Life was good for Orlando business owner Dan Ellis in the spring of 2009. He had a wonderful marriage, three happy children and a successful printing business. But by that fall, he’d begun to slur words and suspected something was seriously wrong with his health. Ellis was diagnosed with progressive ALS, a debilitating terminal illness also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in 2010.
The 18-minute short documentary film, “Dan Behind His Eyes,” chronicles Ellis’ time spent creating giant paintings with his daughter Gina in 2011, by which time he had lost nearly all muscle control and could only communicate using a Dynavox eye movement sensor. The film will premiere at the World Arts Film Festival at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville on April 11.
“I wanted to use art and music and color. Dan surrounded himself with art, and that’s who he was,” said Sheri Kebbel, the film’s director and producer. “So this film, I wanted it to be so that people would not look away. That it was not so ugly and so hard in knowing that it was a terminal illness to where they have this feeling of ‘Well, what do you want me to do about it?’”
Kebbel filmed the Ellis family from November 2010 until March 2012, just a few months before Dan Ellis lost his battle with ALS last June. In addition to the short documentary “Dan Behind His Eyes,” Kebbel directed and produced an hour-long, feature-length film which follows Ellis’ interactions with family and friends and his artistic collaborations with his children and hip-hop rapper MC Serch while in the grip of progressive ALS. The feature film is currently in post-production and will be submitted to film festivals in the fall.
Kebbel will join Kevin Boylan, medical director and founder of the ALS clinic at Mayo Clinic in Florida, and Kim Hanna, president and CEO of the ALS Association Florida Chapter, for a short question and …
Whether you want to sing a pirate tune with your mateys or enjoy some light-hearted comedy, the Colonial Crew Revue has a little something for everyone.
The variety show written by Scott "Grimm" Abrams takes place at St. Augustine’s Colonial Quarter every Friday and Saturday night. The versatile Picolata Players perform a musical based on the days when pirates still roamed the streets.
Although suitable for families, the show includes themes and innuendo for a pirate experience adults can enjoy as well. Unlimited refills of beer, sangria and wine are included for adults 21 and older.
The singing was great and each of the characters had different singing styles, but they all mixed together well. The character named El Comico, who was the goofy and funny heart-breaker, was chased around the stage and tripped over himself as scripted, yet sang perfectly the entire time.
The show got even better when Mayhem de Magnifico, the drunk and multi-talented trickster, awoke and started performing impressive magic tricks. The cast was very talented in many different aspects and it showed.
Easily the best part of the show was the audience interaction. The characters walked into the crowd almost every scene to have viewers add to the show and even join them on the stage at one point. The scene where Don Ramon Bellagrande and his “lovely wife” use the audience to tell the story of how they met would make anyone laugh.
Unfortunately, near the end of the June 21 show, it started pouring rain mercilessly. Some people left, but a surprisingly large amount of people, many without umbrellas, stayed to watch the end. The characters started throwing puns about rain into the show, which was obviously improvised. I thought that was wonderfully done and it let the audience know the actors and actresses recognized the sacrifice they were making to see the end of the show.
After the show, the cast members waited at the nearby Taberna del Caballo …
A near-capacity crowd filed into the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts Oct. 18 hungry for the catchy pop hits and glittery costumes of "Mamma Mia!"
Before the curtain rose, one woman leaned over and whispered, “I’m sorry if my singing along annoys you.”
No one could be annoyed with dancing in the aisles, superb singing and touching mother-daughter moments in the high-energy musical.
"Mamma Mia!" — playing for two more shows Oct. 19 in Downtown Jacksonville — soars on hits by the Swedish group ABBA and the story of reuniting fragments of a shattered past during a wedding in paradise.
Bride-to-be Sophie, played by Chelsea Williams, dreams of having the father she never knew walk her down the aisle. Setting the chaos in motion, Sophie reads her mother's diary and writes to three men — believing one is her dad. All three men arrive at Sophie's wedding in Greece to the surprise of her mother Donna, played by Georgia Kate Haege.
Williams fits as the sweet and persistent wide-eyed heroine Sophie. That character type can be tiring, but Donna's practicality gives the story balance.
