Orlando Fringe announces new producer, show director for 2020 festival

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: Lindsay Taylor (L) and Michael Marinaccio. (Photo courtesy Taylor’s Facebook page)

ORLANDO | The Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival has announced that, after nearly a decade, Michael Marinaccio will step down as the festival producer starting with Fringe’s 29th festival in 2020.

“For the last eight years I have been so incredibly proud to serve as the festival producer of the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival,” Marinaccio wrote on Facebook. “Serving over 1,000 artists annually has been one of the greatest honors of my life. After over a year of discussion and contemplation, last month I stepped down from that position and accepted a new role with Orlando Fringe.”

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PHOTOS: Orlando Fringe gives a taste of what’s to come at this year’s festival

By : Danny Garcia
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ORLANDO | Orlando Fringe kicked off its 28th year by giving audiences a taste of what to expect at this year’s festival with the annual preview shows, one for general audiences and one for the more mature shows, at the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre April 15.

Performers had two minutes each to woo the audience with a preview to their show. Check out the photos below and stay tuned to Watermark as we bring you our annual LGBTQ preview of Orlando Fringe in the coming weeks.

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Former head of Orlando Fringe named new executive director to The Center

By : Jeremy Williams
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George Wallace, The Center’s new executive director.

ORLANDO | Former executive director to the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, George Wallace was named the new executive director to the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida by the board of directors Dec. 1, according to a press release from The Center.

“When I saw the Executive Director position become available at The Center, I immediately jumped at the chance,” Wallace said in the press release. “This is a wonderful opportunity, not only to return to my home and the city I love, but to work for such an established and crucial agency.”

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Development in Ivanhoe Village means changes for the neighborhood’s LGBT-owned businesses

By : Scottie Campbell
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Orlando – There was a time when the two gray towers looming over Alden Road had a practical use; a train would pull up alongside and fill the towers with small bits of plastic destined to become shower doors. Now dormant, the twin structure serves as a landmark to travelers using Alden’s brick roadway or the increasingly active thoroughfares of Orange Ave. or Virginia Dr., as well as SunRail passengers.

A mid-century touchstone, symbolic of the eclectic neighborhood that has grown around them, it seems fitting that these two stalwarts are the only recognizable features in the renderings of a new Ivanhoe Village development that will begin in November.

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The Wonderful World of Wanzie: The importance of the Chicken & Biscuit

By : Michael Wanzie
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Michael Wanzie

Michael Wanzie

I was discussing New Years plans with George Wallace, The Executive Director of the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, who shared that his mother, “a hot mess in the kitchen” cooked only one dish that anyone thought to be of any quality. That dish was a secret recipe meat pie which he intended to make for his own New Year’s celebration this year.

This topic brought to mind a story from my youth revolving around a chicken potpie of sorts and the part it would play in a New Year’s gathering hosted by none other than Katherine Hepburn. After regaling George with this tale, he insisted people would be willing to buy a book of my short stories. Of that, I am surely not convinced. But since I was just about to sit down to write this column with nothing in mind as a topic, I decided to relate the incident herein to the readers of Watermark to test viability of short story-telling skills.

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Overheard in Orlando: A chance to steal the Fringe Festival spotlight

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Friends come together
When word spread of Christopher Pruitt’s boating accident that severely injured his spine, Orlando’s LGBT community quickly banded together to help him with medical expenses. Pruitt, known for his avid pool playing skills in bars around Orlando, has friends in many areas and LGBT establishments On Sept. 18, Southern Nights kicked off the fundraising endeavors and Savoy and Stonewall Bar will follow suit on Sept. 26 and 27, respectively. The Parliament House is also in the charitable mood and will hold a fundraiser for him on Sept. 29. Last we heard, Pruitt was doing better and had regained movement in his arms. We wish him a speedy recovery.

