Sunday, January 26, 2020

We're on a BREAK!

Hi theater friends!

Due to circumstances beyond our control, we are taking a bit of hiatus from sharing our love for Minnesota Theater.

We'll still do our best to share shows we're loving on social media and posts from our fellow bloggers:

MN Theater Love on Facebook 

MN Theater Love on Twitter

MN Theater Love on Instagram

Until we return, please check out our friends at the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers! They're covering the Twin Cities theater scene beautifully.


We want to give a special shout out to the OG theater blogger, Cherry and Spoon. We are always amazed by Jill's commitment to local theater. 💓


We also recommend the theater writing of:

Jay Gabler at City Pages
Arthur Dorman at Talkin' Broadway
The reviewers at MN Playlist

Happy theatergoing!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

A Love Letter to SIX - Ordway Center (Guest Post)

Full disclosure, I haven’t fallen in love with a musical since Les Miserables and that includes WickedDear Evan Hansen, and Hamilton (I know). I was 18 and it was my first time seeing a professional touring production. From the moment the music started and that stage floor started to spin, I was hooked. Epic in every way.

Also full disclosure, I am a member of the marketing team at the Ordway.

I reveal these things so that I can freely speak my love of SIX.

I was fortunate to be sent to see the show at Chicago Shakespeare Theater before Ordway announced it as part of the season. I remember leaving with my co-worker and saying “It was fun,” “The music is great,” “Everyone was having a great time but I don’t think it’s life changing.” 

SIX at the Ordway - Photo by Brett Beiner
Then, as we made our way back to our hotel and we talked more about the show, it occurred to me that the show actually did make me want to know more about the Six Queens. It was that bigger Hamilton discussion in that it matters who tells your story and that representation on stage is vital. The more we talked, the more genuinely excited we both were about the show. The soundtrack became a staple in our office. 

Andrea Macasaet as Anne Boleyn in SIX.
Photo by Brett Beiner
By the time the show opened here in St. Paul at the Ordway on November 29, I was more than ready to see it again. By the end of the run on December 22, I will have seen it seven times.


The show’s creators chose the six wives of Henry VIII not for the love of the topic itself, but because they were looking for subject matter that would allow them to create a musical that featured the incredibly talented women and non-binary identifying performers in their lives. 

They wanted to create a show where each performer had their break-out moment and would be able to shine center stage. They delivered that vision and the Six Queens never disappoint. The show also features a 4-piece rock band--also all female. To have ten women on stage delivering a powerful, funny, and heartbreaking 90-minute set is something I have never experienced before. It needs to be celebrated and I find myself looking forward to the opportunity to cheer them on again.

Adrianna Hicks as Catherine of Aragon in SIX.
Photo by Brett Beiner.
There is something powerful that happens in the house every night. The knowing laughs from women when the Queens reveal frustrations of their husband and societal expectations. The intense quiet that happens at the end of “All You Wanna Do,” a song that starts as a fun flirtation only to reveal at the end that the sexual power she thought she held was really abuse and that she had no agency or control over it. I always wonder in that moment how many people in the room have had that same revelation. I think about how lucky I am to have never been in that situation. I think about how lucky I am to have been born in the 20th Century.

Maybe that is the reason I love Six so much. It’s still so relatable today. 

Nicole Kyoung-Mi Lambert as Anna of Cleves in SIX.
Photo by Brett Beiner.
Maybe it appeals to me because, since the age of 12, I have been involved in the arts in some way. First as a performer, then in various roles in managing venues, box office, and marketing. 35 years on, I can look back at the times I dealt with the misogyny of the entertainment industry. From club owners who assumed I was always a “groupie” or a “girlfriend” when I was the lead singer of a band to having to politely and professionally turn down sexual advances from artists when I was a manager, the “pitfalls” of being a woman still remain. For many, we are still seen as less than; for what we can provide and not for what we bring to the table. Disposable. 

Samantha Pauly as Katherine Howard in SIX.
Photo by Brett Beiner.
Maybe it appeals to me because it spotlights the lack of choice in these women’s lives. Having to marry to not be ostracized. Having to marry because saying no isn’t an option. Having to marry because there is no way to create income for yourself, to survive on your own. This is still relevant for many women. Modern society still has a lot of negative things to say about women who never marry and/or never have children. The expectations placed on Henry’s wives are not so far removed from today.

