Category Archives: Regional theater

Theater review: ‘The Understudy’ at Mad Cow

By Elizabeth Maupin
Elizabeth Maupin on Theater

Michele Feren, Brian Brightman and Josh Geoghagan in 'The Understudy' (photo courtesy of Mad Cow Theatre)

There’s something more than a little Kafkaesque about The Understudy. And it’s not just that, in the play-within-a-play at the center of Theresa Rebeck’s 2008 comedy, the scenery has a way of rolling in and out for no apparent reason and the sound and lighting have a way of switching on and off of their own free will.

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Orlando Rep offers part-time job

Here’s a job notice from the Rep:

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Theater review: ‘Legacy of Light’ at Mad Cow

Steven Lane (Voltaire) and Heather Charles (Émilie du Châtelet) in Mad Cow Theatre's 'Legacy of Light.' (Photo courtesy of Mad Cow Theatre.)

By Elizabeth Maupin
Elizabeth Maupin on Theater

There’s a spark in the eye of Karen Zacarias’s women. You can see it in Émilie du Châtelet, the 18th-century mathematician and physicist at the heart of Legacy of Light, the smart, tender little comedy at Mad Cow Theatre. You can see it in Olivia, the modern-day astrophysicist who’s trying to live her life to the fullest while she has the chance. And you can see it in Millie, a young woman who goes to unusual lengths to build herself a different kind of life.

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Mad Cow announces Sondheim opener for new theater

'A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,' by Georges Seurat

Mad Cow Theatre is just hinting at what will make up its 15th season, which will start out in the two current theater spaces on Magnolia Avenue and move, in January 2012, to 54 W. Church St.

But they’ve opened up about one thing, and it’s a biggie: The musical opening the new theater spaces, from Jan. 27 to Feb. 19, 2012, is Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Sunday in the Park With George.

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Theater auditions: Two plays at Orlando Shakes

Here’s an audition announcement for three really wonderful roles at Orlando Shakespeare Theater:

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More cabaret shows planned for Winter Park Playhouse

A bunch of familiar Central Florida musical-theater people have signed on for cabaret shows this summer and fall at Winter Park Playhouse:

  • Heather Alexander and Laura Hodos, Aug. 10 and 11 (corrected dates).
  • Kevin Kelly and Kate O’Neal, Sept. 22 and 23.
  • Natalie Cordone, Oct. 26 and 27.
  • Brian and Melissa Minyard, Nov. 10 and 11.

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Orlando Shakes announces ‘Earnest’ cast

Philip Nolen

Orlando actor Philip Nolen — known for such shows as Guys and Dolls, Amadeus and The Big Bang, as well as for his work at Disney — will play the larger-than-life Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde’s classic comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, Orlando Shakespeare Theater has announced.

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Theater auditions: One male for Orlando Shakes rotating rep

Orlando Shakespeare Theater needs one non-Equity male for its rotating repertory of Romeo and Juliet and Cymbeline. Here’s the audition notice:

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PlayFest submission deadline is coming up

Just a reminder that the deadline is fast approaching for this fall’s PlayFest 2.0 at Orlando Shakespeare Theater. It’s a new, shortened version of the new-play festival, and here, once again, are the submission guidelines:

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Orlando Shakes announces its season-opening gala

Oscar Wilde may be absent but he’ll still be the honoree at Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s opening gala this September, which will be known as the Wilde Party.

Here are the details for the gala, set for Sept. 11:

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Mad Cow postpones ‘Rashomon’

Mad Cow Theatre’s production of Rashomon has been postponed until next week due to a rehearsal injury on the part of one of the cast members. Staff member Zac Alfson says that the injury wasn’t serious but that there’s so much swordplay in the show that the theater wanted to make sure everyone would be in good shape. Here’s more:

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Theater auditions: Musicals at Mad Cow

Here’s an audition notice for musical-theater folks at Mad Cow Theatre:

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Bruun leaving Disney World for Disneyland

Alan Bruun

Alan Bruun, one of the founders of Mad Cow Theatre and the artistic director there for most of its 14-year history, is moving to southern California to work as creative director of entertainment at Disneyland.

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Theater review: ‘A Funny Thing Happened …’ at Mad Cow

By Elizabeth Maupin
Elizabeth Maupin on Theater

Rick Stanley as Pseudolus in Mad Cow Theatre's 'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.' (Photo by Tom Hurst/Mad Cow Theatre.)

Watching the big cast of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum fit itself onto the decidedly small stage at Mad Cow Theatre is like watching a couple of dozen clowns pour out of an old VW Beetle. You know it can be done, but you’re damned if you can figure out how.

And there’s another similarity: You know this kind of comedy is old hat, but you’re cackling at it all the while.

