Fringe Review: “Phantasmagoria’s Wickedest Tales of All”

Phantasmagoria Fringe

The Phantasmagoria troop is back at the Orlando Fringe Festival. (Photo by C. A. Bridges).

ORLANDO – It’s been a constant in my life for a while now: I have a complete inability to miss theater productions that include the works of Edgar Allan Poe.
It isn’t just that I love Poe’s writing. His dark, macabre, irresistibly creepy tales are so vivid in their descriptions, and conjure up so many haunting images, that I think they’re ideally suited for stage productions.
Just reading them aloud is highly effective in and of itself; if you’ve never listened to those old 1940s radio shows like “Suspense,” you’d be amazed how scary it can be to listen to a really well-written horror tale that asks you to let your imagination do the work.
So it was that I found myself immensely enjoying “Pantasmagoria’s Wickedest Tales of All,” and in particular the final segment, which recreated Poe’s classic tale of terror, “The Masque of the Red Death.”
Phantasmagoria, for the uninitiated, is the long-running group of circus-like performers who recount classic horror stories, and they’re now are presenting a sort of “Greatest Hits” production, “Phantasmagoria’s Wickedest Tales of All,” at the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival.
Phantasmagoria and Poe were made for one another, and the troupe led by writer, director and actor John DiDonna know the critical role that atmosphere plays in a story like this one. Using images on a screen, they conjure up the agony tormenting the countryside as a black death sweeps the land, leaving the survivors in mortal fear of being the next victim. Continue reading

Fringe Review: “Pillow Talk”

pillow talk

“Pillow Talk” looks at two straight guys who have to share a bed together — at the Orlando Fringe Festival, of all places.

ORLANDO — So what is it with those straight guys?
You know, the ones who are so freakin’ uptight about their masculinity, or what the lunkheads over at the roadhouse are going to think, that even something as simple as a little friendly hug is way off limits. Sheesh.
In this hip era of gay marriage, where we’re all so enlightened and even healthy majorities of Catholics and Protestants favor those non-traditional nuptials, can’t a couple of straight guys just show a tiny bit of affection for one another — you know, just as buds — without the whole world thinking they’re just a couple of homos?
And now we have the answer, folks, courtesy of playwright Peter Tolan’s play “Pillow Talk,” brought to us by director Jamie DeHay.
The answer is one big, fat, hilarious NO!
If you’re wondering why, catch “Pillow Talk” at the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. When you notice that the only thing on the stage is a bed, and that the play features just two actors (Logan Ayala and Jonathan “Gyo” Gamble), you get a pretty good sense of where things are headed.
So — the plot. Aaron (Ayala) and Doug (Gamble) are best buddies doing a cross-country road trip together. They spend a night with Aaron’s grandma, who is nice enough to let them share her bed while she sleeps on the couch in the next room. So Aaron strips down to his shorts, hops in bed, and is ready to call it a night.
Only — Doug isn’t. Continue reading

Canada’s hottest hunks coming to Orlando Fringe in “Mo’ Manada”

BoylesqueTO returns to the Orlando Fringe Festival with “Mo’ Manada!” and more naked Canadian men.


ORLANDO – The Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival kicks off at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 16 at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, and runs through May 29. This year the nearly three-week long festival will feature the largest line-up of shows in its history.
Some Fringe show offer harrowing dramas that expose the characters’ raw naked emotions … and then, some shows just like the naked part! Last year, Fringe audiences got quite a bit of naked from “Oh Manada!,” a show featuring Canada’s premiere all-male burlesque troupe, BoylesqueTO. Guess what — the boys are back, with a promise of more Canadian hunks, more hockey players, more lumberjacks — and more bare butts.
Then new show, “Mo’ Manada!” is a cabaret revue where the studly Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decides the only way to save America after a tense year in politics is …. with a team of Canadian strippers specially trained in naked diplomacy (makes sense!).
Founded in 2008, BoylesqueTO is Canada’s premiere all-male burlesque troupe, featuring dancers, actors, and performance artists. This year’s lineup includes dancing beavers, a romance between a Mountie and a lumberjack, French Canadian garçons, and a hunky hockey player eager to score.
Freeline Media decided to reach out to one member of the troupe, Canadian hunk James and the Giant Pasty, to get the naked facts on this one. Continue reading

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