Maybe it appeals to me because I lost my best friend this year. In the gaping void that was his presence in my life, I realize now more than ever how important it is that your story is told, that your life lives on in those you love. It is important that your life is celebrated and shared in a way that represents you as wholly as possible. Six illuminates the lives of the women who are far more than just one of Henry VIII’s wives. They had their own power. They left their own mark on history. Their stories matter. Their lives mattered. 

Mallory Maedke as Jane Seymour in SIX.
Photo by Brett Beiner.
Maybe it appeals to me because, halfway through my life, I feel more powerful and relevant than ever. Seeing that reflected on stage is life affirming.

Maybe the reason changes every night.

All I know is that Six has affected me. The show gives me goosebumps. It gives me a reason to laugh along with the people in the audience who get the joke. It helps me find “my people.” It gives me an opportunity to cheer on ten incredibly talented women. It gives me an opportunity to celebrate women as a whole. 

Anna Uzele as Catherine Parr in SIX.
Photo by Brett Beiner.
Six has been a catharsis and a celebration for me in a year that was difficult in many ways. By the time Katherine Parr (Anna Uzele) transitions into the reprise near the end of the show and sings “We’re one of a kind, no category,, there are usually tears in my eyes. I want to be on my feet. I want to be singing along at the top of my lungs for myself, for all the amazing women in my life whose stories have gone untold, for those that are no longer here, and for the stories yet to come. 

--Shellae Mueller

Minnesota Theater Love note: 
Two of the queens were out during much of the Minnesota run, so we want to give massive love to Mallory Maedke, who took over for Abby Mueller as Jane Seymour, and Nicole Kyoung-Mi Lambert, who took over for Brittney Mack as Anna of Cleves. These performers, along with Adrianna Hicks as Catherine of Aragon, Andrea Macasaet as Anne Boleyn, Samantha Pauly as Katherine Howard, and Anna Uzele as Catherine Parr, were utterly fantastic. We hope this amazing ensemble has the opportunity to perform together on Broadway. Here's hoping! SIX starts previews at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on Broadway on February 13 and we hope New York audiences love it as much as we do.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Let It Show! Let it Show! Let it Show! (Holiday Theater Picks 2019)

David Beukema as the D'Ysquiths
(photo courtesy of Old Log)
The winter holidays are always rich in Twin Cities theatergoing opportunities. From Austen and murder to Krampuses and the apocalypse, here are a few shows we are particularly looking forward to this winter.

Traditional(ish) Theater


A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder - Old Log Theatre (Oct 18 - Feb 15)
Set in London in 1907, this show centers on Monty Navarro, a penniless clerk who is informed after the death of his mother that he is ninth in line to inherit the earldom of Highhurst, controlled by the wealthy D’Ysquith banking family.
Hilarious performances by Max Wojtanowicz (as Monty) and David Beukema (as all of the D'Ysquiths) and gorgeous singing by the endearing cast makes this a holiday must-see.

Another Miracle on Christmas Lake - Yellow Tree Theatre (Nov 8 - Dec 29)
A hilarious sequel to the smash hit comedy Miracle on Christmas Lake! Join Martha, Neil and some zany new characters as they try to save their beloved town of Christmas Lake from annexation. A Hollywood location scout arrives, hailing Christmas Lake the perfect spot to film a new adaptation of It’s a Wonderful Life. Colin and Tess scramble to put on a sparkly pageant that will draw tourists and hilarity ensues.
THIS CAST: Ryan Nelson, Jason Ballweber, Elise Langer, Anna Leverett, Damian Leverett, Neil Skoy, & Abby Day.
See also: Miracle on Christmas Lake - Camp Bar (Dec 5 - 28)


Miss Bennet - Jungle Theater (Nov 20 - Dec 29)
The beloved Bennet sisters and their spouses gather at the Darcy home for Christmas a few years after Jane Austen left off their story. When the middle Miss Bennet, Mary, unexpectedly encounters shy bookworm Arthur de Bourgh, she finds a kindred spirit and intellectual equal. But, since Arthur is a “single man in possession of a good fortune,” she’s hardly his only suitor. Mary must learn to be the heroine of her own story in this charming holiday romance.
Because Mary Bennet is always given such a hard time. She deserves her very own holiday romance!


