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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019 1 year ago

‘Deathtrap’ sets thrilling tone at Garden Theatre

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The theater’s latest production blends comedy with a thrilling story about murder.
by: Eric Gutierrez Staff Writer

The latest play to hit the stage at the Garden Theatre will be a killer — almost literally.

“Deathtrap,” the Garden Theatre’s latest production, premieres at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 11, and runs until Sunday, Oct. 27. Tickets are $30 to $32 and can be purchased online, by phone or at the box office. Discounts are available for students, seniors, military personnel and groups. An ASL-Interpreted show will be held on 7:30, Thursday, Oct. 24. For more details on showtimes and other information, call the Garden Theatre at 407-877-4736, or visit its website at gardentheatre.org. 

A classic comedic-thriller, “Deathtrap” is a play written by Ira Levin in 1978, and the Garden Theatre’s production of it is directed by Katrina Ploof. The play is known for its many plot twists, and it follows the story of playwright Sydney Bruhl and the lengths he would go to in order to publish the next great play. He would do anything to reach that goal — even if he had to kill for it. The play within a play features a cast of five actors, including Tatiana Sophia Eriksen who plays the role of Dutch-German psychic Helga ten Dorp.

“(It has) the suspense and the spookiness of the typical thriller, (but) there are also some moments that are just so out there,” Eriksen said. “There’s so much mystery and truth and deceit that’s revealed (throughout the show), so it kind of gives that spooky aspect while also allowing us to laugh at the absurdity of it all. … It’s unlike anything, personally, that I’ve ever done. It’s the smallest cast that I’ve ever worked with, and it’s so cool and such an intimate setting. You can really pick up on the tells and every kind of trait of each character. It leaves you questioning what’s real (and) what’s not.”

Although Eriksen is familiar with the stage as a lifelong thespian, this is her first role with the Garden Theatre. She currently lives in Tampa and has had to commute to the area for the audition and rehearsals, but her passion for performing is worth the trip. The fact that she has family and friends in the area also has made the travel a little easier on her.

Tatiana Sophia Eriksen stars as Helga ten Dorp in “Deathtrap.” It’s her first production with the Garden Theatre.

“When I got offered this role, I was so elated and so shocked that they would take a chance on somebody like me,” Eriksen said. “All my life, I’ve always wanted to be some kind of role like this, and I just see so much of myself in Helga (with) just how ridiculous she is. … She’s unlike any (role) I’ve ever done, and I’m really thankful for the chance to bring her to life.”

Unlike Eriksen, Winter Garden resident Bob Brandenburg has been involved with the Garden Theatre for about four or five years. He’s cast for the role of Sydney Bruhl’s lawyer, Porter Milgrim, in “Deathtrap,” which is his sixth production at the Garden.

“The first time I walked down the streets of Winter Garden, the theater was all boarded up before this town even had its renaissance,” Brandenburg said. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘What a sweet little theater with a great opportunity,’ and this organization has done such a great job. … They do some of the best work in town.

“I live in Winter Garden and I love this community,” Brandenburg added. “I love the people that come in and see them come backstage and say, ‘I saw you in this show, I saw you in that show, it keeps getting better’ — that’s what I love. I love being part of the heart of this town, and we all know that the arts are where the heart lies.”

Brandenburg added that although he enjoys the role he’s playing, the particular way his character’s lines are written brought about a bit of difficulty for him. Because his character is not only Sydney Bruhl’s lawyer but also his friend, the delivery of his character’s dialogue shifts throughout the play. 

“The script writer is quite particular in his dialogue,” Brandenburg said. “Memorizing the lines specifically as he’s written them can be a challenge, but a challenge worth taking.”

Eric Gutierrez is a staff writer with the West Orange Times & Observer and the West Orange Observer. He graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2015 with a double major in Journalism and Political Science. Contact Eric at...

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