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Do you have your comfy walking shoes, shorts and t-shirt ready for Thursday night? That’s our first taste of the Minnesota Fringe Festival and by Saturday the sidewalks and lobbies will be full of avid Fringers dishing recommendations and pans.
I posted some titles from the first Fringe Preview that seemed worthy of a chance. Last Monday’s second preview yielded these possibilities. Again, this is based on three minutes of what you have to assume is the best face the producers could put forward. Go to the Fringe site for more details.
“The Jungle Book” seemed so charming in a little song; “The Confederate” is an interesting story; “Fifth Planet” (at left) is by David Auburn (“Proof”) so it has a pedigree; “Mainly Me Productions’ Our American Assassin” has Shanan Custer – good enough for me; Same with Sam Landman in “Kitty, Kitty, Kitty;” “Into the Unreal City” is a musical that seemed good in preview; “Sole Mates: An Almost Romantic Comedy” is iffy but maybe worth a look; “The Finkles Theater Show” has a clumsy humor that’s well done; “Hi! Hello! Namaste?” had an exciting, slightly ragged and energizing dance in the preview that had me writing “Yes!” until they got to the wooden dialogue; “The Sex (Ed) Show!” (below right) should be enjoyable, the Dirty Curls; “Shakespeare Apocalypse: A New Musical” was great – again, for three minutes.
Glancing through the schedule yielded a few other nuggets that weren’t seen in preview. So this is based
strictly on reputations and hunches (isn’t that how the world works?).
“Amateur Hour” has the Scrimshaw magic, Levi Weinhagen, Joe Bozic and Mike Fotis. Great potential. Speaking of Fotis, he’s back with “Fotis Canyon,” which sounds like Mike sitting around telling funny stories. Fotis is always worth the effort.
Colleen Kruse and Karen Paurus team up for “Becoming Inga.” Funny story teller, great singer and lots of blue material. Definitely worth considering.
I love the Ausland boys, Andy and Rick. They’re back with “Buckets and Tap Shoes” this year. If you need to get your heart re-started, this is the show.
“Crime and Punishment” has this going for it: Live Action Set in the basement of the Soap Factory. ‘Nuff said.
"Unreal City" at the Fringe Preview No. 2. All photos by Renee Schneider Jones.
“Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend” is by Hardcover Theater, which does well with its literary adaptations. More traditional for those who want to feel like they are actually watching a real play at the Fringe.
“Habibi” has James A. Williams in the cast. Not often you see a Broadway actor in the Fringe. “History of Minnesota – Unscripted” has the imprimatur of Theater of Public Policy. “Native Man” is a new musical by Minneapolis playwright Rhiana Yazzie. “Natural Novice” is an out of towner that has gotten some good notice at other festivals.
I like Minnesota history, so “The Ohman Stone” caught my eye. It’s about the controversy over whether the Kensington Runestone is real or a fake. “One Arm” is a Moises Kaufman project using a Tennessee Williams screenplay. Those are pretty good names.
I trust Nautilus Music Theater implicitly so “Reach” should be well worth your musical tastes; “Real Dead Ghosts” is by a New York company that has done good work in this Fringe. You can also trust Peter Moore to do well with “The Second Oldest Profession,” a memoir of sorts of his 40 years in the biz.
Some Shakespeare buffs are putting together “Twelfth Night” and “What You Will,” two pieces of the same script, it appears (I could be wrong). Terry Hempleman, Catherine Johnson Justice, Alayne Hopkins, Sasha Andreev and Sam Bardwell are some of the actors involved. Very impressive.
Finally, “Four Humors Do Every Show in the Fringe” banks on this talented gang of pranksters to find something funny in each of the other 168 shows in the festival.
Otherwise, look for reviews starting Friday morning online at Star Tribune.
A couple weeks in advance of the happy chaos that the opening of the Green Line will create, Bedlam Theatre opens the door on its new digs in Lowertown St. Paul (213 4th St. E.) on Saturday with a day-long party from noon till after midnight. The festivities begin with kid-friendly puppet activities, followed by cabaret performances, live bands and wee-hours dancing to vinyl spun by KFAI music director Miguel Vargas.
