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.


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.

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.

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
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!


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.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

What Time Is It? It's Twin Cities Horror Festival VIII Time! YAY!

For years, we have been devoted fans of the Twin Cities Horror Festival, now in its eighth year. Why do we love it so?

Well, as we said way back about TCHF IV in 2015 (and again, every year since):

- It's a manageable size (twelve shows this year, plus a cabaret, plus lobby embalming sessions)
- It runs a reasonable amount of time (October 24 through November 3)
- The shows are short and easy to binge

Their website rocks: Schedules by day and by show, and useful genres and ratings
- The box office, staff and volunteers are marvelously organized, friendly and efficient

- It's at only one theater (The Southern Theater)
- And that theater is appropriately spooky
- And it has a bar
- And is near a number of excellent restaurants and bars
- Parking is not impossible

Oh, and did we mention: TCHF has some of the best theater artists in the Twin Cities writing shows that are specifically in the horror genre but range from gory and hilarious to chilling and heartfelt. And this year? It's officially a 501(c)(3) that pays all revenue from individual ticket sales directly to the artists creating the work. (Slow clap.)

JOIN US. You know you want to. Here's a peek at this year's festival:
...And What Alice Found There
…And What Alice Found There by The Winding Sheet Outfit
In Short: "From the creators of Blood Nocturne, The Memory Box of the Sisters Fox, and You Are Cordially Invited to the Life and Death of Edward Lear; TWSO examines the obsessions of a Victorian author and his controversial relationship to his muse."
Why We're Excited: We adored The Memory Box of the Sisters Fox and are on board for their dreamy, clever, literary aesthetic, even if it is wildly hard to get into their sold-out shows. 

AMP by The Obscura Factory 
In Short: "The Electrifying Story of Mary Shelley. Written and performed by Jody Christopherson
with additional text from the writings of Mary Shelley, Percy Shelly, Lord Byron, William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft and Luigi Galvani."
Why We're Excited:
Last year's St. Kilda by Jody Christopherson was an atmospheric, chilling folk tale and a one-woman show accompanied only by looping audio. Looking forward to what she does next.
Bug Girl by LIZ howls 
In Short: "Bug Girl is an large scale horror shadow puppet show about a young girl who grows wings and shrinks in size after swallowing a strange insect. Her new abilities become a threat to those around her as a new hunger drives her to consume--and ravage--the minds of those closest to her. Searching for a means to control her powers and tame her parasite, Bug Girl will travel between worlds, battling the darkness within, and without her."
Why We're Excited: We were in at "large scale horror shadow puppet show." Sometimes it's that easy.

Charcoal Moon by Rogues Gallery Arts 
In Short: "Some moons bring light into the darkness, others bring darkness into the light. After a six-year space flight, the UCASA Santa Maria approaches the moon of the dwarf planet Makemake hoping to locate an extremely rare and valuable mineral. However, what they find on the dark moon isn’t quite what they had hoped for."
Why We're Excited:
Although the description is on the vague side, we've loved Rogues Gallery Arts work in past festivals: the chilling Intuition and the Mantis and the more family-friendly Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Frankenstein by Dangerous Productions 
In Short: "What would you destroy to build the life of your dreams? Inspired by Mary Shelley’s original horror story, this “delightfully perverse mindf*ck” crawls with shadows and drips with betrayal, as we follow a monster in pursuit of perfection. Rated one of CityPages top ten shows of 2015, Dangerous Productions smash hit is back and bloodier than ever!"
Why We're Excited: Cause we didn't see it back in 2015, and Dangerous Productions always brings the visceral gore to TCHF. (Case in point: TCHF IV's Epidemic.)

Geminae by Oncoming Productions 
In Short: "The 2018 MN Fringe Festival horror hit is back, new and improved! A routine mission goes awry when astronaut Cassie Matheson sees something impossible in her shuttle. At mission control, her sister Helen fights to bring her home. When the unthinkable happens, they learn just how unbreakable the bond between them is, with chilling consequences."
Why We're Excited:
Because where Dangerous brings the gore, Oncoming Productions brings the chilling and the atmospheric (see The Deep Dark from TCHF VI.)

Feminine Inhuman by Erin Sheppard Presents & Monster Science
In Short: "The Feminine Inhuman will bring to life stories of female monsters from around the world. When a monster is imagined to be feminine, there is an underlying reason for that choice. What makes women so terrifying? Reverend Matt expounds his encyclopedic knowledge of demonesses while Erin Sheppard Presents' kinetic choreography celebrates the feminine monster. What darkness does she conceal? What monstrosities is she capable of?"
Why We're Excited: We have often sung the praises of Erin Sheppard Presents' amazing dance shows and Rev. Matt's hilarious and informative Monster Science. But together? What? How? It sounds a little crazy but FASCINATING.

