burgess for radio. It was not a staged production at first,” says director Stephanie Natale Frus. “Once the show was produced on the radio, someone else heard it and contacted Tony and said ‘hey, this would make a good movie’. And then they went ahead and made a short movie out of it and only then did someone say this would make a cool screen play and they worked with Tony and kind of adapted it to theatre. We’ve gone a step further.”

“Pontypool” was reimagined by local playwright Kelby Siddons with the author’s permission to shift the location of the viral outbreak from a snowy Canadian town to a fictional seaside community in Jacksonville.

“The name refers to a place, a made-up town. In our version, it’s Pontypool Beaches, Jacksonville, Florida. [Siddons] has edited the show with Tony’s approval to update the storm which adds to the quarantine,” Natale Frus says. “In the original work it was sets in Canada during a snowstorm which in Florida isn’t very real-life scary, so we changed it to a hurricane. We’ve changed all the components in the written play to match a hurricane instead of a snowstorm.”

Avoid The Splash Zone: 'Pontypool' at Players By The Sea
Avoid The Splash Zone: 'Pontypool' at Players By The Sea

With a show that leans heavily on mental terror, it’s a challenge to present gore and violence without crossing the line to campy.  Natale Frus says the cast went to great lengths to adhere to the story’s original style with all the mechanics in place for a good scare.

“I will admit, when I first read it, I thought this could go funny so easily. With so much gore, especially live theatre gore, it does go into the funny side. But we’re approaching this from a psychological thriller standpoint and attempting to make it real-life in real time scary so we’re doing an hour show with no intermission. Once you are in that room, you’re in the room in which the virus, aka zombie outbreak does breach. We’re hoping to make it an immersive experience and keep it scary,” she says.

Natale Frus says she can appreciate the recent zombie phenomenon and the dark humor of such films as Night of the Walking Dead, but she prefers more cerebral content like Silence of the Lambs that plucks at the psychological nerves. She’s attacking all the senses to ensure audiences respond to “Pontypool” in the same vain. Coffee will be brewing in the space to stimulate the olfactory senses and hurricane drinks will be served to compliment the overall theme of the production.

Avoid The Splash Zone: 'Pontypool' at Players By The Sea
Avoid The Splash Zone: 'Pontypool' at Players By The Sea

“My focus as the director has been incorporating all five of the senses into the production so that we can really capture the audiences’ attention in more than one way,” she says. “The immersion is going to come from how the action is played on the stage as well. We have some water and gore elements that will be displayed right there in front of the audience, but we might have to put a warning for the very first row that they are in a splash zone.”

Audiences don’t need to be a fan of the horror genre to appreciate the thrill of “Pontypool.” The author’s love of language creates a uniquely layered subtext that gives the story its teeth and a series of surprises helps to bring all the other elements into play.

“This play is for theatre lovers because it is a play about words. That it happens to be a psychological thriller, that it happens to have a viral quarantine is almost just a plot device for the author to come across with some major themes that are applicable to our current society such as communication through public broadcasting, communication through media and his commentary about our society’s inability to silence themselves, to be quiet and take a step back from the politics and everything that is kind of noisy right now and just relax,” the director says.

“One of my favorite scenes in the play is when one of the characters says, ‘we’ve got to stop talking about this’, yet they don’t. The play really speaks to that. I think anyone who enjoys theatre will find this engaging because the characters are really well-written, and really make you think about what you’re doing with your life and that’s always a good thing.”

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/10/23/avoid-the-splash-zone-pontypool-at-players-by-the-sea/


1776, A Musical Revolution: Alhambra Theatre and Dining Review

1776: A Musical Revolution Alhambra Theatre and Dining Review

A DUAL CRITICS REVIEW

Jacksonville’s Alhambra Theatre opened the Tony Award-winning musical “1776” on October 17, which will continue through November 18, 2018. The theatre is located at 12000 Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville, Florida. Visit alhambrajax.com or call 904-641-1212 for reservations.

wed17oct(oct 17)7:00 pmsun18nov(nov 18)10:00 pm1776 A MUSICAL REVOLUTION7:00 pm – (november 18) 10:00 pm Alhambra Theatre & Dining

The Alhambra’s timing for staging the production is notable, since our country is involved in mid-term elections which include extensive coverage of all things political by our newspapers and television commentators.

