Posts Tagged With: theater

Orlando Fringe Festival

Orlando Fringe Festival


The Orlando Fringe Festival has been held for 22 years now and I have never been before. Just another event in Orlando I had yet to discover. But now that I have, I definitely plan to return. Come to find out, the Orlando Fringe is the longest running Fringe Festival in the US.

Posters of ShowsMore than 20 years ago, I visited the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. I loved it. Plays, performances, comedy acts, you name it, they had it, and lots and lots of it. (So, why did I not attend the Orlando Fringe Festival in all this time? I’ll never know!)

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival started in 1947 when a group of performers, who were not part of the official Edinburgh International Festival, decided to put on their own performances in empty store fronts, basements, anywhere they could find space. They were staged “on the Fringe” and the idea was a huge success, now making the Edinburgh Fringe Festival the largest festival in the world.

The 14-day festival in Orlando, like in Scotland, offers all types of performances for all types of ages, and all of it uncensored. So, keep that in mind when choosing shows. They do have ratings Shakespeare Centeron each. In the beginning, the festival took place in empty storefronts, but now it takes place in lovely Loch Haven Park, utilizing the Shakespeare Center and other buildings.

Since this was my first year going to the Fringe, I chose two performances to see out of the hundreds offered. Like in Edinburgh, you kind of have to make your choices based on limited descriptions of each. (In Scotland, I made my choices based on titles, some of which had nothing to do with the actual content of the show.) I was, however, able to find more info about each online.

Jett Backpack

Jett Backpack and the Battle at the End of the Universe:

The Earth has been kidnapped and it’s up to dashing Jett Backpack and his crew to save the day! This comedy sci-fi play had fun costumes and props and over the top B-movie acting that made it quite entertaining. I also liked the references to Star Trek and Star Wars, including the pre-show audio of William Shatner singing David Bowie’s “Major Tom,” an all-time classic.

The Mud Flappers Variety Hour:

They billed themselves as “an entire hour of music, comedy and vaudevillian antics, combining music and sketch comedy into a spectacular never before seen on stage or screen.”  Okay. Why not give it a go? I watched their music video online and really liked their sound and I wasn’t disappointed by the music. Plus, I Mud Flappersliked the fact that they were a local band from Lake Mary, Florida. The variety part, short films and sketches, were not as great, but some of them were clever and amusing. And there was some unexpected full frontal male nudity. One of the lead singers came out wearing only shoes, socks, a bow tie and his banjo, and strummed a song about liking to sing in the nude. And the banjo revealed more than it concealed. This is why they rate the shows. They really are uncensored.

Ticket prices ranged from free to about $11.00, all of it going to the performers. (The Fringe itself makes money from selling mandatory Fringe buttons to each patron.)

I wonder what next year’s Fringe will offer. I’m anxious to find out and will definitely check out more performances.

Dates of Visit:  May 2013

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Categories: Florida, Play | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Take in a Show at the Flat Rock Playhouse


I have visited the Asheville, North Carolina area about twelve times in the last twelve years and each time I’ve wanted to take in a play at the Flat Rock Playhouse in Hendersonville, about 30 miles south of Asheville. But every time I had a trip planned, there wasn’t anything playing at the theatre that I was interested in. This time I planned a trip around a performance I really wanted to see. But before I talk about that, let me tell you about the Flat Rock Playhouse itself.

There are actually two theatres. The original Flat Rock Playhouse is south of Hendersonville and was “born” in 1952 when Robroy Farquhar and his Vagabond Players made it their home. It’s next door to another historic site in Hendersonville, the poet Carl Sandberg’s home. The architecture is reminiscent of its summer stock beginnings back in the 1940s. Today the facility has been completely updated with state-of-the art lighting and sound and seats 506 patrons.

2012 marks their 60th season. From dramas to comedies to musicals, the Flat Rock Playhouse has done it all. Their 2012 season included Nunsense, Guys and Dolls and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. There’s even a series of shows for young audiences.

The newest theatre is in historic downtown Hendersonville and opened in 2011. It’s a very intimate setting, only about 250 seats set up in a horseshoe around the stage. If you can get a front row seat, that’s the best way to see a play there. But if you don’t, all seats have a good view. We were lucky enough to get front row, center seats and they were terrific. This downtown venue is where I saw the play, Say Goodnight, Gracie.

Say Goodnight, Gracie was written by Rupert Holmes. I had a massive crush on him in the 1980s when he was well-known as a singer/songwriter and had the hit single “Escape,” otherwise known as “The Pina Colada Song.” I even wrote him two fan letters, both of which he answered…but I digress.

Say Goodnight, Gracie is a wonderful production. It’s a one-man show about the life of comedian George Burns and his relationship with his partner and wife Gracie Allen. George Burns was portrayed perfectly by Joel Rooks. He’s been playing this role for a long time, starting on Broadway in 2002.

I’ve always loved George Burns, from his early TV show to his film appearances. Joel Rooks embodied George Burns so well it was like he had been reincarnated. He had Burns’ mannerisms and voice down pat. The story was both funny and sad, but always entertaining and included the audio recorded voice of actress Didi Conn, (Frenchie in the movie Grease) who played the voice of Gracie Allen. She, too, was perfectly cast.

Now that I’ve been to the downtown Flat Rock Playhouse, I definitely want to go back. It doesn’t matter what’s playing. I think I’d like to see just about any performance that the state theatre of North Carolina has to offer.

Dates of Visit:  May 2012

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Categories: North Carolina, Play | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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