Incarnate by Special When Lit
In Short: "Relinquish your past, and cultivate yourself anew. Join the Oasis; a garden nestled in a secluded nook of Northern Minnesota. At this heaven on Earth, our Herald, Marigold, will plant the seed of your personal truth, and Caretaker Dan will till the soil of your soul until you reach fruition. It is the season of the harvest, and today’s a most momentous day! Our community’s hearts will beat as one. Come home, to the Oasis. Special When Lit presents Incarnate, a new nightmare from Nissa Nordland Morgan, writer of The Fae and Xena and Gabrielle Smash the Patriarchy."
Why We're Excited: Folk horror is all the rage these days and we adored Nissa Nordland Morgan's Xena and Gabrielle at the Fringe this year.

Michigan Disasters by Ghoulish Delights
In Short: "Tim Uren weaves together the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, the Barnes-Hecker Mine collapse, and a truly bizarre family vacation to transport you to a dark and dangerous world. Unearth this hidden realm of ancient beings, lakes that appear overnight, hungry spirits, and the Holy Grail. It’s waiting for you in Michigan, just below the surface."
Why We're Excited: From the Mysterious Old Radio Listening Show podcast to their Fringe shows (like 2019's delightful Frankenstein: Two Centuries), Ghoulish Delights are always bringing the spooky.

HSHD Short Film Festival by Horror Show Hot Dog
In Short: "Each year Horror Show Hot Dog watches short horror films by artists from around the world. At the Twin Cities Horror Festival they present the best of the films they discovered throughout the year. Each of the five nights features a different selection of short films, no two shows are the same. Our audience votes for their favorite film of the night each night, and the winners receive a trophy."
Why We're Excited: We love short horror films and HSHD always picks the best. Pro tip: Get a Skeleton Key and you can see ALL of their shows, each with a different line-up of films.

The Rule of Three by Four Humors
In Short: "Three actors. Three Stories. Three Genres. Three separate tales told over three different acts exploring three different themes in three different ways. Beware, bad things always come in threes."
Why We're Excited: Cause it's the wildly talented Four Humors of past TCHF faves like Harold and Mortem Capiendum. Also, that picture. Eek.

An Improvised Spooky Musical by The Shrieking Harpies
In Short: "A blending of horror genres and improvised songs into a tale of comedic spooky entertainment. You're not going to want to cover your eyes for this deFRIGHTful spectacular. The Shrieking Harpies features Lizzie Gardner, Taj Ruler, Hannah Wydeven, and Justin Nellis on the keys."
Why We're Excited: The cast is amazing and hilarious. Plus, there's not a preponderance of either improv or musicals at TCHF so yay!

Sara’s FUNeral: An Open Casket Cabaret by Funerals for Life (one performance only)
In Short: "Our wonderful TCHF Patron, Sara, is... well... dead. And you're invited to the FUNeral!
An Open-Casket Cabaret featuring friends & family of the deceased + a variety of TCHF artists. This event blurs the already-smudged line between life and death. Part memorial, part performance, and part party! Prepare for the FUNeral of a death-time."
Why We're Excited: Just yes. Just because.

Let's GO!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Tis the Season for SPOOKY - October 2019

There are literally one million fun things happening this October for those who want to see something spoooooky.

We've got movies, theater, learny things, and even an occasional immersive experience. (I know! EEK!)

In Theaters and Museums ...

Night of the Living Dead! The Musical! - Minneapolis Musical Theatre (Phoenix Theater)
October 4 - 27 (times vary)
It's a musical! Based on a classic horror film! And the title alone has two exclamation points! MMT does a beautiful job with campy musicals, so this is a must-see.

October 13 at 7:00 p.m.
"After years of detailing monsters of every variety, Reverend Matt finally presents the definitive list of the 20 best ones!"

Café Scientifique: Deciphering Dinosaur Lives - Bryant-Lake Bowl
October 15 at 7:00 p.m.
"From exciting discoveries in the field in Madagascar, to new information gleaned from microscopic investigations of sauropod bones, Dr. Kristi Curry Rogers will fill us in on the new and improved sauropod."

October 17, 18 at 7:30 p.m.
"A Night of Terror hosted by your resident ghouls Simone Suspiria and Alistair Absentia." (improv)

The Mess in Murder Manor - Strike Theater
October 19, 25, 26 at 7:30 p.m.
"On a blustery and spooky October evening, six guests arrive at a stately manor for the reading of a will and an evening of chills...." (improv)

Reverend Matt's Late Night Monster Science: The Call of the Shadow of the Horror Out of Space - Phoenix Theater
October 19 at 10:30 p.m.
"A complete history of the monsters of H.P. Lovecraft – one of the most admired, imitated, and totally misunderstood creators in the entire horror genre."

