3
Nov

Kevin Kantor captivates Gainesville as Rexy in “The Legend of Georgia McBride” at the Hipp

Kevin Kantor captivates Gainesville as Rexy in “The Legend of Georgia McBride”

By Jessica Fondo

Kevin Kantor makes their Gainesville debut as Rexy in “The Legend of Georgia McBride” onstage at the Hippodrome.

Originally from Chicago, Kantor began acting as a child and, before graduating high school, decided they wanted to pursue it professionally. They studied playwriting in Denver, and finished a nine-month apprenticeship at the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville before coming to Gainesville. They currently live in New York, but often travel for theatre.

Kevin Kantor and Mark Chambers star in “The Legend of Georgia McBride” on the Hipp Mainstage. (Photo by Rachel Jones)

Kantor identifies as genderqueer and chooses the pronouns they and them for themself. Kantor said they have enjoyed this particular show as an opportunity to make their Gainesville debut.

“I’m always excited to be playing queer characters, complex, three-dimensional queer characters who get to survive their own stories and celebrate their existence,” they said.

Kantor’s character, Rexy, provides exactly that.

“She is a sardonic, cutting, strong and powerful drag queen who has worked so hard to carve out a space or herself in her life. She’s a warrior. She’s hard-fought, but she’s incredibly flawed,” Kantor said. “She has battle scars, and I love being able to showcase that you can be resilient but not at the cost of your humanity.”

Kantor said they hope the audience takes “The Legend of Georgia Mcbride” as an opportunity to celebrate the people whom Rexy represents.

“There is room for all of us to take time to celebrate queer joy,” they said. “I think that this show is so full of life and fun and love.”

This production welcomes everyone into a space that queer people had to fight for, Kantor said.

“It’s inviting people into our inner circle and saying, ‘We love you. We want you here. We want you to celebrate with us,’ while also realizing and paying respect to the hardships that we had to overcome to earn this space.”

Kantor has enjoyed how supportive the community of Gainesville has been for this production to be featured on the Hippodrome’s Mainstage. They said the audiences seem warm, welcoming, excited and supportive of the arts.

Finding that support makes creating art possible, Kantor said.

“Ultimately, I’ve found that it’s about finding your people who will, you know, take those free hours they have between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., in the middle of the night, to get their hands dirty and just create some magical art together.”

In addition to being an actor, Kantor is also a poet and a playwright. They said they admire the way young artists refuse to limit themselves to one artform.

“There used to be this sort of, I think, belief that you have to choose what you wanted to do,” Kantor said. “You wanted to be an actor, or you were a writer, or you were a director. And now we are saying, ‘Screw that. We are interdisciplinary creators.’”

 

Kevin Kantor and Mark Chambers in “The Legend of Georgia McBride” on the Hippodrome Mainstage. (Photo by Rachel Jones)

31
Oct

Caroline Strang takes the stage by storm in “The Legend of Georgia McBride”

Caroline Strang takes the Hippodrome Mainstage by storm in “The Legend of Georgia McBride”

By Amanda Grohowski

After a hop-skip-and-a-jump of 3,661 miles, Caroline Strang is now in Gainesville, Fla., charming audiences at the Hippodrome Theatre as Jo in “The Legend of Georgia McBride.” But, believe it or not, Strang was not always an actress nor was she used to the pounding heat of Florida.

Strang was born and raised in the chilly town of Fairbanks, Alaska. Her first exposure to acting was in her hometown church, where she used to participate in plays. Despite her natural attraction to acting, her parents did not allow Strang to participate in any shows outside of her church. 

Her mom thought theatre people were “wicked,” to which Strang teasingly agrees is true.

So, Strang pursued singing instead, which she says has always been her long-time passion. Strang even thought at one point that she was going to be a Christian popstar.

Strang started her undergraduate studies of opera at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, but later transferred to Western Connecticut State University to finish her degree. After vocal nodes forced her – at least temporarily – to abandon singing full time, 

Strang decided to take a few acting classes before graduation to keep herself busy.

This fateful pursuit of acting led Strang to discover a whole new side of herself and a new world of vulnerability and emotion altogether. She went on to pursue a master’s degree in acting at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she simultaneously was able to work herself back up to a healthy vocal state to be able to sing again.

During her graduate studies, Strang acted in a variety of plays, ranging from light-hearted comedies to emotionally-turbulent dramas. 

But Strang says some of the most impactful roles she’s ever played are those that challenge society’s perspective and portrayal of race.

Strang says that she now understands that every time she is in a show, “Race is an element.” 

Even as Jo in “Georgia McBride,” she feels empowered to take the stage as the only black (and female!) cast member.

