ORLANDO – Staging a solo show at the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival offers the artists plenty of wide latitude: they can do comedy, musical performances, historic period pieces, magic shows … the sky’s the limit.
There must be a considerable amount of appeal to being a one-man band, booking a slot at Fringe and then not having to rely on other performers to make it on time. As long as you arrive at Loch Haven Park breathing and fully intact, you’re going to go.
Solo performer Peter Michael Marino, however, approaches the concept a bit differently in his production “Show Up.” He actually starts out solo, but then brings a large number of others in the mix — the audience.
It’s a lot of fun, too, and takes audience interaction to some delightful new heights.
Marino, a gay Catholic boy from Joisey, approaches “Show Up” — the title taken from the old Woody Allen line that 80 percent of life is just showing up — on two intriguing concepts: free form improv, and giving the audience a key role in the action. He succeeds nicely at both.
Marino, the creator/co-producer of SOLOCOM, a program that’s launched more than 400 comedies at The People’s Improv Theater, starts out talking about himself, who he is, why he’s here. Highly animated, quick with a clever line, and a very funny chronicler of his own life, he could probably have created a show just talking about himself. But that was only the intro of this 60-minute show. He has much more ambitious goals in mind.
That includes asking questions of the audience, selecting someone, and asking for their answer. Suffice to say that at the performance I attended, he had some audience members who were pretty funny on their own — and Marino is a fine match for them, locking them into a witty back-and-forth repartee.
He then jots down their answers, and …. well, I won’t reveal much more than that. But he does have some imaginative plans for those answers.
Along the way, Marino involves the audience in other ways — selecting one person to become his stage manager and rearrange the set pieces in-between monologues, assigning another to become the music director to play background music at key moments, and so on.
At the end, the show even transforms into a grand cocktail party. I got the feeling that most people in the audience were having such a good time, they didn’t want the party to end.
Marino’s show truly does feel like no two performances are ever going to be the same, and if you had a fun time at one of them, there’s no reason not to go back for seconds and again watch what he does with those Post-it Notes.
Or just go to listen to his hilarious recollections of growing up, and where his life is now.
“Show Up” is being performed at Blue Venue, and show times are:
* Tonight at 8:30 p.m.
* Sunday, May 21 at 7:30 p.m.
* Tuesday, May 23 at 10:30 p.m.
* Wednesday, May 24 at 7 p.m.
* Friday, May 26 at 5:30 p.m.
* Saturday, May 27 at 5:45 p.m.
To buy tickets, log on to Orlando Fringe. To learn more about the show, visit Show Up The Show or Peter Marino.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Koby’s New Home”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.