Thursday, July 12, 2018

Must-Sees at the 2018 Minnesota Fringe Festival

At last count there were 137 shows in the Minnesota Fringe Festival 2018, but fear not! We are here to help you sort through the copious offerings

First, note that this year's Fringe is limited to just two main areas: The Northeast Hub and the Cedar-Riverside Hub. Easier parking, navigating and yay, no Uptown! 

Secondly, you should follow our friend Cherry and Spoon, who dives into Fringe with admirable enthusiasm and has lots of useful advice for Fringe newbies. Check out the rest of the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers on Facebook for even more Fringey goodness.

Third, don't forget to utilize the My Account feature on the Fringe website to keep track of your favorites and plan your schedules. It's immeasurably helpful, as are the tags that classify each show.

And now, here's our highly personal list of the shows we can't wait to see at the Fringe. (Text in italics is from the Fringe website.) 


Couple Fight: The Musical! by Weggel-Reed Productions
In Short: Real couples reenacting their real fights as a fully-fledged musical review. Enjoy new couples and returning favorites perform never-before-seen fights made palatable by clever writing and inspiring music.
Venue: Rarig Center Thrust
Why We're In: This year's Couple Fight now features music by Keith Hovis AND includes Max Wojtanowicz. Who would have thought this crowd-pleasing Fringe favorite could be even more delightful?

Not Fair, My Lady! by Colleen Somerville Productions
In Short: Not Fair, My Lady! is an all-woman, company-created musical theatre parody review! It's 2018 and misogyny is alive and well on Broadway. And in the world. Everywhere. Let's...sing about it! Shit.
Venue: Mixed Blood Theatre
Why We're In: Ticks all our favorite things boxes, has a great cast and its creators include Shanan Custer. Yes, please.

In Short: Weaving in original pop musical numbers and sci-fi romantic comedy, Proof! follows lonely office temp Zoe as a bad date, too much to drink, and an alien abduction force her to rise up and save the world.
Venue: Augsburg Studio
Why We're In: The premise sounds adorable and it's a musical. Also, who among us has not suspected that their humdrum work life masks the fact that they have "been selected by a desperate alien race to be the test subject of their soul-harvesting experiment." Just us? Oh, okay.

The Breakfast Club: The Musical! by FredPictures
In Short: An entirely sung-through adaptation of the beloved and iconic teen movie classic, The Breakfast Club, featuring all original '80s-style music.
Venue: Southern Theater
Why We're In: Because it's The Breakfast Club: The Musical. Enough said. Oh, and a great cast/crew including Denzel Belin, Dorothy Owen and Matt Tatone.

Minnesota Fringe Festival is giving the Twin Cities Horror Festival (TCHF) a run for its money with its delightful horror-y selections. Check out these spoooooky shows!

Blood Nocturne by The Winding Sheet Outfit
In Short: You may have heard of that Hungarian Countess. Killed 650 virginal girls. Tortured and maimed them. Bathed in their blood. That is the story we know. Because that is the story the world has chosen to hear.
Venue: Southern
Why We're In: We loved The Memory Box of the Sisters Fox by The Winding Sheet Outfit, and the subject sounds fascinating.

Far Away by Caryl Churchill by Wayward Theatre Company
In Short: Cloaked in complacency, Far Away sinks the audience into a dystopian future begging the question: where do you stand? It’s a haunting premonition of a not so distant future with horror, humor and live music.
Venue: Rarig Center Arena
Why We're In: We saw Far Away years ago at Pillsbury House Theatre and the production was memorably haunting and disturbing. Can't wait to see it again. Plus, Wayward's been doing some great site-specific work around town.

Geminae by Oncoming Productions
In Short: Astronaut Cassie Matheson is in orbit, and she's doomed. With nothing left to lose, she discovers there is nothing to hold her back... except the sister who won't let her go.
Venue: Southern Theater
Why We're In: We've loved Oncoming Productions's haunting, sensory-rich work, like Deep Dark at TCHF and The Last Bombardment at Fringe. Also, we can't get enough of shows about sisters.

Sidesplitting by Ruckus Productions
In Short: Laugh, scream, and try to survive a killer comedy fueled by 80s nostalgia and the terror of throwing together a comedy show in 3 months. Join us for a gut-busting tale of violence, blood and teenage hormones!
Venue: Theatre in the Round
Why We're In: It had us at the description. 80s nostalgia AND "all the horror characters you know and love in a night of raucous bloodshed."

The Moirologist by Life-sized Meme Productions
In Short: John Morton is a professional mourner with Fond Farewells Funeral services. He makes a profit off of other peoples' grief. As a rule, he never mixes business with personal life, but that turns out to be tough.
Venue: Ritz Theater Mainstage
Why We're In: Incredibly intriguing and unique premise. Possibly a hard watch (there is a trigger warning), but professional mourning? Um, yes from these granddaughters of a cemetery superintendent.