October 24 -November 3 (times vary)
TCHF is a "juried, horror- themed, live-performance arts festival spanning the two weekends surrounding Halloween." And we love it, so look for more coverage soon. But here's a look at last year's festival to whet the appetite.

October 24 at 6:00 p.m.
"Haunt your way through the Science Museum with special activities, stargazing, a chance to meet local scientists, and more. And don't miss a special drag show and costume contest, presented by Flip Phone."

The Ghostly Garden - Bell Museum
October 25 at 6:30 p.m.
"Please join us for a slightly creepy evening in the darkened galleries of the Bell Museum, with special surprises lurking around every corner." 

Reel History: Movie Monsters - Edina Historical Society
October 25 at 7:00 p.m.
"Join filmmaker and historian Alex Weston for a night of film clips exploring the cultural history behind some of the most famous monsters of filmland."

October 25, 26, 31 and Nov 1 at 7:00 p.m.
"If you’ve never seen a show, perhaps THIS is the year you experience the joy, the awe, wonder and suspense while the shear visual majesty of this multimedia presentation comes to life in an unfolding of community storytelling." Well, okay then. Also, sheer.

Ladybrain Presents: Ghouls Gone Wild! - Strike Theater
October 25, 26, 31 at 9:30 p.m.
"Ladybrain takes on Halloween! We're coven atcha with a slew of new sketches, plus a few fan favorites. This Halloween sketch party extravaganza features special guest Jenna Cis!" (sketch)

Transmission Presents: Halloween 1986 - Hell's Kitchen
October 26 at 9:00 p.m.
"Inspired by Stranger Things, Transmission, Surly & Hell's Kitchen Present: HALLOWEEN 1986. Similar to the show, there will be a vibe like you're walking back into 1986 with 100% era appropriate music and videos."

The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Things That Scare Us - Umbrella Collective
October 28 at 7:30 p.m.
"Join Umbrella Collective for an intimate fall house concert as we uncover what scares us, and what we’d save ourselves from, if we could, featuring music from Leslie Vincent, Keith Hovis, Annie Enneking, Peter Morrow, The Dino Birds, and other special guests."

Horrific House of Macabre Movie Madness - Bryant-Lake Bowl
October 30 at 8:00 p.m.
"Come join us for a ghoulish cinematic celebration of Halloween!! The movie will remain a mystery until it rolls on the big screen! One night only!"

Frankenstein: Two Centuries - Ghoulish Delights at Bryant-Lake Bowl
October 31 at 7:00 p.m.
"The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society celebrates two hundred years of Frankenstein with two original stories inspired by Mary Shelley’s iconic tale, each written and performed in the style of a classic radio series, including commercials, live music and sound effects."

And if you are VERY VERY BRAVE:

Haunted Basement - Rosedale Center
October 3 - November 2 (times vary)
"Since 2005 we have been terrifying the Twin Cities with absurdist psychological horror.  Before inching downstairs, you must sign a waiver and present valid ID. Prepare yourself for immersive theater, created by a community of avant-garde artists and horrible creeps who will…
terrify you." Even the website scares us, so ...

Spooky Movies In Movie Theaters:
(Key: A - Alamo Drafthouse Woodbury, T - Trylon Cinema, P - Parkway Theater, H - Heights Theater)

Sunday, October 13
11:15 Teen Witch (A)
3:00 Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (T)
5:00 Basket Case (T)
7:00 Brain Damage (T)
7:30 Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde (A)

Monday, October 14
7:00 The Mummy – 1999 (A)
7:00 Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (T)
8:45 Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (T)

Tuesday, October 15
6:30 Shocker (A)
7:00 Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (T)
8:30 Soul of the Demon (A)
8:45 Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (T)

Wednesday, October 16
6:00 Zombieland double feature (A)
6:30 A Nightmare on Elm Street (A)
7:00 Blood Surf (T)
7:30 Don’t Look Now (A)

Thursday, October 17
7:00 The Thing (T)
7:30 Dead of Night (H)
8:00 Poltergeist (P)
8:30 Harpoon (A)

Friday, October 18
7:00 Carrie (T)
9:00 Christine (T)

Saturday, October 19
1:00 Nightmare Before Christmas (P)
7:00 Christine (T)
7:30 Horror of Frankenstein (A)
9:15 Carrie (T)

