Tag Archives: victorian

Splinter Group finds safe harbor with ‘Shipwrecked!’

There’s far more than meets the eye at work when the four-person cast of Shipwrecked! An Entertainment sets sail. The play, written by Pulitzer Prize winner Donald Margulies and produced by Milwaukee theater Splinter Group, is a riotous romp in the vein of classic high-seas adventures, albeit one that plays fast and loose with the truth for comedic and poignant effect.

The play’s subtitle, “The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (As Told by Himself),” is a literal explanation of the play’s events, but the more significant part of the long title comes earlier. “An Entertainment” is the real giveaway for what is going on here. In the words of Louis himself (an actual Victorian-era person), “This is a temple of entertainment.” For the rest of the evening, Louis (portrayed by T. Stacy Hicks) will narrate his supposed survival of disaster after disaster, all with a broad, inviting smile and the larger-than-life showmanship of a circus ringleader.

The play’s adventures most resemble novels such as Robinson Caruso and The Arabian Nights. These specific books — among many others — are also among those Louis tells us his mother read to him when he was a sickly child, growing up in London. Unable to play outdoors with other children, Louis was entertained by his protective mother.

So it is no surprise that much healthier Louis leaves home at 16 to pursue his own faraway adventures. As luck has it (one of many humorous coincidences in this show), he encounters a grouchy sea captain (played by a deep-voiced Kathiamarice Lopez) who is about to set sail on a pearl-hunting expedition to the Coral Sea, off the coast of Australia. Of course he invites Louis to become part of the crew. Oh, the amazing things that can happen in 19th-century London!

As the boat sets sail, Louis’ adventures are about to begin. He survives an attack by a sea monster during a storm; washes up on a beach along with the faithful ship’s dog, Bruno; learns to ride sea turtles for amusement; falls in love with one of the native girls who also wash ashore on the island many years later; has two daughters; and then makes a tearful farewell as he sails to Australia and, eventually, back to England.

Over the course of this 90-minute show, Splinter Group easily demonstrates both the power of storytelling — timeless as cavemen sitting around a campfire — and the power of theater — able to delight audiences even with a minimum amount of props, costume changes or actors.

T. Stacy Hicks carries the brunt of "Shipwrecked!" through his narration as adventurer Louis de Rougemont.
T. Stacy Hicks carries the brunt of “Shipwrecked!” through his narration as adventurer Louis de Rougemont.

The story, under the co-direction of company founders Niffer Clarke and Jim Farrell, manages to stay afloat for the entire 90 minutes, thanks in large part to T. Stacy Hicks. Hicks is on stage the entire time, either acting out scenes or addressing the audience directly as the play’s narrator. His energy and zest for the story is infectious. With the glee of a pied piper, he confidently brings the audience along on his amazing journeys. He even gets a chance to demonstrate some of his acrobatic skills.

He often invites audience members to consider their own emotions under various circumstances. “How would you feel,” he says after surviving a stormy night at sea, “if you wake up (the next morning) at sea, clinging to a bit of ship debris, and can’t see anything but water?”

The rest of the cast plays dozens of roles. The most seasoned actor among them, David Rothrock, is funny and realistic as the ship’s dog. Later, he portrays Queen Victoria as she slips a medal of honor over Louis’ head upon his return to London.

The female cast members, Kathiamarice Lopez and Kristin Johnson, are also up to the task. Lopez gives a touching performance as Louis’ mother and, later, as his jungle-raised wife. The women also portray Victorian ladies sipping tea (Rothrock is one of these, too), London-based scientists, the ship’s crew, a magazine editor, and more.

The cast also gets extra credit for periodically breaking out hand-held sound effects equipment (no synthesized noises allowed). The sounds of crashing thunder, didgeridoo playing and — most enjoyably — typing on a manual typewriter enrich the production.

The single set, created by Jim Farrell, suggests a nautical theme. Walls are draped with fish decorations, ship rigging, wood buoys and so forth. Sturdy storage crates are moved around the stage for individual scenes.

Although Shipwrecked! sometimes veers towards melodrama, it is very funny and — as the title implies — entertaining. Here’s the “more than it seems” part. One must confront the extent of one’s own sense of disbelief to determine whether the events recounted are real or not. In other words, how much truth is in the tale?

Splinter Group’s production of Shipwrecked! An Entertainment runs through March 13 at the Marian Center for Nonprofits, 3211 S. Lake Drive, Milwaukee. Tickets are $15 ($20 at the door) and can be ordered online at splinter-group.org. For questions, call 414-935-2207.

Real estate deals: No. 1, Bon Jovi’s penthouse

If a person’s home is the mirror of the person themselves, Jon Bon Jovi and wife Dorothea seem to do everything well.

Now up for sale is the Bon Jovis’ 7,452-square-foot New York Soho duplex. With huge glass walls and terraces seen from almost every room, even the kitchen windows will have you looking instead of cooking. Aside from the pure glamour of it all, the layout is unusually well thought out. The family part of the house is on the lower floor with a great room, wood-burning fireplace, marble baths, dining area and a gourmet kitchen. There are five bedrooms on the first floor including the master bedroom suite with rare arched windows.

The upper level includes formal living and dining rooms and access to the home’s grand terraces with lush landscaping and panoramic New York views. Also on the second floor is another kitchen, screening room, guest room, full bath and a powder room. Did we mention the second wood burning fireplace?