Six - Ordway Center (Nov 29 - Dec 22)
The wives of Henry VIII join forces for an electrifying pop-concert spectacle—shining a spotlight on these six women as never before. The queens take the mic to reclaim their identities out of the shadow of their infamous spouse, remixing five hundred years of historical heartbreak into a power-packed celebration of twenty-first-century female empowerment.
Friends who caught it in Chicago loved it, and it's going to Broadway, baby! See it here first for full theater bragging rights.





Adventures in Mating: Holiday Edition - Daleko Arts (Nov 29 - Dec 22)

From Twin Cities native, Joseph Scrimshaw, Adventures in Mating: Holiday Edition is a romantic comedy where YOU play the role of cruel fate! When the dysfunctional couple on a terrible blind date can't make simple decisions such as red or white wine, leave or stay, kiss or slap, the audience votes and the show takes off in wildly different but always hilarious directions.
We heart Daleko Arts. And shows about the comedic possibilities in dating.

The Norwegians - Dark & Stormy Productions at the Grain Belt Warehouse (Dec 5 - Jan 5)
Olive and Betty are two southern women living in the land of snow, lutefisk, co-ops, and Norwegians. They have something else in common: they both want their ex-boyfriends dead. So, they hire the only hit men they can find in Minnesota: really, really nice ones.
Sure, it's comedy, but this is Dark & Stormy: it's going to be at least a little dark (and stormy) and we need a little of that. Plus, the cast is Luverne Seifert, Sara Marsh, Jane Froiland, and Avi Aharoni. Come on.

Hanukkah Lights in the Big Sky - Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company (Dec 6 - 22)
When a brick is thrown at a menorah set in a child’s window for Hanukkah, community leaders of all faiths come together to help spread a message of tolerance and peace. With the help of school children, 10,000 families display menorahs in their windows for Christmas in solidarity. Based on true events that occurred in Billings, Montana in 1993, this family play, an MJTC original, is newly adapted for everyone age 6 & up.
Peace and solidarity, y'all. Yes, please.

Comedy/Improv


Getting Plowed: A Holiday Survival Guide - Brave New Workshop (Nov 7 - Jan 4)
The holidays are stressful enough. Sometimes you just need to laugh. Really hard. Plus, it's written and performed by Lauren Anderson, Denzel Belin, Taj Ruler and Tom Reed. How could you could do better than that for your holiday hilarity?

Family Dinner - Huge Theater (weekends through December)
Family Dinner – The improvised holiday show you can relate to – returns! A family coming home for the holidays, each with a secret you suggest…It’s just like your family, if your family were played by some of the funniest improvisers in the Twin Cities!


A Very Die Hard Christmas - Bryant-Lake Bowl (Nov 30 - Dec 21)
Don't miss this yuletide tradition combining the action and suspense of Die Hard with the sentiment of everyone's favorite TV Christmas specials loaded with music, magic, and mayhem!

Miss Richfield 1981 Gender Fluids For The Holidays! - Illusion Theater (Dec 6 - 22)
In her all-new show, Miss Richfield 1981 will attempt to find non-binary answers to our increasingly complex world! With all new music, new videos, new costumes, and a healthy heap of help from the audience, this show promises to celebrate all the genders - both old & new.
As we said back in 2019, "don't take Miss Richfield 1981 for granted. (We interviewed her last year.) She is amazingly skilled at working the crowd, a mistress of subversive humor, and smarter than she gets credit for. Also, so so so funny. Oh, how we laughed."

Musical Celebrations


Black Nativity: Let Us Rejoice Together - Penumbra Theatre (Nov 21 - Dec 22)
It’s that time of year again! Penumbra’s timeless holiday tradition returns to light up the stage and your heart. Under the direction of Lou Bellamy and the musical direction of Sanford Moore, our homegrown Christmas show features exceptional lead vocalists, the outstanding Kingdom Life Church Choir, and the stirring choreography of Alanna Morris-Van Tassel. 
It's a holiday classic. My only question is WHEN will they have a sing-along Black Nativity? Please?