Strang praises Jo’s unapologetic nature, which she says challenges many antiquated stereotypes of women. Strang believes Jo’s struggle to keep her life balanced is very relatable and will be to many women that come see the play.

“For Jo, she has to be strong, black and independent and still deal with the realities of life, like paying rent and working hard toward a relationship with Casey,” says Strang.

Strang says she is excited for everyone to see “The Legend of Georgia McBride,” a play that she feels does a great job casting and portraying people of color and differing gender identities.

Come see Strang take the Hippodrome Mainstage alongside a talented cast in “The Legend of Georgia McBride” through Nov. 5.

Visit thehipp.org/georgiamcbride for tickets or call the box office at 352-375-4477.

30
Oct

Congratulations, Logan and Marissa!

Congratulations, Logan and Marissa!

By Jessica Fondo

Cheers to the happy Hipp couple! Logan and Marissa tied the knot and celebrated with a reception in the Hipp’s Lower Level following eight happy years together.

Logan and Marissa met in college at the Florida School of the Arts while studying theatre, and they both moved to Gainesville after that to attend the University of Florida. The two were best friends before anything — Logan would say that it was love at first sight, and he eventually won Marissa over.

Now, they’re happily married!  Until recently, Marissa worked at the bar, Logan worked in the box office, and they were both house managers. They have also been performing as company members at the Hipp for about 5 years. Logan and Marissa decided to come back to the Hipp after hours to celebrate their wedding day; they held their reception in the Hipp’s chic Lower Level.

This space has an elegant, unique and stylish atmosphere that provides a versatile backdrop for any and all events. Find out more about how you can rent the Hipp today at thehipp.org/rentals.

 

 

 

30
Oct

Meet Shaina: Q & A with our Rentals Coordinator

Meet Shaina: Q & A with our Rentals Coordinator

by Jessica Fondo

Q: What do you do at the Hippodrome?

I am the rentals coordinator here, so anybody who is interested in renting our basement or our cinema for a private event, it all goes through me. So I book those and make sure they’re on our calendar, and I’m there assisting if they need any additional help along the way.

Q: When did you start here?

In September! I just moved here from Arizona in August.

Q: What were you doing before this?

In Arizona, I was a wedding coordinator at an all-inclusive event venue. We did about 100 weddings a year. People would come in and tour our space and book their wedding date. From that moment on we were with them throughout the whole planning process. We would do their decorations, assist them with their vendor choices and of course we were there day-of. We would coordinate the ceremony and then be there throughout the evening to ensure the event ran smoothly.

Q: How do you do what you do?

I wanted to get into event planning. In college I took an event-planning course, and I fell in love with the organization of it, planning the event and meeting new people, working with everybody. And every day on the job is totally different. It’s definitely my passion. I got an internship in college working with wedding flowers and decorations. My job would consist of going to all the weddings and set everything up, making sure it all looked picture perfect. I did that internship for about a year and I loved the coordinating aspect of it so I jumped right into coordinating weddings full time!

Q: Where are you from?

Glendale, Arizona. I’ve been here for about two months now.

Q: How are you liking Florida?

I like it! I like that there’s a lot to do here. Gainesville’s like a little, big town, and like a country city. I also love that Gainesville is it’s own little community and so involved with everything.

Q: How are you liking the Hippodrome?

I love it. I love how everybody is so supportive of each other, very appreciative of everybody’s work. We all work as a team. And I think that’s the most important thing about workplaces, that you all work together. You don’t ever feel like you’re by yourself. So yeah, I think the teamwork makes the whole place. And, definitely, everybody, accepting one another is a great way to describe the Hipp.

Q: From a renter’s perspective, what is special about the Hipp?

The building is so unique. They’re not going to find another building anywhere like this. I think it really speaks to people who have an appreciation towards historical buildings and the arts and everything. I think its uniqueness really speaks for itself. It draws people in without you even having to really try.

Q: What different rental spaces are there?

We have our basement other known as the lower level. This space is ideal for wedding receptions, gatherings, private parties, business meetings and so much more. We have the full-service bar down there and no vendor restrictions. And then we have our cinema room. If people want to rent out a private screening or showings, this room is perfect for that. The Cinema is our movie theatre-style stadium that seats 75 guests. So more small gatherings, business meetings, speeches, and presentations.

Q: What do these different spaces have to offer?

Each rental space has its own unique feel to it but also very versatile and goes with any decor/theme you want to create. We have full-service bars in our Lower Level and Cinema room available. Every package comes with a bartender and a house manager. The house manager is there for your whole entire event to make sure your event runs smoothly which I think that’s a great aspect.  Our packages also include tables, chairs and linens. Our Lower Level is A/V equipped which is great for slideshows and presentations that can be shown throughout the event.

