Minnesota Fringe Festival Day 10: Neil Gaiman’s “The Wedding Present”, Happy Endings Church: A Haggardly Tale of Woe & Redemption, Jesus Qhrist (Winner of The Stages of MN Fringe of the Day Award), The Witchy World of Luna Muse, and Burr: A New Musical.

Neil Gaiman’s “The Wedding Present” is the story a newly married couple who receive a letter as a wedding gift that describes in detail their perfect wedding day. A year later they come across the letter again but it has changed. Now it’s describing their first year of marriage but instead of the happy successful marriage they have, it describes an alternate reality version where tragedy has struck and they are having a difficult time. It’s like a modern day variation on Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. The letter updates as time goes on reflecting a more and more unhappy outcome to their lives, while in their real lives they seem almost too successful and happy. In this stage adaptation of Gaiman’s short story, the gender was changed from a man and woman to two men. Perhaps a nod to Wilde, who was imprisoned for being homesexual in the less enlightened times in which he lived. It’s a great story idea, though I’ve not read the source material and the script is solid as are the performances. It did feel like the ending didn’t quite come together as clearly as it could, but that may be an issue with the short story.


Happy Endings Church… is a musical about a very religious couple who get married and found their own church. One of the guiding principles of their church is that homosexuality is wrong. What their followers and the wife do not realize is that the pastor is gay. There’s a conversion therapy camp and then they see the light and found a new church where it’s OK to be gay. It’s an unoriginal idea, that plays out without anything very interesting happening. Most of the songs are decent and the songwriting is probably it’s strongest element. The cast is obviously having fun and giving it their all, but while several are good singers, no one is a great singer and the musical performances are better written then they are performed. The idea for the musical is just not enough, it’s a concept most of us support but at this level of simplicity it makes a better bumper sticker than a musical.


Jesus Qhrist is the winner of The Stages of MN Fringe of the Day Award. A phenomenally funny and politically savvy show. Christopher Kehoe is a very charismatic performer which when you think about it is a perfect fit for Jesus. It’s humorous without being insensitive to any thinking person’s beliefs. It uses the character of Jesus to give the audience a feel for the spirit of his teachings. Then it takes a turn and it uses someone else’s words as a contrast. In doing so, it shows how the words of that second person are not compatible with the character of Jesus we have gotten to know or his teachings. It’s so effective even though it’s obvious to most of us. It seems that even the unthinking should be able to see that you cannot reconcile those words with Jesus and be able to see the truth. But, of course they will not even see the play will they?


The Witchy World of Luna Muse appears to be an autobiographical drag show about a boy who always identified with the villians and witches in stories rather than the princesses. Cam Pederson, who has created and stars in the show gives a performance that is witty, energetic, and quite sexy. A Combination of Lip Synching and dancing, both done expertly, and a comic monologue. He has the diva attitude and double entendres down pat. He has a confidence on stage that is well earned. I enjoyed this so very much and will absolutely check out future shows featuring Pederson or his alter ego Luna Muse.


Burr: A New Musical Revue is a qualified success. Most of the songs are really strong and many of the performers are good singers. This could have been, or maybe it’s better to say, this can be great. But there are a couple of things that are working against the show. First most of the acting outside of the musical numbers, is not good. It’s almost baffling how they perform the musical numbers really well and then the few moments of dialogue it’s like they have never been on stage before. Not every performer but particularly Marie Finch-Koinuma as Theodosia and Trey Arika as Aaron Burr, seemed like they were acting for the first time. And Finch-Koinuma’s problems carried over to her singing as well. At times she sang beautifully and other times, not. Stand outs in in both acting and singing were Tony Peterson as James Wilkinson and Zack Cambronne as Thomas Jefferson. The second issue was the music track they were performing too at times overpowered them. I thought the actual songs and plot line were very solid, it was in the execution that it was really hit or miss, but mostly hit. I’d love to see this expanded upon.


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