Every year, the Minnesota Fringe Festival reserves its last show slot (Sunday, August 10 - TONIGHT! - at 8:30pm) for the best selling show at each venue. Here now is the list of this year’s encores with our reviews of the ones we saw…
Bryant-Lake Bowl: The History of Minnesota - Unscripted!
HUGE Improv Theater: Couples Therapy
Illusion Theater: Top Gun: The Musical
Several shows that have become popular of late have had their starts at Fringe Festivals, and I have a sneaking feeling Top Gun: The Musical will soon be added to that list. Tim Wick and Chad Dutton’s musical adaptation of the iconic 1984 film is a witty, campy, uproariously crowd pleasing hit. With inventive staging from director John Newsome and choreographer Windy Bowlsby, and a charismatic cast led by Samuel Poppen (Maverick), Jacob Effinger (Goose), and Dawn Krosnowski (in a scene-stealing turn as Charlie), this trip into The Danger Zone will Take Your Breath Away!
Intermedia Arts: Labyrinth
Minneapolis Theatre Garage: Edgar Allan
If Edward Gorey were to write a children’s ukulele musical, it would look like this. Hilarious and horrifying in equal measure, Katie Hartman and Nick Ryan’s lovely play about the boyhood of the iconic writer and his new best frenemy at school is a jewel box of a play. Thanks to Hartman and Ryan’s charismatic performances, this sly meditation on boyhood is a charmingly creepy show that could be the sleeper hit of the festival!
Mixed Blood Theatre: The Confederate
Music Box Theatre: Buckets and Tap Shoes
Rick and Andy Ausland’s perennial hit celebrating rhythm in all forms returns to the Fringe. While this could also fall under my complaint about yet another revival at this year’s festival, this is one of the few times that I will suppress that urge. From their virtuosic drumming to their breath-taking tap dancing (which earned them a Best Performance nomination at the Sage Awards), the Auslands’ are supreme showmen who have created a show that is a sure-fire audience favorite.
New Century Theater: Four Humors Does Every Show in the Fringe
A fantastically playful romp. What helps is the influence of a guest performer who serves as director/creator and changes things for the cast. It also helps that the Four Humors guys are among the funniest performers in the Twin Cities and make the show a hilarious and genuine experience.
Southern Theater: Marie-Jeanne Valet Who Defeated La Bête du Gevaudan
Telling the true story of a monster wolf terrorizing the French countryside in the time of Louis XV and the peasant girl who defeated it, Sandbox Theatre’s company-created piece is an ingenious bit of storytelling and story theatre. For once, the sparseness of a typical Fringe production is put to good use in the cavernous Southern Theater, with the end result being a heightened theatrical experience with arresting images and imaginative staging. And thanks to sharp direction by Amber Bjork and dazzling performances by an airtight ensemble (Megan Campbell Lagas, Theo Langason, Derek Lee Miller, and Heather Stone), Marie-Jeanne Valet… is a gloriously epic story rendered with theatricality and jaw-dropping simplicity.
Playwrights’ Center: Pretty People Suck (And Other Indisputable Facts about the Universe
With one of the best scores written for the Fringe, a killer band (including music director Desdamona Racheli and iconic Twin Cities drummer Jendeen Forberg), and a thrilling cast that delivers the songs and jokes with aplomb (including a show-stealing turn by Twin Cities newcomer Ashley Braxton as the vainglorious Rachel), Pretty People Suck is a spectacular show!
Theatre in the Round Players: Mainly Me Productions’ Our American Assassin; or You Can’t Handle the Booth
Loosely inspired by the actual events in the wake of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, three actors at the Ford’s Theater (Shannan Custer, Josh Carsen, and Andy Kraft) set out to track down John Wilkes Booth. What follows is an uproarious romp through history, complete with disguises, meta-jokes, slapstick comedy, and more. Custer, Carsen, and Kraft lead this fantastic seven person ensemble in one of the most hilarious shows of this year’s festival. Also, this is one of the few productions at Theatre In The Round that uses the space to great effect. Get your tickets quickly as I predict this is going to be one the big hits of the festival!
University of Minnesota Rarig Arena: The Genealogy of Happenstance
University of Minnesota Rarig Proscenium: Hi! Hello! Namaste?
University of Minnesota Rarig Thrust: Fotis Canyon
Like Spaulding Gray before him, Mike Fotis sits at the table and chair and weaves an intricate tale that had the audience in the palm of his hand. Using his family’s revealing trip to the Grand Canyon as the launchpad to for relating his own anxiety issues, Fotis’ story and delivery go for the emotional jugular but is balanced out by the simple fact that he is one of the funniest performers in the entire festival. Heartbreaking and hilarious (often within the span of seconds), this is one of the best shows of the festival!
University of Minnesota Rarig Xperimental: The Sex (Ed) Show
You have to hand it to performer/provocateur Courtney McClean and her Dirty Curls (Samantha Veldhouse, Anna Weggel, and Lacey Zeiler). They promised a show about sex, and did they ever deliver! But to say it’s just about sex is in some way discrediting just how clever, funny, entertaining, emotional and – yes – educational this cabaret is. As a performer, McClean is one of the most engaging on-stage presences in the festival and her storytelling is second to none. But the real treat is when she and the Dirty Curls break into song; never have naughty things sounded so radiant! Do yourself a favor and meet up with Prof. McClean and company for a little Sex (Ed)!
CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS AND MORE INFORMATION