It was fun to read my former colleague and friend Matt Palm’s take on Saturday night’s Red Chair Affair: He and I had a lot of the same reactions to an evening that was full of artistic surprises.
Used to be that Red Chair was full of exactly what we expected — little bits and pieces of the tried and true. Not so much this time around — not with spoken wordsmithing from my buddy Tod Caviness and a Jersey Boys re-creation from the Orlando Gay Chorus. And not with some real thrills from a bunch of familiar faces:
- Katia Garza and Patric Palkens in a Robert Hill-choreographed piece from Orlando Ballet’s Battle of the Sexes, the second installment of which is coming up this season. This was a battle full of spiky personality, and the two dancers both gave as good as they got. But my money’s on Garza, so full of attitude that she could sway a man just by staring him down. I can’t wait to see more.
- The Orlando Philharmonic’s Sovereign Brass (trumpeters Mike Avila and Thomas Macklin, horn player Kathleen Thomas, trombonist Jeffrey Thomas, tuba player Robert Carpenter and drummer Mark Goldberg) pulling all the showy insolence from a suite of tunes from Kander and Ebb’s Chicago.
- Vocalists Laura Hodos, Janine Klein and Andrea Canny, along with keyboard player Kyle Mattingly, giving their all to some glorious cabaret songs backstage during the VIP dinner reception — unfortunately, to a bunch of folks who were too bent on talking to pay much attention. If only Orlando had a real cabaret space where folks as wonderful as these could hold a room rapt every weekend. I’d be there.
- Sak Comedy Lab’s Dave Russell and David Charles, turning three audience suggestions (I admit, I was responsible for bringing up kitty litter) into songs that sounded suspiciously like Les Mis and solving a mystery at the same time. Nobody does improv better.
- Best of all, the kids from Orlando Rep’s Glee-like group the Power Chords, whose singing and stage presence knocked off the audience’s collective socks. Credit music director Steve MacKinnon and the folks at the Rep for recognizing that these teenagers come off at their best doing stuff that shows them off as themselves — and then credit the kids for expending enough energy to power Bob Carr. It’s the first time ever that I wanted to be a teenager again.