Arts & Culture - Staff Picks
Published: July 18, 2012
Orlando Puppet Festival
For almost eight years, Ibex Puppetry (run by Heather Henson, daughter of Muppets creator Jim Henson), has pulled strings at its annual marionette affair. Last year's fest turned into a citywide puppet takeover, with a puppet art show downtown, musical puppet shows at Altamonte Mall's Pinocchio's Marionette Theater, the Handmade Puppet Dreams film series, adult-oriented content at Urban ReThink's Action Puppet Force slam and a Muppet Movie singalong with Henson herself.
Best shimmy shake-up
City's burlesque scene gets creative
Within the last year, a barrage of pasties and fishnets has given some of our favorite dimly lit nightspots a hefty dose of glittery pizzazz. A handful of scantily clad burlesque troupes work it in places like Taste, the Stardust Lounge and Bombshell's Tavern, and some, like Skill Focus: Burlesque, take it to new levels. We've seen those women decked out in elaborate costumes that appeal to a pretty wide variety of fan fetishes – superheroes, comic-book characters, pirates and even Star Trek characters.
Best world premiere
Satchmo at the Waldorf
Wall Street Journal theater critic Terry Teachout, scholar-in-residence at the Winter Park Institute at Rollins College, had long wanted to write a play about Louis Armstrong: about the disconnect between the private, complicated man and his grinning public image. Local theatrical éminences grises Rus Blackwell and Dennis Neal, both founding members of the Mad Cow Theatre company, had long wanted to collaborate on a one-man play. After a 45-minute staged reading, before which Teachout had no intention of producing the play in Orlando, Neal and Blackwell knew this was the play – and Teachout knew that he'd found the director and actor to bring his first play to life. The play has since been produced in New Haven, Conn., Lenox, Mass., and Martha's Vineyard, Mass., but it all started here.
Best local mirror
15 Views of Orlando, various authors
Burrow Press; 184 pages; $15
Sometimes artists have a tendency to focus on the bright-lights big cities, to get obsessed with what's happening in New York and Paris and Tokyo to the exclusion of their own backyards. But the best never forget their roots. With that in mind, local publisher and litblog Burrow Press commissioned 15 short stories about the city for their 15 Views of Orlando anthology; the end result is wonderfully strange, beautifully written, instantly familiar to residents and totally alien to any theme-park tourist or casual conventioneer.