Freeline Media Review: “The Toxic Avenger Musical”

This is the final weekend for “The Toxic Avenger Musical.”


ORLANDO — Watching the zany antics of the cast in “The Toxic Avenger Musical,” you might start thinking that the content of this nerdy-Jewish-boy-turned-green-slime-crusader show raises topical questions in your mind, like … do we tend to underrate toxic waste when it has the capability of transforming Melvin Ferd into a kind of Incredible Hulk in Woody Allen land?
Actually, I couldn’t help but think about something else. If he was sitting next to me in the Mandell Theater at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, watching this play, what would Chris Christie think?
Sure, the outgoing governor might object to the play’s portrayal of his home state of Joi-see as a hotbed of corruption, crime, violence and peee-yew pollution, and maybe even jump on the stage to protest. Or maybe Christie would appreciate the fact that in our hero Melvin, there’s something more toxic than his approval ratings. Hard to say. Continue reading

Freeline Media Review: “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some)”

Christopher Patrick Mullen, Timothy Williams, and Michael Daly star in Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s production of "Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)." (Photo by Tony Firriolo.)

Christopher Patrick Mullen, Timothy Williams, and Michael Daly star in Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s production of “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!).” (Photo by Tony Firriolo.)


ORLANDO — If there’s one thing that the holiday production at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater amply proves, it’s that the Christmas season has, for centuries, inspired writers, filmmakers, animators and other storytellers to create their own holiday epic, aimed at happily entrancing audiences into the spirit of the season.
If there’s one thing that guides so many of these creative efforts — Charles Dickens’ short story “A Christmas Story,” Frank Capra’s 1946 movie “It’s A Wonderful Life,” or the 1964 children’s TV movie “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” among many others — it’s heavy doses of sentimentality and exquisitely warm and fuzzy happy endings. Put your troubles aside, these sagas seem to say, and revel in the joyous spirit of Christmas time.
Orlando Shakes has done its share of sentimental holiday productions in the past, from an elaborate version of “A Christmas Carol” to a radio version of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” where skillful dramatic actors did their best to wring a nostalgic and tender tear from the eyes of audience members. Continue reading

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

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