All Is Calm - Theater Latte Da (Nov 27 - Dec 29)
"The Western Front, Christmas, 1914. Out of the violence comes a silence, then a song. A German soldier steps into No Man’s Land singing “Stille Nacht.” Thus begins an extraordinary night of camaraderie, music, peace. A remarkable true story, told in the words and songs of the men who lived it. 
After a successful Off-Broadway run (and winning a Drama Desk award), All is Calm returns with its unspeakably gorgeous music and a cast of staggeringly talented singer/actors. Beautiful and restorative to the soul.

Post-apocalyptic Shenanigans (yes, there's TWO)


Dog Act - Fortune's Fool Theatre at Gremlin (Dec 7 - 22)
In this tale, an unnamed disaster has totally fucked America's society, political structure, and environment. Zetta and Dog are vaudevillians traversing the wasteland, singing and dancing their way to a gig with the King of China.



The Ever and After - Theatre Pro Rata (Dec 7 - 22)
A cockroach and an Amazon walk into an apocalypse…A super-intelligent cockroach and his feral human ward discover a robotic woman in the ruins of civilization. Together, they must put aside their differences and venture into the belly of the human settlement to find the truth about this new world.

One Night Only (and Limited Runs)


From Gilbert & Sullivan to Broadway - The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company at Honey (Nov 30 and Dec 1)
The cabaret program will include songs from H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and Gilbert and Sullivan’s other works, as well as music from Godspell, A Little Night Music, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Candide and Company, and many more!

Turn on that fireplace, hang that mistletoe, and enjoy all the fake soap snowflakes of the season at Strike Theater this December as jorts! and friends take on the timeless tradition of holiday romance movies as seen on the Hallmark Channel, Lifetime, and Netflix - and improvises a brand new one right in front of your eyes!

IMMORTAL | Workshop Performance - Trademark Theater at Camp (Dec 9)
In his first ever solo performance, Tyler Michaels King brings to life a brand-new character with his unique transformative and musical style. Part cabaret act, part storytelling journey, Immortal explores aging, the end of life, and mortality through the eyes of a fading entertainer standing before their final curtain.
Featuring music by Keith Hovis and starring Tyler Michaels King, this performance will highlight two of the most gifted musical theater artists in the Twin Cities. That is all.

The Great Strike Theater Improvised Bake-Off - Strike Theater (Dec 12 - 14)
A mix between the Great British Baking Show and shows like Master Chef, The Great Strike Theater Bake Off will feature be hosted by the amazing, Rita Boersma and Shanan Custer.The Great Strike Theater Bake Off is created and directed by Mike Fotis and Shea Roberts Gyllen.

The Loft Presents If: A Very Star Wars Cabaret - The Loft at Open Book (Dec 14)
The Skywalker Saga of Star Wars ends this Winter. As part of the Loft's fall theme 'If," this cabaret features writers and thinkers who are also fans of the blockbuster series sharing creative work involving Star Wars. Celebrations, critiques, and creature features abound! Featuring Saymoukda Vongsay, Matthew Kessen, Luis Lopez, Shannon Gibney, and Jodi Byrd.
Pro Tip: The Shop at MCBA (at Open Book) has fantastic, unique gifts for all of your creative friends and family. Go early. Bring money.


At long last – the monsters and fantastic creatures of the holiday season. From the resurgently popular Krampus to elves at the North Pole to snow golems animated into a grotesque mockery of life by enchanted headgear, to say nothing of the connection of a mystery ape from the Himalayas to the spirit of Christmas, all of these will be detailed in the Reverend Matt style! Opening entertainment by Nicholas Nelson!

Dan Chouinard's Holiday Sing-Along - Crooners Mainstage (Dec 22-23)
Check out the full Crooners calendar because you can see a fabulous night of holiday music any night in December, including Jennifer Grimm, Erin Schwab and Jay Fuchs, Debbie Duncan, the Steeles, Robert Robinson and Gwen Matthews, and so many more. Also, the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.

