Orlando REP Theatre presents ELF – Orlando REP Brings the North Pole to Loch Haven Park with ELF – The Musical
ORLANDO REPERTORY THEATRE (Orlando REP) is proud to present ELF – The Musical, based on the New Line Cinema film from November 12 – December 30. This production is proudly presented by Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.
Orlando REP Theatre | Orlando
November 12 – December 30, 2018
Buddy the Elf, the lovable character from the New Line Cinema film written by David Berenbaum, comes to life onstage in a musical adaptation of his journey from the North Pole to the Big Apple. Adopted and raised by Santa’s elves, Buddy grows up to discover that he is actually a human man, explaining the peculiarity of his towering height and complete lack of toy-making ability. Venturing out to find his real father, Buddy must face the harsh reality of Manhattan – where some people don’t even believe Santa exists. This family-friendly production is sure to ignite your holiday spark and get you in the mood for cocoa, carols, and good cheer. And of course, Buddy’s favorite food: syrup!
ELF – The Musical’s magical production team includes co-direction and musical direction by Steve Mackinnon, co-direction and choreography by Spencer Morrow, scenic design by Cindy White, costume design by Wes Jenkins, prop design by Tara Kromer, lighting by Alyx Jacobs, and sound by Anthony Narciso. Presales for this production have exceeded previous holiday shows at Orlando REP, and patrons are encouraged to purchase tickets as soon as possible. Several shows are nearly sold out heading into opening week.
Orlando REP’s 6th Annual Holiday Celebration – Sunday, December 2, 3:30pm: Join in a special family tradition with this cozy event. Experience a winter wonderland with Santa, cookies, crafts and a full performance of ELF – The Musical. The all-inclusive ticket also includes access to a chance prize drawing and delicious bites and beverages. Tickets for this unique holiday event may be purchased through the box office or online.
ELF – The Musical runs from November 12 – December 30, with daytime and evening performances available weekdays and weekends. The Holiday Celebration, including a full performance, takes place on Sunday, December 2 at 3:30pm.
Tickets to all events may be purchased by calling the box office at 407-896-7365 or by visiting orlandorep.com.
Disclaimer: This Orlando REP Theatre presents ELF event is subject to last minute cancellations and changes which might not be reflected in this MyCentralFloridaFamily.com post. Please always confirm with this family-friendly business by calling or clicking.
Check out additional holiday outdoor movie events coming up below:
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).
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).
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.
“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.
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)
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.
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and ITimes Union Center for the Performing Arts, Moran Theatre300 West Water Street Jacksonville, FL 32202
Two worlds collide in this “breathtaking and exquisite” (The New York Times) musical, based on the 2015 Tony Award®-winning Lincoln Center Theater production. One of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s finest works, THE
Two worlds collide in this “breathtaking and exquisite” (The New York Times) musical, based on the 2015 Tony Award®-winning Lincoln Center Theater production. One of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s finest works, THE KING AND I boasts a score that features such beloved classics as “Getting To Know You,” “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Hello Young Lovers,” “Shall We Dance” and “Something Wonderful.” (Complete list of songs below.)
Set in 1860’s Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, a British schoolteacher whom the modernist King, in an imperialistic world, brings to Siam to teach his many wives and children. THE KING AND I is “too beautiful to miss” (New York Magazine).
The show is recommended for ages 8+.
Family Night on Broadway is Tuesday, November 13 at 7:30 p.m. with activities starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Opening Night performance of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s THE KING AND I.
Families will enjoy fun-filled activities in the Times-Union Center’s lobby before the opening night show starting at 6:30 p.m. – 7:25 p.m. Activities include a variety of story-telling, photo opportunities, art projects, and many more. A special discount of BUY ONE ADULT TICKET, GET THE CHILD’S TICKET FOR FREE** (Buy two tickets for half price, child is 12 and under) is available for Family Night on Broadway only. Use promo code ROYAL when ordering online or by phone.
