When I lived in New York City I reviewed every play I saw, and that was quite a lot. I was lucky to be able to acquire inexpensive tickets (sometimes reviewer freebies) to a large number of events. Because theater in New York is big business and theater talent is concentrated there, I had high standards. I reviewed shows with tough metrics and strong expectations. That resulted in some raves, some pans and a large number of mixed reviews as I was brutally honest.
I have recently moved to Florida and am just starting to scope out the theater community here. When I get the chance to see professional theater I will be just as honest in those reviews. But the first three shows I have attended have been local community theater. While I intended to review them, in all honesty, I don’t think that’s fair. Community theater is full of volunteers with day jobs. They may be quite talented but often don’t quite have the ‘stuff’ to turn professional and compete in New York. It is not fair to apply the same standards to such productions.
In general I enjoyed being back in the theater, even with the mixed qualities of a community theater production. I certainly enjoyed the joy of performing felt in an avocational setting. I’ll continue posting about my experiences with my trademark inclusion of program covers as illustration. But I will seldom point out even outstanding performances and components because the conspicuous absence will damn others with the absence. So here’s what I saw recently.
In Leesburg, Florida – close to where I am staying – is the Melon Patch Players in a small and welcoming space. A new play, “Overdue Bills,” written and directed by Tom Kline was an interesting work with a capable cast. I am glad to see small theaters doing new work instead of falling back on the much overdone classics. It is no longer running.
The Bay Street Players perform in a 100 year old former vaudeville house in the nearby community Eustis, Florida. The first two performances of their season were adventurous fare and I commend them for taking on tough scripts in both subject matter and technical challenges. “The Roar of the Greasepaint; The Smell of the Crowd” is a music hall framed take on the British class system by the recently deceased and much missed composer Leslie Bricusse. Pushing the boundaries in the early 1960’s it is tough to mount today because of both it’s 50 year old framing and occasional current tough commentary. Worth seeing and an important part of musical theater history, it is not currently playing.
“The Legend of Georgia McBride” is still on the boards and the Bay Street Players are adventurous for presenting it here. It concerns a moribund entertainment site in a red-neck town that changes its fortunes by swapping out a failing Elvis impersonator for a small drag show. When the Elvis impersonator must step into the high heels in an emergency the venue and the performer are transformed. It is a fun script and a little on-the-nose in this strongly red-neck Central Florida. It is still running for a couple of weeks and worth seeing.
So more coming up as I check out the scene and I will endeavor to keep you up to date.