Give yourself a present and go see a show this winter!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Twin Cities Horror Festival VIII - Day Four

Incarnate by Special When Lit
Photo by Dan Norman
Today, our takes on Twin Cities Horror Fest are bookended by a lot of love, and a little bit of vexation.

Just to recap: Why We Love TCHFDay OneDay Two, Day Three, and our TCHF archives.

First, the LOVE. Can we just talk about what a gift Dan Norman is to the Twin Cities Theater Community? Go to the Twin Cities Horror Festival page and check out the photo slide show.  We can jabber on about TCHF, but Dan Norman's photos capture theater magic so beautifully that seeing the slideshow gives you a better sense of the wonders of TCHF than we ever could. We were fortunate enough to be in the audience when he was taking photographs--so subtly that you'd never notice if you weren't looking. But I was fascinated by trying to see the show as he sees it. His work is stunning and we're lucky to have him in the Twin Cities.

Sunday. DAY FOUR.

Charcoal Moon
Rogues Gallery Arts

Charcoal Moon by Rogues Gallery Arts
Photo by Dan Norman
Another space story! Compared to Geminae, this is a large-scale production. Filmed segments show communications from Earth and serve as exposition for this story of three spacecraft sent to a distant moon to recover a valuable energy-producing element. I liked that the goal of the mission is clear, and the competition between vessels heightens the tension. When the first ship reaches its destination, they drop out of contact with Earth, and the next ship needs to find out what happened. The interaction of the astronauts was good, but the video sometimes felt like filler. The danger and tension worked, though, and the ending was satisfying.

Incarnate
Special When Lit
Incarnate by Special When Lit
Photo by Dan Norman
Incarnate is an immersive experience, placing the audience in the congregation of a nature-based religious organization. If you're thinking it sounds like a cult, you're right. Of course, things are not as peaceful and loving as they seem, though there's still some shock value to the denouement. Our group was uncomfortable with the interactive element, which encourages the audience to sing and pray with the group. Even as an infrequent churchgoer, that was more than I wanted to commit to the experience. I'd just rather watch them from afar instead of feeling complicit in their actions. That said, this was one of the most visceral experiences at the Festival. Lauren Anderson is great as a church leader, and the cast members really commit to their religious fervor. Nissa Nordland Morgan, who is also the writer, is very convincing acolyte, and her fervent exclamations of "Joyful Harvest!" will stay with me.

Horror Show Hot Dog - Night Two
(Read more about HSHD here.)

Night Two featured: Rewind (dir. Ruben Perez), a film about a college girl which was reminiscent of The House of the Devil; Peephole (dir. Enrique Escamilla), which is about unsavory events glimpsed through an apartment door's peephole and is the reason I mistrust my car's backup camera; Together (dir. Ryan Oksenberg), a fantastically acted and compelling film about a clean-up crew and family secrets; Water Horse (dir. Sara Wisner and Sean Temple), which was very much style over substance; and Midnight (dir. Katie Bonham), a haunting and isolating film with parallel narratives taking place in the same space.

Bug Girl
LIZ Howls

A brilliant shadow puppet show, meticulously created and executed, with an intrepid young heroine at its heart. It's short, only about 40 minutes, but that felt just right. The program mentions future installments. We say, bring them on, Bug Girl!

Bug Girl by LIZ Howls
Photo by Dan Norman
Now for the vexation part. After three days and nine shows of unbelievably responsive and attentive audiences, the theatergoers at Incarnate appeared to have lost their damn minds. We were surrounded by people who were discussing the show at full conversation volume, and two of the talkers actually took out their phones and took pictures and recorded some of the show. I mean, WHAT? We sat behind Dan Norman, who was taking pictures for the festival with his fancy cameras and it was less distracting than these two. Sometimes people are the worst.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Twin Cities Horror Festival VIII - Day Three

Frankenstein by Dangerous Productions
Photo by Dan Norman
Our weekend at the Twin Cities Horror Festival continues with productions by three TCHF favorites: Dangerous Productions, Oncoming Productions, and The Winding Sheet Outfit.

Just to recap: Why We Love TCHFDay One, Day Two, and our TCHF archives.

