Fringe Review: “Baker’s Dozen: 12 Angry Puppets”

bAKER's dozen orlando fringe

Adam Francis Proulx is performing his show “Baker’s Dozen: 12 Angry Puppets” at the Orlando Fringe Festival.

ORLANDO – Adam Francis Proulx is a very funny performer, a comedic talent with an arsenal of voices that he switches back and forth to with a tremendous amount of skill. He has an ability to create a seemingly endless array of quirky, goofy personas.
That skill comes in handy during his show at the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, as Proulx comes onto a bare stage, and then entertains by creating one hilarious character after another.
Oh, and he gets some help — from the puppet he carries, and the kit filled with eyes, mouths and wigs to help transform that solitary puppet into — well, the many jurors at the trial that makes up his show, “Baker’s Dozen: 12 Angry Puppets.”
Proulx’s show is about the ongoing trial following the shocking discover that the local Baker has been found dead in his bathtub. The Baker’s husband, the Butcher is the main suspect, and is now on trial for the crime.
But the jurors also need to decide what role the the mysterious Candlestick Maker — who also happened to be in the bathtub at the time — may have played in this case. And the Candlestick Maker is missing.
It’s all up to that 12-member jury to sort out the facts for us.
Proulx’s show is a lot of fun — think of it as a bit more risqué than “Sesame Street,” but not quite as outre as “Avenue Q.”
It follows the basic concept of the 1957 Hollywood movie “12 Angry Men,” only in this case there are several women on the jury, and they’re a diverse bunch, often more interested in one another — not always in a good way — than the case. Continue reading

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: “Everything I Need To Know I Learned From Ethel Merman”

Ethel Merman Fringe

“Everything I Need to Know I Learned From… Ethel Merman” is a musical extravaganza coming to the Orlando Fringe Festival in May.


ORLANDO – Legendary Broadway performers, after years of building up a loyal audience, have often discovered that they can build a show around something else: themselves.
After years of entertaining crowds with their renditions of classic show tunes, they finally start to open up about the lives they’ve kept secret from fans. And as gifted performers, they know how to narrate their lives — the joys, the tragedies, the heartache that caused them to struggle behind the scenes, even moments before bursting on the stage, looking radiant and ready to entertain.
And, chances are, they also know there are fans out there who idolize them, their music, and their larger than life personality. In most instances, they probably never know just how powerfully they can inspire someone.
That was the role that legendary Broadway performer Ethel Merman served for Mickey Layman, the singer, actor and comedic performer at Sleuth’s Mystery Dinner Shows and many other Orlando theater productions. With a passion for Merman’s music and career, Layman decided to pay tribute to her with his show at the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival.
“Everything I Need to Know I Learned From … Ethel Merman” honors the career of the star of “Gypsy” and “Annie Get Your Gun,” the woman that Layman calls “the wisest Diva of them all,” as he sings some of her classic songs, like “You’re The Top,” “I Got Lost In His Arms,” and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” Continue reading

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