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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Did a Show... Caught a Show! Love Letters...

Today we had our 2nd SOLD OUT show for Double Double: The Musical.  It was so much fun.  It's weird because we still have 3 shows left but it also feels like Fringe is almost over! Three more for Double Double and only one more for Shout! (which is already almost Sold Out).  So, this has certainly been a terrific Fringe! And now for a little watching...

Love Letters - This was a wonderful piece about two people corresponding from elementary school to late adulthood.  The correspondence between Melissa (Holly Turner) and Andy (Brian Dooley) is charming, funny and in some places heart-breaking.  It was a delightful piece of theatre with terrific acting.  You know they are good when you are completely captivated and they are just sitting there reading letters.

That's all I could manage.  With the 2 show schedule I have to take it easy (and it's killing me a little bit!).

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Word of Mouth - Fringe 2015 - Wednesday, August 19

I had a great time talking to people lined up to see Shout! today about what they would recommend for my Word of Mouth blog.  It's the halfway point so people have seen more shows and I am getting some variety.  One gentleman asked me to be sure to say that the shows recommended were well-done but that people should see read the descriptions, because not everyone likes musicals and not everyone likes Pinter.  So, if a descriptions interests you and it's on this list, this likely means it's well done and you can safely check it out!

Edgar Allan (this has been mentioned A LOT)
Kiss Around Pass Around
Beau & Aero
Ordinary Days
Fiddler on the Roof
Bonnie & Clyde
The Lover
Gidion's Knot
A New Brain

I hope you can check some of these shows out!

A Couple More Fringe Shows...

Yesterday I snuck in a show between my two shows and I forgot to mention one from the earlier day (all that hairspray I am inhaling is affecting my memory I think!). 

Life is a Musical! - It seems the only time I catch Improv is at Fringe and this is the 3rd time I have caught Grindstone Theatre's live improvised musical.  The story this time centered around a Barista from Starbucks named Sasha.  They cleverly tied it to West Side Story and it was a lot of fun. Highlights for me were the villans, Antonio (Neil Kuefler) and Banderas (Mark Vetsch) whose machismo was hysterical and the absolutely brilliant Mary Hulbert who played Sasha.  Hulbert sang a torchy long song (she's done this before) that I hope they recorded because it was so good. A sure-fire, super fun, hour of improv!

Loris and Beaver Play BINGO - I caught this earlier in the week. It's a play about writing a play.  As a playwright there were things I connected to in terms of the struggle to actually work and the things you do to avoid the writing (I however, do not drink nearly as much wine!). I really liked the scenes from the "play in progress" and would have liked to have seen more of that.  I think those where the places where the writing was strongest and most focused. All three actors are engaging and likable and quite natural onstage. 

Anyhow, I have my penultimate SHOUT! performance today.  Was excited to be approached in the Beer Tent last night by Laurie Blakeman who said she really enjoyed the show AND that she tweeted about it! Woo hoo! Catch us at 2:15 p.m. today or 9:00 p.m. on Saturday! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Word of Mouth - Fringe 2015 - Tuesday, August 18

Checked in with a few more Fringe Goers in the line-ups and beet tents and got some more Word of Mouth recommendations for shows you should try to see:

2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick
Release the McCrackin
Edgar Allan

The Second Self
Pacific Times
Subway Stations of the Cross
Fear and Loathing
Shout! (squee! from a stranger, so it's legitimate!)
Miss Katelyn's Grade Threes Prepare for the Inevitable
Tall Tales & the Tinkerbox presents: Beautiful Nonsense

I'll be out scouting for more recommendations tomorrow after my 2:15 p.m. performance of Shout! If you see me, let me know what you recommend!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

And so we've started! Woo Hoo! Saw some shows too!

On Friday I had two Openings - Shout! and Double Double.  It's the tightest two show day in my Fringe schedule and all went terrifically well! With Shout! at 4 p.m. and Double Double at 8:45 p.m. I had a nice 2 hour turn around to change make-up and eat and refocus and it was enough.  It makes the other 2 double show days feel imminently manageable! Whew!