Q: Why should people host their events at the Hipp?

I think the location of the Hippodrome is perfect. I mean, it’s right in the middle of everything. It’s easy to get to. And again, the uniqueness: it’s not just a blank little room… it adds character. It’s historical and unqiue. 

24
Oct

Mark Chambers onstage now as Miss Tracy Mills!

Mark Chambers stars in now-running “The Legend of Georgia McBride”

For showtimes and ticket information, click here.

By Jessica Fondo

“It’s the farthest thing that I can be from myself,” Mark Chambers said.

Chambers dons drag in his return to the Hippodrome Theatre to play Miss Tracy Mills, the queen of drag queens in “The Legend of Georgia McBride,” currently on the Mainstage.

The opportunity to tell this particular story brought the San Francisco resident back to the Hippodrome.

It’s lighter fare, you think, on the surface, and then it goes much deeper than that.”

Miss Tracy Mills wouldn’t be the first feminine character Chambers has played; drag has been a large part of his career from the get-go.

Since his theatre debut as a flying monkey in “The Wizard of Oz,” Mark Chambers has notably played the part of the mad, sexually deviant scientist Dr. Frank-N-Furter, wheelchair-bound former Hollywood star Blanche Hudson and East German transgender glam-rockstar Hedwig.

When Chambers, a company member, first acted at the Hippodrome in 1994 in “The Sisters Rosensweig,” he sensed that the theatre was a rare find.

“I think it’s the most special theatre that I’ve ever worked in,” Chambers said.

A company member at the Florida Repertory Theatre in Fort Meyers, and often performing at the Penobscot Theatre Company in Maine, he travels to theatres with roles for him.

The Hippodrome’s collaborative approach sets it apart from other theatres, he said.

“You’re not just a hired worker here,” he added. “It’s a thoughtful, mindful, respectful place. I love it!

This show marks Chambers’ 23rd year at the Hippodrome, but he began acting long before that.

Since his experience as a child actor in Memphis, Tennessee, he knew he wanted to be onstage. As his father was a puppeteer, his parents didn’t want the risks of a performer’s life for him. He pursued it anyway, and they supported him.

He has worked as a cosmetologist and barber, but now acting is his only job. In his free time, he likes to read, walk and paint. He tries to read a play every week, he said.

Now, he is rereading “The Legend of Georgia McBride.” It’s about questioning the status quo and becoming a better version of yourself, Chambers said.

“You need to figure out what this means to you, and then you need to learn how to be better at being that person.”

This play is especially powerful in front of an audience like Gainesville. The small-town feel of this city brings people together through culture in a way that is unusual outside of college towns, he said.

“The arts and letters seeps into daily life for all ages, unlike in a bigger city,” Chambers said, “You can have all those, but they’re so segregated by age and money and the class system.”

Chambers said he feels a special connection to Gainesville, as though he has watched it grow up while he has been returning year after year. Chambers said he simply hopes to never retire.

“I’m still just a working actor,” Chambers said. “I hope and pray for the next part, the next role.”

11
Oct

Mark Enting’s photography featured in the Hipp Art Gallery

Current Gallery Exhibit

Mark Enting’s Photography

By Natalia Veray

“I like to get in the backroads.” Mark Enting said, “A lot of times people are moving too fast and don’t notice the little things.”

Enting’s photographic work will be featured in the theatre’s art gallery beginning Wednesday, Oct. 11, in conjunction with the Hipp’s new Mainstage production “The Legend of Georgia McBride,” with an official opening on Friday, Oct. 13, along with the show. Enting will be present for opening, and the exhibit will be on display through Nov. 12, and featured for this month’s Art Walk on Oct. 27.

Enting’s work ranges from travel shots in Paris to old automobiles he stumbles upon. He hopes that audiences relate his work back to childhood memories.

Enting first began taking photographs back in high school and recalls the natural connection with his first camera. He remembers always having it in-hand, trying to isolate moments to freeze them in time. 

Enting collaborated with commercial photographers and studios before putting down his camera and to attend the University of Florida. About five years ago, Enting stumbled upon an old-camera and fell back in love with the art. Since then he’s been independently capturing everyday life, reveling in the freedom of pursuing his interests.

A freelance-photographer, Enting captures with a low-quality toy-camera to an HDR lens, switching his shooting-style to create an ethereal tone in his work.

“I’m working for myself again and it is incredibly freeing,” Enting said. “My work can be good or bad, but it’s all up to me.”

