Monday, July 31, 2023

Fringe 2023 - Other Queer Content

(UPDATE 8/4: Sadly this show dropped out before their opening performance. Good news is that taking over the open slot is Walking Shadow's production of the late Charlie Bethel's one-man adaptation of Gilgamesh, performed by John Heimbuch.)

Old Habits: A Dragtastrophe
A Blank Page Burns
Written by Frances Wetherall

Venue: Theater In The Round
Tagged for: Comedy, Dance, Physical Theater, Sci-Fi, LGBTQIA+ Content, Political Content
Content Warnings: Adult Language, Crude Humor, Gun/Weapon Usage, Loud Noises, Violence

When Dani wins a drag competition run by a mysterious organization, they also gain a powerful rival. Just how far (and how fast!) will Lavishous go to get the crown she thinks she deserves?

In this campy action-comedy, troublemaking is all. When Dani wins the first round of a Drag competition run by a mysterious organization, they also earn the envy of a powerful rival. Just how far will Lavishous go to get the crown she thinks she deserves?. Elle, Dani’s Minnesota nice girlfriend, will have to find her inner warrior while their respective fathers, Jake and Drew, must return to the habits of their rebellious youths in order to have any chance at saving the one they all care for. Happy Holes golf course doesn’t know what’s coming. Old Habits: a Dragtastrophe is a ridiculous, heartfelt, pull-no-punches thrill ride through the Twin Cities Queer Scene at its most whimsical.

This preview had a couple of stoners and a car that flies over a lake to escape pursuing cops, all in three minutes, so… points for effort…

The FalseHood
Public Displays of Affection
Created by Tim Cameron

What if we could SEE the realm of truth and meaning inside our collective mind? In music, glowing image, movement and text, The FalseHood explores whether we can recognize lies and truth, and act accordingly.

Venue: Southern Theater
Tagged for: Dance, Musical Theater, Original Music, Physical Theater, Puppetry, Sci-Fi, Historical Content, LGBTQIA+ Content, Political Content
Content Warnings: Adult Language, Loud Noises, Mental Illness, Sexual Content, Other Divisive Content

I’ve seen other Fringe offerings from this artist.  They’re always their own kind of world, always unusual and a bit off-kilter, but very deliberately.  You’ll know from the preview video if this kind of thing is for you or not.  But it’s another brand of queer content for the Fringe this year.  Also, I’m amused whenever I see a show that uses the catch-all content warning “Other Divisive Content” because it could quite literally be anything and you won’t know until you’re in the middle of it.

Here's some handy links to this year's Top 10 list and  Top 11-20 List, plus the full list of all returning favorites at this year's Fringe, plus a link to all the 2023 Minnesota Fringe Festival coverage.  

Fringe 2023 - Strong Script, Shaky Preview - Starved

Starved: The Astonishing True Story of the University of Minnesota Starvation Experiment
Written by Richard Chin
Produced by Pat O’Brien

As WWII ended, the Allies faced the task of caring for millions starving in Europe & Asia. The U of Mn. enlisted volunteers to study how to reintroduce the starving to food. First they had to starve themselves!

Venue: Augsburg MainStage
Tagged for: Drama, Storytelling, Historical Content, Political Content
Content Warnings: Abuse/Physical Violence, Blood, Suicidal Ideation/Self-Harm

Back when I was working with Workhouse Theatre on their new play reading series, this play “Starved” was submitted to us and we were all impressed with it and did a reading.

So it was nice to see this script resurface, even if it is in a compressed version for the Minnesota Fringe Festival, and there isn’t a lot of information on the Fringe show page to go by.  Fascinating true story, based in Minnesota, about science using conscientious objectors to World War II in order to study the effects of starvation, to learn lessons to help refugees and concentration camp survivors.  The dynamic between doctors and test subjects, and the ethical questions involved in something like this, are intriguing.  And it looks like they have a good cast.