This 1969 musical by Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone is about the drafting, acceptance and signing of the Declaration of Independence, the cornerstone of our liberty. Director Tod Booth has a solid well-chosen cast of 25 to bring the story to life with factual characters, memorable songs, and lively wit.

1776: A Musical Revolution Alhambra Theatre and Dining Review

The story takes us back to, of course, 1776, when delegates from the thirteen existing states met as the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia in the Pennsylvania State House during a sweltering summer. Their purpose was to formalize the union of the states and their separation from Great Britain. Many theatergoers will see the play as a sizzling recreation of our American heritage, which they learned about in less-lively history classes. And younger members of the audience will marvel at the period costumes, (brilliantly selected by the Costume Crew).

The Congressional leaders and the principals in the musical were John Adams from Massachusetts and his opponents. Adams was portrayed by Kevin Anderson, who has an extensive resume which includes Broadway, West End, television, and film productions. To the audience, Adams is marvelous; the delegates view him as obnoxious and disliked. He teams up with the chatty and amusing Ben Franklin (Mark Poppleton) to convince reluctant delegates to come to a unanimous agreement.

Adams has two principal opponents. Edward Rutledge of South Carolina (Andrew LeJeune) wouldn’t support an early draft of declaration until anti-slavery language was removed, while John Dickinson of Pennsylvania (Alexander Molina) objected to a reference to King George as a tyrant.

1776: A Musical Revolution Alhambra Theatre and Dining Review

Though they make only two appearances, the two women in the cast are striking in both looks and songs. Did Martha Jefferson (Nicole Coffaro) cure the writer’s block experienced by her husband Thomas (Jake Delaney) with a song or with a night of passion? Abigail Adams (Katie Nettle) pops in to sing about her husband John in “He plays the Violin.”

Some of the songs are sad and moving including “Momma Look Sharp” by Rodney Holmes as the courier, and “Molasses to Rum” by Rutledge. Others are humorous. For example “For God’s Sake, John Sit Down” is an admonishment from the participants to Adams, “Piddle, Twiddle, & Resolve” is his response. The most amusing of the musical numbers was “The Egg,” related to the choice of the eagle as a national symbol. And although the musical is better known for its patriotic portrayal rather than its music, it did beat “Hair” for the 1969 Tony Award.

PRINCIPAL DELEGATES

John Adams – Kevin Anderson
John Dickinson –  Alexander Molina
Benjamin Franklin – MarkPoppleton
Thomas Jefferson –Jake Delancy
Edward Rutledge – Andrew LeJeune
John Hancock –Kurt McCall
Dr. Josiah Bartlett – Richard Magyar
Stephen Hopkins – Robin Keith
Roger Sherman – Alex Canty
Lewis Morris – Alec Hadden
Robert Livingston – Thomas Knightingle
Rev. Jonathan Witherspoon – Neal Thornburn
James Wilson – David Gowan
Caesar Rodney-Kevin Roberts
Col. Thomas McKean – Mitchell McCollum
George Read – Joey Swift
Samuel Chase – Lee Hamby
Richard Henry Lee –Travis Gerald Young
Joseph Hewes – Luke Holt
Dr. Lyman Hall –Tom Bengston
Charles Thomsom – Bryce Cofield
Andrew McNair – Kenneth Uibel

The production staff included Tod Booth (Producer/Director), Shain Stroff (Choreographer/ Stage Manager), Cathy Murphy Giddens (Musical Director), Dave Dionne & Ian Black (Set Designers), Pattie Eyler (Properties.)

You may have heard that “Hamilton,” another historical musical, recently won a Tony. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton,” which was inspired by “1776” will be coming to Jacksonville in 2020 as part of FSCJ’s Artist Series and the Alhambra’s “1776” is a perfect prelude to your historical musical theatre adventures. Don’t miss it.