The Bon Jovi apartment is located in the New Museum Building. At 12 floors, it is one of the tallest structures in the Lower Manhattan area. The building was constructed in 1897 as offices, became the New Museum of Contemporary Art in 1996, and later converted to condominiums.

In the mid 1900s, Soho was one of New York’s most distressed neighborhoods as its deep industrial base began to erode. Starting in the 1960s, Soho was transformed from the mostly deserted remnants of the city’s big textile factories into artists’ and hipsters’ lofts. Today, it is near the top of any list of U.S. upscale neighborhoods with art galleries, shops and expensive homes. Other celebrity SoHo residents include Kelly Ripa, Justin Timberlake and Ariana Huffington.

Previously asking $42 million, the penthouse, including furniture & great views, is now priced at $37.5 million. Raphael De Niro of Douglas Elliman and Leonard Steinberg of Urban Compass share the listing.

Meg Ryan’s San Francisco Victorian:

On Valentines Day in 1991, after starring in three films with him, Meg Ryan married Dennis Quaid. During their marriage, which ended in 2001, they lived in a charming gingerbread Victorian in San Francisco.

Once again for sale but with a contract pending, Meg Ryan’s former home in Pacific Palisades has been used as a location for a feature film and a television pilot, as well as in catalogs for Pottery Barn and Design within Reach.

Built in 1889, the six-bedroom, seven-bathroom house was designed by Samuel Newsom who also designed the Oakland and Berkeley city halls and the Napa Valley Opera House. He was well known for his ornate Queen Anne residences and this home still has the peaked roofs and detailed ornamentation intact.

Not at all like most Victorian homes, this glamorous home has wide open rooms filled with light and neutral paint with a wide curving stairwell and light hardwood, immediately giving one a sense of airiness and space.  There are wide views of the bay from all the main rooms and especially from what is called the “pent room,” which must have been the attic at one time and is now a fabulous room for enjoying the views from both inside and outside through glass walls that open to another terrace.

The Queen Anne home is priced at $8.995 million, with a contract pending.

Neutra-Maltzan modern two-home compound: 

It’s like winning the design lottery. Imagine two homes on five and a half acres on a hill in La Cresenta, California, bordered by the Angeles National Forest.  But more important, what about owning two homes on that property by two iconic star architects?

Richard Neutra, 1892 to 1970, was highly sought after by the wealthy to build their glamorous celebrity homes.

Neutra had worked for Frank Lloyd Wright for a short time before going out on his own and was known for his extreme geometric but airy structures that was a variation on the West Coast mid-century modern residence.

In 1953, he designed and built a home for his secretary, Dorothy Serulnic, and her violinist husband on a piece of land they had managed to buy with their limited finances.  Famous for the attention he gave to defining the real needs of his clients, regardless of the size of the project, he thoughtfully produced a comfortable and stylish home for the couple.

Measuring at 1,350 square feet, with two bedrooms, one bath and walls of glass, giving it the feeling of being much larger.  The couple lived there for over 40 years.  In 1997, it was sold to internationally known artists Lari Pittman and Roy Dowell.

Pittman and Dowell moved in and spent the next few years creating an artistic garden made up of cactus of all varieties, planted in designs reminiscent of art on canvas.  Afterward, they decided they wanted an additional home, but one with the same modern concept as their Neutra house.  They engaged Michael Maltzan who designed an unusual seven-sided structure with glass walled triangular and polygon rooms that pivot off of a central courtyard.  The house was completed in 2009, was featured in Architectural Record in 2010, and has won three awards from the American Institute of Architects.

The Hillside La Cresenta compound featuring six acres, artistic cactus gardens and two homes by Richard Neutra and Michael Maltzan is priced at $7.9 million.

Connecticut windmill House: 

Guaranteed to inspire any artist, writer or flute player who likes to welcome the sunrise, this Dutch replica windmill at the edge of the Connecticut River is for sale.

Located in an historic waterfront town, Essex is one of the few U.S. towns to be attacked by a foreign power.  In 1884, 136 British sailors from six British war ships rowed to shore and took over the town, meeting with practically no resistance.  What saved the day and the town from being destroyed was that the British Commander, Richard Coote, was impressed by a merchant who met him with the secret Masonic handshake.  So instead of burning the town and attacking its citizens, the British looted the shops and returned to the harbor to destroy the newly built American warships in the harbor.  To commemorate the event, the city sponsors a parade every May with a fife and drum corp that marches down Main Street to the steamboat dock where Commander Coote landed.

This charming windmill, with wind blades attached, could be the ultimate weekend getaway for weekend boaters or, with added cooking facilities, a full time residence for an artist, writer or couple.

Presently advertised with a wet bar, a few alterations could turn it into a functional kitchenette for anyone whose life does not revolve around turning out gourmet meals for a crowd.

Built in 1967, the windmill has 840 square feet, three bedrooms and one full bath.  There is also a full unfinished basement accessed by a hatch.  Every surface, from wood floors to walls and quaint stairwells is in perfect condition making it move-in ready.  The main living room opens out to a 360-degree, wrap-around deck with breathtaking water views, where one can watch boats sail by or watch the water hawks nesting.  

The Connecticut River windmill cottage in the historic town of Essex, is offered for sale for the first time, is priced at $1.925 million.

Top real estate deals: http://www.toptenrealestatedeals.com/homes/weekly-ten-best-home-deals/2014/7-22-2014/