Saturday, December 15, 2018

Dread the Halls by Oncoming Productions at Off-Leash Art Box

Please note that this show runs from December 14-16 ONLY so we are going to make this fast, short and sweet!

Love horror? Love theater? Love Christmas stories with a twist? Get yourself to the Off-Leash Art Box in Minneapolis to Dread the Halls: A Gathering of Holiday Horror.

Presented by Oncoming Productions, Dread the Halls features four short holiday-themed vignettes interspersed with music by The Champagne Drops. Anyone who loves the Twin Cities Horror Festival (and you SHOULD--how many times do we have to tell you?) needs to catch this show.

Dread the Halls starts with Rogues Gallery Arts's "Naughty or Nice," a short piece about siblings surviving the zombie apocalypse. You may note overtones of Dawn of the Dead and The Ref. Written by Duck Washington and directed by Jena Young, "Naughty or Nice" manages to create strong characters and believable, touching familial relationships in a very short play. Lovely acting by Brynn Berryhill and Eric Thompson as Constance and Gabe add even more depth and emotion. I love the skilled way Washington sketches the setting with a radio voice-over and the lighting (by Julia Carlis) beautifully evokes the mood.

Between each segment, the lovely duo The Champagne Drops (Leslie Vincent and Emily Dussault) accompanied by Erik Ostrom (on a variety of instruments) add their distinctive blended voices to haunting original numbers as well as putting a dark twist on holiday classics. You'll never hear "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" the same way again. Also, they need to put out a Halloween album like now please.  

"777: A Very Crowley Christmas", is a Ghoulish Delights production created and performed by Tim Uren (also of the Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society--a podcast you should definitely be listening to). Uren takes us through the complex history of Aleister Crowley and the concept of Anti-Christmas. His approach reminded us of his fellow Twin Cities Horror Festival alum Reverend Matt's Monster Science. That is, until Uren's tale ends with a mysterious, startling twist. 

Erin Sheppard Presents is up next with "Searching for Santa (You Better Watch Out)" which tells the story of a man (Joe Bozic) who heads to the North Pole in search of Santa Claus. He does not find Santa (spoiler!) but what he does find there is delightfully dark, creepy and funny. Written by Joe Bozic and choreographed by Erin Sheppard, this twisted holiday tale features Sheppard's signature fantastic blend of athletic, energetic dance and perfect contemporary song choice. We love that Sheppard's dancers are also compelling actors (Erin Sheppard, Regan K. Saunders, Jessica Chad) as well as dancers. And the costumes are spot-on--particularly Sheppard's first costume, which is hilarious. As we always say when we see her work: Yay, more Erin Sheppard Presents PLEASE.

The last play of the evening is Oncoming Productions's fantastic "Holiday Spirits," written by Sean Dillon and directed by Victoria Pyan. Simultaneously funny and genuinely spooky, "Holiday Spirits" tells the story of Jackson (Sean Dillon) and Tim (Rob Ward) who, upon moving into their new (old) house, find a bottle of cognac which gives them some very unexpected effects. To say more would spoil the magical surprise of where the story goes, but suffice it to say that we'd love to see much more of these characters and their story. Hilarious and chilling and a perfect way to end a winter's evening. 

Go! Quick! Follow and support these amazing theater companies! Happy Holidays! BYE!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Black Nativity (2018) at Penumbra Theatre

Always a great way to start the holiday season off on the right note, Black Nativity is back at Penumbra Theatre, running through December 23.

This perennial favorite tells the story of the birth of Christ through music and dance, with many familiar faces and voices.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Alt-Holiday Show Guide for 2018

'Tis the season for holiday theatergoing!

Before you buy your tickets to the various Christmas Carols and Nutcrackers around town, check out one of our smaller theaters for something a little different, a little more intimate and a lot more lowercase letters. And sometimes? These shows aren't even about the holidays. WHAT. I know.

Monday, November 26, 2018

We Saw Some Shows - November 2018 Sum-Up

Here are a few short takes on shows we've seen lately.

In October, we saw The Haunting of Hill House by Theatre X at the James J. Hill House, which we were SO on board with immediately.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

A Weekend in Witch City: Salem Horror Fest 2018

This year, one horror festival was not nearly enough for us, so we headed to Salem for the 2nd annual Salem Horror Fest. It was crazy fun.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

TCHF VII: Reverend Matt's Monster Science - Demons of the Deep Blue Sea

Show: Demons of the Deep Blue Sea
By: Monster Science Productions

Krakens are the best. Look at him hug that ship!
Genre: Theater, Comedy, historical, non-fiction, storytelling

What's It All About:
"Rev. Matt’s infotational talks return! Get the historical background, comedy jokes, and PowerPoint that you need about the monsters we create and the fears they embody. This year, the first two dates will feature a talk about Old Nick, the First Among the Fallen, the history of the Christian Satan himself. And the last three will be a piece about sirens, krakens, Great Cthulhu, and other horrors of the deep blue sea!"

What We Thought:
Reverend Matt of Rev. Matt's Monster Science is presenting two shows at this year's Twin Cities Horror Festival: Sympathy for the Devil and Demons of the Deep Blue Sea. We've already gone on at considerable length about Rev. Matt and his Monster Science, who we first encountered at last year's TCHF. We've used the word delightful more times than we can count. We see his shows even when they are VERY LATE. What else is there to say?

We will say this: When Rev. Matt talks about cephalopods, his face lights up.

Many people can (and DO) talk about their passions endlessly, but Rev. Matt makes his passion (for monsters!) personal, relatable, informative and completely hilarious. His enthusiasm is endearing and infectious--especially for the topic of creatures of the sea, which is rich with mythological, historical, and literary wonder, plus a few Ray Harryhausen references.

In a Star Tribune article, Jason Ballweber of the TCHF says: "'You could talk to Reverend Matt all night if you just asked him, ‘Hey, what do you think about vampires?’" After seeing a Rev. Matt's Monster Science show, that's exactly what you want to do. Demons of the Deep Blue Sea is one of his most delightful shows. Don't miss it.

TCHF VII: Greenway

Show: Greenway
By: Tom Reed

Genre: Theater, Survival, Suspense

What's It All About:
"Late on a crisp fall night, a bike commuter’s worst nightmare comes true. Eva is riding alone on the Greenway bike path - a dark trench lit only by her bike light - and something unfriendly starts following her. And it's catching up. And she can’t pedal any faster. And her light just died."

What We Thought:
So far, Greenway is the spookiest show at the Twin Cities Horror Festival this year. Yay, spooky! Written and directed by Tom Reed, the play starts with a group of friends heading off after an evening at a show. Eva gets on her bike to head home and her coworker (boss?) Dave offers to accompany her home. He persuades her to take the Greenway instead of her preferred city streets. The conversation that ensues between Eva and Dave is freaking SPOT-ON and way too familiar, and soon Eva is on her own on the Greenway.

To say much more would be spoilery, but suffice it to say that she should have taken the city streets. Think Duel on bikes. The staging and use of lighting is ingenious and realistic. Greenway has a delightful slow burn and beautifully settles into a suspenseful, tense atmosphere which ends with a genuinely uncertain resolution. And I'm really glad I didn't have to ride my bike home.