Freeline Media Review: “I Love My Wife”

The Winter Park Playhouse has revived the 1977 musical "I Love My Wife."

The Winter Park Playhouse has revived the 1977 musical “I Love My Wife.”

WINTER PARK — It’s the holiday season during the opening of the musical “I Love My Wife,” and Monica is excited. She’s
gearing up to finish her shopping, but decides to take a break at a local café. That’s where she bumps into her friend Alvin. In fact, Monica and her husband Wally are so close to Alvin and his wife Cleo that they plan to spend Christmas Eve together, with Monica serving up a big turkey dinner.
But it’s also in that café that Alvin notices Monica is reading a magazine — and, more importantly, she’s taking a sex quiz to learn more about her attitudes on that racy subject. Alvin, who harbors a secret crush on Monica, is intrigued. But his curiosity is really piqued later when Wally shows up, and expresses no concern whatsoever about Monica taking a sex quiz. In fact, Wally notes, he and Monica are free to date whoever they want, no strings attached, and Wally himself brags about how he once lived in a commune with two women. He encourages his pal Alvin to consider doing a bit of swinging himself, by encouraging his wife to consider having a three way with another woman.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, the musical is set in Trenton, N.J. in the 1970s, the post-60s era when people began to shed traditional social values that had started to feel constricting and antiquated, and were ready to explore. Alvin heads home, and finally works up the courage to ask Cleo to consider having a three-way. At first she seems horrified — then warms to the idea. Wouldn’t it be exciting, she suggests, if they had a sexy three-way — with another man?
Alvin is not pleased. Continue reading

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

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