Sadly, the primary narrator for their preview doesn’t fully have their lines down yet, and ate up time the rest of the cast really needed at the end when they got cut off.  Awkward moments like, “My name is… wait, don’t tell me…” They had notecards in their hands, too, so I was a little perplexed - use the cards, my friend.

Regardless of the sometimes wobbly presentation, it is a good script, worth checking out if the story interests you.


Here's some handy links to this year's Top 10 list and  Top 11-20 List, plus the full list of all returning favorites at this year's Fringe, plus a link to all the 2023 Minnesota Fringe Festival coverage.  

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Fringe 2023 - Charming Preview Two-Fer - When You Hear The Chime, and Wells Is Third On The Waitlist

Sometimes a Fringe preview won’t exactly tell you a lot about the show, but it does introduce you to artists who are so charming and funny you think, “I wouldn’t mind spending 45 minutes or so with this person, whatever it is they’re doing in their show, I might check that out.”

We got two that struck me this way in the first batch of Fringe previews, so I figured I’d give them a shout out.  Check out their Fringe preview videos and see if you agree with me.

First the husband and wife team of Nichole Carey and Andrew Lester

When You Hear The Chime
Alchemy Arts
Nichole Carey and Andrew Lester

A nostalgic love letter to the stories that made us, come explore what it means to believe in magic at any age. This whimsical, poignant journey will tug at your heartstrings and make you feel like a kid again.

Venue: Southern Theater
Tagged for: Comedy, Dance, Drama, Musical Theater, Storytelling, Literary Adaptation
Content Warnings: Adult Language, Flashing Lights, Loud Noises

And then there’s Wells Farnham, who finally broke out of Fringe wait list hell and is on the schedule at last, with his solo show:

Wells Is Third On The Waitlist
Wells Farnham

A veteran wait-lister critically analyzes the Paw Patrol, the Fast & the Furious films, action figures, & more, to find the one topic suitable for something he’s never been in before… his own Fringe show.

Venue: Augsburg Studio
Tagged for: Comedy, Solo Show, Spoken Word
Content Warnings: None


Here's some handy links to this year's Top 10 list and  Top 11-20 List, plus the full list of all returning favorites at this year's Fringe, plus a link to all the 2023 Minnesota Fringe Festival coverage.   


Fringe 2023 - Another Oddball Musical That’s Interesting - Extreme Roadshow

Sometimes the Fringe preview video doesn’t get posted, for any number of reasons.

One that didn’t get posted this year that was part of the first preview night was the opening act, from the new musical Extreme Roadshow:

Extreme Roadshow
John Orenstein

In this version of Antique Roadshow, worthless items are thrown into a fiery pit. A musical romp featuring a spittoon, the Mona Lisa, a diamond necklace, banjo clocks, and a surly mob. Love wins in the end.

Venue: Phoenix Theater
Tagged for: Comedy, Musical Theater, Original Music, Political Content
Content Warnings: Adult Language, Flashing Lights

The preview was a cute (if odd) scene in which a boy sings a love song to the family spittoon, who he calls his good friend Spitty.  The video might not have been posted because, bless him, the actor wasn’t able project his voice very loudly in the vast Rarig Thrust space (if only Spitty had a secret microphone installed).  The musical itself (with a cast of almost a dozen people) is going to be in the smaller Phoenix Theater space, so that shouldn’t be as much of a problem there.

And they do have a very audible and well-produced video on the Fringe page which I’ll embed here to give you a sample of what they’re working with.  Looks like fun, so give ‘em a look if Fringe is your time to catch new musicals. 


Update 8/1: My bad, the Fringe preview was posted, I just somehow completely missed it - and so, a young boy's ode to the family spittoon:


Here's some handy links to this year's Top 10 list and  Top 11-20 List, plus the full list of all returning favorites at this year's Fringe, plus a link to all the 2023 Minnesota Fringe Festival coverage.  

