The reviews are in for the Minnesota Fringe, part 1

Two nights into the 20th Minnesota Fringe Festival, the energy was high at Crooked Pint, where show-goers and -makers gathered to celebrate after a full evening of performances.

Several folks were kind enough to stop by my booth in the corner and share their thoughts on the shows they’ve seen thus far.

But my favorite quote of the evening would have to be from Alex Seymour, Fringe volunteer, who told me “It’s Fringe! Those who come here with expectations are doomed.”

Anthony Paul

Anthony Paul is a self-described “Jack of all trades” who acts, produces, directs, and writes. He got his start in the Fringe 14 years ago, but this year he’s staying in the audience.

I saw Les Kirkendaal’s show “Dirty Messy Love.” I’ve seen everything he’s brought to town over the years, and it’s been really fascinating to watch his growth as an artist. Up until now his shows have always been solo shows in the context of family and interpersonal relationships. But this year he’s changed it up and is working with Allison Broeren, and it’s his family stories intermixed with her story… which takes place in the 50s. So it was cool to see him take his work in a new direction.

I saw “Wanderlust” which was effing awesome!!! It’s Martin Dockery’s first time at the Minnesota Fringe, but he’s done every other fringe festival and knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s a lean and lanky performer who really knows how to use his body well, with a rapid-fire delivery, just a fantastic physical, vocal, and textual performance.

I really loved “Bump in the Night‘s” dance performance. I don’t know anything about dance, I just know what makes me happy. It’s the attitude about their choreography I find so interesting; they’ve got a lot of it, and dark humor, which I found really intriguing.


Tucker and Sulia

Tucker Garborg and Sulia Altenberg may be only 16 and 17, but in “One Hit Thunder” they play teenage rock stars who help out the CIA on a mission to rescue the President’s kidnapped daughter. In their free time they’ve been checking out other shows, including Comedy vs. Calories: FIGHT! in which three comedians try to burn off the calories from eating a Happy Meal while performing skits at a breakneck pace.

Sulia:  It’s so funny, and nobody threw up!  It’s a kids show, too. At the end they all hugged…

Tucker: …and they were all sweaty and gross…

Sulia: …and they hugged people in the audience too.

Altenberg went on to note that compared to high school theater, there are a lot more guys in Fringe shows, which was a nice surprise.

Julie Blaha

Julie Blaha works in education by day, and loves to see theater in the evening. She was particularly impressed by “Press Conference at the End of the World” by Kelvin Hatle.

It’s a strong show; the staging is super simple but extremely effective. It’s fun and smart and there are just ingenious little transitions between characters. You don’t have to be a science geek, but that helps… or a political geek, but that helps, or a media geek, but that helps, too. Each year Hatle just gets better and better.

Kevin T. Houle and Brandon Taitt

Kevin T. Houle and Brandon Taitt are the director and writer/producer behind this year’s Fringe production, “Stuck In An Elevator With Patrick Stewart,” which opens Saturday. They saw “Bidgood to BidGREAT: Bumps and Blunders on the Boulevard to Brilliance” starring Laura Bidgood.

Brandon Taittt: It was a very charming, spoken word piece performed in little vignettes. She’s a member of the Rockstar Storytellers, so obviously she’s a talented storyteller, and charismatic. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was that there was no denouement, nothing that wrapped all these stories together. They were each very engaging… but there was nothing at the end to explain why she went from “Bidgood to BidGREAT.”

Kevin T. Houle: She’s a very exuberant performer, she makes almost an instant connection with the audience through her enthusiasm; her personality comes across almost immediately. The one thing I found interesting was that the pacing was very fast, which forced me to listen closely, but the thought crossed my mind why is she going so fast? The Fringe time limit? But that wasn’t an issue, so maybe it was first night nerves. At times I wish she would have slowed down a bit, and used that to add more variety in her emotions.

Stay tuned; more reviews will be coming your way this weekend.