Forum may be pushing its 50th birthday, and it may turn up on college and community-theater stages often enough to keep composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim in legal pads and pencils. But thanks to director Katrina Ploof and an ace trio of veteran comic actors, this frothy musical comedy comes pretty close to looking like a classic.

The production marks the return to Mad Cow’s stage of actor Rick Stanley, who was everywhere in the theater’s early days but more recently has taken his talents elsewhere. Stanley’s world-weary Pseudolus has seen it all, and his exasperated take on Forum’s Rome and its dimwitted citizens gives the show its comic thrust.

Rick Stanley as Pseudolus, Thomas Ouellette as Hysterium and Stephan Jones as Miles Gloriosus. (Photo by Tom Hurst/Mad Cow Theatre.)

But this particular Pseudolus has artful assistance — from Thomas Ouellette (better known as a director at Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Mad Cow and Rollins College’s Annie Russell Theatre), whose nimble-witted Hysterium is beside himself simply because he has seen so terribly much go wrong; and from Stephan Jones, who channels the smoldering bits of his El Gallo and the scary bits of his Sweeney Todd to make a Miles Gloriosus whose might is only exceeded by his vanity.

Forum, of course, is an early 1960s musical-comedy take on burlesque, with comely young women, leering older men and a battle-axe trying and failing to keep everyone else in line. (One of many tips of the hat to burlesque: Pseudolus says he has more bad news to deliver, and Hysterium replies, “I hope it’s good.”)

Thanks to Alan S. Reynolds’ ingenious scenic design, this production suggests a cross-breeding with a later-’60s artifact, Laugh-In: In addition to the three doors in the set that stand for the houses of Erronius, Lycus and Senex, there are hidden windows all over the place, and all manner of unlikely objects show up through those chinks.

And, in a nod to the musical end of musical comedy, choreographer Kevin Davis and his two fellow Proteans (Lori Engler and Patch Panzella) tap-dance niftily through many of their scenes.

Melissa Davis as Philia. (Photo by Tom Hurst/Mad Cow Theatre.)

The cast is filled ably with other comic talents, especially Melissa Davis as the deliciously vacuous maiden Philia to Michael Mucciolo’s sweet-faced Hero; Danny Villnow’s dogged Erronius; and Sara Catherine Barnes’ priceless Gymnasia, a dominatrix with her tongue firmly in her cheek.

Rod Cathey is a suitably brow-beaten Senex; Gail Bartell, her eyes rimmed in black, makes an amusingly scary Domina; and most of the rest of the cast do fine in smaller roles. One favorite moment: When Cathey, Stanley, Ouellette and Tony Dietterick (as Lycus) sing “Everybody Ought to Have a Maid,” the four of them are so cute and silly that they banish any sexist smirk from the stage.

The production’s final melee may seem a little drawn out, but Ploof and musical director Robin Jensen keep things moving nicely most of the time, and their actors leave nothing to chance. You may want to take in Forum just to see Jones use the reflection on his sword to zhuzh his hair, or to hear Ouellette moan like a mule in pain, or to listen to Stanley make his quavering, portentous call to Thespis, the inventor of acting. Whatever reason you have, be assured: Thespis has answered the call.

‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’
What: Mad Cow Theatre production of Stephen Sondheim-Larry Gelbart-Burt Shevelove musical.
Where: Mad Cow Theatre, 105 S. Magnolia Ave., Orlando.
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays, through July 10 (also, 7:30 p.m. June 13 and July 4).
Running time: Two hours 20 minutes, with one intermission.
Cost: $29 general, $27 seniors and students, $15 Mondays.
Call: 407-297-8788 Ext. 1.

Orlando Shakes looking for company manager

Here’s a job posting from Orlando Shakespeare Theater:

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Mad Cow offers springtime ticket deal

Here’s a pretty wonderful ticket deal from Mad Cow — admission to all four summer shows, plus four free drinks, plus four nights of free parking for $99.

You’ll save 30 percent off the regular prices.

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PlayFest 2.0 looking for submissions

A new, shortened version of Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s PlayFest — scheduled for Nov. 3-6 of this year — is seeking submissions. Here are the guidelines:

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Theater auditions: The Rep’s next season

Here’s an audition notice from Orlando Repertory Theatre for its 2011-2012 season:

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Orlando Shakes adds two hits to season lineup

Orlando Shakespeare Theater has added two recent Broadway hits,  Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage and John Logan’s Red, to its 2011-2012 season, artistic director Jim Helsinger has announced.

The theater company also will present Sleigh, the PB&J Theatre Factory Christmas show, as a special event.

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Orlando Shakes needs wardrobe personnel

Here’s a job announcement from George Hamrah at Orlando Shakespeare Theater:

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