Shout! kicked off the day.  We had a fabulous, receptive audience and despite some mic issues (mostly mic tape coming off due to our womanly glows...) we rolled with it and had a great time. So great to be singing these songs and playing these characters in front of an audience again.  We've since been reviewed by the Edmonton Journal (3 stars - and an exceptional write-up!) and VUE Weekly (4 Stars - YAY! and another great write-up). Our Saturday night show was even better and it was great to have so many people there for an 11 pm show! Tomorrow's show is selling incredibly well - I can't wait!

Double Double was also terrific fun.  Since it's a new work, we weren't sure how it would be received, but the laughs started off the top and we left the theatre floating. I can't wait until Tuesday when we get to do it again! We haven't been reviewed yet - but I found this fabulous tweet series on twitter and it made me feel pretty good!

I also got out to see a few more shows - not as many as usual, but I gave it a good shot!

Assassins - I'm a Sondheim fan so I was drawn to see this.  You don't get to see Assassins done very often, as it's challenging and hard for audiences to connect to because all the characters are, well, assassins.  I was frustrated by the lighting and the the pace, but it was a good show overall. Highlights for me were Jeff Page as Sam Bick, Nancy McAlear's comic timing as Sarah Jane Moore, and Chris W. Cook as Charles Guiteau. 

Self(ish) - This is simply a beautiful modern dance piece. It was humorous, strong, touching, and very complete.  I want to see more things like this throughout the season. I've been to a few dance shows, but some of them felt like they were still experimenting. This one feels like it is well developed and I was amazed by both the story-telling and the physical abilities of the dancers. 
No Belles - I don't usually go to Storytelling shows, but the topic was and is compelling.  This is the show to take you children - girls AND boys - from ages 10 and up to.  They need to be able to listen, but that's the age we need to reinforce the message of the show.  The stories of the Nobel prize winners (and should-have-been winners) are so inspiring and heart-breaking and we need to realize that we still have further to go.  It's not a theatrical piece - but it is delivered thoughtfully and artfully. I did feel that the standing ovation at the end was more for the women the play was about, than for the performance itself, but that's okay - those women deserved it. 

Release the McCrackin - the third installment in the McCrackin trilogy was SO MUCH FUN! We took the boys and they howled with laughter. Even if you haven't seen the first two, you will be familiar with the movie tropes they are playing with and they build in enough back story to keep everyone in the loop. Their merging of film and theatre is so good that the audience broke into spontaneous applause several times after particularly cool sequences. Here are the boys mini-reviews:

Gibson - "I get this! I really get this! I want to see that again! Oh, and my sides hurt from laughing so much!"

Oliver - "That was HILARIOUS! Oh, the references! They have, like, ALL the references! So good."

They are not that articulate, but you get the idea... 

See a show! 

WORD OF MOUTH - Fringe 2015

One of my regular Fringe Features is WORD OF MOUTH, where I ask people in line ups and the beer tent what they have seen that they would recommend. If they're artists I ask them to name something other than their own show... I try to talk to a variety of people because tastes are varied and these come with no qualifiers so I recommend you still read the Program to see what the show is about...

The Famous Haydell Sisters Comeback Tour
Mama's Boy
Gidion's Knot
A New Brain
Amish Project
Folk Lordz
Gordon's Big Bald Head
No Belles
Oh Manada!
Shadows in Bloom
Edgar Allen

I did have one person say Shout! but it was a friend of mine.  He insisted that he was recommending it to people, but I think I will wait until a stranger mentions it to me before I add it to the list!

I'll keep chatting and getting more input.  One thing is clear, there is a lot of good stuff to see!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Guys... It's Started... FRINGE!!

Well, it's been a heck of a build-up for me.  That's what being in and directing two shows will do for you, never mind the myriad of other related tasks, but it's here! Tonight I walked in the parade dressed as the Orange Girl from SHOUT! and handing out materials for both it and DOUBLE DOUBLE! People seemed receptive to both and although the pavement was not kind to my go-go boots, it was a lot of fun.  Then I caught my first Fringe show.  This Fringe will be a little different as I seriously doubt I will hit my usual 20-30 shows due to my own performance schedule.  I am getting what I can in!