The King and I Songs
1. Main Title
3. I Whistle a Happy Tune
4. Welcome to Bangkok
5. My Lord and Master
6. March of the Siamese Children
7. Anna Unpacks
8. Hello Young Lovers
9. Home, Sweet Home
10. A Puzzlement
11. Getting to Know You
12. Garden Scene
13. We Kiss in a Shadow
14. Shall I Tell You What I Think of You?
15. Something Wonderful
16. Temple Scene
13 (Tuesday) 7:30 pm – 18 (Sunday) 10:00 pm
Times Union Center for the Performing Arts, Moran Theatre
FSCJ Artist Serieshttp://www.fscjartistseries.org/
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In 1953, Arthur Miller wrote a play called The Crucible as an allegory for the McCarthyism which was sweeping the country at the time. The Tony award winning play became destined to become an American classic. With repeated productions on Broadway and regular treatment in the classroom, The Crucible is a play that has withstood the test of time. This season, The Island Theater produced the show in a similarly tumultuous political landscape.
The play is originally set in 1692 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony In the house of Reverend Samuel Parris (portrayed by Solomon Greene). Betty Parris (played by Jillian McKinney) and several of the town’s young women have fallen ill and rumors of witchcraft being the cause start.
Against the advice of the town motherly figure Rebecca Nurse (played by Shelley Finn), Reverend Hale (played with intensity by Mitchell Hale) of Beverly is sent for to investigate the cause and through a series of twists and turns, some of the most notable people in town are accused and put on trial for witchcraft.
The Island Theater’s production starts in 1692 as originally intended and then takes a unique turn as the scenes progress. The characters and dialogue stays the same but the time periods shift through the use of costumes and set to reflect how the same issues of hysteria and mob rule have repeated over time. It takes a thoughtful audience to keep pace with the story but through the use of the program and unique lighting and set design the journey is worth it.
The cast is dynamic and nuanced as the characters on stage. John Proctor (played by the talented Rich Pintello) is a flawed man. Rich Pintello makes him sympathetic even in the realization that his faults lie at the root of the deception of the villains of the piece. His relationship on stage with both former lover, Abigail Williams (Asia Kravats), and his wife, Elizabeth (Erica Villenueva), is both realistic and dramatic at the same time. Erica Vilenueva and Rick Pintello have such a natural chemistry – their scenes seem to be reenactments of actual conversations versus scripted lines.
While the cast works well together on stage, the transformation of Solomone Greene and Mitchell Wohl from self assured Reverends of the community of note to men barely holding on by the end of the play is one worth watching from their words, costume changes to the mere facial expressions the two actors used when faced with reality.
Equally notable newcomer Kellyanne Correale renders a noteworthy performance as Mary Warren, the girl torn between what is right and what will keep her safe in this dangerous world. Ms. Correale gives a multi-faceted performance as she is questioned and bullied by all sides, torn down by the merciless Ms. Hawthorne (played with vicious vigor by Caitlin Charrier) and alternately coaxed and threatened by Governor Danforth (portrayed by Alexander Banks).
The Crucible’s cast is rounded out by Julie McKinney (mother of Jillian McKinney), Jim Warren, Lyrica Singh, Zhariya Smith, Natalie Lucas, Robert Frohlich, Clark Taylor, Rachel Taylor, Josh Katzman and feature film actor, Whit Williams.
Like many beloved Broadway musicals, the story of “The King & I” has traveled through decades and across oceans like a treasured heirloom passed down from generation to generation. Based on the true story of Anna Leonowens in 1860’s Bangkok, its carries with it the truths of the cultures reflected in this extraordinary telling.
“The King & I” is presented by the FSCJ Artist Series Broadway in Jacksonville November 13th-18th in the Times-Union Center’s Moran Theater (www.artistseriesjax.com). The musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, a British school teacher whom the modernist King brings to Siam to teach his many wives and children. Considered one of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s finest works, The King & I boasts a score of such classics as ‘Getting To Know You,’ ‘I Whistle a Happy Tune,’ ‘Hello Young Lovers,’ ‘Shall We Dance’ and ‘Something Wonderful.’
Angela Baumgardner was familiar with story long before she auditioned for the role of Anna. As a child, she’d traced her fingers along its intricate details and dreamed of its exotic beauty. She didn’t know how or even why, but she felt that she was destined to one day experience that magic as her own.
