Last night I officially commenced my fringing! I did go to the VIP kick-off on Wednesday night (where I partook in the awesome candy bar and photo booth) but I missed Opening Night to rest up for the sheer madness of this weekend (and following week).
I started the evening with Linda Wood Edwards' Never Let the Crew See You Cry, an homage to her mother, Ethel Johnson Wood, and the civilian women of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan during WW II. It's funny, engaging, and heartfelt and Edwards has constructed a beautiful script which tells an important but untold part of our history. The three person cast is strong, with the bright and likeable Laura Raboud as Ethel, and the sassy Judy McFerran and handsome Alex D. Mackie take on a myriad of roles and accents to fill out the rest of Ethel's world. It moves quickly from scene to seen and finds a lovely balance between the human story and the history. It's got an emotional impact and as we left we saw many a teary eyed person in the audience. A Note: we saw the first show and it was SOLD OUT, so getting your tickets early might be advised.
Then I headed down to La Cite for 50% Fruit's Carrie: the Musical. I'm am always amazed at companies that can bring full length musicals to the Fringe. The scope of what's required blows me away. This was their first performance and there are a few technical things (mics and lights) that I know will get smoother and sorted out now that the techs have seen a run of the whole show. This show has a powerhouse performance from Alyssa Billingsley as Carrie whose voice is so huge that she belted her first song with no mic and was heard clear as a bell above the band. The duets between Billingsley and Amanda Neufeld (Carrie's Mother) alone are worth the price of admission. Other strong performances come from Jaimi Resse as narrator Sue Snell, Zachary Parsons-Lozinski as Tommy Ross and Kerry Johnson as the teacher. I should also mention the fabulous choreography (Amanda Neufeld) which is executed so well by this capable cast as a whole. As a Musical buff, I loved the music, which I had never heard before.
While waiting in line for Carrie, we were sold the show Hockey Night at the Puck & Pickle which was to start 1/2 an hour after our show finished in the venue next door. It's produced by Monster Theatre and stars Jon Paterson and Ryan Gladstone. With my fringe nights being somewhat limited this year I was happy to be able to fit another show into my evening and I've seen Paterson before and have always found him entertaining. I AM SO GLAD WE WENT!!! The show was hysterically funny. Paterson and Gladstone play multiple pairs of hockey watchers in the fictional Puck & Pickle Sports Bar. This play is funny on it's own, but if you have ever watched a hockey game, played hockey, seen other people watching hockey, been to a sports bar, liked or watched sports at all, like pandas, YOU WILL LAUGH YOURSELF SILLY! I know I did. It's rapid fire, a bit saucy, with laughs stacked on top of each other, and each of the pairs of game watchers have their own arc. Paterson and Gladstone also have a phenomenal chemistry with each other and the audience - truly a laugh-guaranteed show which any Canadian will connect to! SEE IT!