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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Re-Seduced: Minnesota Fringe Festival, Day 2.

On Sunday, we once again rearranged dinner plans slightly to accommodate our theatre schedule. Also, Saturday was just a leeettle overindulgent on the food and booze front, so a later dinner was not a bad idea.

First up, Steampunk! Anyone who knows anything about me knows that a show called Robot Lincoln: The Revengeance (The Musical) is like crack tailored to my specific nerd receptors, so that was our first show on Saturday, back at the Thrust (STOLL!) stage at the Rarig Center. (See previous entry for bitching about the building, but liking the actual space.) As we waited in the traditional second of 2 lines, I tweeted gleefully about the warning sign outside the theatre (guns, strobe lights, adult language, and violence), and broke the rules about no photography (only realized that I was breaking a rule in retrospect; also I'm not sure taking a picture of my program counts as rule breaking, even though I was in the theatre) to capture the Best. Dramatis. Personae. Evar.

Sadly, the show itself was pretty disappointing. The "plot" was convoluted and there wasn't much in the way of fun dialogue. The performers were singing to taped music, which led to a lot of problems. (I feel like an utter shit mentioning that—my homeless, underfunded theatre group had to do the same with a production of Mother Courage and Her Children, and it was a nightmare.) On the plus side, the group seems to have paid a lot of attention to the design, and that paid off. Robot Lincoln's costume was terrific, and there were a number of other great visual touches.

The "love duet" between Booth and Robot Lincoln was everything I think the show could have been with more time and stability for the production. Jason Garton was terrific as Booth, and Libby Slater was hilarious as Mary Todd Lincoln (less so as "Uncle Samantha," but that character was a very sketchy).

From the Rarig Center we were off to the Gremlin Theatre in St. Paul for The Duties and Responsibilities of Being a Sidekick by The Barkada Theatre Project. Other than being a sucker for superhero stuff, we hadn't chosen this show for any particular reason, but I'm so glad we did. The show was really well written (an interesting, compact story—no mean feat with a maximum of 60 minutes), had great fight choreography, and the cast (featuring Randy Reyes, whom we'd loved in Brain Fighters on Saturday) was just great from top to bottom. Also, great pre-show and entr'acte music, even if they DID cut us off on the theme from The Greatest American Hero just when we were taking it to the bridge.

From the Gremlin back to Theatre Garage for Those Were the Days by Blue Umbrella Productions. TV themes arranged swing-choir style with a minimal, but well-done framing story? Yes please! Really great arrangements, great ensemble and solo work from the whole cast (I forgive the mishap with the Jem theme, though it is dear to my heart), fun choreography. I'm not sure I would have done the whole Eight is Enough theme, but it's not my show, now is it? Shutting up, sir.

And finally, back to the Thrust at the Rarig Center for The Smothers Brothers Grimm., by Comedy Suitcase. This was the show we'd rearranged our dinner plans for. It had some great highlights, especially the closing "silent film," but the whole show was uneven.

The framing premise involves Milton, a young boy (wonderful work by Andrew Moy) who has recently lost his comedy-obsessed grandfather, and whose parents are convinced that he is not dealing with the loss. The parents try to get him to sleep by telling fairy tales, but Milton insists on "punching them up like grandpa would." We get Hansel & Gretel as told by Laurel & Hardy. Our group was divided on this. I mostly liked it, but felt it went on a bit long (then again, it's Laurel & Hardy . . .). Next was Rapunzel a la I Love Lucy, which just felt awkward and as if there weren't a lot of there there. Bob Newhart responding to the 911 call from the Three Bears, suffered from not enough Bob Newharty goodness. Some of the interstitial stuff with the parents and lovable drunk uncle were really good, and some fell a bit flat. The epic silent Sleeping Beauty segment was epic.

I was hit really hard by the realization that my fun at Fringe was over. I'm still trying to talk myself off the ledge of crazy renewal of my involvement in theatre.

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