My first show was AfterFat by Carlye Windsor which spoke to body image, particularly with regards to being heavy.  It was an autobiographical journey and was very honest and as a larger than average person with a lot of personal confidence I found a lot I could personally relate to.  Windsor is very charismatic and charming and is best when her natural humour comes through, although my favorite moment was when she told a story about her mother which was a heart-breakingly honest. I think that there is a lot for anyone to hear in this piece.  It's more personal story-telling than theatrical, but even if you've never been heavy chances are you've had some insecurity about your appearance and I think there's common ground for everyone.

I have also taken a bit of time to look through the Program.  Here's a few that have caught my eye:

American Idiot - The Scona Alumni group always do a show that would stand up anywhere in the season, not just for Fringe.

Love Letters - Blarney Productions - Brian Dooley and Holly Turner directed by Wayne Paquette - sounds like a winning formula to me!

No Belles - A story about women scientists?  Well, if you read my posts about Arcadia, you probably understand why this attracts me!

Who Am I? - The latest from Toy Guns - I'm just really interested in seeing what they will do now! Last year was so much fun!

Release the McCrackin - Accidental Humour - So special that it will be our Anniversary Date.  Mark was in the 2nd McCrackin show so we have to see how this all ends up.  Always funny and always really well done.

2 for Tea and High Tea - My sister saw these guys in Toronto and recommended them.

Assassins - Well, it's Sondheim...

There's more as I have only scratched the surface. I'll be doing the Word of Mouth posts so if you see me around, let me know what you would recommend and I will share it!

Friday, August 07, 2015

Getting Ready for Fringe! Double Double and Shout! Twice the Fun!

Fringe is almost upon us!  It's my favorite time of the year and I feel kind of bad that I have let my blogging slip (missing posting on the Mayfield's The Long Weekend - a fun show and a great date night with the husband!), but the fact is I have two shows on the go and I am onstage in both of them. Not only am I onstage, but they are both ensemble musicals so it's not like I'm popping in for a cameo. I am singing and dancing in both and while it is terrific fun, it has been taking up a lot of my time!

What am I doing? you ask... Let me tell you!

The first show is familiar, because it is a remount of Shout! The Mod Musical, which I directed and was in earlier this year.  We had a 4 show run in January at C103 with wonderful houses.  We were thrilled to get a Fringe spot because it meant we could re-visit and tighten the show and we've even added more choreography and changed up a few costumes!  It was a really solid show in January and I am pleased to say it's even stronger now.  It's funny how learning choreography over again is actually a lot easier.  I don't even dread putting on the white go-go boots!  It's also been fun getting back together with the girls onstage and backstage, and the music is so great to sing.  For me, being able to sing these iconic songs, with 4 other women who can really handle the 4 and 5 parts, is something that I have truly missed. 

Featuring: Leslie Caffaro, Nicole English, Kristen Finlay, Erin Foster-O'Riordan, & Monica Roberts
Directed by Kristen Finlay
Music Direction by Sally Hunt

Choreography by Kelly Webber

The second show I am involved in is Double Double: The Musical. I am wearing many hats on this production as I am co-writer, co-director, co-producer and I am onstage performing in it.  It's been amazing to see and hear my second musical come together.  We are blessed with a terrific cast and team and that has made it all the better.  It really is a ridiculous little show - in a good way!  The songs are varied in style and are tuneful ear-worms.  I am so thrilled with the work our arranger, Matt Graham, has done to help bring our musical vision to life. I don't even think you need to like Tim Horton's to have fun at this show - if you have a favourite, you understand the addiction and brand loyalty, and whether you recognize yourself or other people in the characters of the show, I think there will be some connection. 

Featuring: Owen Bishop, Justin Deveau, Kristen M. Finlay, and Nadine Veroba
Written and Directed by Kristen Finlay & Anne Marie Szucs
Music Arrangement by Matt Graham
Music Direction by Arielle Ballance
Choreography by Leah Paterson
Sound Design by Erin Foster-O'Riordan
Stage Managed by Kirsten Jensen