The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society Versus the Nazis by Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society
In Short: Join the Society for two classic World War II era thrillers from the golden age of radio, performed in the style of an old-time radio broadcast, including original announcements, commercials and sound effects.
Venue: Rarig Center Thrust
Why We're In: Because we are big fans of The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society podcast, which is a practically perfect podcast. (Seriously: If you're creating a podcast, listen to MORLS. They do everything right.)


Deep in The 100 Acre Woods: A "Pooh"-dunnit? by Fearless Comedy Productions
In Short: A film noir, murder mystery set in the nitty gritty 1930's with the loveable characters of Winnie-the-Pooh.
Venue: Minnsky Theatre
Why We're In: There is SO MUCH HAPPENING in this description. This show has EVERYTHING. Also, Gregory Parks.

Eddie Poe by The Coldharts
In Short: A stand-alone sequel to the 2014 and 2015 smash hit 'Edgar Allan'... Sixteen-year-old Edgar Allan has one goal: to gain mastery over his subjects at the University of Virginia. He has one obstacle: Eddie Poe.
Venue: Ritz Theater Mainstage
Why We're In: Cause we love The Coldharts as they do weird and adorable musical shows. And, we're intrigued to see what's changed in this iteration of Eddie Poe since we saw it at TCHF.

The Screaming Skull by Ghoulish Delights, LLC
In Short: In this one-man adaptation of F. Marion Crawford's classic ghost story, a sailor spends a stormy night descending into drink and madness, haunted by the cries of a woman he may have inadvertently helped murder.
Venue: Rarig Center Thrust
Why We're In: Literary adaptation? Ghost story? Sound effects by three actors? You got us.


Have You Seen This Girl? by Mermaid Productions
In Short: 16 yr old Annie Parks left for school on May 3rd and didn't come home that evening. Join us as we visit popular spots for runaways on the West Bank to find her and bring her safely home.
Venue: Hard Times Cafe
Why We're In: Because of this: "The Watch is planning a series of group walks in August to popular spots for runaways around the West Bank. If we are lucky, the locals in the area might be willing to talk with us and point us in the right direction. Come help us find her and bring her safely home." Site-specific and a fascinating premise.

The Member of Some Gods by Impossible Salt
In Short: Welcome! We've got good news & bad news. The bad news: you're dead. The good news? You can live forever! It's confusing, but we'll guide you through it. Watch out for crocs, & whatever you do, DON'T die again!
Venue: Casket Arts Building
Why We're In: "The audience—souls of the departed—must survive a trip through the underworld to gain eternal life." Site-specific, devised and Gregory Parks. Yes, please.

Let's DANCE!

BollyProv: NOT a Dance Drama! by Bollywood Dance Scene
In Short: Bollywood Dance Scene brings you personal stories of Immigration, assimilation, and more from the community. A new story every show, with some music, dance and improv. It's something different this year!
Venue: Ritz Theater Mainstage
Why We're In: Because what could be more relevant and important than stories of immigration. Also, Bollywood dance!

Book of Shadows by Erin Sheppard Presents
In Short: With witchcraft as the underlying theme, spells are cast through dance and storytelling. Dances range in style from hip hop to lyrical while spells written by a 13-year-old Taj Ruler tie each piece together.
Venue: Theatre in the Round
Why We're In: Although we saw this already at TCHF, Erin Sheppard's unique blend of narrative, dance and amazing musical choices are well worth seeing again. Plus, it's a nice prelude to Sheppard's Book of Shadows II, coming up at this year's TCHF.

Zombies And Pirouettes by Pacific Midwest Ballet
In Short: A wedding takes a horrific turn as guests start eating each other. Dancing zombies hunt the survivors while the separated newlyweds desperately seek to be reunited. Will they find each other alive?
Venue: Southern Theater
Why We're In: We love dance with a strong narrative thread. And also? ZOMBIES.


What To Do In Case Of Dinosaur Attack by Monster Science Productions
In Short: Reverend Matt's talk provides the comedy jokes, real science facts, and instructive PowerPoint you need about how to defend yourself from dinosaurs of all kinds - predators and herbivores, real and cinematic!
Venue: Mixed Blood Theatre
Why We're In: Because of this: "So! You find yourself being attacked by a dinosaur. It happens to all of us at one time or another. The first thing you need to do: panic! The second thing: stop panicking. Number three: remember all of the helpful tips, tricks and techniques that you learned from 'What To Do In Case Of Dinosaur Attack.'" I mean, come ON.

Hidden in This Picture by Mosaic Productions
In Short: Production is 3 weeks behind and 6 million over budget. Now the sun is setting seemingly faster than it's ever set before when three cows walk into the final shot of the film.
Venue: Rarig Center Arena
Why We're In: We need a little Sorkin. Plus, plays about movies are almost as much fun as movies about movies.

A Justice League of Their Own by Mainly Me Productions
In Short: When the male superheroes are called away to fight an intergalactic war, the female superheroes rise up to protect their city by forming: A Justice League of Their Own. Who save the world?
Venue:  Theatre in the Round
Why We're In: Fun premise, fab cast, and we are total converts to the cult of Josh Carson. JOIN US.