“It’s such an iconic role. The beauty of it is that I’ve gotten to see this production, the 2015 Tony Award-winning production from Lincoln Center, so I was already captured by this particular interpretation. For me, any acting piece that I do, I look at what parts of her character resonate with me. Even since 2015, there have been several different Annas, and everyone is different because every person is different. For me, the biggest thing that stands out is her strength. I don’t think there is a weak bone in her body, except maybe for the children, and I can totally relate to that as well.”
“[During] her struggle in Siam and with all that is going on, she is strong in her beliefs and her principles. There are moments that she just wants to leave, but it’s for the sake of the children that she always stays. There was a point in my life, too, when I just had this revelation that everything we do is all about the next generation, and I see that in Anna. She has a sense of destiny and a sense of purpose, even in going to Siam, even in accepting the King’s offer. And what she is able to do there is invest in and impact the next generation, specifically the next King. She’s given this great offering, and I think that’s what captured me even in the rehearsal process with the children and the young prince, soon-to-be king.”
The masterful score by Rodgers & Hammerstein sets the tone of the course and brings the audiences along for the journey which exists in a space all its own. As in most of the productions scored by the brilliant team, there is a political undercurrent that runs alongside stories of forbidden love, differences in class and clashes in culture.
“There’s a challenge that every couple is facing, and there’s always a political thing as well. In “Cinderella,” yes, it’s a class difference, and the prince that will become a king. In “The Sound of Music,” it’s set against the backdrop of a Nazi invasion. In Siam, it’s the clash of cultures and Anna trying to exert herself as an equal, but there is no equal to the king. He is worshiped as a god. I grew up on Rodgers and Hammerstein. I’m from Oklahoma, so every child performed in Oklahoma. We’re one of the ony states with a musical written about us. I’ve grown up with all these stories and loved all the stories since I was a child. What I loved about the relationships is they are so multi-dimensional. There’s an attraction, but there’s the high stakes of who she is and who he is. In “The King & I,” it’s an intellectual attraction and respect and admiration.”
The chemistry between actors is important in order to deliver an authentic performance and be believable in the portrayal of the characters. The connection between Anna and the King exists in the restraint of propriety and the electricity charged by an underlying sexual tension rippling beneath the surface – in a family friendly way, of course.
Before she’d won the role, before she’d even auditioned, Baumgardner met the future prince outside the backstage door of the iconic Lincoln Center where “The King & I” captivated audiences with its Tony Award-winning run. Pedro Ka’ Awaloa was auditioning for the part of the future King and the two entered together as a pair of young hopefuls with a destiny to fulfill.
“With any actor you play against, you have to like them. During my audition process, there was only one being that I ever auditioned with, and that was Pedro. Our audition was actually at Lincoln Center, which never happens. You’re always auditioning at some studio or rehearsal space. For both us, I’d never been inside Lincoln Center backstage, so just to be there was incredible. We first met outside the backstage door, and we shared this moment together walking in, and they took us into this rehearsal hall, and said ‘ok, you two are going to read together.’ So already there was this excitement and energy, and it worked right away,” says Baumgardner.
“We had a great first introduction, and were able to build off that during the rehearsal process. And seeing each other grow in the role has just taken it to another level. The audience sees the finished product, but we’re investing hours in every scene and every nuance. It’s been a treat to see how our performances together, and our reactions and chemistry and tensions together, grow every time we go back to the scene. It thrills me to know what the audience is going to get to experience based on the time we’ve put in together.”
Remembering that little girl in Oklahoma, Baumgardner relishes the time on stage with her youngest castmates. She imagines the experience through their young eyes and the memories they will carry on through their lives. It’s the same feeling she gets when she catches the moment the music strikes a chord with a young audience member. She remembers that spark and is grateful for the opportunity to not only share this amazing journey but to ignite the passion for storytelling and music.
“For them to write this musical in the 50’s, and for it to still have such an impact today is incredible. It is a gift to share this with the next generation, just as I learned it when I was a kid. It’s a timeless story and a show that has something for everyone.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
WAIT UNTIL DARKALL BEACHES EXPERIMENTAL THEATRE544 Atlantic Blvd, Neptune Beach, FL
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.
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.
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.
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
Franklin Ritch (Director), Ramona Ramdeen (Stage Manager), Maureen Johnson (Assistant Stage Manager), Laura Young (Properties), Bryan Frank (Light/Sound Design) Hunter Steinke (Backstage Crew)
New York actors aspire to win a Tony, film actors want to win an Oscar. What do Jacksonville community theatre actors covet most? A role on stage at the Alhambra Dinner Theatre.
