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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!

Sunday, August 07, 2016

More is Better... When it comes to Fringe Shows!

Back at it today with the Program and my calendar... It's going to be tough but even if I don't get to them all, I will come out a winner!

Here's a few more shows that are catching my eye:

Cowboy: A Cowboy Story - Accidental Humour, Edmonton, CA - Garneau Theatre
Guaranteed to be the show that brings me closest to laughing so hard I pee my pants, you cannot go wrong with Accidental Humour. I've said it before, these guys are the best at merging theatre with film and their wacky sense of humour and understanding of genre is phenomenal. Might even be the one we go to for our 20th Wedding Anniversary.

Trail and Error - Northern Sabbatical Productions, Edmonton, CA - Old Strathcona Public Library
A New Work from Linda Wood Edwards - I'm in! Plus it's got the oh-so-charming Ellen Chorley in it - Sign me up again!

We Were Dancing: Two Short Plays by Noel Coward - Bright Young Things, Edmonton CA - Varscona Theatre
It's the pedigree of the cast and creative team for this show AND you can see it in the beautiful new Varscona Theatre (which is ah-maz-ing!). Noel Coward is also a pretty good bet.

Ta Da! - Casavant Productions, Edmonton, CA - Old Strathcona Public Library
Hoping to take my youngest to this one. He's a magic buff and this show looks tailor-made for those fascinated by "how'd they do that?"

Pacamambo - Cardiac Theatre, Edmonton, CA - The Roxy on Gateway
After seeing Scorched a few years ago at the Citadel I am a big Wajdi Mouawad fan.  Also, I was impressed with Cardiac Theatre after seeing their show this past season. I am definitely up for more from them.

Next I am going to look at the musicals... Not as many as last year but some great options!

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Tracking Through the Fringe Progam... aka The List is Growing...

I guess it's a good year for me to not have any Fringe shows of my own as it gives me more time to see things! And as I waded through the Fringe Program my list of shows started to grow exponentially as I turned the page, at least that's how it felt.

So here's a few more on my "I think I want to see that show" list:

Letting Go of Alone - Soul Productions, Edmonton CA - Old Strathcona Performing Arts (Venue 8)
When you combine Jake Hastey of Toy Guns Dance Theatre and the talented Nadine Veroba and Justin Kautz then I really don't think you can go wrong. A new work merging dance and live music exploring relationships in the modern age. This one is definitely on the top of my list.

CLIMB - Deathbench Productions, Bellingham USA - Westbury Theatre (Venue 1)
The write-up says: Using striking visuals and unexpected humour, CLIMB fuses breathtaking aerial circus performance with four connected narratives set to an original score. I'm intrigued to see how they've merged circus aerial work with the narratives as I always like to see what happens when artists merge disciplines.

Drinking in America - Ronin Theatre, Edmonton CA - Backstage Theatre (Venue 2)
The ever charismatic Neil Kuefler attacks this series of monologues from Eric Bogosian. It might be one of the darker ones I go to, but I expect both the writing and acting to be strong, and I have to mix it up a bit with dark and light shows.  

Epic Tragedy - iiii theatricals, Edmonton CA - Walterdale Theatre (Venue 3)
I missed this Gerald Osborn comedy about Medea and Oedipus when it was at the ADFA a few years ago.  It's filled with talented local artists who know how to make an audience laugh. I'm hoping to check it out for some epic laughs.

Stones in His Pockets - Harbour Theatre, Prince Rupert, CA - King Edward School (Venue 5)
I've always wanted to see this play and here it is. Here's the description: When a film crew invades an Irish village, the movies spark big dreams in starstruck locals. Two lighthearted extras, Jake and Charlie, cultivate an uneasy friendship in a community wrestling with visions of fame and burdens of tradition.

The Dragon - Dead Rabbits Theatre, London UK - King Edward School (Venue 5)
Maybe it's the picture in the program but I keep coming back to this one. It promises kinghts and dragons and monsters and says it will be a high-powered, hilarious and touching tale. I'm going to check it out and see.

That's it for now... trust me, my list is much, much longer... stay tuned for more!

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Couple More Shows I Am Hoping to See...

The Unsyncables by Rebecca Merkley looks like it's going to be a very funny hour of entertainment. The cast of 4 features some very hilarious women and, always a fan of new work and new playwrights, I'm intrigued to see what Rebecca Merkley has written. She's always hysterical when she's onstage so it's going to be fun to see what has come from her brain!

Description: A love letter to the 90's, this heartwarming comedy celebrates the world of pre-teen friendships. Mary has decided to form her very own synchronized swimming squad. Her quirky team hope to make a big splash at a local competition, but trouble arises when Mary runs into her former teamates. H2-Uh-Oh!

Starring: Alyson DiceyMaddy KnightKristin Johnston Snelgrove and Brianne Jang
Written and Directed by: Rebecca Ann Merkley

BYOV Venue #41, Rutherford School. 

Half the Battle is another new work from a new playwright, Owen Bishop, who is also starring in the solo show. Telling the story of a Canadian pilot and co-pilot who were shot down during the Second World War and were buried together with tombstones attached to commemorate their partnership lasting through to the afterlife. Bishop plays both Adams and Davis on their one-way journey to the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns. It's billed as a comedy and I heard the the preview bit at the Fringe showcase was hilarious. 

Starring: Owen Bishop
Written by: Owen Bishop
Directed by: Joel Taras

Venue 9: Telus Phone Museum

Fringe is Almost Upon Us!

It's a strange feeling for me this summer. After a few summers in a row with multiple Fringe shows, I find myself with the luxury of just haivng to watch shows this year! Sont' worry, I have enough things outside my theatre life to keep me busy, but I am looking forward to seeing A LOT of Fringe Shows!

I thought I would do a few profiles on shows that I am hoping to take in!

First Up: Confessions of a Middle Aged Drama Queen - a new work written and performed by local Edmontonian Erika Conway, is a comedy about self discovery, overcoming obstacles and managing a desire to meet a hot strapping fireman! I've seen Erika onstage several times over the past few years and she has an electric personality and charisma as well as terrific comedic timing.  I'm excited to see what she has done in her first foray as playwright!

To be or not to be a Drama Queen…. that is the question!
Confessions of A Middle Aged Drama Queen - Madelyn Sharp wants nothing more than to be loved and adored.  Her quirky ways, imagination and perspective on life has saved her from going to the dark side too often but also finds her in very unique experiences. Reality and her dreams just don’t get along and this is the struggle she faces as she makes her way to discovering what is on the other side of the door.