LIGHTNING ROUND - A Few More Shows That Look Awesome:

A Gertrude Stein Christmas by Theatre Unbound
Devised by the ensemble from Stein’s play "Turkey and Bones and Eating and We Liked It." If you’ve ever felt like an expatriate at your own family holidays, “A Gertrude Stein Christmas” will ring a few bells.

A Family Friendly Pulp Fiction (Not Appropriate for Families) by Snikt! Bamf! Thwip!
A martyr flogging adaptation of the 1994 masterpiece that is 100% appropriate for audience of all ages. Except children. Or adults. Or dogs. You'll lose your monster fishing salt! Don't bring your kids. Really.

A Farewell to Armadillos by NEPTUNE
Clowns come in. Clowns do some stuff. Clowns go out. Now, there might be some Hemingway allegories along the way, but don't hold your breath. Seriously, don't. Have you ever seen a clown do CPR? Just...don't.

Broken English, Mother Tongue by minnerican productions
Stories of growing up between languages and cultures of Puerto Rico and the US. This post-hurricane update of a 2016 Fringe favorite will have its east coast premiere at the juried 2018 NYC Fringe Festival.

BurnOut County by
Nationally touring, married comedians Tim Harmston and Mary Mack perform comedic vignettes of life in Northern Wisconsin’s BurnOut County. This dark comedy is a collage of stories, essays, sketch, and songs.

Dangerous When Wet: Booze, Sex, and My Mother by Jamie Brickhouse
A sodomite's wickedly intoxicating odyssey from small-town sissy to louche Manhattanite as he hits alcoholic bottom & discovers he can’t escape the all-consuming love of his Texas tornado of a mother Mama Jean.

Gunplay! by Tom Reed
Set in the absurd alternate reality of America in 2018, this satirical romp follows a too-powerful gun lobby group’s attempt to stage a “hip, fun!” musical active shooter drill with high school theater kids.

Home by Michael Venske
How do you define home? Is it a person, place, or feeling? What happens when home goes away? An autobiographical solo storytelling experience examining home from Minnesota to China and back again.

I Never Knock by Berlin Productions
For fans of Hollywood divas, 1950's Broadway and the most famous scene from "Basic Instinct". A has-been movie star's plans to kill herself on stage are thwarted by several visitors to her dressing room.

ITCHY TINGLES by Heidi Arneson
Childhood in the eye of the tornado. Suburban gothic humor & exquisite classical guitar. A long-lost lake filled with secret urges, ardent mermaids & monsters lurking under the muck. "Beautifully vivid."

Kaboom by Sheep Theater
A nuclear missile is mistakenly armed and nothing is able to prevent it from launching. Kaboom. A new play presented by Sheep Theater (2018 Best of City Pages).

Locker Room Talk by WalthWorks
An original musical telling the story of a female coach and her high school boys basketball team as they encounter a chauvinistic, narrow-minded and asymmetrical culture still alive and well in a "man's world".

MEDUSA by Vox Medusa and Infiammati FireCircus
MEDUSA storms the Fringe, more fiery than ever! A mythological priestess' story of devotion, wrath and her cursed fate. Outdoor performance of contemporary dance, fire performance, original music and video.

Our Best Life by Custer & Schmidt
Despite global & personal chaos, Shanan & Emily are living their best lives! I mean, really trying! Do you believe them yet?! Through delightfully funny sketches, they prove everything's fine. (Nothing's fine.)

Rejection by Theatre Corrobora
Five friends become subjects in a study on intimacy, forcing them to be honest about their relationships. ‘Rejection’ explores how much a little bit of truth can alter lives and outlooks on love.

Saree-ously Speaking? Uff-Da! by Mollywood Productions
A wealthy family of Indian descent relocates to a small town in Minnesota for an unsurpassable opportunity. Hilarity ensues as the tight-knit community intersects with the new residents and cultures collide.

Summers in Prague by Sidecar Theatre
Mara, a thirty-five-year-old English teacher, goes on a trip to Prague and uncharacteristically hires a male escort. Join us for this funny, intimate and unexpectedly poignant journey of self- discovery.

Swipe Right by Blinking Eye Theatre
What if we talked to each other in real life the way people talk on dating apps like Tinder? Jump into a world where people introduce themselves OKCupid style and fail or succeed based on the first message sent.

Swords & Sorcery: The Improvised Fantasy Campaign by The Bearded Company
An improvised fantasy adventure where fate is decided by a 20-sided die. Dragons will be slain, dungeons will be explored and, nerd or not, you'll leave with a smile on your face and adventure in your heart.

The Flashlight Zone: 20 Science Fiction Plays in One Hour by Flash Grenade Productions
20 Science Fiction plays performed rapid-fire in under an hour. Aliens, robots, time travel and more - all at the speed of light!

TITUS: Sweet Water, Silent Walks by The Band Group
Beginning as a "traditional" Shakespeare play, the story devolves into a dynamic physical staging told through the POV of Lavinia; to echo the plight she and other assault victims have with no one to turn to.

WHEW! Overwhelmed yet? Us too. Remember to stay hydrated, wear layers and comfy shoes, and don't Fringe hangry.

Happy Fringing, y'all!