10
Oct

Jon Kovach is back on the Hipp Mainstage for “The Legend of Georgia McBride”

By Daniela Esteves

Lipstick, fake eyelashes and high heels were once foreign concepts to Jon Kovach. Now, with fake hips attached to his sides, he returns to the Hippodrome in eye shadow, dresses and glitter galore.

Kovach is thrilled to take on what he calls an “exciting feat,” starring in “The Legend of Georgia McBride” as Casey. By an unexpected turn of events, an Elvis impersonator finds himself introduced to the world of drag. This is Kovach’s first time donning drag, too.

The actor, who previously starred in the Hipp’s production of “Hand to God,” is glad to be back in Gainesville and working at a local theatre that isn’t afraid of doing daring, new work.  He believes this production reveals new aspects of drag that may help dissolve stereotypes and audiences’ phobias and discomfort.

Kovach’s passion for theatre and acting stems from his belief that theatre allows actors and audiences to experience the world through different lenses. 

Though he enjoys both film and live theatre, he thinks the beauty of theatre is that the actors and audience experience it together. Everyone “breathes the same air,” he said.

Kovach has worked with recognized film-makers and authors, including the legendary George Clooney. (Side note: Ryan Gosling once called him “buddy” on the set of “The Ides of March,” and this has all the interns at the Hipp fangirling). Kovach’s repertoire includes off-Broadway and regional theatre productions, as wells many roles in film and TV.

As an undeclared major at the Miami University of Ohio, he performed in plays for artistic expression and release, he said, but was told by counselors that, as a profession, it was useless. But, after a summer of touring with his then rock-band, Cabin Fever, Kovach knew he was an artist.

See Kovach take the Hippodrome Mainstage alongside a talented cast in “The Legend of Georgia McBride” opening this Friday, Oct. 13, and running through Nov. 5.

Click here for tickets or call the box office at 352-375-4477.

9
Oct

Trick or treat? The Hipp Cinema presents October screenings

The Hippodrome kicks off a month of spooky screenings
with new film “Super Dark Times”

The Hippodrome Cinema kicks off the first of several spooky films for the month of October, with the new film “Super Dark Times.”

 A harrowing, but meticulously observed, look at teenage lives in the era prior to the early 1990s, “Super Dark Times” marks the feature debut of gifted director Kevin Phillips, whose critically acclaimed 2015 short film “Too Cool For School” premiered at the renowned Cannes Film Festival.

Zach (Owen Campbell) and Josh (Charlie Tahan) are best friends growing up in a leafy Upstate New York suburb in the 1990s, where teenage life revolves around hanging out, looking for kicks, navigating first love and vying for popularity.

When a traumatic incident drives a wedge between the previously inseparable pair, their youthful innocence abruptly vanishes. Each young man processes the tragedy in his own way, until circumstances grow increasingly complex and spiral into violence. Phillips dives headlong into the confusion of teenage life, creating an evocative atmosphere out of the murky boundaries between adolescence and adulthood, courage and fear, and good and evil.

“This generations ‘Mean Creek’ or ‘Donnie Darko.'” – Brad Miska, “Bloody Disgusting”

Wednesday (10/11): 7:30 p.m.
Thursday (10/12): 5:30 p.m.

One-night only special screening of “Suspiria” on Friday, Oct. 13 at 7 p.m.

“Suspiria” is an absurd film in the most positive way. Here’s a summation of its value by film critic Neil Young:

“There have probably been weirder, artier, funnier and gorier horror films than ‘Susperia,’ but none have come anywhere near combining all of these elements to more dazzling effect than Argento’s masterpiece. But it isn’t enough to proclaim the movie as the best of its genre – this is a rare, possibly unique example of a genuine auteur remaining true to his own personal vision, while at the same time satisfying the demands of the commercial market. A major hit on both sides of the Atlantic on its initial release, ‘Suspiria’ has enjoyed a long afterlife as a video and DVD favorite. But abandon all notions that great cinema must mean ‘well-made’ movies: Argento doesn’t worry about plotting, characterization, acting, or making much sense, so neither should we.”

Friday (10/13): 7 p.m.

 

The Hipp Cinema presents three films from the American Genre Film Archives Collection:

“Re-Animator”

“Calling ‘Re-animator’ a crucial gore movie is like saying that fire is hot.” – Zack Carlson, co-author of “Destroy All Movies”

H.P. Lovecraft and Lucio Fulci did not team up to make the most amazing gore-sex grotesquerie of 1985 — but thanks to “Re-animator,” they didn’t have to. Director Stuart Gordon and producer Brian Yuzna’s joint debut feature, this epochal, awe-inspiring amalgam of “Frankenstein,” “The Beyond,” and “Revenge of the Nerds” is where science meets chaos to produce an hyperactive overdose of gruesome insanity.

Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) is a new Miskatonic University student who also moonlights as a mad scientist, intent on perfecting a serum that “re-animates” corpses. Soon, everyone wants a piece of the action, including an evil professor and his army of slime-covered deadites. With berserker theatrics, career-defining roles from horror icons Combs and Barbara Crampton, and a scene of two adults chasing an undead cat in a basement, “Re-animator” isn’t just a masterpiece of the horror genre — it’s a masterpiece of life.
Friday (10/20) : 8:30 p.m

Wednesday (10/25) : 8 p.m.

“Society”

“Already a hero in the horror genre for producing films like “Re-animator” and “From Beyond,” Brian Yuzna unleashed the demons locked inside his warped mind with this spectacularly insane directorial debut. Billy Warlock (“Baywatch”)stars as a pampered Beverly Hills teen whose world is golden, until his sister’s ex

gives him an audiotape of what sounds like his family partaking in an incestuous, murderous orgy. Thus begins his journey down a gore-and-goo-lined rabbit hole into the shocking underbelly of ‘high society!’

“Society” encapsulates all that made the 1980s a halcyon age for horror; bursting with truly bizarre ideas, the film is a cavalcade of winking satire and social commentary, and culminates in an epicly grotesque twenty-minute finale (designed by legendary SFX artist Screaming Mad George) that remains one of the genre’s most out-there, boundary-pushing memorable endings — one you will run out and beg all of your friends to later witness.” — Josh Miller, The Cinefamily

Saturday (10/21): 9 p.m.

“The Crazies”

“After reinventing the zombie film with “Night of the Living Dead,” George Romero made his first color horror film “The Crazies,” another social commentary cloaked in exploitation trappings about a small Pennsylvania town decimated by the accidental release of a dangerous biochemical weapon in the water supply (thanks to a crashed truck.)

Though not an official part of Romero’s ongoing “Dead” series, “The Crazies” still fits in just fine thanks to its depictions of normalcy shedding apart from the inside and a ruthless but incompetent military ultimately driven by self-interest — themes which would reach their most crystallized version in “Day of the Dead.” — Nathaniel Thompson, Mondo Digital
Thursday (10/26) : 8 p.m.

The Hipp Cinema presents “The Shining”

The Hippodrome Cinema is proud to present Stanley Kubrick’s definitive horror classic “The Shining” to

celebrate the Halloween season. Frustrated  writer Jack  Torrance takes a job as

the winter caretaker at the ominous, mountain-locked Overlook Hotel so that he can write in peace. When he arrives there with his wife and son, they learn that the previous caretaker had gone mad. Slowly Jack becomes possessed by the evil, demonic presence in the hotel.

Friday (10/27): 8:30 p.m.
Sunday (10/29): 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday (10/31): 7:30 p.m.
19
Sep

The Hipp and UF examine the expanse of “fake news”

In an invigorating discussion that would be considered “thought-crime” in George Orwell’s novel “1984,” the Hipp partnered with the University of Florida School of Theatre + Dance (UF SOTD) on Monday night to explore the manipulation of circulating “fake news” and the consequential impacts it holds on the past, present and future.

Hosted by Jerry Dickey, chair of the UF SOTD, the panel featured UF journalism professors Mike Foley and Kim Walsh-Childers, and Andrew Selepak, Ph.D., director of the Master’s in mass communication at UF, as panelists for the discussion.

The Romans stabbed each other in the back literally and figuratively, Foley said; “fake news” has been going on since 33 B.C. With the expansion of social media today, wrong information is circulated regularly, by people of differing political ideologies. Regarding political figures, it’s like arguing over cartoon characters, Selepak said.

“Are the people in this room going to change things? Alone, no,” Walsh-Childers said. “It’s going to have to be little steps and lots of them to get us back from the brink.”

Colista Swartz, a participant, said, “They are all in their own little camps. It ultimately boils down to nobody wants to be wrong.”

Some participants said they remember reading the novel “1984” before the namesake year.

“There was a little trickle something like this could happen,” said participant Michelle Benoit.

She wondered if young people who read it now have a different impression. Eleanor Sommer, a participant, said she thought the  conversation is especially relevant to young people. “In 20 to 30 years they’re going to look back and say ‘I wish we had done something.'”

The play adaptation of “1984” is on the Hipp Mainstage through Sunday. You can get your tickets here.

“The concept is ancient, but the play is very modern,” Sommer said, “which is very frightening.”

To view a video of the livestream, visit our Facebook.