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Friday, August 29, 2014

What's On in September?

September is a traditionally quiet month for theatre in Edmonton.  I think the Fringe has something to do with that.  People need a little time to recover, rehearse and build the next show.  Similarly the audience needs a bit of down time to handle all that happens in the Fall and many are a bit tired out and pocket poor from whatever shenanigans they have participated in over the summer months.

There are a couple of shows coming towards the end of September to kick off the 2014-15 Theatre Season.

 Kim's Convenience by Ins Choi opens the 2014/15 season at the Citadel Theatre.  This is the Soulpepper Theatre production which started at the 2011 Toronto Fringe Festival.  It's a tight little comedy about a Korean family who runs a convenience store in the rapidly changing Regent Park area of Toronto.  Following it's runaway success at the Toronto Fringe, it was picked up by Soulpepper for an even more successful production (both commercially and critically) and then the show began a National Tour. This is a quintessentially Canadian story (how many of us are immigrants?) and has been described as both hilarious and touching. Kim's Conveniences runs at the Citadel Theatre in the Shoctor from Sept 20th to October 11th.

Fatboy, at Theatre Network is another show with it's roots in the Fringe. This time it's the Sterling-Award winning show from the 2012 Edmonton International Fringe. Described as a live-action Punch and Judy show inspired by Alfred Jarry's UBU ROI! Scatological, scabrous and scandalous - a pummeling comedy that will leave you punch drunk. Fatboy runs from September 16th to 28th at the Roxy Theatre. 

Finally, The Violet Hour kicks off the Studio Theatre season at the Timm's Centre. A deliciously dark comedy set in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby era. A Princeton graduate who wishes to be a publisher must choose between two manuscripts: his best friend from college's masterpiece, or his lover's compelling memoir. I beleive this would be one of the MFA Candidate's shows but I am not sure which one. The show runs from September 18th to 27th.

It's going to be hard for me to wait until halfway through the month to see anything.  I'm hoping the start of school will be enough crazy to keep me satisfied until these shows open!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fringe Wrap-Up

It feels a little weird to write a wrap-up because technically I am not done.  I have a hold-over show to go to this Saturday so that means it's technically still Fringe, right? I have to say, I was very pleased with the line up for hold-overs this year.  I think they really represent some of the best work that was presented this year - best in that the companies involved worked hard and went the extra mile to produce something that was artistically excellent. It's also very diverse, which I like, as I think it represents the diversity of what Fringe goers want to see. Also, all of the shows held-over made my Word of Mouth posts which tells me that they were the kinds of shows that a Fringe Goer would tell someone to go to!

You can find the Hold-Overs here.

So, as I look back, here are the shows that resonated the most with me from this year's Fringe Festival.  Bear in mind I did not see everything (I think I saw 27 shows in addition to my own 2):

DogFight - This show left me crying. Other than the seating, it felt like so much more than a Fringe show.

McCrackin 2: The Whackining - Going to this show felt like an event.  The theatre was packed and even before the show started there was an electricity.  Then it started and was deliciously ridiculous!

eleven-oh-four - Best new work I saw this Fringe.  Creepy and hilarious.

Flora and Fawna - Hilarious and touching.  No Mean Girls!

Red Wine, French Toast and the Best Sex You've Ever Had - such a cool show - surprising, athletic, emotional and whimsical.

3... 2... 1... - This was the last show I saw of Fringe and it was well worth the wait.  It's a tightrope of a show that requires excellent direction and acting or else it could easily be a disaster.  Luckily, with Wayne Paquette at the helm and Jamie Cavanaugh and Chris W. Cook on stage it veered close enough to the edge to keep us pulled in, but never went off into melodrama.

Anyhow, I hope you all had a great Fringe.  I know I did.  Two shows was a little much for me to manage, but luckily I had great teams to help them come together and run! See you next August!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Five Show Friday at Fringe!

I saw four shows in addition to my own yesterday and in my travels I got from the Fringe site to Scona High School in less than 10 minutes.  I am pretty proud of myself! Here are the highlights from what I saw!

Red Wine, French Toast, and the Best Sex you Ever Had - A Sold Out Westbury Theatre for a dance show? WHY?  Because it was so good.  Accessible, complicated, whimsical, & saucy - so many descriptors for this show.  It's held over for good reason and I am so glad to see a piece like this in the mix.  This is one of those fringe gems that makes the Fringe lottery of ticket buying pay off.  You pay $15 and you get to see something worth so much more.

Polly, Polly - A really interesting concept and very funny solo piece all about Polly. Sit centre if you can because of the sight-lines in the space, but it's still engaging even from the sides.  It surprised me a little because it wasn't what I was expecting - that's always a good thing. Lots of laughs, and a little bit more.

Dogfight - This show had me in tears at the end.  It's hard to believe that this was a fringe show, the quality of the production was so good.  Excellent singing and acting all-around, but especially from the leads Chris Scott and Mary Kate Whitehead.  Sydney Williams is another stand-out in a smaller role but I cant' wait to see her again onstage.  She has something. Like Red Wine, French Toast this is one of those gems that you are lucky to see. I am stunned that it got anything less than 5 stars because I honestly do not know what more they could have done.

