Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cyrano De Bergerac at the Outdoor Forest Theater in Carmel

Cyrano De Bergerac was a real man.

No, seriously, he really existed... though he's best remembered for the works of fiction thus based on his life. Though his nose was not nearly so long as described in those fictions, he was a noted duelist and composer of tragedies. The play is by Edmond Rosand and was adapted into English by writer Anthony Burgess. And this story is about the real soul of a man (Richard Boynton as the titular character) hampered by a physical deformity. He's an artist, a duelist, a courageous man willing to battle 100 men at one time for no more than the opportunity to defend a mere acquaintance. Despite his courage, his talent, and his skill he is plagued with doubt because of the very large nose which he feels deforms his face. So while he is in love with paramour "Roxanne"(Michelle Vallentyne), he is unwilling to woo said strumpet.

The crux of the story is this: Roxanne is attracted to the handsome Christian de Newillette (Timothy Samaniego), a new recruit to the same regiment as Cyrano. When she tells her dear friend and cousin, de Bergerac, he is heartbroken but conceives of an idea to help his courageous new sword-brother to woo the lovely Roxanne by using his own words. Christian, a brave but not too terribly bright young fighter, accepts the help of Cyrano and successfully wins the heart of Roxanne. But for how long can they maintain the charade, and what will be the final cost to all three?

The ensemble cast is fantastic, providing a moving background of interesting characters who shine in various ways. We believe these people are really the friends and associates of Cyrano, that they feature prominently in his life, and that our brief glimpses into them remind us that Cyrano is just one story of many in the streets of Paris. Samaniego and Boynton shine on stage together, with the latter somehow managing to win the respect of Cyrano despite his foolishness and the jealousy between them. Act 2 truly gives the relationship between the three characters an opportunity to shine, with Roxanne reacting with near-orgasmic pleasure to the words of de Bergerac as he and Christian alternate in the wooing beneath her balcony. The epic battle scene in the 3rd act is well staged and fantastically choreographed with various duels taking place throughout the wilderness surrounding the Outdoor Theater. Use of the natural setting is uses at various points throughout the production, allowing the audience to feel as though we are in the thick of events and possibly more than just mere flies on the wall.

If you get a chance, check out the Outdoor Forest Theater in Carmel and enjoy some good refreshments while kicking back to this entertaining performance. If that's not enough to convince you, there's a juggler opening the show! Small slight of hand magic tricks are performed before the audience is sucked into the world of Paris, 1640.

5 out of 5.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Beardomania! B-Reviews for Monster Brawl and Abe Lincoln versus Zombies!

Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies

The Presidents’ struggles against the undead were only just beginning when he took on Vampires. Thanks to The Asylum, we are now able to learn about Lincolns’ struggle against the virulent zombie menace. Thank you, Asylum!

In typical “Asylum” fashion, the movie studio built on mock-busters delivers another cheaply made direct-to-dvd knock off in hopes of cashing in on the Lincoln craze. Unlike the Hollywood effort, this film isn’t backed by a best selling novel and it didn’t have much in the way of a budget. Asylum films are often gadawful rush job creations with terrible CGI and a bevy of terrible actors and actresses. They’re sole purpose is to cash in on a film trend and rake in some quick cash on the rental market and a quick rotation through the Syfy Channel. To that end, the Asylum has a horrible reputation for presenting terrible movies. I’m not going to try and change your mind regarding Abraham Lincoln versus Zombies, but it is much better than most of the drek delivered by this company.

Firstly, the guy playing Lincoln isn’t half bad. Actually, he plays the role straight despite some amusing one-liners spread throughout the action. He really does carry the film and has the charisma to rise above the haphazard direction and clumsy pacing that dominates the movie. Some other historical figures are presented as allies throughout the zombie conflict, including a youthful Teddy Roosevelt with Pat Garrett. We also meet John Wilkes Booth and Stonewall Jackson, both of whom stand at various odds with the President in his fight against the undead. And the film lives up to the fun of watching the President fight against the zombie horde. But while there’s plenty good about the film, it’s still an Asylum picture and there are some truly shoddy production values throughout the feature.

BEARD-O-MANIA runs wild with some of the worst “fake” beards and mustachios ever put to film. Stonewall Jackson himself bears a strikingly horrific set of falsies, with an almost wax-like mustache never even attempting to join forces with the loosely straggling wire thread that hangs in gray tatters from a beard that never came close to fitting the face beneath it. Zombies saunter about with quickly layered pancake powder and badly dried fake blood splotched in several areas. Cheap keyboard music tries to set a dire mood, but only succeeds in accentuating how cheaply made the film really is. Despite all these faults, I really enjoyed the movie.

3 out of 5.


What do you get when you combine a love for cheesy monster movies with a love for cheese-ball 80’s rasslin’? You get a movie that features a bunch of monsters going at it in a no-holds-barred competition to determine the champion monster. You also get “The mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart, Kevin Nash, the one time Kurgan, and David Foley as a comedic drunken play-by-play announcer. And this is the ultimate cheese-festival and it’s very Gouda! We get back stories for each of the monsters, we get the usual pre-match promo, and we get a few gory gags thrown in with a series of standard wrestling holds and minor bumps. There really isn’t much of a plot to speak of with this film, just a lot of monsters brawling as the announcers crack wise… zombies rise from the graveyard tombs at one point, bringing greater danger to the announcers and event staff.

4 out of 5.