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/10/24/1776-musical-revolution-alhambra-theatre/


a supernatural horror ‘The Univited’

Orange Park Community Theater’s (OPCT) second production for this season, The Uninvited by well-known author Tim Kelly, is Halloween-themed for the time of year.  Even the ladies at concessions are in the spirit of the season.

The old house at Cliff’s End, owned by the young Stella Meredith (Madeline Gamel), has stood vacant for years.  Londoners Roddy Fitzgerald (Kellin Roquille) and his sister, Pamela (Maria Masters), having decided life in London is too chaotic, happen across Cliff’s End in their search for a new home.  Drawn to it, Pamela convinces Roddy that she can fix up the house while he continues his writing.  They are very surprised when Stella’s grandfather, Commander Brooke (Stan Mesnick), accepts their very low offer on behalf of the young owner, complete with all furnishings.  He does advise them, though, that the previous residents complained of strange noises and occurrences in the house and didn’t stay there long.

It doesn’t take long before the Fitzgerald’s get first-hand experience with some of the house’s eccentricities.  A visiting neighbor, Mrs. Jessup (Erika Hicks), is the first to give insight into the tragedy behind its reputation.  Stella’s mother, Mary Meredith, fell from the cliff years before and died.  Stella, who has befriended the Fitzgeralds and visits frequently, is continually drawn to the room that was her former nursery in the house.  As time passes, it is from that room that strange sounds and scents emanate.

The maid, Lizzie (Darlene Noel), can’t find her cat, and the occurrences increase from there.  When friends of the Fitzgeralds, Wendy (Erika Hicks) and Max Hilliard (Spencer Bridge), come to visit, at first they urge the sister and brother to move back to London.  As their money is now tied to the house, talk turns to finding out more about why the house has its reputation.  Meanwhile, Stella, on one of her visits, almost goes over the cliff, herself.  The doctor who cares for Stella (Tom DeBorde) stops by just in time to witness Wendy going into a trance as if possessed.

Over time, Roddy falls for Stella, and both he and his sister come to believe she’s in danger.  But from what, they’re not sure.  They seek out a close friend of Mary Meredith, Miss Holloway (Theresa Buchanan), who recants the story between Mary and another friend, Carmel – a tale that doesn’t end well.  The true threat still unclear, the group resorts to a séance.

Is Stella in danger?  Or are the new tenants the ones who should fear for their lives?  No spoilers here, so you’ll have to see the show.

The play is based on a Dorothy Macardle novel originally released as a supernatural horror film in 1944.  The Tim Kelly stageplay came out in 1979 with a slightly different take on the novel than the film.  While there is a more recent (2009) film of the same name, it is not based on the Macardle book and is a completely different storyline.

Director Cynthia Baker has created a creepy living room with some very nice special effects.  One can almost feel the chill in the theater as well as from the ghosts in the living room.  At the same time, she’s done it in a manner where the show is more youth-friendly.  The theater advertises that it’s PG-13, but depending on what your kids already watch, slightly younger ages could tolerate the effects.  She also quite tastefully does the intermission between scenes in Act II instead of having two intermissions between three acts.

The cast includes several veterans to the OPCT stage, including Maria Masters and Madeline Gamel, both of whom are now students at Florida School of the Arts.  Stan Mesnick was a real curmudgeon of a Commander.  Newcomer Erika Hicks pulled off two consecutive roles quite nicely, while Kellin Roquille, also new to their stage, was most believable as Roddy.  It wouldn’t surprise me if we see more of him.

Costuming was a team effort.  I have to give the cast kudos for the quick changes.  It made for fairly short transitions between scenes, so we were not waiting long, although the seats there are more comfortable than most locations.

OPCT is located at 2900 Moody Ave. in Orange Park.  For reservations or information, you can call 904-276-2599 or go to www.showtixnow.com.  Upcoming shows include their youth production, Aladdin, Jr., followed by a seasonal favorite, Miracle on 34thStreet.