Fringe 2023 - Blink and You’ll Miss It - Rope Dances

Fringe is the time when I normally see most of the dance I’m going to see in any given year.  This year is no different.  There are just under a dozen shows that identify themselves with a dance and/or dance - modern tag in the line-up for Fringe 2023.

And one of them is only around for opening weekend, just Friday and Saturday.  And Friday’s performance went from sell-out risk to pre-sale closed status this week (and the Fringe is still four days off so…)

Rope Dances
BodyTalk and Friends
Created by Rebecca Trost Abas

Movement pieces inspired by Shibari - the ancient art of rope tying - used in a fun and artistic way. Dance, mime, aerial & performance art in a rope-webbed space.

Venue: Four Seasons Dance Studio
Tagged for: Dance, Musical Theater
Content Warnings: None

Rope Dances is over at the Four Seasons Dance Studio, right by Loring Park, in the neighborhood where the Fringe got its start 30 years ago.

If the show sounds interesting to you, it looks like you probably get a ticket for the Saturday show now.

UPDATE 8/2, a.m.: Looks like both shows are open for ticketing again - maybe they found a few more chairs for the studio :)  Still just two performances, though, Friday and Saturday.  Catch 'em while you can.


Here's some handy links to this year's Top 10 list and  Top 11-20 List, plus the full list of all returning favorites at this year's Fringe, plus a link to all the 2023 Minnesota Fringe Festival coverage.  



Saturday, July 29, 2023

Fringe 2023 - Fringe Video Updates

Thanks to the Minnesota Fringe Festival’s night of previews on Monday this week, and further contact from Fringe artists, we have some video updates for promising shows I’ve previously blogged about.

So here’s a quick list of links to take you to those blog posts with new video content, in case you wanted some visual proof to help you make up your mind.



The Brothers Dangus Vol. 2

Choose Your Own Fringe Adventure

Chris Davis Does Stuff

Dock Work

Fire In My Veins

Funny Like An Abortion

A Jingle Jangle Morning

Let Me Say This About That

Lost in Bear Country


The Resilient Child

A Swimming Lesson in a Theater Without a Lifeguard

20,000 Leagues Under the Telltale Heart


The Very Model of a Modern Monster Scientist, and Monster Science’s Greatest Hits

You can see even more previews of shows I haven’t talked about yet on the Minnesota Fringe’s YouTube page.


Here's some handy links to this year's Top 10 list and  Top 11-20 List, plus the full list of all returning favorites at this year's Fringe, plus a link to all the 2023 Minnesota Fringe Festival coverage.  



Friday, July 28, 2023

Fringe 2023 - Top 10 List

Here's a post with a handy list of links to all the entries in my pre-Fringe Top 10 list for the 2023 (30th Anniversary) Minnesota Fringe Festival:





1 - 4 Bisexuals and 2 Guys Named John Kill Dracula - Lady Chamberlain Productions

Bram Stoker's classic vampire novel "Dracula" is one of the most adapted works of all time. This is another one of those adaptations. They're all dating each other in this one.



2 - Baldwin's Last Fire - Black Lives Black Words International Project

In this historical fiction, James Baldwin has retired to a life hiding away in France when he uncovers a gripping murder mystery. Witness the unravelling of his final masterpiece.



3 - Primary - Alex Church

Members of a powerful Democratic family are forced to confront exactly how far they'll go to win after their matriarch loses her primary to a progressive challenger. 15% of sales donated to Women Winning




4 - Chris Davis Does Stuff - Chris Davis

Comedian Chris Davis, brings 2 different one man shows across 5 different FRINGE performances. "Just Black Enough", exploring race and what it means to be black & "Seriously, I'm Not Gay", exploring identity.



5 - Ha Ha Da Vinci - Phina Pipia

Hailed as “Terrific" by the New York Times, this award-winning performer combines illusion, music, and theater to weave a story overflowing with the delightfully unexpected. 