Saturday. DAY THREE.

Frankenstein
Dangerous Productions

I hesitate to say much about this show, since the way things are revealed is a great part of the scary fun. The story is told out of order, as if being relived in a characters head. The intricate script and some nifty work with handheld lights make for an unsettling experience in the best possible way. Inspired by Mary Shelley's famous novel, this Frankenstein finds a new way to tell the story, and since it's from Dangerous Productions, there's a fair amount of blood and gore. The performers were all excellent, and the staging is impressive. If you're looking for something scary and different, this is a great bet.

Ah, there's the blood. Frankenstein by Dangerous Productions
Photo by Dan Norman
Geminae
Oncoming Productions

Geminae by Oncoming Productions
Photo by Dan Norman
In Geminae, astronaut Cassie is on a solo space mission that goes awry. Her sister Helen, working from the ground, tries to bring her home, but Cassie is alone. Or is she? This production was originally mounted at the 2018 Fringe Festival, but this was our first viewing. The space effects are neat, and there are some interesting character dynamics, but the eventual supernatural element feels a little underthought. The performances are very good all around, especially from Victoria Pyan as Helen and Leslie Vincent as Cassie, who beautifully depict the relationship between sisters.

...And What Alice Found There
The Winding Sheet Outfit

OMG, these masks! ...And What Alice Found There by
The Winding Sheet Outfit. Photo by Dan Norman
The Winding Sheet Outfit creates works that examine historical events and people, and we've enjoyed their work, though we couldn't get tickets to their hit 2019 Fringe show, You Are Cordially Invited to the Life and Death of Edward Lear, which took home two Golden Lanyard awards. Now the company looks at the relationship between Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, and Alice Pleasance Liddell, the girl who first heard the stories that would later be published as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The show raises more questions than it answers, in a roundabout way that seems to mimic the twists and turns in the mind of Dodgson, played by Kristina Fjellman. The supporting cast of six women play Alice and her sisters, as well as everyone else. And when confronting Dodgson, they sing a discordant setting of one of his poems to a tune that was still running through my head days later. Creepy and fun!

(Jules)

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Twin Cities Horror Festival VIII - Day Two

Frankenstein's monster and friends
On our second day at the Twin Cities Horror Festival, we saw three more shows.

Just to recap: Why We Love TCHF, Day One, our TCHF archives.

Friday. DAY TWO.

AMP: The Electrifying Story of Mary Shelley
The Obscura Factory

AMP featuring Jody Christopherson
Photo by Hunter Canning
AMP is written and performed by Jody Christopherson, a New York-based performer who last year brought St. Kilda to the Horror Festival. Last year's show had minimal staging, with Christopherson creating all of her own sound effects and musical accompaniment live. AMP again has just Christopherson on stage, but as she portrays Mary Shelley, recorded voices fill in as people in her life as if they are coming from her head. Her performance and the show are riveting, and made me want to read more about Shelley, her anarchist parents, and her marriage to Percy Bysshe Shelley. Bonus! Adorable bookstore flirting scene included. Also, a bit of book destruction. You've been warned.

The Feminine Inhuman
Erin Sheppard Presents/Monster Science

Feminine Inhuman - Erin Sheppard Presents & Matt Kessen
Photo by Dan Norman
Two Horror Fest favorites come together beautifully in this new show. Reverend Matt, in his amusingly educational style, introduces a number of mythological monsters identified as female, with plenty of insight into the fears that may have led storytellers to embellish these stories. After he describes a female monster, Erin Sheppard and her dancers perform a short piece illustrating and adding to the story. Sheppard's sometimes aggressive dances always tell a story, but the combination of the background info and the dance works wonderfully well. The dances often take a turn to the unexpected, even though we've just learned about the basic story. It's beautiful and entertaining. One of the vignettes that blends narration and dance perfectly is Kuchisake-Onna. As Reverend Matt narrates, Derek Meyer and Regan K. Saunders dance the chilling story of a malevolent Japanese spirit also known as the "slit-mouthed woman." Two things: Erin Sheppard's work is gorgeous and I wish we could see it more often, and Reverend Matt needs to have a podcast to share his vast monster knowledge and mellifluous voice. That is all.

