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
Roman Polanski’s 1967 film “The Fearless Vampire Killers” celebrates its 50th anniversary on Sunday, Nov. 13. It is the only film the director made that co-starred his late wife, Sharon Tate.
Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of the release on Nov. 13, 1967 of director Roman Polanski’s movie The Fearless Vampire Killers
. As the director has noted in numerous interviews and in his autobiography, “Roman by Polanski,” the making of this film marked one of the happiest times in his life, while the film’s release was one of the most despairing in his career.
The film, set in Transylvania during the mid-19th century, follows the often comical adventures of Professor Abronsius and his apprentice, Alfred, on their hunt for vampires. The film also represents one of just seven films that Polanski made that explored the supernatural.
One of the reasons this film still represents so many joyful memories for the director is that it’s the only movie he made that featured his wife, actress Sharon Tate, in a starring role (Tate had a tiny cameo as a party guest in Polanski’s 1968 horror movie Rosemary’s Baby
.) In fact, Polanski first met Tate when the movie’s producer, Martin Ransohoff, pushed her for the role. Polanski and Tate were married in January 1968, and tragically, Tate was among five people killed in August 1969 by the followers of Charles Manson. Continue reading
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