An actor may perform with every theatre group in town, doing a variety of roles but when they finally land a role at the longest-producing dinner theatres in America, Jacksonville’s Alhambra Theatre, you have reached the top in this area.
Why? As Jacksonville’s full time professional theatre, you know you can perform with the pros. I know this question comes to mind. You thought the Alhambra is an equity house using actors from the actor’s union known as Equity. That is true, but Equity has an agreement with dinner theaters that allows them to use a certain percentage of non-union actors in each production. This is like an apprentice program, developing new actors and giving them an opportunity to earn their equity card by performing so many hours.
This Tony Award-winning musical is based on the events surrounding the drafting and the signing of the Declaration of Independence… if only our founding fathers can agree to
This Tony Award-winning musical is based on the events surrounding the drafting and the signing of the Declaration of Independence… if only our founding fathers can agree to do it! John Adams teams up with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson to battle those in Congress that oppose the movement to separate from England. Join in the funny, insightful and compelling journey to pass the resolution that frees America from British tyranny.
October 17 (Wednesday) 7:00 pm – November 18 (Sunday) 10:00 pm
The cast of the current production of the wonderful “l776” has 25 actors and when you read the playbill you will see that Director Tod Booth has selected a number of non-union performers who are making their Alhambra debuts in this play. Some of the new performers are even new to me, as they came from other cities for the opportunity to advance their careers and get “1776” on their resumes.
The Alhambra performs many musicals and if you audition for one of them, you had better have a better-than-average singing voice that is for sure. The voices in the current production are excellent and when all the men on stage sing together, it seems like the roof of the theatre rises a bit.
Coming from community theatre to do a show, you immediately notice that the rehearsals to get the show ready are much shorter. Most productions run at least a month, and the only day off you will get will be Monday when the theatre is usually dark. On Saturday and Sunday you may have 2 shows each day.If the musical is one that children like, you may also have a mid-week matinee show as well.
The current “1776” is loaded with talent. Lee Hamby and Kenneth Uibel are two actors in this show who are doing the exact same roles on this very same stage in April l999, or 20 years ago. Kurt McCall who plays John Hancock is a local actor who earned his equity card through the Alhambra and as a result has been several shows over the years. Mr. McCall also was a costume designer for the Alhambra several years ago.
Dave Gowan who plays James Wilson and Kevin Roberts as Caesar Rodney are well known for roles in local theatres and has appeared in other Alhambra productions. Rodney Holmes after three outstanding performances on local stages is now in his third Alhambra show in a row as the courier for the Continental Congress. If you go to community theatres, the names of three actors will be familiar to you. Brice Cofield, Alec Hadden and Neal Thorburn all make impressive debuts as first timers on the Alhambra stage in “l776”
Want to be on the stage of the Alhambra? Then prepare. Do as many community theatre plays as you can. See “l776”, and read the credits of the actors in the show. Contact them for their advice. Most of them have facebook pages and so are easy to contact. Audition! The Alhambra publishes audition notices on their facebook page or check out The Theatre Alliance of Greater Jacksonville on face book for a list of most auditions locally.
Yours truly did two plays at the Alhambra some years ago in “The Impossible Years” and “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”. It was my “Oscar” and my “Tony Award” and if I never act again, I have had my day in the sun. I played with the “pros”.
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
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.
PONTYPOOLPlayers by the Sea Theatre106 6th St N Jacksonville Beach FL 32250
A massive storm sends reports of people developing strange speech patterns and committing horrendous acts of violence in small-town Pontypool. Radio D.J. Grant Mazzy and the small staff,
A massive storm sends reports of people developing strange speech patterns and committing horrendous acts of violence in small-town Pontypool. Radio D.J. Grant Mazzy and the small staff, trapped inside the radio station, desperately try to warn listeners about the virus and its unlikely mode of transmission: the English language. Based on the book by Tony Burgess and adapted to the stage by Kelby Siddons.
October 26 (Friday) 7:30 pm – November 3 (Saturday) 9:00 pm
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.
They were unlikely rock stars, the antithesis of the traditional paradigm, who took the world by storm as 60’s folk heroes. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel spoke to generations as counterculture icons of the social revolution and were one of the best-selling artists of the era.
