Italian Memorial Sculpture

With all due respect to the deceased, it takes a morbid knack for photography to capture great pictures in cemeteries. Little metal plaques on stone slabs or cement half-ovals with the letters RIP don't register as more than blips on the aesthetic radar regardless of how poetic the epitaph. Even the more ornate cemetery sculptures of saints and angels seem to have identical replicas a few tombs down. But Robert W. Fichter and Robert Freidus are two very skilled Florida photographers who found not just one stunning image in the cemetery, but enough for an entire gallery exhibit at Maitland Art Center.

Fichter, an art professor at FSU, and Freidus, a Wharton School graduate, traveled through northern and central Italy conducting an extensive photographic survey of memorial sculptures circa 1820-1940, many of which were commissioned works of art by master sculptors of the time. The craftsmanship and realism of each sculpture works in tandem with the photographers' sense of visual composition. The photos bring out the lifelike qualities of the statues of the deceased or their patron saints, and in the otherworldly figures, such as angels and mythological heroes.

It's easy to forget that these aren't portraits of stone-gray people who got up and walked away after the snap of the shutter. The exhibition is a must-see for anyone interested in atypical photography or in forgotten branches on Italian sculpture's family tree. (through April 29 at Maitland Art Center, Maitland; $3; 407-539-2181;

— Omar de la Rosa

The Voice

If you know a woman between the ages of 40 and 50 who lives in Orlando, has no family obligations, is physically fit, has high-speed Internet at home and sees life as an adventure to be lived, the Interactive Perfor-mance Lab at UCF's School of Film & Digital Media wants to hear from you.

Jeff Wirth and his crew are looking for the star of the third installment of their simu-life The Voice, which takes place June 7-9. (Last year's production took place under the auspices of the Florida Film Festival.)

"This person doesn't need to be a performer at all — it is probably better if she's not. What she would be doing is participating in a fictional story with live characters that takes place in the real world," says Wirth, director of the Interactive Performance Lab. Wirth is revered as a guru among students and colleagues devoted to the development of this cutting-edge marriage of the virtual world and real life, which is breaking through the walls of traditional entertainment and business technology.

Wirth says the buzz is that Orlando is becoming a hub of the interactive experience. "We have all the components to make that work — the large modeling and simulation industry … the theme parks, which are all about interactive experience, the strength of our digital media community, and the fact that the only place in the country where you can study this kind of interactive performance is here."

The lucky nominee chosen for this experience will get a taste of the future. As Wirth says, "Virtual worlds are going to become as common a place for people to meet and conduct business as the use of e-mail is now."

Visit the Interactive Performance Lab's website for details on how to make a nomination: Go to or e-mail [email protected]. The deadline is April 6. (Below, "actor" Amy Edge broke in on news anchor Bob Frier as part of the 2006 simu-life.)

— Lindy T. Shepherd

The Seagull

Theater is a microcosm of the universe, and The Seagull, by Anton Chekhov, reflects that microcosm right back in the face of the audience. In Mad Cow Theatre's current production of the play, bored and depressed Treplyev (Kevin Kelly) desperately needs purpose, so he writes an earnest yet unwatchable "New Form" play that requires a real lake and a rising full moon. Neither his needy mother, Arkadina (Marty Stonerock), or her lover, the spineless Trigorin (Tommy Keesling), find the work impressive. But the staff loves the surrealism; it permits them to feign education. Treplyev's leading lady, Nina (Sara Jane Fridlich), finds inspiration and takes off to her own stage career and the attendant starvation. Eventually, there's a suicide, making the evening the Complete Russian Experience.

Outside of the usual problems of keeping Slavic names straight, the action flows smoothly on a beautiful Klimt-inspired set. Stonerock, as Arkadina, is the brightest star in the show — and in her own mind — as she manipulates those around her to no good end. Estate manger Shamraev (Mark Edward Smith) plays the name-dropping critic, striking out with a heavy black stick and heavier opinion. Sad little Medvedyenko (Stephen Middleton) mopes around hoping to marry the alcoholic, abusive Masha (Felicia Greybeal), and the poor guy gets his wish. Dr. Dorn (Dee King) has a few rubles and quite a bit of balance, and dispenses good advice but never offers medication.

We're all there, the artistes and obsessives, the dreamers and the actors, the critics and the patrons, even the self-effacing tech guy, Yakov (Wesley Gunn). Look hard. You, too, are under the lights tonight.

— Al Pergande

Greeks, Teen Queens, and a Duke

Hollywood is back in Central Florida. Amanda Bynes, Sara Paxton and the original Bo Duke himself, John Schneider, headline Sydney White, a "modern retelling of Snow White set against students in their freshman year of college in the Greek system," according to The $16 million Morgan Creek/Universal Studios film is currently being shot on Osceola Avenue in Delaney Park, where the production has converted six stately McMansions into ersatz fraternity houses, complete with Greek letters. A seventh frat-house facade, dilapidated and haunted-looking, was erected for the film on a vacant lot at the corner of Osceola and Briercliff.

"That took about a month to build," explained Wayne Morris, the film's executive producer and an area resident. Morris' producing credits include Miami Vice and Rush Hour, and he says that 80 percent of the 50 cast members and 90 percent of the crew were hired from the local talent pool. "The whole cast loves Orlando," Morris said, "The city, our other filming locations (UCF and Rollins College) and the Orlando Film Commission have been wonderful to us, and we look forward to doing more projects in Orlando." Filming started Feb. 14 and is expected to take seven weeks, with a late-summer release.

— Keith Ori

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