6 - Dock Work - Jackdonkey Productions

An experimental, and devised show. Performed through moments of music, movement, and text. Follows the interpretive efforts of workers organizing a union.



7 - Dolly Who? - Destiny Davison

In her solo debut, DOLLY WHO?, Destiny/Dolly Davison pitches a show that doesn't exist (yet) with help from her cartoon friends, life lessons, a dash of improv, and you. 




8 - Two Stars In The Vast Dark - Found Creature

A trans-centric sci-fi event with original music & movement! A young space trucker & oddly self-aware bio-computer confront each other while stranded in the void. Can we connect across distance & difference? 



9 - The Very Model of a Modern Monster Scientist, also Monster Science's Greatest Hits - Matthew Kessen

The Fringe-favorite Monster Science series returns, with the secret and surprising history of Elora Riley, Science Assistant, and tons of the monster facts and PowerPoint you have come to rely upon!



Remounts of five of the award-winning, Fringe-favorite Rev Matt's Monster science shows - different every night! As chosen by some people I found! Watch this space for the lineup! 




10 - Coyfish - Theatre23

When Benji meets Danie online, he falls for her. But this is not your traditional boy-meets-girl storyline. This piece dives into the complexities of the developing relationship between two Asian Americans.




Here's some handy links to this year's Top 11-20 List, plus the full list of all returning favorites at this year's Fringe, plus a link to all the 2023 Minnesota Fringe Festival coverage

Fringe 2023 - Top 11 to 20 List

Here's a post with a handy list of links to all the entries in my pre-Fringe Top 11 to 20 list for the 2023 (30th Anniversary) Minnesota Fringe Festival:





11 - Reincarnation Soup - Viet Nguyen

A mythic tale of soup, Saigon, & recycled souls. Journey through the Vietnamese heart in this multi-character memory play. (Best of the Fest, Critics' Choice for Drama, & Patrons' Pick at the Orlando Fringe)



12 - Allegro - Garrison Shea

Ben is a musician who wants to compose music for films but feels stuck. When the perfect opportunity presents itself, he sprints towards it, leaving a wake of collateral damage behind him.




13 - Audacious Ignatius: Lost In Atlantis - Kyle B. Dekker

Ignatius Donnelly was a big player in 19th Century Minnesota politics, he is best known as a crackpot tied to pseudoscience, pseudohistory, and Shakespeare conspiracies. A legacy Lost in Atlantis.



14 - The Place I Return To - Cornucopia Productions (Abdimalik Ahmed)

Adapted from his poems & journal entries across five winters, we witness both the stagnation and the evolution of emotion as Abdimalik grows up between the ages of 18-21, stuck in his room with his depression.



15 - Uncle Walt - The World Crime League (Andrew Rosdail)

A disgruntled former animator and his deadbeat brother have stolen the cryogenically frozen head of Walt Disney with hopes for a big payday…except Walt has other plans.



16 - 5-Step Guide to Being German - Paco Erhard

Wanna be German? Of course you do. And now you can, as German comic Paco Erhard teaches you how. Sold out worldwide, this award-winning show finally hits America. 5 Stars: Broadway Baby. 2022 Patrons Pick Orlando.



17 - 20,000 Leagues Under the Telltale Heart - Wet Splat Productions

Verne! Poe! Dickens! Twain! Christian Andersen! Kafka! Join us for a series of improvised tableaus based on their real-life correspondence. Everything in this show definitely, definitely really happened!



18 - Lost In Bear Country: Birth, God, Death… and the Berenstain Bears - Phil Gonzales/Raffish Ripoff Productions

Phil Gonzales invites the audience into his ADHD-addled brain as he randomly selects topics that could reconcile his sense of self with the history of a family of fictional bears. That makes zero sense.



19 - Verities - Divine Entertainment Production

Songs and stories from a NYC cater waiter during the heights of the AIDS epidemic.