The Simon & Garfunkel Story comes to Jacksonville for one night only on October 26th at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. Presented by the FSCJ Artist Series, the production traces the history of the duo’s the storied career with projection photos, original film footage, and a full band performing such hits as ‘Mrs. Robinson,’ ‘Cecilia,’ ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water,’ and ‘Homeward Bound’ with Taylor Bloom as Paul Simon and Ben Cooley as Art Garfunkel.
A New York native and triple threat, Bloom was excited to audition for the role of Simon because, unlike his typical acting calls, he was able to stretch beyond a scripted play and occasional singing role and demonstrate his skills on guitar. He was a casual fan of Simon & Garfunkel, and because of growing up hearing artists like Cat Stephens and James Taylor, Bloom understood the context of the era.
“Before I got involved with the show, I liked them the way most people do. I knew a handful of their hits like ‘America,’ ‘Cecelia,’ ‘The Boxer’ and things like that. That’s one of the reasons I love this show so much, because, working on it, I discovered this whole other catalog that I grew to love so much,” he says.
“I performed with this show last year, so this is my second tour. I’m able to focus more when I’m playing to get the sound right, trying to emulate vocally what Paul Simon sounds like when he sings. I can focus more on the beauty of the music and less on the technical aspects and trying to stay in tempo with the band. I’ve performed the songs so many times, and I love them. You’d think I’d get tired of them, but, at home after the tour, I listen to the music just to listen to it.”
Bloom says learning the history of Simon & Garfunkel from the early days, performing as the duo Tom & Jerry, to the architects of the songs that defined a generation helped inform his delivery of the music, but also offered a fresh perspective for writing and performing music.
“I recently read the biography of Paul Simon and his process, not necessarily how he writes the songs but the mentality that goes into songwriting. It made me think a lot about my own songwriting and performing of music. It also got me into listening to Paul Simon’s solo records which are awesome. I just feel so comfortable with the music now, so I feel that I can add something more to it.”
While ‘Sounds of Silence’ is his favorite Simon & Garfunkel song, Bloom admits it’s not always his favorite number to perform in the show. The energy of the audience helps to influence the energy of the band and the performers.
“It’s funny because I feel like it changes. Some nights I’ll really enjoy playing a song like ‘Keep the Customer Satisfied.’ When the band really digs into it, it’s so much fun. On the other hand, sometimes when we play ‘The Boxer,’ you can just see the way it reaches out and touches the audience,” he says.
“Everyone brings in so much of themselves. The music means something very specific to them, so, if we play a song, like when Ben sings ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water,’ which he does beautifully, it’s amazing because everyone in the audience heard that song, and it brings back memories of something they’ve gone through in their life. It’s such an incredible opportunity, and we’re so fortunate to be able to enjoy that.”
The Simon & Garfunkel Story is a retrospective of their career together, but it also touches briefly on the pair’s acrimonious split. It would be hard to ignore the sad elephant in the room, but the production is a designed as a celebration and not as a dramatic retrospective of the dissolution of one of the most beloved songwriting teams in popular music.
“You can’t have a show about Simon & Garfunkel without addressing the fact that they had kind of a rocky relationship towards the end, and they eventually decided to part ways. We do definitely address that, but the show is primarily a celebration of the music they made when they were together,” Bloom says. “We try to capture them in stages of partnership. We do it sort of chronologically. As the show goes along, the musicianship gets a little better. Obviously, the songwriting takes on a whole new life, so there’s a real progression that happens throughout the show.”
The afterglow of Paul Simon’s final show of his farewell tour performed in the same space as the famous 1981 reunion Concert in Central Park serves to perfectly bookend the career of a man who devoted so much of his life to sharing his gift. Bloom is grateful for the opportunity to play a part in sharing that legacy.
“It gives a deeper meaning to what we’re doing, because it takes our show from being a celebration of Simon & Garfunkel’s amazing years together to almost the continuation of the legacy of their music because Paul Simon is not going to be playing it anymore,” he says. “Obviously, I will never be Paul Simon, but I just want to continue celebrating what he did. Sharing his music with another generation of listeners is sort of like the passing of the baton. It’s a total gift.”