The center of attention
Speaking of fundraising, The Center is getting a lot of attention by charitable souls these days. On Sept. 22, several local celebrities guest-barte4nded at Savoy to raise cash for the LGBT Center and on Sept. 17, the “gal with the balls,” Addison Taylor, hosted the popular Drag Queen Bingo. She is also set to guest host on Oct. 15. For those wanting to break out the black tie, prepare for The Center’s third annual Black and White Gala at the Orlando Museum of Art. Organizers say there are a number of announcements coming, including the reveal of the Center’s new executive director and other big changes.

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2013 Orlando WAVE Awards Results

By : Watermark Staff
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Favorite local politician/activist
1. Patty Sheehan, Orlando city commissioner
2. Buddy Dyer, Orlando Mayor
3. Randy Ross
4. Joe Saunders, State Representative

Greatest straight ally to the local LGBT community
1. Linda Stewart, State Representative
2. Buddy Dyer, Orlando Mayor
3. Jack and Margo Dixon

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Orlando: It’s that Fringe time of year

By : Anonymous
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What the FRINGE?
On Monday April 15, the city’s largest arts and theatre festival, Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, will commence with a general audience preview.

Twenty acts will offer up previews of their shows to help you decide which must-see shows you need to get tickets for, and which ones don’t appeal to your tastes.

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Miss Sammy Cooks Up a Fringe Confection

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Miss Sammy Bakes a Cake! is ostensibly a cooking show, but it harkens back to afternoon talk shows hosted by the likes of Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas and Dinah Shore. The atmosphere was cozy, the guests relaxed, and the stories from deep inside Hollywood.

But this time Sam Singhaus' beloved local character, Miss Sammy, is front and center. And that means the guests are drunker, and the stories (and props) are kinkier. Would Dinah Shore stir her cake batter with a vibrator?

As always, Sammy looks fabulous in a perky red wig and tight-waisted teal plaid shirt dress. She starts to bake a cake, and in true talk-show fashion guests stop by to plug their most recent books or recordings.

As Judy Garland, Mark Baratelli is uncanny and hilarious. Dressed in a black sequined mini-skirt like the ones Garland favored well into middle age, Baratelli's Judy is a talented mess andâ┚¬â€like Garlandâ┚¬â€riveting. You can't take your eyes off of her.

When Garland falls to the floor, Sammy ad libs: â┚¬Å”We're just two old broads that won't quit drinking.â┚¬Â

Baratelli dusts her off in time to belt out a breathy â┚¬Å”Somewhere Over the Rainbowâ┚¬ÂÃ¢â”šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âwith word prompts needed throughout. Brilliant.

Happily, Baratelli's Garland will appear throughout Miss Sammy's run. Most of the other celebs are played by actors with their own Fringe shows who will drop in when scheduling permits. They include Carole Lee as Carol Channing and Ann-Margret, Danielle Hunter as Dolly Parton, and Jeff Jones as Satan.

Gidget Galore, a drag character created by talented Rich Kuntz, sends up Roseanne Barr, who's visiting Sammy to promote her new CD. Playing off Barr's disastrous handling of the National Anthem, Galore screaches â┚¬Å”You Light Up My Lifeâ┚¬Â and other sappy standards that continue longer than necessary. Joke played. Point made. Galore returns as Debbie Reynolds for a delightful duet with Sammy on Reynolds â┚¬Ëœ50s hit â┚¬Å”Aba Daba Honeymoon.â┚¬Â

Elaine Stritch was the final celebrity guest at this show. As played by Elizabeth T. Murff in signature oversized men's dress shirt and black tights and pumps, Stritch is befuddled and hilariously narcissistic. She thinks she's on The View â┚¬â€Ã¢â”šÂ¬Ã…”Where's Whoopi?â┚¬ÂÃ¢â”šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â to hawk her version of Eat, Pray, Love. It's called Drink, Swear, Bitch.

John Ryan is a charming diversion while Sammy changes into a pink polka dot cooking apron with nothing underneath. Ryan hawks a Chatty Cathy-like â┚¬Å”Sassy Sammy Dollâ┚¬Â that spouts 20 adult sayings. Later, he sings a coda to backstage opportunism.

