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Thursday, August 18, 2016

More Word of Mouth Recommendations! (Thursday, Aug 18, 2016)

A return to the the Fringe grounds last night and encounters with different people (who have seen A LOT - Yay!) and here are some new Word of Mouth recommendations!

The Dragon
Mustache Party
The Seminar with Madge & Taffy
Nashville Hurricane
Bella Culpa
Shakespeare's Sirens
Curious Contagious
Off Book: The Musical
Mama's Boy
Saltwater Moon
Prepare for the Worst
'Til Death
Falling Awake
Scaramouche Jones

Unfortunately, some of these shows have finished their run for this Fringe, so if you are inspired to see any of them check the schedule quickly to make sure you don't miss them!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Wee Interruption in Fringe reporting, because TWENTY YEARS!

A Couple More Days... A Couple More Shows...

I've hit seven more shows since Saturday.  It was supposed to be 8, but lesson learned, never schedule a 90 minute drama at the end of a five show day... my old brain couldn't handle it so I headed home early on Sunday. Still, 4 shows is a good measure of a day during the fringe.

Here are some highlights of the last two days of Fringe:

Half the Battle - The premise is very clever and Owen Bishop commits wholeheartedly to the world of two men in one body in this piece. Lacing historical fact with fictionalized characters, this show is a funny and touching one/two man show.

CLIMB - Interesting juxtaposition of taped narrative and circus aerial. I was fascinated. I think there is more that could be done here in terms of connecting the movement and the story, but I was engaged. My appreciation for dance helped a lot in understanding *contemporary circus* as shown here.

The F Words - Although it starts a little slow, once it gets rolling this show is full of laughs. There are a lot of F words, not all of them salty, and several sing along songs that are fun to do! It was a redemption from a couple of other shows that I've seen that were rather harsh towards middle-aged women and that was refreshing.

Good With People - This one left thinking. It's a moody two-hander set in Scotland. Well acted and directed, although occasionally it was hard to hear in the space and that was complicated by the accents. It did feature some of the strongest acting I've seen so far, particularly from Graham Mothersill (Evan) who plays a character who brilliantly skirts the line between irritating and charming.

The Unsyncables - So much ridiculous, silly, fun! Imagine tweens forming and practicing a synchronized swimming routine in the 90's in West Edmonton Mall. Already you are laughing... aren't you? Throw in a rivalry with another team (think mean girls on a scooter), an unlikely romance, more 90's pop songs and references that you can imagine and hilarity ensues!

Tonight is mine and Mark's 20th Wedding Anniversary so we are taking a night off from the Fringe. I'll be back on Wednesday night to catch a few more.

Happy fringing! 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Word of Mouth - Sunday, August 14th

A few more Word of Mouth recommendations coming your way!

Porn & Pinochet
Three Men in a Boat
The Flying Doctor
What Gives?
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
5 Step Guide to Becoming German
Night Hawk Rules
The Fall of the House of Atreus: A Cowboy Love Song
Talking Dirty
The Panto Girls
Scaramouche Jones
The Dragon

Lots of variety! Lots of great shows! Hope you can catch some!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

WORD OF MOUTH - Saturday, August 13th

As part of my Fringe experience and because I can only get to see so many shows, I like to talk to people in line-ups and at the beer tent and on the grounds and ask them what shows they'd recommend based on what they've seen. The only requirement is that they can't recommend the show they are actually in/involved with themselves (if they are an artist).  I try, however, to talk primarily to the people who are primarily audience members.

Anyhow, here's my first round up of WORD OF MOUTH recommendations:

Prepare for the Worst
Trail and Error
Never Swim Alone
Talking Dirty
The Red Shirt Diaries
Gordon's Big Bald Head
Call Me Kirk
The Darling Family
Watermelon Girls
Saltwater Moon
Scaramouche Jones
The Ballad of Frank Allen
Cowboy: A Cowboy Story

I'll be collecting more all week, so if you see me, please give me your recommendations!

A Terrific First Weekend of That Was Then, This is Fringe...