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/10/23/a-supernatural-horror-the-univited/


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/


‘Newsies’ on a Mission: The Island Theater’s Take on a Broadway Classic Delights and Entertains Theatergoers of All Ages

'Newsies' on a Mission: The Island Theater’s Take on a Broadway Classic Delights and Entertains Theatergoers of All Ages

With high-energy songs by Alan Menken and Jack Feldman, an uplifting underdog story, and a rousing local cast, Disney’s Newsies- The Broadway Musical is utterly delightful.

Based on a 1992 Disney movie starring Christian Bale as well as the real-life Newsboy Strike of 1899, Newsies runs at The Island Theater from October 4-14th (Fri. & Sat. 7:30 PM; Sat. & Sun. 2 PM). Tickets can be purchased online or at the door. Admissions cost $15/ adult and $10/ student. Plan ahead, because shows are popular and sell out.

If you’re not familiar with the plot, Newsies is the ultimate David and Goliath tale. Jack Kelly, played by Jack Billman, is an orphaned New York City paperboy who barely gets by selling papers. Powerful publisher Joseph Pulitzer (Shelvin Lamb) raises newspaper prices at the newsboys’ expense.  Jack unites a rag-tag band of paperboys, including Crutchie (Alexander Lawless), Davey (Jared Kiep), and Les (Cash Belcher), into a union and organizes a strike. Word spreads to other boroughs and the Newsies of New York band together to fight for their rights.

'Newsies' on a Mission: The Island Theater’s Take on a Broadway Classic Delights and Entertains Theatergoers of All Ages

Unlikely friendships arise along the journey, including that of Newsie Jack and Reporter Katherine Plumber (Savannah Lawless). Katherine hopes the newsie strike will provide her with an exclusive story for the Sun. “Shut down a paper like The World,” she says, “You’re going to be on the front page.” The idea works and the newsie’s cause seems unstoppable … until peril and impossible obstacles put a serious damper on their plans. Despite the danger, the kids resolve to tell the citizens of New York about the terrible plight all child laborers face and organize a citywide strike.  United, they just might be able to forge a brighter future.

This powerful tale of friendship, determination, and overcoming the odds will bring a smile to your face. Whether this is your first time seeing Newsies or it’s an old favorite, the cast at The Island Theater does not disappoint.

Sunday’s performance was truly enjoyable and the performers’ hard work and hours of practice were evident.  Supportive family members, retirees, and scores of local students packed the small theater to bursting. The colorful flower lei necklaces on each seat—a testament to the theater’s name— were delightful, and the theater’s laid-back atmosphere made guests feel welcome and at home.

'Newsies' on a Mission: The Island Theater’s Take on a Broadway Classic Delights and Entertains Theatergoers of All Ages, Photos by Gabby Blasco

For the multigenerational cast, this production has been a tireless journey several months in the making. “The production of Newsies is double cast but every one of our 56 performers are in almost every show,” says Managing Director Tricia Williams, “Our second cast is led by Landon Amburgey, who also plays a Delancy brother. Katherine is played by Jodi Jernigan, who is also a featured dancer. All the parts are double cast so our actors are versatile and incredibly supportive of each other.”

The Island Theater opened in March 2018 with a production of Annie. “Our founding members created this theater to provide accessible access to the arts in Clay County,” Williams says, “Our mission is theater education for all ages as well as cultural outreach for the community. The cast, crew, and families of this production are the heart of our theater. Community theaters thrive on volunteerism and community support and this production has delivered both.”

If you didn’t make it to opening weekend, no need to fret. There are several more showings of Newsies this coming weekend.  But don’t worry if your plans are already made. The 2018 Season at The Island Theater is not yet through, with some seriously great shows on the way: The Rocky Horror Show (Oct. 26- 31), The Crucible (Nov. 3- 11), You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (Nov. 29- Dec. 2), and The Ultimate Christmas Show (Dec. 8-16). The 2019 Season is jam-packed with musical classics and new favorites too, among them Little Women, Footloose, Mulan, and The Sound of Music.  The theater also offers kids clinics for young musical theater enthusiasts.

If you’re in the mood for a foot-tapping good time and excellent local theater without pretension, head out to Fleming Island’s The Island Theater this weekend and catch a rousing performance of Newsies before its gone.

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/10/10/newsies-the-island-theater-broadway/


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

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