;; There's a curious similarity between eating a booger and hearing about disaster at Disney. They're both bad, but each gives a curious sense of release. Back in the '80s, a Disney World monorail car caught fire and gave local impresario Michael Wanzie a jumping-off point for this lengthy but engaging musical that borrows shamelessly from A Chorus Line and Airplane! A dozen passengers are stranded 65 feet over a retention pond masquerading as a lagoon, and as actress Heather Leonardi screams in agoraphobic panic, she prompts her cohort, played by Anitra Pritchard, to calm the group with macaroni craft projects.
;; With so many stories buried within, you can hang any song on the plot, and Mr. Wanzie (responsible for book and lyrics) and musical sidekick Rich Charron pull off a broad spectrum of surprisingly hummable numbers. The opening, "Monorail Inferno," invades the already crowded audience space with a phantasmagorical dance arrangement, and "It Just Isn't Fair" and "One Child One Life" both touch your heart. Then there's the upbeat "Straws for Two," "Vatican Tap" with its stocky Dancing Pope sequence, and we end with a rather shocking execution, sung to "Lord and Governor" by Tommy Wooten. The only problem I see is the odd grouping of the comic and the serious battling over your feelings. A little reorganization could lift director Kenny Howard's production from "pretty dang good" to "really great." Wanzie's spun out a ton of great material here, more than enough to make a solid hit even if no one dresses in drag. (7:15 p.m. Saturday, through Feb. 24, at Footlight Theater, in the Parliament House; $20; 407-540-0317; wanzie.com/monorail);
;;— Al Pergande
;;Blue Man Group auditions
;; Shows like American Idol have made "auditions" synonymous with "public humiliation" in most people's minds. So the Blue Man Group aims to be the "anti-Simon," as casting director Deb Burton puts it: They came to praise Orlando's talent pool, not to bury it. In anticipation of their installation in a new 1,013-seat theater at Universal Studios, BMG came to CityWalk last week looking to expand their azure ranks.
;; The several-dozen-strong crowd waiting for the start of the two-day open auditions was almost exclusively male, despite the casting call's insistence that a Blue Man is "an egoless, genderless being." Speaking of which, there was no sign of Arrested Development's Tobias Fünke, though there was a colorful gentleman with "Will Dance for Tips" emblazoned on his jacket who might have gotten lost en route to the Gong Show. Aside from a strict height range (5 feet, 10 inches to 6 feet, 1 inch), there were few barriers to entry. You didn't need to shave your head or chew WonkaGum to apply, and being able to "catch balls in [your] mouth" (like Orlando's mayor) isn't a prerequisite.;
; While most of the auditioners seemed to be seasoned drummers (many were practicing with sticks on the sidewalk while waiting), Burton says they are willing to take someone untrained but with a strong sense of rhythm, and teach them how to hit the skins — or PVC pipes. What is more important is that they are "open and emotionally available" as performers, able to express the Blue Man curiosity and playfulness using their eyes and bodies instead of voices.;
; The lucky few who made it past the acting and drumming audition are just getting started. They'll next attend a multiday workshop in NYC, which culminates in a "Bald and Blue" onstage performance for an audience of directors. Even if they are judged worthy of a cobalt bald cap, they won't necessarily be performing in Orlando; there are BMG venues from Vegas to Amsterdam.;
; One person who will perform here is Anthony Parrulli. A Tampa native and self-confessed band geek, you may have seen him in the late '90s as a Jaminator at Epcot or as a drummer in Universal's Mardi Gras parade. After an open audition in Orlando, Parrulli joined the Vegas BMG show in 1999. He's enthusiastic to return as the captain of the new show, and he makes it sound like a great life: Call time isn't until 4 p.m., the makeup takes less than 45 minutes, and Gary Busey once invited them to ride Clydesdales to the Dairy Queen drive-through.;
;— Seth Kubersky
;; Nothing says "Jewish" like a brown suit. That's how Matt Friedman (Jay Becker) enters the stage, scratching at the fourth wall with some offhand remarks about the lack of intermission. It's 1944 in small-town America, and he's fallen for the soon-to-be-spinster Sally Talley (Erin Beute). For a budding romance, their level of fighting skills exceeds those with a quarter-century of marital bliss under their black belts. Two minutes into Lanford Wilson's 1980 Pulitzer Prize–winner, you know the bachelor will pop the question, but a lot of text lines the bridal path. Matt regales Sally with tales of torture and escape, and she ripostes with the tale of a failed engagement and pelvic inflammation. She would have preferred an unwanted pregnancy, but the net is the same — she's relegated to teaching and holding slightly unfashionable views about labor relations.;
; As directed by Denise Gillman, Becker and Beute genuinely seem to dislike each other as the courtship proceeds, yet the logic behind Matt's persistence makes sense — both are damaged goods, and the clock is running. The sparks nearly set fire to the rotting boathouse set. As aquatic reeds sway in the air-conditioning, we hear of the racism and violence of 20th-century Europe and America's Ozarks. While the Euro version was more organized and had a better press corps, the homegrown stuff was just as injurious.;
; I wondered about the long-term stability of the relationship at the post-show reception, but someone said, "No, they'll make it. They got everything out up front." Maybe that IS the path, but I've found niceness doesn't work as well as you would hope. (7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday, through Feb. 25, at Mad Cow Theatre; $14-$24; 407-297-8788; www.madcowtheatre.com);
;;— AP; firstname.lastname@example.org