Sunday, October 20
11:00 Teen Wolf (A)
3:00 7th Voyage of Sinbad (T)
5:00 Carrie (T)
7:00 Christine (T)
7:45 The Host (A)

Monday, October 21
7:00 7th Voyage of Sinbad (T)
7:00 Ghostbusters (A)
7:30 The Amityville Horror (A)
9:00 7th Voyage of Sinbad (T)

Tuesday, October 22
7:00 Night of the Demons (A)
7:00 7th Voyage of Sinbad (T)
8:30 The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (A)
9:00 7th Voyage of Sinbad (T)

Wednesday, October 23
7:00 The Rocky Horror Picture Show (A)

Thursday, October 24
6:30 Monos (A)
7:00 The Hitcher (T)
7:30 The Others (H)
8:00 Hellraiser (P)

Friday, October 25
7:00 The Hills Have Eyes (T)
9:00 Ravenous (T)

Saturday, October 26
1:00 Dismember the Alamo marathon (A)
1:00 Ghostbusters (P)
7:00 Ravenous (T)
9:15 The Hills Have Eyes (A)

Sunday, October 27
11:00 The Witches (A)
3:00 Piranha (T)
5:00 The Hills Have Eyes (T)
6:30 Scars of Dracula (A)
7:00 Ravenous (T)
7:30 Phantom of the Opera (H) 

Monday, October 28
7:00 Craft (A)
7:00 Piranha (T)
9:00 Piranha (T)

Tuesday, October 29
6:30 Dracula – 1931, SP (A)
7:00 Piranha (T)
8:30 Halloween III: Season of the Witch (A)
9:00 Piranha (T)

Wednesday, October 30
7:00 Tremors (A)
7:00 Hausu (T)
8:00 The Exorcist (P)
8:30 The House of the Devil (A)
9:00 Hausu (T)

Thursday, October 31
7:00 Halloween (A)
7:00 Hausu (T)
8:00 Halloween (P)
9:00 Hausu (T)


Monday, August 12, 2019

MN Fringe 2019: IN SUMMARY

My final Fringo card. Not too bad!
Well, that's it. Pretty freaking fantastic 2019 Minnesota Fringe, we have to say. 

We saw 18 shows at 10 different venues over 8 days. For the most part, the shows were outstanding. And if not outstanding, all had something to recommend them. Either we're choosing skillfully, or we've been blessed by the Fringe gods.

Here's what we saw:

A Cult Classic by Sheep Theater
Xena and Gabrielle Smash the Patriarchy By Mermaid Productions
Measure4Measure By Rough Magic Performance Company 
Reverend Matt's Monster Science Presents How to Come Back from the Dead by Monster Science Productions

The Tale of The Bloody Benders By The Feral Theatre Company
#FirstDate By Scammers, Thieves, and The Like

Minneapolis Human Rhythm Project By Keane Sense of Rhythm
Chisago: The Musical By Haute Dish Productions 
Mad as Nell, or How to Lose a Bly in Ten Days By Rinky Dink Operations

Edith Gets High By Devious Mechanics 
Frankenstein: Two Centuries By Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society
Hello Mother By Haunt Armada

Escape This - TheatreX
Size - Somerville Productions 
A Confederate Widow in Hell - Breaker Fixer 
Swan Song - Third Floor Flat Productions

Days Seven and Eight: The Home Stretch
Visitation - DangerVision Productions
Stoopidity - By Ian McCarthy, Michael McKitt, Domino D'Lorion

Shows we especially regret missing:

You Are Cordially Invited to the Life and Death of Edward Lear - The Winding Sheet Outfit
The Lunch Bunch - Snikt! Bamf! Thwip!
A Man's Guide for Appropriate Behavior in the 21st Century - One T Productions

Final thoughts:
  • Loved the multi-show passes. Wish we had bought them online in advance, but they made ticket purchasing go very speedily.
  • Great management of lines. Well-marked lines for ticketing and entering the theater, as well as special Artist Rush Lines. 
  • The volunteers were excellent. Occasionally slightly over-zealous, but for the most part, helpful and friendly.
  • Parking was easy and inexpensive. We didn't pay more than five dollars per Fringe day or night out.
  • Loved the convenience of all the shows at the Rarig, but really enjoyed the hospitality at the Southern, the Ritz and Mixed Blood. (Okay, they had bars, but those theater nights got long!)
  • Wish everyone had printed programs, especially if they haven't shared much info on the MN Fringe website, as it helps the audience member (and blogger) note particularly strong performers and creative artists.
All in all, this was a kickass Minnesota Fringe Festival and our thanks and appreciation go to all the artists, volunteers, and staff who worked so hard to provide an amazing theater experience.