The Orange Venue: The One That Has the Most Seats

Show: A Canadian Bartender at Butlin's
Venue: Orange Venue (Margeson Theatre @ Orlando Shakespeare Festival)
Show times: 5-21 @ 6:00pm, 5-22 @ 10:50pm, 5-24 @ 9:10pm, 5-25 @ 6:15pm, 5-26 @ 9:25pm, 5-27 @ 2:40pm and 5-28 @ 4:30pm
Tickets: $10

Show: Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Venue: Orange Venue (Margeson Theatre @ Orlando Shakespeare Festival)
Show times: 5-19 @ 10:30pm, 5-20 @ 10:30pm, 5-21 @ 8:10pm, 5-23 @ 9:40pm, 5-25 @ 10:35pm, 5-27 @ 12:30pm and 5-28 @ 6:40pm
Tickets: $10

What can I say about these two amazing shows? Fringe MUST SEE attractions. No question. There is a reason these shows get placed in the Orange Venue.

Having never seen either of these shows or theatre companies before, I had very little basis for comparison. While I have heard wonderful things about the man TJ Dawe and the play Hedwig, my green, ripe eyes and ears were not prepared for what I was about to witness.

I saw TJ's show first, so I will bring him up first. What else is there to say but "wow". Anyone who has seen TJ perform and witnessed his writing and acting abilities will tell you that he is consistently one of the best acts you will see at fringe. With only a simple wooden bench as his prop and no fancy costume changes, Dawe takes the audience on a rollercoaster ride, literally. The beginning of his story is the end of his story, and it all falls in to place so nicely.

The story is an account (whether real or imagined) of a young Canadian's experience working at a run-down British Holiday camp near Sussex. A marked portion of the jokes and asides (and the asides are fantastic) cover the difference between North America and Britain in some way, but for some reason I do not see this as a weakness. The Brit-isms and the camp are inseparable from the story and the characters.

TJ has a way with details that is unmatched by most fringe performers. During a story about his parents' cabin in Vancouver, the use of a rusty green-handled paint scraper let me know what kind of imagery I would be treated to throughout the production. Also, his accents are tip-top and I really believe this guy went through this experience. If you miss TJ this year, pray to God that he returns. You don't want to miss this guy two years in a row.

Now, I think I have set myself up for disaster by trying to review two shows in one post. The truth is, I got out of TJ's show and saw an INSANE line for whatever was playing in the Orange Venue. I noticed people holding their Hedwig programs, so I walked over to the ticket booth to see if there were any seats left.

All I knew about this play going in was something about a rock opera and a man/woman with a stub (the Angry Inch). It turns out Hedwig (Hansel) was living in East Berlin and had a back-alley sex change operation to get married to an American and flee to the safety of America. The surgery was botched, and Hedwig was left with the inch in question.

As for the production, David Lee of Naked Orange holds no punches in selling his role. I don't know if he is a real transvestite, but damn was he convincing. The role of Yitzhak, the sidekick and lover was played by Becky Fisher, who has a wonderful voice (I am a real sucker for female vocals). I was also very impressed by the projected motion graphics on the big screen. I don't know if they are necessary to a production of Hedwig, but the geek in me was pleased.

The characters, music, graphics, costumes and just about everything in this production were of such high quality and served the story so well that I don't know what else I can say. The cherry on top of the sundae was the idea that this was not a play, but a real appearance by Hedwig and her band the Angry Inch in Orlando, complete with references to the TD Waterhouse, Eatonville and the Fringe as well. If the tickets are not all sold out, Hedwig is worth every penny.

1 comment

Brian Feldman wrote 18 years 4 weeks ago

No prayer necessary, TJ will

No prayer necessary, TJ will be returning next year with his seventh all-new solo work, "Maxim & Cosmo." Should be his most topical show to date. The first must-see of 2007.

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