Donna, looking to rekindle her spirit as "El Rock Chick Supremo," is a fiery mop of blonde curls. Haege radiates independence, so key to the character, and her jaded delivery of some of the musical’s more dramatic songs was startling.
Gabrielle Mirabella and Carly Sakolove are stellar as Donna's old best friends Tanya and Rosie, respectively. The leggy, confident Tanya and the hilarious Rosie steal the show.
Sakolove's rendition of “Take a Chance on Me,” while seducing Bill was charming and heartfelt. Mirabella shimmied with young studs to “Does Your Mother Know.” The boys need to remember their backpacks the next time she takes them to school.
Mirabella spoke to Folio Weekly by phone a week before the show, and her love of the character Tanya was clear.
“If I could have played another role, I guess I would have played Donna,” …
The blue men of Blue Man Group never talk, so of course, they must have handlers.
Before opening night Jan. 21, those handlers picked me randomly in the audience and sized me up. They were seeing whether I had what it took to become a human paintbrush.
As it turned out, one of those handlers doesn't like reporters. After she heard I was the Arts & Entertainment Editor at Folio Weekly, I was not surprisingly almost out. But the other guy (Aaron) liked either me or chaos — or both. Fortunately, I met their other criteria: skinny, geeky, lover of the arts, not claustrophobic and seriously in need of a haircut. So, I was the man for the job.
Then, that woman who really hates reporters swore me to secrecy on BMG’s methods at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts’ Moran Theater. Maybe, I was getting the theater version of good cop, bad cop.
Backstage, I saw things that I may never speak of again.
The audience saw the rest. Near the end of a wild performance featuring Twinkies, lots of paint, plumbing, lots of percussion and several stunts, a blue man ventured into the crowd and found me. I hugged him, thinking this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He didn’t hug me back.
On stage, they put me in a jumpsuit and a helmet, setting me up for the human paintbrush stunt they teased.
Throughout the Artist Series show — the first of eight shows through Jan. 26 — Blue Man Group amazed. They caught “paint balls” and candy in their mouths, taught “Rock Concert” movements to the crowd and created paintings and sculpture in ways most of us could never imagine.
They took shots at high-priced art and our cultural fascination with technology while fusing audience interaction, stunts and percussion in a show estimated at about 100 minutes (no intermission). Many of the stunts — including mine — were videotaped, so theatergoers in the balcony could see the action via the big screen.
Though BMG maintains a vow of silence, …
Manhood gets a bum rap, but it wasn’t always that way. In the day of cavemen, man hunted the plains; he did what he wished and ate meat from bone. It was a simple time.
Today, bookshelves and talk shows and magazine stands snub men as assholes. The problem is, no men deny it. But can man defend — maybe even justify — his instincts? Can he, as the fictional Lester Burnham so nobly did, reclaim his dick from the mason jar under the sink?
Spear in hand, comedian Cody Lyman sets out to answer this question in the Broadway original, “Defending the Caveman,” running Feb. 12-16 at the FSCJ South Campus’ Wilson Center.
Lyman stormed the stage for opening night Feb. 12, joined by the Venus of Willendorf, which he affectionately dubbed the “prehistoric Angelina Jolie,” and a stone carved sofa and television set. He soon scatters his cave floor with some very worn-looking tidy whites and a shower-towel, because it’s just more comfortable that way.
The show started a little slow, but Lyman soon picked up steam with his cave-dwelling antics and quips that hit home for many couples in the audience. He explained how men and women’s respective hunter-gatherer roles still show up in everything we do, from sex to communication to conflict resolution.
The audience was mostly older, but the relationship comedy seemed to hit home with the been-there-done-that crowd. Still, college students would still get a kick out of Lyman’s all-too-accurate portrayal of bachelorhood — a world he describes as a “dirty, dirty, place.”
A few simple lighting effects, along with Lyman’s delivery, were very effective in transporting the audience from one scene to the next. One minute, we were in “sacred circle of underwear” in Lyman’s living room. The next, we’re in an ominous red-lit cave. The next, on a lethargic fishing trip. Lyman could change the mood of the theater …
Joey, the 18-hand-high star puppet of "War Horse," towered over reporters Feb. 18 just before meeting two real horses from Diamond D Ranch on the morning of opening night before beginning a six-day performance at the Times-Union Center.
