Friday, December 15, 2017
Events

Moon City: A puppet show that's not for little kids

Puppets can be enchanting and a little disturbing, a contradiction that performers and theatrical masterminds Zach Dorn and Murphi Cook make the most of in their touring act's mini-spectacles.

The duo, who perform under the vaudevillian moniker Miniature Curiosa, will be presenting their "ahistorical" saga Moon City at the [email protected] in St. Petersburg on March 24 and 25.

Framed by a 10-foot stage, Moon City comes to life with cardboard cutouts, construction paper, spotlights, low-fi animations via projection and eerie moon-like shadows.

"It's like Tim Burton befriended Tom Waits as a child and taught him to make home movies with dolls and play sets," a Charleston City Paper review said.

The story gets its inspiration from a failed amusement park created by Frederick Ingersoll, a real-life turn-of-the-20th-century designer and inventor, Dorn says.

A Blake High School grad who grew up in Lutz, Dorn says he has a Floridian fondness for roadside attractions of yesteryear. He couldn't resist creating a tale inspired by an Ingersoll tragedy.

He explains that Ingersoll had owned a chain of amusement parks in the early 20th century and is credited for conceptualizing the theme park as we know it today. One of the attractions, Luna Park in Pittsburgh (1906-09), met a tragic end, and Moon City reimagines the doomed wonderland as if it were built with an outlandish, unlimited budget in the swamps of Florida.

"There are a lot of similarities in some the histories of Pittsburgh and Florida, especially at the turn of the century when inventors came in and merged magnificent, strange feats of technology and amusements," Dorn says.

Dorn met Cook at the University of Connecticut about a decade ago. The couple, now both 29, relocated to Pittsburgh after their undergrad years, so Cook could pursue her master's degree in dramatic writing at Carnegie Mellon University.

"We met in playwriting class — we were the only two people writing really, really weird plays," Dorn says. "Murphi was writing about a woman talking to her husband's severed head on a dining room table, and I was writing puppet plays about JonBenet Ramsey."

The couple have performed at the [email protected] at least once a year over the past four years, including Tonight a Clown Travels Time and An Excruciatingly Ordinary Toy Theater Show.

They're currently working on a new play and have temporarily relocated to St. Pete with their schnauzer-poodle Hugo Bones, who crosses his front paws and politely watches his masters rehearse.

Dorn's speaking manner is thoughtful and deliberate, complementing the cheerful, high-energy squeal of Cook, who sounds like a dainty cartoon character. Both act out a romance with puppets in their "fast-talking, fast-moving" Moon City.

Comments
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Dec. 17

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Dec. 17

Trans-Siberian Orchestra: The critically-acclaimed, multi-platinum band is bringing an updated presentation of "The ghosts of Christmas Eve." This winter tour will be celebrate the accomplishments of the group’s late creator and composer Paul O’Neill...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Dec. 16

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Dec. 16

Love Never Dies: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. 2 and 8 p.m., Carol Morsani Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. Start at $45. (813) 229-7827. Ice Skating at Tampa’s Winter Village...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Inside Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s first Christmas without leader Paul O’Neill

Inside Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s first Christmas without leader Paul O’Neill

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A half hour to curtain, Al Pitrelli unwinds on a couch in his spartan dressing quarters, fresh off a loading-dock Marlboro. He’s deep inside an arena, about to play the 29th show in the 18th city of the Trans-Siberian ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Tavis Smiley theatrical show canceled at Straz Center in wake of sexual misconduct allegations

Tavis Smiley theatrical show canceled at Straz Center in wake of sexual misconduct allegations

The theatrical tour about the death of Martin Luther King Jr. that Tavis Smiley was slated to bring to Tampa’s David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts has been canceled in the wake sexual misconduct allegations against the broadcaster.Death...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
This week's top holiday events: Parades, Christmas lights, theme parks and more

This week's top holiday events: Parades, Christmas lights, theme parks and more

PARADES Homosassa Christmas Boat Parade Parade begins at Marker 75 by Bird Island. Free. Homosassa Springs Marina, 10806 W Halls River Road, Homosassa. 6 p.m. Dec. 16.   Indian Rocks Beach Boat Parade It begins at the Holiday Inn Harbourside and...
Published: 12/14/17
Bar review: Spanish flair at Bulla Gastrobar in South Tampa

Bar review: Spanish flair at Bulla Gastrobar in South Tampa

Take a second and try to think of a few of the world’s biggest drinking cultures. Ireland is a freebie, but then you’ll probably move onto Germany, Russia and possibly even South Korea (yep, South Korea goes hard).How about Spain? No, I’m not just ta...
Published: 12/14/17
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Dec. 15

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Dec. 15

Katy Perry: The Teenage Dream songstress is ready to Roar as she sets off on a tour in support of the album, Witness. Synth-pop duo Purity Ring opens. 7:30 p.m., Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $45.75-$195.75. (813) 301-2500.John Prine: T...
Published: 12/14/17
From Crystal River to Brooksville, branch out to shop on these unexpected main streets

From Crystal River to Brooksville, branch out to shop on these unexpected main streets

You don’t have to stare at a greeting card to picture a bustling old main street lined with decorated shops and lampposts. Historic small-town shopping districts are easy to find, and more charming than Walmart. Beyond the downtowns of St. Pet...
Published: 12/14/17
New locations for Tampa’s New Year’s Eve fireworks, plus a Mario Lopez appearance

New locations for Tampa’s New Year’s Eve fireworks, plus a Mario Lopez appearance

New Year’s Eve fireworks in downtown Tampa will be a little different this year, as free, public viewing moves from Channelside Bay Plaza to Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park behind Amalie Arena due to ongoing construction. Meanwhile, the Pied Pipe...
Published: 12/14/17
Review: Kevin Young gives readers the truth about ‘Bunk’

Review: Kevin Young gives readers the truth about ‘Bunk’

We live in the age of the hoax.Believe me.And if you don’t believe me, believe Kevin Young, author of the sometimes disturbing but always fascinating new book Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News.In it, Yo...
Published: 12/14/17