We love the way Erin Sheppard's dancers run.
Photo by Dan Norman
Horror Show Hot Dog - Night One 
Short Film Festival
Horror Show Hot Dog official logo
Every year, the creators of the Horror Show Hot Dog podcast curate a selection of short horror films for TCHF. This year, they have five shows, each featuring different short films. In past years, they found most of the movies on YouTube, but as their profile has risen, this year's selections are almost all being exclusively shown at film festivals, and come from around the world. Theatergoers receive ballots, and a favorite for each night is chosen and announced on their Facebook page. Also, I just checked out the HSHD page, and the podcast has episodes about eight of the shows in this year's festival, which is an excellent way to learn more about the shows.

I (Jules) am not a big fan of horror movies, but I really enjoy the short films. I think it helps to know that I'm not going to be on the edge of my seat for more than 10 minutes at a time. But Carol, who loves horror films, also enjoys these a lot. We've seen two of this year's editions so far. Three to go!

I really do. -Carol
Night One featured: Service (dir. Theo Watkins) - in which self-service grocery store technology goes terribly wrong; Clicker (dir. Amanda Stoddard) - involves a small boy and the death of his cat; Lili (dir. Yfke van Berckelaer) - a fanfreakingtastic short about an audition that takes a surprising and satisfying turn; Marianne (dir. Matt Losasso) - which I literally do not remember watching; The Game of the Clock (dir. Michele Oliveri) - which involves a teenage girl, an alarm clock and a cat and mouse game; Puzzle (dir. Vincenzo Aiello) - a short, nearly silent film about a woman putting together a puzzle of her house with a surprising end; and Toe (dir. Chad Thurman and Neal O'Bryan) - a weird little short about a starving boy eating a toe, which I loved because it reminded me of Vincent by Tim Burton and those freaky Tool videos. Fun fun! The winner was Lili and rightfully so.

Coming up: Days Three and Four! Oh BOY!

Twin Cities Horror Festival VIII highlights - Day One

Spooky tee shirts abound at TCHF.
Fiends, the Twin Cities Horror Festival started their eighth season last weekend, and you only have until Sunday, November 3 to get your scare on. Read our preview post to find out why we love the TCHF.

All shows take place at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis. Individual show tickets are $15 each, or you can buy a Four Horsemen Pass, which gets you four show admissions for $55. If you plan to see the whole festival, a Skeleton Key pass gets you into as many shows as you like, and you can see shows more than once--which we highly recommend! Also, as the TCHF is now a legit 501(c)3, they welcome your donations. Check out the giving tree in the lobby.

But now! Here's what we thought of the 11 shows we saw this weekend.

Thursday. DAY ONE.

Michigan Disasters 
Ghoulish Delights
Michigan Disasters - Ghoulish Delights
Photo by Dan Norman
Tim Uren wrote and performs this personal story recounting a trip he made as an adult to the home where he visited his grandparents when he was young. While telling of his past in Michigan, he also recounts the stories of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald and the Becker-Hines mine collapse. Although Uren is a good storyteller, and he talks about actual tragedies, it doesn't really add up to horror. Unless you find having Gordon Lightfoot's song stuck in your head horrifying. Which we would totally understand. We love Ghoulish Delights, though, and never miss an opportunity to promote their wonderful podcast The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society.

The Rule of Three
Four Humors

Rule of Three - Four Humors
Photo by Dan Norman
One of our friends said this show struck him as a microcosm of the festival itself: a variety of stories and styles. Four Humors is a founding company of the festival, and they know how to tell a story. So expectations are high for them. This year, they take their one hour slot and fit in three stories. Act 1 features technology (or something else) gone rogue.  Act 2 is a spooky story by the fireside featuring filmed segments, the evils of vaping, and some hilariously dorky running by Matt Spring. Act 3 is an ambitious period tale of a wagon train heading west, which would have benefited from some editing and perhaps fewer jumps back and forth in time. But Acts 1 and 2 are plenty creepy and clever. And not incidentally, very funny.

Stay tuned for MORE HORRORRRRRRRRRRR fest fun.