'Bama (as in Alabama) and the miniature horse, Honey, were unimpressed with the celebrity of the evening.
“Horses have a very strong sense of smell,” Jessica Krueger, a rear-leg puppeteer said. “Bama can tell she’s smelling three puppeteers, not a horse.”
Joey couldn’t win the mares’ hearts, but the puppet had its notebook-and-camera-toting audience following its every trot, rear and neigh. Journalists remarked that, though they could clearly see the three puppeteers manipulating Joey’s movements, the puppet felt very lifelike as it approached and interacted with them.
Krueger said months and months of preparation has gone into creating that effect. She said the production team and the puppeteers studied everything they could about the movements of horses and their behavior — every detail down to a skin flick to shake off a fly or foot stomp or nostril flare.
They studied real horses with a little help.
“Luckily, a lot of horse owners like to post videos of their horses on YouTube,” Krueger said. “So we’ve been able to do a lot of research from those.”
One of the biggest crowd-pleasers was the convincing neigh Joey’s puppeteers could belt out on demand. It’s a layered, three-person a cappella that could echo through the Times-Union Center lobby. Krueger said that horses have lungs about three times as large as that of humans, so it worked out conveniently that it takes three performers to maneuver the full size puppets.
“We really have to train our voices for that,” puppeteer Danny Yoerges said. “We had six weeks off one summer and our voices were so out of shape, we were …
An adult Easter egg hunt? The mind reels with possibilities of what you might find hiding in the eggs. Mini-bottles? Condoms?
Although these speculations are as fabricated as the Easter Bunny, the event is real: On March 23, the Jacksonville Jaycees will host its second annual Adult Easter Egg Hunt at Hemming Plaza in Downtown Jacksonville.
For only $15, you’ll get the opportunity to relive childhood memories and possibly even find a prize egg. Over 1000 eggs will be hidden throughout the plaza. Inside each egg, participants will find candy or a prize ticket. Prizes include gift certificates and sweet swag baskets from local businesses like Sephora, Fionn MacCool’s, The Cheesecake Factory, Carrabba’s, Longhorn, Publix, Sweets by Holly, Crispers, Chipotle, Which Wich and PRP wine tastings.
There will be other “adult” offerings as well: beer, for starters. When the fast kids push you down and snatch all the eggs, you can drown your disappointment. The good people from Bold City Brewery will be there serving craft brew for $4 a pint, or you can purchase three beer tickets for $10.
Those Jacksonville favorites, the food trucks, will be on hand as well.
Funds raised at this event will go to support the many local community service projects organized by the Jacksonville Jaycees. The Jacksonville Jaycees are particularly involved with the Rodeheaver Boys Ranch, the Ronald McDonald House, Habijax, Wounded Warrior Project, animal shelters and other local charities on the First Coast.
You have to be 21 to participate in the Adult Egg Hunt, but you don’t have to bring your own Easter basket — loot bags will be provided for you to lug away the spoils. This event is rain or shine, and the organizers suggest that a flashlight might come in handy to help you spot those elusive, well-hidden eggs. There will be photo opportunities you won’t want to miss. Think of how awesome you’ll look in your new Facebook …
After the initial success of the movie “Bring It On,” filmmakers did what they do best: Made a lot of lame sequels. The first one was “Bring It On Again,” and somehow they made three more after that.
Then, Tony Award-winning writer Jeff Whitty had another idea, transforming the original movie script into a musical. That’s when the magic happened and made it on Broadway.
“Bring It On: The Musical” is about the bonds formed from two rival high school cheerleading squads. It is loosely based on the 2000 original “Bring It On” starring Kirsten Dunst.
Much like fried chicken and waffles, cheerleading and musicals seemed an unusual mix, but they won critics over. The Broadway musical scored Tony Award nominations for best musical and best choreography.
The show has a particularly diverse cast with some real-life cheerleaders who have very little experience in theater and others who have never cheered before this show.