I've got a couple more to see tonight and tomorrow.  I hope you manage to get out to see some great stuff. I know I have!

Word of Mouth... Saturday, August 23rd... Fringe 2014

A Couple More Word of Mouth Recommendations... I was running a lot yesterday so I didn't get a chance to talk much...

3... 2... 1...
The Story of O's
McCrackin 2 (good thing it's held over!)
Daddy Issues

Two more days, catch 'em while they're here!

As to the running, over the last few days I made it from Holy Trinity to the Garneau Theatre (Metro Cinema) in 6 minutes and from the Fringe Grounds to Scona in less than ten minutes.  For the first feat, Keri Mitchell dubbed me a "Fringe Goddess" so I am going to be getting that on a t-shirt!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fringe Highlights, Thursday, August 21st - TONIGHT I LAUGHED! A LOT!!

Today was our Back to Back Shows day for Crack and Little Monsters.  Both shows went well with healthy audiences for the afternoon and engaged and appreciative audiences.  So wonderful to see familiar faces as well as new faces of people who just came to check us out. We only have one more show left for Crack (Sunday - 8 p.m.) but there are two chances to catch Little Monsters (Friday - 12:30 p.m. and Saturday - 11 p.m.). The response for both has been terrific so I hope you get a chance to catch one or both of them.

After the double feature I took in my Janine Hodder Double Feature!  First up was Swordplay by David Belke with music by Darrin Hagen. It's a silly but clever story of royal siblings separated at birth with a prophecy and evil villains and assassins.  The cast was wonderful.  Great voices from pretty much everyone (although I wished for mics - but it is fringe) and excellent comic timing and choices.  Mat Busby was delightful as the not so bright but charming suitor to Jenna Dykes, the far from helpless princess in disguise.  Loved the fight scenes, especially the ones between Garrett Ross and Janine Hodder. I think, however, the one that made me laugh the most was Jason Hardwick as the Evil usurper.  He was very funny in Superman, but he certainly kicked up a notch for this one. It's silly fun, but this cast makes it a good choice!

Then it was off to McCrackin 2: The Whackining all the way down on 109th street.  The place was packed and it is huge.  I'm betting the Fringe grounds were empty because everyone was at McCrackin!  Accidental Humour does such an amazing job, but this time it felt like they outdid themselves.  Playing on action movie tropes with a seriousness of tone that amps up the parody, they pulled out all the stops. I laughed. A. Lot. I'm pretty loud too... so I think they must know how much I enjoyed it. I wish, wish, wish I could see it again, but I have a show on Friday and Saturday.  I'm crossing my fingers for hold-overs because I really, really, really want to see it again. I also feel like we all didn't really pay them enough for what we got.  You can see they haven't cut corners.  I think there was over 300 people there tonight.  I hear the sales for Saturday are already pretty good, so I'd suggest buying now and going to see it.  It's a movie and a play and both are hysterical. 

Word of Mouth - Fringe 2014 - Thursday, August 22nd

Here are the Word of Mouth Recommendations for Thursday, August 22nd. I had both my shows back to back today and then saw two shows so I didn't get to ask a lot of people... but here you go!

Shangri-La - I have to say I have received the most number of recommendations for this show than any other.  It shows up in the list on any given day only once, BUT I actually have had more than one person that day recommend it. I'm hoping to fit it in, if I can. 

Eavesdrop - This is also a repeat!

Her Mark - Also a repeat!

God is a Scottish Drag Queen - Again!

3... 2... 1... - We've seen this one before too!

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman - First day to make the list!

AN UPDATE - I keep forgetting to put Crookback on this list.  It came to me from someone via twitter so it wasn't in my notebook, but they wanted me to make sure I got it on the list!

I hope you all make it out to some shows - I cannot guarantee the pedigree of these recommendations, but the repeats make me think that there is something to them!  Happy Fringing!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fringe - From Monday to Wednesday...

I slowed down a bit because having two shows was catching up to me, but I have still seen some good things.  Here are the highlights of Monday to Wednesday:

The Deep Blue - Moody, tortured, well-acted and directed. If you like a serious piece and if your fringe show choice doesn't have to be about laughs, this is a solid choice.

Her Mark - Atmospheric monologues about a family of women from Newfoundland.  Gorgeous lighting and authentic in look and tone.  I loved hearing the accents (reminded me of home - Fort McMurray).  Cheryl Jameson delivers one monologue that nearly broke my heart.

Little Miss Understood - Any parent of a teen will relate to this, although the teen onstage seemed far more likable than was implied (maybe I'm just comparing her to my own). It's a light comedy and suitable for 10 and up.

eleven-oh-four - I CANNOT SAY ANY MORE STRONGLY: SEE THIS SHOW - This is my favorite of the Fringe so far. I am not done, but this is a brilliant new work, written and performed by Cat Walsh.  She is excellent, hilarious, and note perfect.  It's very funny, a little creepy and proof that simplicity is often best, especially with a strong script.

I hope you are all getting out to shows. I have 9 more tickets purchased and room for a couple more if I have the brain for it. I also have my second double header for Little Monsters and Crack tomorrow so if you are free in the afternoon - come and check them out! Crack is on at 2:30 p.m. and Little Monsters is at 4:45 p.m.