20 - A Jingle Jangle Morning - Spektakular Theatre

Inspired by imagery from Bob Dylan's song Mr. Tambourine Man, this is a heroine's journey space odyssey with a cast of whimsical characters, large cardboard puppets, and clowning --perfect for ages 5 -105.




Here's some handy links to this year's Top 10 List, plus the full list of all returning favorites at this year's Fringe, plus a link to all the 2023 Minnesota Fringe Festival coverage

Fringe 2023 - Full List of Returning Favorites

Here's a handy set of links to reach all the posts about returning favorites in this year's 2023 Minnesota Fringe, in alpha order:

Avi Aharoni (Chucklesworth Productions) - Pearl and Eugene: One Last Shtick

Once, Pearl and Eugene were a dynamic musical duo. They had big-time stage careers and throngs of fans. Now, they live in a Jewish retirement home and have no one to visit them. When a developer threatens to take their home away, they decide to perform one more time to raise money and save it. Can they overcome the drama that split up their old act? Will old secrets be revealed? Will the actors get tired of eating tapioca pudding? Find out!

an alleged Theatre Company - A Swimming Lesson in a Theater Without a Lifeguard

Three swim instructors attempt to teach swimming and water safety to an audience seated in a theatre without a pool. There will be quizzes to test your knowledge and a chance to win a whistle.



Allison Broeren - Fire In My Veins: Blazing Through Life With Invisible Illness

This romp with Allison about living with a rare autoimmune disease for 20 years has it all. Chronic illness is hard, horrifying, and honestly, sometimes hilarious. See the remount after a sold out opening run.

The Brothers Dangus - The Brothers Dangus Vol. 2: The People v. Dango (A Court-Mandated Parable) 

The Brothers Dangus are compelled by law to delve into the seedy underworld of the designer drug, the Dango. Explore a noir-ishly absurd contemplation of crime, punishment, and conspiratorial nationalism.



Clevername Theatre - Mother Courage Bear and Her Children

Heartcadia is at war. In Sunshine’s name, Bears and Bear Cousins battle. Clouds are pillaged. Friendship forests burn. The Rainbow River runs red with blood. But fear not; Mother Courage is a bear who cares.




Comedy Suitcase (Levi Weinhagen) - What If We Hugged?

Stories of masculinity, fatherhood, and heart disease from a comedy writer turned race and gender justice worker.




EnCompass Theatre - Funny, Like An Abortion

Monroe finds herself knocked up, and since abortions are illegal in the United States, she and her best friend Jade have an abortion party! A darkly comedic glimpse into a haunting future.




Fortune's Fool Theatre - The Resilient Child

Children should be seen AND heard. 4 local storytellers and 3 children use personal narrative, rhyme, and song to recount surviving childhood to come out strong, brave, and resilient.




Mike Fotis Productions - The Windblown Cheeks of Lovers

A staged documentary about the creation of the hit 1984 mini-series, The Windblown Cheeks of Lovers.




Scot Froelich - Phoenix Presents (Aging In An Age of Change)

We don't have to burn out or fade away. There's a third option between taking up too much space and ceasing to exist.




Ghoulish Delights - 5 Prisoners

This sci-fi/horror anthology features five short scenes about unexpected spaces that confine unexpected prisoners, written by Pat Harrigan, John Heimbuch, Ariel Pinkerton, Tim Uren, and Duck Washington.




Madde Gibba - Boy Crazy

A choose your own adventure musical. Long before Taylor Swift was up at midnight writing love songs, Madde was at a piano weepin' about boys. A night of funny stories and overly-dramatic songs.



Goddard's Gardens - Open Mic at the DREAM Shop

Open Mic at the DREAM Shop is an open and honest and loving presentation of the best of North Minneapolis. Spoken word, poetry and music combines to uplift and inspire.




Goof Goof - 101 Goofin' Things

Liv and Phil of Goof Goof perform 101 goofin' tasks, randomized for your pleasure. A show where even the performers aren't sure what's going to happen next. It's egg-xactly what you're looking for.