“Everyone had their strengths and everyone had their weaknesses,” actress Mia Weinberger says. “So everyone helped each other out and that’s what really made it seem like a team effort.”
Weinberger has been singing, dancing and performing for most of her life. She’s starred as “Legally Blonde,” “Berenstain Bears LIVE!” and “Wizard of Oz.” In “Bring It On,” she’s currently playing Kylar, a ditsy character with a heart of gold.
Weinberger admits that she can be a little ditsy at times herself, “I like to call them my Kylar moments.”
“Between the music and the choreography, I just think there’s a lot to offer. And everyone can find something they love in it,” Weinberger says.
As the ball fell into the water on Tiger Woods’ first shot on the 14th hole, his hopes of winning The Players Championship appeared to be sinking fast on Sunday.
Instead, it was Woods’ rival, Sergio Garcia, who met his end in the water — twice on No. 17 and again on No. 18.
The final round of The Players was billed as a slugfest after Woods and Garcia sparred verbally over an incident in the third round Saturday at the TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course.
Despite Woods being at the top of the leaderboard for almost the entire day, his double-bogey on the 14th hole pulled him back to the pack. Because of it, Woods and Garcia were tied at 13-under as Garcia teed off the 17th hole.
Garcia proceeded to hit the ball into the water twice and left the hole with a quadruple-bogey on his scorecard. It became worse when he hit his first shot on the 18th hole into the water. He plummeted from 13-under to 7-under over the final two holes of the tournament.
On Saturday, Garcia claimed that Woods wasn't paying attention and caused cheers in the gallery while Garcia was hitting a shot from the fairway on the par-5 second hole.
Woods, who finished with a 13-under 275 on Sunday, outlasted all challengers as Jeff Maggert also hit his tee shot into the water on No. 17 to make double-bogey. David Lingmerth, a Swede who now lives in Jacksonville Beach, shared the 54-hole lead with Woods and Garcia, and he missed a birdie putt on No. 18 that would have forced a playoff with Woods.
Lingmerth finished in a tie with Maggert and Kevin Streelman for second — two shots behind Woods.
After winning in 2001, Woods now becomes one of only five golfers to claim two Players Championship victories at TPC Sawgrass — joining Fred Couples, Steve Elkington Davis Love III and Hal Sutton.
It was also Tiger's 78th PGA Tour victory overall, which puts him four behind Sam Snead’s record 82 wins. Woods claimed $1.71 million with the …
Symbiote Spider-Man and Wonder Woman are talking in the corner. Zelda and a Stormtrooper are posing for pictures.
Worlds collided as fans enjoyed playing as their favorite characters, straight out of comic books, video games and fantasy July 13 at the Legend of GAAM at The Museum.
The Games, Art and Music event included a art sale benefiting Child's Play, a charity dedicated to improving the lives of children in hospitals with toys and games.
The event also included a cosplay contest for those dressed in character, a magic show in the "Lost Woods," a dance contest in Ganon's Dungeon and a DJ playing many memorable tunes from video-game classics as well as live music from On Guard. Nevado Arts put on a martial arts demonstration, while vendors offered prizes.
A photobooth designed to mirror the world of Zelda greeted you on your way in. Many took pictures posing in their Zelda-inspired costumes and props.
A gaming room with more 20 TVs and other consoles throughout The Museum invited gamers to plug in.
The first GAAM event was themed on the "Street Fighter" series and also included a 3D lifesize Mario game outside The Museum. That event drew about 350 people in December.
The Legend of GAAM sold out with more than 600 enthusiasts enjoying "The Legend of Zelda" theme, including the Triforce, rupees, health hearts and a three-leveled Zelda walk-through with the Night Sky, Fairy Cave, Lost Woods, and Ganon's Dungeon.
GAAM founders Ryan Thompson, Derrick Nevado, Logan Zawacki and Edmund Dansart created the events to bring awareness to the gaming industry in Jacksonville and help strengthen it.
Thompson originally made fan art for the 25th anniversary of "Street Fighter" and put it on Tumblr. He received a strong response and realized he wanted to do something even bigger. Then, he met Nevado, Zawacki and Dansart and GAAM was born.