Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New Theatre: FIZZ (3 reviews)

New Theatre opened the southeaster premiere of Rogelio Martinez's FIZZ on December 3, 2010.
Gun-toting Southern belles, cocaine-loving Rockettes, and insane soda execs all take part in this based-on-a-true-story comedy about one of history's biggest flops - the creation of New Coke. At the same time it examines the meteoric rise of Roberto Goizueta, as the first Cuban American to head a major American company. This play advances this season's theme of overcoming adversity and examines issues of immigration, the Cuban experience, and corporate America at its most bizarre.
Ricky Martinez directed a cast that included Carlos Orizindo, Bill Schwartz , Francesca Toledo, Aubrey Shavonn, Tara Vodihn, Ozzie Quintana, Andrew Wind and Scott Douglas Wilson.

Roger Martin reviewed for Miami Artzine.com:
It seems like a great idea.   A play about the true story of a Cuban immigrant who rose to be the head of Coca Cola.   Add that he introduced Diet Coke (hooray) and New Coke (boo hiss)... but it's a mess and that isn't solely the fault of New Theatre...
Carlos Orizondo as Roberto the Cuban chemist who fell in love with Coke as a boy and ultimately lived his dream has some good moments but these opportunities are seldom as the play veers wildly between the serious let's all hate the foreigner message and the slapstick characters who want their old Coke back. 
It's an eight person cast playing thirty-seven different roles including three reporters, three Rockettes, six shoppers and four protesters.  Plus nine characters appearing on a video screen.  It's wig and mustache heaven and it's all too much.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for the South Florida Theater Review:
Fizz is a jarring mélange of intriguing, even entertaining elements that simply did not mesh in Saturday’s production of Rogelio Martinez’s script under Ricky Jay Martinez’s direction.
...Fizz juxtaposes scenes of very real human conflict with bizarre flights of the surreal. There are wry and relevant observations in these over-the-top scenes, but they don’t fit in with the rest of the play. The overall effect is that is that of a mess. Some playgoers might even argue they could be excised without hurting the main story.

It’s frustrating because some of the individual elements work beautifully. For instance, Goizueta’s speeches to the audience (ostensibly immigrants at a naturalization ceremony) are simultaneously wry, insightful and ultimately moving.
The strongest single element is the performance of Carlos Orizondo under Martinez’s direction. Carefully coifed, dressed in a double-breasted suit and blessed with a gleaming smile, Orizondo makes Goizueta a handsome, earnest, charismatic man who has embraced the American Dream and is puzzled why this country has not returned his unquestioning devotion. Orizondo single-handedly grounds the play and holds it together.
His cast mates... must play numerous roles, donning intentionally false moustaches and falser voices in the Wonderland scenes. Some of the characterizations work, but most are less believable than the denizens of a Roadrunner cartoon, but that might be intentional.
Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Miami New Times:
What does Coca-Cola have to say about America — the immigrant experience, globalization, progress versus tradition, gods versus science? ...In Fizz, Martinez initially seeks an answer, penning a dazzling and bizarre first act before losing his nerve when confronted with some of playwriting's more banal challenges, such as resolution of plot and creation of credible antagonists (to name two that give him particular trouble). In what appears to be minor creative panic, Martinez downgrades the entire venture to a conventional comedy with a big-hearted American moral.
Carlos Orizondo, along with Bill Schwartz (who plays Goizueta's number two, a character loosely based on Donald R. Keogh), serve as charming, sturdy straight-men, flabbergasted by the American spectacle parading across the stage...
...the ensemble brings to life a whole zoo of characters, presented with a broad intensity that seems equal parts sketch-comedy and, weird as it sounds, modern dance. They're having a lot of fun with this show, and it shows. Vodihn's coked-out Rockette is un-bucking-felievable — we laugh so hard, and for so long, we almost drown out the next scene. And Andrew Wind's two-minute performance as an actor playing a deranged Southern Coke-drinker for a Pepsi commercial literally stops the show when the audience doesn't stop applauding.
Two people from Fizz stick in this writer's brain more than anyone else. The first is director Ricky J. Martinez. In a video interlude early in the play, he portrays both a redneck and druggie... He's fabulous, and I'd like him to act more. Martinez's talents as director are considerable — especially in a play like this one, which relies on whizz-bang showpieces rather than sustained mood-building...
The second is Aubrey Shavonn. I was annoyed by her performance in In Development last year, and I now assign blame entirely to that show's turgid script. Here, she glitters. She is an object of vivacious hilarity when she's a wronged, gun-toting Coke fan. She also projects a sweet, subtle pathos in her quieter moments...
FIZZ plays at the New Theatre through December 19, 2010.


  1. I think Hirschman is 100% wrong. Its obvious that those characters are larger than life on purpose. It was quite clear to me that the reason for this was to highlight how crazy Americans went over a soft drink. I think he needs to learn to have a little fun. I found that all the characters were entertaining and hilarious. The expressionistic style was brilliant and a great contrast between the anchor character Roberto Goizueta. This play is one you DO NOT want to miss!

  2. I agree. Hirschman completely missed the point. I loved the characters and the play was indeed hilarious. I'm recommending it to all my friends. Thanks to New Theatre for a really fun evening.

  3. all in all? This play sucks! No need to beat around the bush debating about meaning and what was what to who. The bottom line is that it sucked. Royally. If you disagree then i ask you what the total profit was at THE NEW for this production. If was in the the black then the overhead must have been minimal at best.