Freeline Media Review: “Spring Awakening”

The musical "Spring Awakening" is now being performed at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

The musical “Spring Awakening” is now being performed at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

ORLANDO — There’s a tender and humorous moment at the start of “Spring Awakening”, when Wendla Bergmann, an adolescent living in late-nineteenth-century Germany, learns that her older sister has given birth to another child — but rather than excitement, it stirs within her a deep sense of frustration.
So Wendla asks mama the big question — where do babies come from? From mama’s tormented expressions, you’d think Wendla had just asked her mother to explain the intricacies of quantum physics. As Wendla points out, she’s about to become an aunt for the second time, and is getting to that age when she needs to know these things. But her mother isn’t ready for this discussion, and tells her it’s all about a man and a woman loving one another — period.
Mama’s refusal to have a good old-fashioned birds and the bees discussion will have huge repercussions by the end of the play, which is based on a work by Frank Wedekind that dates back to 1891, and which served as a sharp critique of Germany’s sexually oppressive culture. Sexual repression, Wedekind suggests, leads to erotic fantasies and then a whole lot more — and for good measure, his play tosses in child molestation, violent masochism, suicidal thoughts and illegal abortions. Whew!
Not surprisingly, the often overripe melodrama that Wedekind serves up has “period piece” written all over it, especially since so many of his themes would become standard fare for daytime soaps over the years. It’s not fair, in a sense, to criticize a play that probably was radically daring in 1891 for seeming dated by today’s standards, but it is. Continue reading

Freeline Media Review: “Avenue Q”

Mad Cow Theatre is now producing the popular Tony Award-winning musical "Avenue Q."

Mad Cow Theatre is now producing the popular Tony Award-winning musical “Avenue Q.”

ORLANDO — There was definitely a “Broadway” crowd at the Mad Cow Theatre on the afternoon I went to see their new production of “Avenue Q.”
More than a few of the patrons told me about how they had seen this very popular show on Broadway, in all its splendor. I stood out, in a sense, because I had never seen the show before. Several people, after I mentioned that fact, gave me an odd look, as if to ask if I had been living on Mars the past few years.
Although I hadn’t seen the musical before, I was aware of its reputation as a kind of naughty adult version of “Sesame Street” — although it’s hardly an X-rated version of that children’s program, as some have claimed. This musical in two acts, written by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, is more like shifting the Sesame Street concept outside of childhood and applying it to young adults — particularly twenty-somethings just out of college, now facing the harsh realities of a tough job market, having no money, and wondering if there’s someone out there who will decide you’d be a great person to date. The real world, as they say, is no picnic.
The show opened Off-Broadway in March 2003, then was transferred to Broadway within three months. It went on to win three Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and ranks 23rd on the list of longest running shows in Broadway history. Continue reading

Retrovirus at the Abbey: the 80s return, or is it No Wave?

The Genitorturers will be coming home to Orlando on Thursday for a concert at The Abbey.

The Genitorturers will be coming home to Orlando on Thursday for a concert at The Abbey.

ORLANDO — Homecomings can be a happy time for the family — the college student arriving home for spring break, the long-lost relatives making a welcome visit.
And so it is, as well, with the Genitorturers.
The industrial metal band, who have proclaimed themselves “The World’s Sexiest Rock Band,” originated in Orlando. Originally called The Festering Genitorturers, they had their first performance at the Ocean Club in Cocoa Beach in June 1986.
Over the years, their form of hardcore punk would be hugely influential on a number of other prominent bands that came afterwards, including Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids.
And now they’re coming back to Orlando, for a concert on Thursday at The Abbey — a homecoming, noted Nicholas Stevens.
“This will be their 30th anniversary party here in Orlando,” noted Stevens, the founder of Modern Music Movement, a commercial music business that stages themed events, including some around music like past tribute shows to David Bowie and the Rolling Stones.
“They started right here in Orlando in June of 1986,” Stevens said. “They were the ones who originally taught Marilyn Manson his schtick.” Continue reading

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