Sammy also chimes in with an old-school testimonial for her cold cream product: â┚¬Å”â┚¬Â¦ when you need to get something messy off your face.â┚¬Â

The show proceeds at a quick pace carried by Miss Sammy's archly effervescent personality and obvious love of the business of show. The inevitable flubs are welcome opportunities for ad libs.

At the end, Sammy produces a cake with ingredients added by each of her guests. Like the show, it's clearly warped, but also clearly delicious.

Show: Miss Sammy Bakes a Cake!
Theatre Group: Kangagirl Productions
Venue: Silver
Remaining Performance:
5/28 Sat. 2:10 PM

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“Suckers”: Sex, Drugs, and Goth-Rock

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It's mid-Florida in the mid-'90s, and the club scene is giving its last squawk of being intriguing. It's a time when attractive men in eyeliner are actually disappointed that they might be straight instead of bi or, at the very least, bi-curious. This is the setting for Suckers, a sleeper hit for Tod Kimbro at the 1998 Fringe, now streamlined and made into a rockin' musical.

Michael Marinaccio has assembled a cast that is as sexy as it is talented. Erin Brenna as Smegva, is a vaguely German, Magenta-wannabe whose best friend is Louis, played by Josh Roth. The two amusingly deadpan to each other as if adding any inflection to their voice would annihilate any hope of ever being considered interesting. Corey Volence is green-haired comic relief as a club-goer who is always rolling â┚¬â€œ if only running into people on ecstasy had actually been as entertaining. Jessi Riese plays the demure Violet whose main goal for the evening winds up to be trying to get past the no-nonsense door host (Sam Little) at Club Flambé.

Kimbro's soulful goth-rock music complements his script well, the passage of time no doubt giving him an objective look at his play. The only complaint is a small one: it isn't easy to catch all of Kimbro's clever lyrics, so a cast recording is need, and soon. In addition to playing and singing for the show, Kimbro appears onstage, in the show's most enticing scene, as a dowdy, recently heartbroken guy unexpectedly connecting with sex-in-heels goth-kid Louis.

Marinaccio expertly uses all that the thrust stage layout of the Orlando Rep's Black Box Theatre (one of my favorite theatre spaces in Orlando) has to offer. Large projections of videos by The Cure and Joy Division, cast on a brick wall, ease us into this world. The trust established from Kimbro's longtime collaboration with Marinaccio is apparent, and enviable.

Fringe is always sprinkled with productions that will become part of Orlando theatre history â┚¬â€œ productions you'll want to say â┚¬Å”I was there whenâ┚¬Â â┚¬â€œ there are several in this year's Fringe, and Suckers is among them. When I tried to see the original in 1998, it was sold out, I missed it and I still kick myself. Don't be that guy.

Show: Suckers, A Freaky Little Musical
Theatre Group: Zombie Productions — Orlando, FL
Venue: Green
Remaining Performances:
5/26 Thu. 6:00 PM
5/27 Fri. 9:50 PM
5/28 Sat. 1:15 PM
5/29 Sun. 2:55 PM

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Heaven and Hell collide in “Pandemonium”

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A lot of work goes into theatre. (By necessity, in Orlando, that hard work is usually on top of other work to put food on your table.) After the all the blood, sweat and tears, it's disappointing when the whole thing doesn't quite come together in the end, which is unfortunately the case for Halstead and Castaneda's Pandemonium from the Greater Orlando Actors Theatre.

Heaven versus Hell in this new musical that uses existing popular tunes to tell its story, bringing to mind Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge. Those selections range from the obvious â┚¬â€œ Drowning Pool's â┚¬Å”Let the Bodies Hit the Floorâ┚¬Â during an angels against demons battle scene â┚¬â€œ to groan-worthy â┚¬â€œ Adam (Michael Osowski) singing the ubiquitous â┚¬Å”Just the Way You Areâ┚¬Â to Eve (Krystal Gillette). At times during Pandemonium, it seems that the song choice may have come before the plot, a scene created around a song that would be kick-ass to sing.