Just shutting down Saturday night and I have taken in 9 shows and am feeling pretty good about what I've seen. Highlights include the following:

Never Swim Alone - Such a strong script by Daniel MacIvor delivered flawlessly.  Even if you've seen it before, it's worth checking out. The casting is perfect, the acting connected, and the direction tight and sharp. It's as if everyone on the stage is breathing together - they are so in sync. It's down at the French Quarter at Rutherford School. If I gave stars, I would give this one 5!

Bat Boy: The Musical - A talented cast and a very quirky, edgy, out-there musical. I'm a little amazed at what you get with your fringe dollars with this one! Highlights are Nadine Veroba as Meredith (the mother) and Mark Sinongco as Edgar (the bat boy), but this whole cast commits 110% to the camp required and they have the vocal chops to deliver big sound. It's not a show I could direct, but I am glad Amanda Neufeld has the sensibility to do justice to it and make me laugh so hard. Definitely not for kids, it's also at the French Quarter but in the main theatre at La Cite.

Cowboy: A Cowboy Story - It was great seeing this show again and with added elements in the new space. I was laughing from the first few moments on and I continue to be amazed by how in sync they are with the theatre and the film. Fast paced, funny and full of energy - you know they are enjoying doing the show as much as the audience is enjoying watching it.

The Colleen Bawn - The cast of four plays many, many characters and the zig-zag from one to another is half the fun of this piece. It's a fast-paced show that keeps you guessing about how it's going to end. It feels a titch long and some of the cast are stronger at the switches than others, but you're laughing so much at the end, you don't mind so much.

Pacamambo - I didn't know what to expect, but I enjoyed this play that had the feel of magic about it. It's a gentle tale with committed actors who embrace a sense of the mystical to help a young girl deal with the death of her grandmother. Almost fairy-tale like, it feels appropriate for tweens and up.

Letting Go of Alone - Although this show feels like it needs a little more arc and story, everything in it is excellently done.  The songs are sometimes charming and sometimes simply beautiful and sometimes sad and there're also a lot humorous moments in the piece. It left me wanting more, but in the way that I felt it had something more to say, but it didn't quite know what.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Musicals at the Fringe - a few for you to consider...

It is no secret that I am a fan of musicals, I've been in over 30 of them and have directed about 15 or so, in fact, I've even written a couple of them, so I'm partial.  Fringe is always interesting for musicals because the format is generally shorter so you get the opportunity to see some shows that might not be done in the regular season. You also will get song cycles, and more edgier pieces, and those are certainly up on the docket for this Fringe.

Here are a few that have caught my eye:

If you are looking for something that you might not see on the main stages you could check out Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Strathcona High - BYOV 27) produced by Scona Alumni Theatre Co. It's directed by Linette Smith and features Chris Scott and MacKenzie Ruerink as well as a gang of talented young triple threats. The Scona Alumni Fringe shows tend to sell out fast, so you might want to get to the box office quick on this one. Another outside the box choice would be Straight Edge/Patient Mango Theatre's Bat Boy: The Musical directed by Amanda Neufeld with music direction by Daniel Belland. So we're looking at the team that brought Reefer Madness, Bare and Ordinary Days to the Fringe in year's past. The cast also features some of my favorite local performers! Also known for selling out so line up now!

If you like a musical that is more about the songs than the scenes, you might want to check out a song cycle. You can see either Plain Jane's' Working at the Varscona Theatre or Foote in the Door's Edges at the Hi-Edmonton Hostel. Edges is by Pasek and Paul (Dogfight) and focuses on 4 young millennials in New York. Working is by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin) and has some incredible songs that you don't get to hear that often.

Looking for musicals with a local connection? Well, there's Teatro la Quindicina's What Gives? penned by Stewart Lemoine which features Jason Hardwick, Jocelyn Ahlf, Rachel Bowron and Andrew MacDonald-Smith. Or you can catch Song of the Martingale by Andrea House & friends. This is the same company that brought Valentine's Train and Forget Me Not to the Fringe in year's past. Or support a new Edmonton writing team and go to The Grave Digger by Erin Hutchinson & Kelly M. M. Henry.

If you are looking for something for a younger audience, you could check out EMT's Broadway Rocks or Opera NUOVA's You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Both shows are in the PCL and should provide an excellent introduction to musical theatre for even the youngest audience members.

Make sure you check out the program as there are even more musical options for you, from Opera to Sondheim to Zombies! I'm sure if you like musicals there will be one that feels just for you!