Hey Rube! (Marcus Anthony) - Behemoth

In an attempt to save her dying mother and reconnect with her estranged father, a cynical daughter sifts through her memories in search of hope. From the creators of last year's award-winning Orzel Rising.




Les Kurkendaal-Barrett - Climbing My Family Tree

Les takes a test on The results are shocking. Watch him uncover an almost 100 year old family mystery and meet some cool new relatives in the process!




Lady Z Productions - Choose Your Own Fringe Adventure

An unknown exciting adventure awaits for Jack, and they need your help. Are you up to the challenge? What will happen when you choose? This dark comedy involves creative twists aided by audience participation.



Maximum Verbosity (phillip andrew bennett low) - Too Many Notes

Five shows. Two decades. One whiskey-addled neurotic. A different show every night, featuring original tales of comedy, horror, and everything in between.



Heather Meyer - Let Me Say This About That, AND Fargo Allegro

Heather and Danna (with the "help" of their producer Raffi) host a podcast based on audience suggestions and "real advertisements". They improvise genres from true crime to conspiracy theories, or whatever else.




Didja hear all about what happened up there in Brainerd then? …Oh geeze… 




Timothy Mooney Repertory Theatre - Breakneck Midsummer Night's Dream

Shakespeare’s most beloved play! A dose of Renaissance Viagra! Three couples vault their way into the marriage bed via this whirlwind tale of Romantic Rivalry, Fairy Ribaldry, Love Potions… and an Ass!



Javier Morillo (minnerican productions) - patologia (or...fagology)

(dropped out of the festival just prior to the end of July)


Sandbox Theatre - Yes No Maybe (please explain)

Step back into the 90's with this heartfelt, awkward, sometimes cringy look at Kristina's notes from high school.




Michael Shaeffer - Everything Bagel

A National Poetry Slammer celebrates comic tales of whip crackers, guardian angels, misfit muppets, 80s pop music, Russian cuss words, and finally breaks the sexual tension between 2 appliances from The Office.




The Shrieking Harpies - The Shrieking Harpies

The Shrieking Harpies are a musical improv trio featuring Lizzie Gardner, Taj Ruler, Hannah Wydeven, & with Justin Nellis on the keys. Our show blends musical genres into an improvised story!



Six Elements Theatre/Mason Tyer - Kill B: The Epilogue

"Kill B: The Epilogue,” a satirical sequel to Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" duology, focuses on generational trauma, the manipulation of men, and the desire to be known and loved.



Snikt! Bamf! Thwip! - John Wick by Tim Wick (no relation)

Four John Wick movies in 45 minutes. Written by someone who, coincidentally, has the same last name as a fictional character. No dogs were harmed during the creation of this production.



Special When Lit (co-production) - Stabby Stab Stab

The Winding Sheet Outfit (co-production) - Stabby Stab Stab 

“You are a strange child. It will be of my use.”

Two pre-teens are compelled to serve a modern monster; an eyeless watcher whose price for loyalty is blood. In the age of electronic loneliness, how far would you go for friendship? Based on true events in WI.

Duck Washington (Rogues Gallery Arts) - My Only Hope for a Hero

Local theater maker, Duck Washington, returns to the Fringe with his one person exploration of bravery and cowardice. In this ever changing world, does Duck have what it takes to be a hero? Does anyone?



Brian Watson-Jones - Phoenix Presents (Slices)

Dark, twisted, and occasionally humorous stories told by those on the edges of society, sanity, and morality. A collection of storytelling monologues from The Pumpkin Pie Show by Clay McLeod Chapman, performed by Cate Jackson, Gregory Parks, H Jo Raiter, and Brian Watson-Jones.

Here's some handy links to this year's Top 10 list and  Top 11-20 List, plus a link to all the 2023 Minnesota Fringe Festival coverage.