Harmless liberties are taken with theology: the relationship between God (Scott Mills) and Satan (Leesa Halstead) is a romantic one, and Satan seduces Adam and Eve in turn a la Rocky Horror Show, forgoing a serpent to handle the situation herself. Pandemonium‘s book could benefit from further development; it's often unclear what is happening or why it is happening. Perhaps most telling is God himself providing the deus ex machina, abruptly wrapping up the show with a monologue.

The idea of bringing a dance troop into the mix is an intriguing one, but the contributions of the Emotions Dance Company appear unfocused and, in the end, superfluous. Using the visual art of Renee Wilson designate Heaven, Hell, and the Garden of Eden is an effective choice, though the tech executing these scene changes proved to be distracting.

As a whole the cast seems more confident when singing than speaking the dialogue. Halstead, Kevin Sigman (Michael), and Desiree Perez (Beelzebub), in particular, have strong voices and attack their songs with gusto.

Having said all that, what is most important is the risk G.O.A.T. took in putting together this eclectic piece. Creativity without such risk is hardly worth talking about. Pandemonium, for all its faults, is an original, ballsy interpretation of familiar stories and leaves you anticipating what G.O.A.T. will come up with next.

Show: Halstead and Castaneda's Pandemonium
Theatre Group: Greater Orlando Actors Theatre â┚¬â€œ Winter Park, FL
Venue: Yellow
Remaining Performances:
5/24 Tue. 7:40 PM
5/25 Wed. 10:50 PM
5/28 Sat. 3:20 PM
5/29 Sun. 1:40 PM

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Anne, Karen, and Marilyn on the Top of the World

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I'm sure it is some kind of critic's faux pas to start a review in the way I'm about to, but I've decided to throw caution to the wind â┚¬â€œ since Frank Rich doesn't yet have a grave to spin in, and because it's Fringe (and at Fringe you tell the truth) â┚¬â€œ and say fuck conventional wisdom. Anne Frank Superstar & The Purpose of the Moon is nothing less than fantastic.

James Brendlinger finds a common theme in adapting his source material â┚¬â€œ â┚¬Å”â┚¬Â¦the effects of confinement and the loss of privacy faced by women in the 20th centuryâ┚¬Â¦Ã¢â”šÂ¬Ã‚ â┚¬â€œ but essentially the show is two one act plays. The first half is taken from a Tom Robbins short story first published in Playboy, the second half marries the story of Anne Frank to the music of The Carpenters.

Composed of nine interludes in which Vincent Van Gogh (Brendan Crowgey) cuts off his ear and sends it to Marilyn Monroe (Nichole Auger), eliciting a different outcome each time, The Purpose of the Moon would be at home alongside the works of Ionesco, finding truth in the absurd. At one point, Marilyn sews the Van Gogh's ear back on; the ridiculous act is both touching and romantic.

â┚¬Å”Absurdâ┚¬Â might be the word you'd use to describe the idea of telling Anne Frank's story with the music of Karen Carpenter, until the second part of this show begins and a live piano plays familiar notes. You suddenly realize that these are two women who left behind works of full of hope that are forever saturated with heartbreak because we know the end of the story; trust me, it won't be easy to remove the lump in your throat.

Cody David Price has directed his cast to understated, honest performances that serve the material well. Choreographing the set changes â┚¬â€œ which are fairly intricate, by Fringe standards â┚¬â€œ was a wise choice and rightly makes the techs part of the ensemble. The visceral experience of having live music (with arrangements by Sean Robison) cannot be overstated.

In strong ensemble, the interactions of Sarah Villegas and Anthony Pyatt, Jr., as Anne and Peter respectively, are particularly sentient. When the doomed lovebirds duet on â┚¬Å”We've Only Just Begun,â┚¬Â even the coldest heart in the room begins to melt. It is one of many moments in this show that might just have you whispering: fantastic.

Show: Anne Frank Superstar & The Purpose of the Moon
Theatre Group: Penguin Point Productions â┚¬â€œ Winter Park, FL
Venue: Pink
Remaining Performances:
5/23 Mon. 11:05 PM
5/25 Wed. 7:50 PM
5/28 Sat. 6:40 PM

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