Fringe Festival ‘Legend’ is evocative folk opera

  • Updated: August 7, 2013 - 8:44 AM

A Civil War-era legend unfolds in song. Plus show tunes, Pinter shorts and dance inspired by literature.

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“The Diamond Lens”

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“The Legend of White Woman Creek”

Armed with the righteousness of Manifest Destiny and the Christian Bible, West Virginian Anna Morgan Faber went west with her husband only to have her illusions about marital bliss and American Indians radically shattered. This original folk opera by the Coldharts — Nick Ryan and Katie Hartman — is framed as a séance. Hartman, encircled by candles, dons a Civil War era gown to channel Faber’s ghost. Her splendidly moving vocals, exquisite guitar artistry and rich emotional range convey genuinely epic storytelling. This production evokes an atmosphere, forlorn, spectral and sacred. (5:30 p.m. Tue., 8:30 p.m. Thu., 4 p.m. Sat., Rarig Thrust, 330 21st Av. S.)

John Townsend

“Are You There, God?”

Singer/director Windy Bowlsby, who has a shock of pinkish hair, stages this comic musical revue with lots of cheek. Bowlsby joins a vocal quintet that includes Kathleen Hardy and Paul Whittemore. In a bookstore, browsers look up from their volumes and break into song. Backed on keyboards by Brian Keenan, the singers deliver on dreams of stardom (“YouTube Sensation”), puberty (“Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Hello Love”) and love (nearly everything else). The songs are excerpted from such shows as “Matilda the Musical” (“When I Grow Up”), “Snoopy!” (“Edgar Allan Poe”), and “The Wizard of Oz.” The voices blend well together in a show with loads of charm. (10 p.m. Wed., 8:30 p.m. Fri., 2:30 p.m. Sat.; Illusion Theater, 528 Hennepin Av. S., eighth floor)

Rohan Preston

“Standing on the Hollow”

Choreographer Tamara Ober of Present State Movement, musician Julie Johnson and filmmaker D.J. Mendel join forces for a potent work inspired by three literary icons: Flannery O’Connor, Toni Morrison and Mary Lerner. This piece has an elegant sneakiness — it’s the subconscious that first grasps the themes of memory, loss and resilience. Ober’s fearless rough-and-tumble movement, Johnson’s surprisingly raucous flute-playing and Mendel’s lush film of natural settings inspire an array of emotional responses while also suggesting the presence of precious stories, some well-known, others still secret, perhaps forever so. (7 p.m. Tue., 2:30 p.m. Sat., Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Av. S.)

Caroline Palmer

“Landscape and Night”

Excellent director Bryan Bevell is staging two shorts by Harold Pinter. In each, fine actors Bob Malos and Bethany Ford poke at themes of language, romance, sex and memory. In “Landscape,” Beth sits in a rocker and stares into space, languidly recalling a trip to a beach, a sleeping man and a whispered query: “Baby?” Duff’s reveries are more animated. “Night” is a sketch about a longtime couple’s non-matching recollections of their early attraction. Expertly acted but frustratingly opaque, the playlets will appeal most strongly to Pinter completists. (10 p.m. Wed., 8:30 p.m. Fri., 4 p.m. Sat., Theatre in the Round, 245 Cedar Av. S.)

Claude Peck

“Adore”

Cities Classical Dance Ensemble packs eight works by seven choreographers into one uneven show. Micah Chermak’s “Dance of Bell and String,” a duet for himself and Michelle Ludwig, stands out for its cool precision and subtle sexiness. Kim Norberg’s quartet “Nolens Volens” casts an ethereal spell, while Jennifer Mack’s contemporary piece “In Memory of Missing” suggests an intriguing interior story for dancer Julie Marie Muskat. The rest of the program is too safe, relying more on the familiar beauty of ballet than using it as a tool for risk-taking. (8:30 p.m. Tue., 1 p.m. Sat., 2:30 p.m. Sun.; Southern Theater, 1420 Washington Av. S.)

Caroline Palmer

“The Diamond Lens”

One usually connects obsession to porn, hoarding or creating the world’s biggest ball of twine. “The Diamond Lens” provides a refreshing twist, offering obsession with microscopes and the tiny worlds they reveal. Based on an 1858 short story, this production does serviceable work in bringing the multi-character story to life with a small cast and a few costume, wig and accent changes. What’s missing is a genuine and passionate connection to the material by Phillip Andrew Bennett Low as the obsessed protagonist. (5:30 p.m. Wed., 4 p.m. Sun., Music Box Theatre, 1407 Nicollet Av. S.)

Brian Leehan

 

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  • “Are You There, God?”

  • Minnesota Fringe Festival

    Minnesota Fringe Festival

    What: 896 performances of 176 shows over 11 days. • When: Weekdays beginning at 5:30 p.m. with last show at 10 p.m.; Sat.-Sun, beginning at 1 p.m. Ends Sun. • Where: 16 venues near West Bank, Loring Park, downtown, Uptown. • Tickets: $12 per show. Multishow passes available at discount. Plus $4 button. 1-866-811-4111. • Web: startribune.com/fringe and fringefestival.org.

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