Tuesday, August 6, 2019

MN Fringe 2019: Day Three - Dance, Musical Parody, and Historical Hilarity

Day three of our Minnesota Fringe Festival adventure--a pretty kick-ass day at the theater(s). We started our day by catching one of the Family Fringe shows.

Minneapolis Human Rhythm Project By Keane Sense of Rhythm (Barker Center for Dance)
We brought our favorite five-year-old and the rest of the family to this Family Fringe show. Created by Cathy Keane Wind of Keane Sense of Rhythm and Edna Stevens of Universal Dance Destiny, this show is "a celebration of dance by and for all ages, abilities and ethnicities," and it's a treat. This show was a jam-packed 50 minutes of tap, African, K-Pop, and break dancing with live drumming and ended with a dance jam (with the audience ) on stage. Inclusive, accessible, and utterly delightful, I wish more families could see these wonderful Family Fringe shows.

Chisago: The Musical By Haute Dish Productions (Rarig Center Thrust)
We have to be honest: although this Chicago musical parody was a strong contender for our must-see list, we were a little worried about it being cheesy or pandery. No worries, though. Written and directed by Kendra Braunger and Carissa Christenson, who also star as Roxie and Velma respectively, this Minnesota-focused parody of Kander & Ebb's classic musical is witty and sharp. In this version, Roxie moves from Orlando to Chisago County with her husband, his hometown where they'll be close to his mother. Cue the very clever references to hot dish, long good-byes, passive-aggressiveness and Minnesota Nice. The show affectionately and skillfully parodies Minnesota quirks ("Ope! I'm just gonna squeeze by you here") while still providing an appreciation for the original musical. Most of the excellent cast is from Mankato; we're definitely adding Mankato's Merely Players Theater to our greater Minnesota theater must-sees. BTW, if you, like us, were left appreciating what a great musical Chicago is, Theater Latte Da is presenting the show this fall.

So.... this show is written by Josh Carson, Kelsey Cramer, Shanan Custer and Allison Witham. It's directed by Josh Carson. It stars Kelsey Cramer, Shanan Custer, Addie Phelps, Allison Witham, Aisha Ragheb, Josh Carson, Tim Hellendrung, James Detmar, and Sue Scott.

Are you good? Do you need any more info?

All I can say is I was watching this show and just marveling at how much amazing freaking talent we have here in the Twin Cities. It's absolutely astonishing. Mad as Nell tells the true story of Nellie Bly's undercover investigation into the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell's Island and I just don't understand how a show that is so hilarious can have so much actual heart and relevance. (I mean, I understand it--I'm just incredibly, incredibly impressed by it.) And in case you weren't won over enough, the producers are dedicating this show to the memory of Beverlee Everett, the mother of Matthew Everett (aka Single White Fringe Geek), who passed on earlier this year. And they write: "Though we'll miss your laugh today, we know that you're still watching." All the hearts.