Freeline Media Review: “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde”

In time for the Halloween season, the Orlando Shakespeare Theater is producing "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde."

In time for the Halloween season, the Orlando Shakespeare Theater is producing “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.”


ORLANDO — The Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s production of “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” attempts two very interesting challenges — both, I think, successfully.
The first is to take a very literate script (adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher, from the novella “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson) that manages to strike an intriguing balance: asking serious questions about the nature of identity, while at the same time delivering what this story has always offered — some genuinely scary moments. The production, directed by Cynthia White, could have seemed stuffy and talky — one of those “Masterpiece Theatre” imitators with hoity toity British accents — for those expecting a more Watch out! scarefest version, but thanks to a talented cast and some eerily effective lighting and sound effects, the story remains gripping even to those, like me, who know it so well. Continue reading

As Halloween approaches, “Phantasmagoria” is ready to chill local audiences

"Phantasmagoria" is returning to the Lowndes Shakespeare Theater on Friday for its seventh year entertaining audiences.

“Phantasmagoria” is returning to the Lowndes Shakespeare Theater on Friday for its seventh year entertaining audiences.


ORLANDO — When John DiDonna, the creator of the long-running “Phantasmagoria” series, took his troop of 40 performers on the road, he got a strong reaction from audiences outside this region, getting their introduction to the series.
“We did Atlanta, we did Baltimore, we did Eustis and Ocala,” DiDonna said. “We’re doing a lot of touring all over.”
The reaction, he said, has been similar at each new venue.
” ‘Oh my god, why have I never seen this before’ is the usual response,” he said. ‘And ‘Oh my god, when are you going to be back?’ When we performed in Ocala, the manager walked across the stage and said ‘Good show, when can I bring you back?’ ”
DiDonna is only too happy to introduce to new audiences the show he created nearly a decade ago, which is now celebrating its seventh year. It has evolved into a series, featuring the familiar circus-like troop of singers, dancers, actors and puppeteers recreating stories each year, classic tales of terror from masters like Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and Ambrose Bierce, among many others.
And DiDonna, who has written, directed and acted in the productions, is thrilled to keep the series going for Orlando area audiences. Continue reading

Freeline Media Review: “Party”

Tonight marks the final performance of David Dillon's very funny play "Party" at the Footlight Theatre.

Tonight marks the final performance of David Dillon’s very funny play “Party” at the Footlight Theatre.


ORLANDO — The plot set-up for “Party,” the play now being performed at the Footlight Theatre in Orlando, feels familiar at first, vaguely similar to one of the earlier gay-themed plays, Mart Crowley’s “The Boys In The Band.”
Set in the apartment of gay roommates Kevin and Peter, there are drinks, chips and card games awaiting five friends who are coming over that night for a party.
As the play goes along, memories of “Boys in the Band” quickly start to fade — and it becomes abundantly clear how much has changed since 1968, when Crowley’s play was first performed Off-Broadway.
In that play, when a group of gay friends — and one straight man — gather for a birthday party, the snappy quips and clever one-liners eventually give way to a steady stream of revelations about how much some of the characters absolutely hate being gay and what it means to live in a homophobic society — so much so, that the play can seem difficult for modern gay audiences, and has been dubbed an example of “self-homophobia.” Whatever Crowley’s original intentions were, there were few if any discussions about gay liberation in that play. Continue reading

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