In keeping with Bedlam's philosophy of putting the community in community-based theater, the space will serve food and drink daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to encourage residents and visitors to stop in, share ideas and be part of whatever creative process might be going down at the moment. The same concept was behind their popular happy hour at the former West Bank location in Minneapolis, but they're opting for midday this time around because the lunch hour is more of a peak activity time in downtown St. Paul, said director John Bueche.
Bedlam's first Lowertown show opens June 13, the night before the new Green Line brings thousands of Minneapolitans who hate driving on 94 pouring into St. Paul's streets. Titled "The Beast," the play written by Ryan Underbakke follows events leading up to a fictional massacre of an immigrant family in northern Minnesota.
For now, the theater's website is calling for deep-pocketed beer drinkers to fork over $1,000 to help them stock up for tomorrow's party, with the payback being free beer through 2020. Good luck with that, guys -- we're guessing there might be a few takers. See more info here.
A still from the documentary "Afternoon of a Faun," about New York City Ballet great Tanaquil le Clercq.
Star Tribune writers and freelance contributors have been scanning advance copies of movies that are part of the Minneapolis-St.Paul International Film Festival. Their reviews are online now. The festival opens April 3 and runs through April 19, with more than 200 movies in all.
In reviews of 55 MSPIFF titles, our critics were, in general, enthusiastic. While they gave 4-star ratings (the highest) to just four movies, they handed out the coveted 3.5-star ratings to 13 films.
The movies that won four stars are: "Afternoon of a Faun," a documentary about legendary New York City Ballet dancer Tanaquil le Clercq; "Boyhood," a 12-year project of director Richard Linklater; "Flashback Memories," a music documentary in 3D about a Japanese didgeridoo player who suffered a brain injury; and the two-part crime saga from India, "Gangs of Wasseypur."
Here are the titles that won 3.5 stars:
Bicycling with Moliere
Just a Sigh
The Trip to Italy
Gremlin Theatre has turned lemons into lemonade for a production of "A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur." The small company had to shut down its run of the Tennessee Williams play last week at a St. Paul house rented from St. Clement's Episcopal church. Turns out the occupancy status of the house did not allow a theatrical production and negotiations with the city proved futile.
However, the show will go on, at Open Eye Figure Theatre in Minneapolis. Susan Haas, Open Eye's producing artistic director, offered Peter Hansen's company the use of an apartment space that is in the same building as Open Eye's theater. Hansen said the room, which Haas and Michael Sommers use as a workshop studio, will work perfectly. There's even a working kitchen in the back.
Jef Hall-Flavin directed the show, with a cast of Suzanne Warmanen, Sara Richardson, Jane Froiland and Noe Tallen. "Creve Coeur" is a late work from Williams that re-explores many of the themes of earlier plays. It's a one-act set in 1930's St. Louis.Hall-Flavin's production will move to the Williams festival in Provincetown, Mass., in September.
Gremlin's production opens at 7:30 Thursday and runs through the weekend (4 p.m. Sunday). The second week's performances run Wednesday through Sunday, with the same curtain times.
Go to gremlin-theatre.org for more information.
Last summer, a group of young actors/singers/musicians cobbled together their enthusiasm and put on a great production of "Hair" that captured the spirit of togetherness, community, comity so much intended by that show.
"The Last Five Years" is about as far from "Hair" as you can get, but the youngsters at Flip Theatre fill me with the same sense of hope and admiration. The poignant musical by Jason Robert Brown concludes this weekend at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage and it is worth seeing. Britta Ollmann and Bobby Gardner play Cathy and Jamie, who relate the ups and downs of their relationship from different angles. Jamie starts his story on the first day she shows up at Cathy's house with a bouquet of flowers. She starts by sitting on moving boxes as they are splitting up. Their paths only cross once, on the day of their wedding.
Flip's production rides on the shoulders of Jason Hansen's five-piece band and the big expressive voices of Ollmann and Gardner. John Lynn directs with a very clear eye toward the state of the relationship, the position of each character and how they intersect (or don't). Gardner and Ollman really express the youth and joy of these young lovers -- an innocence that we hope never sours. Of course, it does and that is aching point of Brown's lovely little two-hander. I have seen this musical before, but it really landed here with young singers and a larger band.
I wish I would have seen this production earlier. It closes Sunday, but you can still get tickets. Go to http://www.fliptheatre.org
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