The Minnesota Fringe has made available for a short time video versions of 28 Fringe productions that were recorded during the festival. The price for each stream is determined by the Producer so they will vary from show to show. The great news is that 100% of the that goes to the artists. This is a fantastic way to support Fringe artists and to catch shows you may have missed. Click here for more information and a full list of available shows https://minnesotafringe.org/hangover
Six of the shows I chose to award the unprestigious The Stages of MN Fringe of the Day Award are included in the list and I’m sharing my short reviews of each of them below. These all come highly recommended by me.
Endometriosis the Musical. It’s a musical about Jane Smith and her ongoing struggles with extremely painful menstrual cycles. Making things worse she lives in our world where far too often women’s health issues are controlled by men. This has all the makings of an intense social drama but instead it’s an hysterically funny musical. Written by Maria Bartholdi and Kristin Stowell this is sure to be one of the hottest tickets of this years Fringe Festival. Featuring a brilliantly expressive and all in cast lead by Abby Holmstrom that brings the house down with every song. Nothing is off limits and it confronts the sad truth that for many people, the subject of this production is something that should not be mentioned above a whisper and definitely not during dinner at Applebees. I urge you to reserve your seats now this one feels like a sell out.
Who’s Afraid of Winnie the Pooh? In which Pooh and Piglet attempt to crush each others souls while Christopher and Hunny watch on in horror. Combining the world of Winnie the Pooh with the bitter marital games of Edward Albee’s classic play is anything but obvious. They seem like strange bedfellows but once you see it, well, it fits so perfectly it seems shocking that no one thought of it before. But then you think, who in the hell would EVER think of doing this? Thank God writer Alexander Gerchak did! The script, the performances, and the cross pollination of these disparate ideas is dead brilliant. Endlessly inventive, the premise never runs out of steam and holds true until the very end. It shouldn’t work but, it really works! Word of mouth should turn this into a hit. It’s easily the most accomplished script and production I’ve seen so far at Fringe. The entire cast is great but a special shout out to Thomas Buan as Winnie, best dramatic performance so far. Knowledge of the works of A.A. Milne regarding Pooh Bear and Edward Albee’s play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? are not required but will greatly enhance your enjoyment of the play.
Finger Licken’ Good. For me, this was the most anticipated show heading into the Fringe Festival. I’ve seen many of these artists before both on and backstage and have really responded to and admired their work. It tells the story of Colonel Harland David Sanders and his rise to become the founder of KFC and the undisputed chicken king of America. It’s hilarious, at times a little risque, and when it comes to Colonel Sanders the play leaves little to the imagination. There are some portions of the story that don’t seem quite right, but luckily Shannon Custer is there as the fact checker to keep things more or less on the up and up. This cast loaded with local talent like Custer, Duck Washington, and co-writers/performers Heather Meyer and Nissa Nordland Morgan does not disappoint, nor does Meyer and Morgan’s script. The show belongs though to the incomparable Sam Landman, in what can only be described with the euphemism that he gives a very brave performance. Director Mike Fotis whom I’ve seen perform at Huge Improv does an amazing job as the show seems to fly by, so many fun choices like having Landman on stage as the audience comes in laying on a Chicken skin rug in a red silk robe and hardly anything else. To the staging of the Colonel’s last moments in what one might call poetic justice. Everything from costumes and props to the occasional musical number work together to make one of the wildest and enjoyable shows at Fringe.
Moonwatchers. It’s a hilarious show about two moonwatchers whose job it is to turn on the moon each night and manage various night sky activities like having the cow jump over the moon and a comet fly by. It’s all pretty routine until one night they discover the moon has been stolen. While one of the moonwatchers subs in for the moon the other goes off in search of the moon rustler who made off with it. Yes, you read that right – they are not just a myth, there really are moon rustlers. This show gives you everything: comedy, music, comets, cows, and if that isn’t enough it gives you the moon as well, literally. It’s the kind of show that sinks or swims on the personalities of it’s two performers. Nigel Berkeley and Corey Quinn Farrell are two very charming moonwatchers.
WHOOSH! The Civil War Mythology of Michael Hickey and His Perilous Precipitation Over St. Anthony Falls.!… is… Wow! What a performance by Andrew Erskine Wheeler. Portraying multiple characters throughout, each is a brilliant characterization, distinct and fully realized. It’s a story that incorporates so many different elements. The Civil War, post war, Artist Douglas Volk, it’s part ghost story, part comedic tale of an Irish immigrant and his survival going over the St. Anthony Falls. It’s so many different things yet it tells a cohesive and well structured tale. Allison Vincent does an amazing job directing the show. The timing and staging of how and when to move, pull props out, refer to visual aids, subtle changes in costume, all done brilliantly. Which brings us again to Wheeler’s performance, It is absolutely the best piece of acting I’ve see at Fringe, a true tour de force and a master class in stage acting. Saturday he has performances back to back, if you haven’t gotten to it, make sure you do. Frankly, I’m staggered by the thought of him performing twice with but 40 minutes between them, it is such a physical and intense performance it hardly seems possible.
Jesus Qhrist 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?
I also highly recommend the show He-Man is The Devil & Other Satanic Panic Tales is a one man show written and performed by Kyle B. Dekker based upon his own childhood. I’ve learned as a parent of a transgender child that what is more powerful in terms of opening people’s minds and hearts is not news stories or social media memes but telling your own story directly to people. I have certainly been aware of many of the things in Dekkers play, but for the first time I didn’t just hear them, I felt them. It’s a well constructed assemblage of stories of his upbringing in an ultra right wing religious family. that vividly illustrates a childhood that sounds exactly like what the adults in his life were supposedly trying to save him from. I want to applaud Dekker for his skill in taking a childhood full of stories like the ones he shares and selecting the perfect examples for creating something that flows like a narrative. I also want to thank him for sharing so much of himself. After the performance Dekker remarked to the audience that this was the first time he had ever performed at Fringe, in the past he produced and wrote shows. I’m so glad he chose to perform the show himself, it made it so much more powerful. Telling our stories directly to people like this is what creates understanding and empathy.