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2019 Audience Reviews

Member Reviews

The following reviews were submitted by Fringe Member: Wes Volkenant

Company: Rough Magic Performance Company
Show: Measure4Measure
Venue: Southern Theater

Love These Shakespearean Identity Crises

Hey that guy could write. So could this adaptation. The hidden identity of the Friar/Duke is a common theme, but how he manipulated all the leads is Central to the outcome. . . . I loved the firm, but subtle performance from Ashwanti. As Angelo, I thought Mo was well-cast, and performed the hypocritical moralist extremely well. Who doesn't love Taj Ruler? Great army Lucio. Catherine played her roles with great skill and feeling. But we met Isabella first, and that passionate good woman affected the other characters and the audience both. Wonderful job, Alyce.

Company: The Theatre Cosmic
Show: Stuck in an Elevator with Patrick Stewart II: The Wrath of Fandom
Venue: Rarig Center Arena

Very Thought-Provoking

I know writer Brandon Taitt from other endeavors. So my positivity might be suspect, but it is genuine. His Stuck in an Elevator... is well- written and stuck with me as I described to others today. Stewart is the well meaning core, but the heart of that story is Miranda, who we champion, and Daniel, a lost soul who has shaped himself into a despicable person. But Taitt has two stories in one, and I enjoyed the three who found new direction with each other. And Miranda survives her encounter with Daniel, becomes more adult towards Patrick, and finds her way to join the new direction in the upbeat ending.

Company: Rinky Dink Operations
Show: Mad as Nell, or How to Lose a Bly in Ten Days
Venue: Rarig Center Thrust

Nellie Bly is a Favorite 19th Century Figure

Great story, great cast, good numbers, solid acting - this was one of the best shows of the Fringe. Unlike one other reviewer, I don't like the show breaking away to interact with the audience. Carson's show is good. He, himself plays the loud, blustery guy well. But the trio of women made this show what it is - Kelsey, Shanan and Addie - performance, well done!

Company: Octopus Inc
Show: Overtime: Men at Work
Venue: Augsburg Mainstage

Compelling Faces Mixed with Strong Writing

This was a well-written understanding of the workplace - modern and not. I was struck first by the introduction of the three similar faces. Those eyes! Then the dialogue began with multiple sketches that used wordplay to tie together long-familiar cliches and expressions. So clever! . . I appreciated the actresses' work - you leave without names attaching to you individually, but I really did find the tall one the best made-up, and a strong center; the dark-haired one was enthusiastic and often provided solid support, and the sandy-haired one really played a dominant role and gave thrust and movement to many sketch sections.

Company: Wicked Wenches Cabaret
Show: Pan's Peter - A Totally Tubular Parody

Fun, Entertaining Delight

Loved this show and this audience so much more than for our Looking Glass experience. From the '80s music, to the costumes, to the sight gags and the dancing - right on!...The whole cast was great - even you, Pirate One, but there were some real stellar performances to compliment. Jac Fatone, you ace it as Peter. And you even kind of looked like Kevin Bacon hoofing it to Footloose..Loved the work of Hook, Snee, Wendy, Shadow and Tinker Bell - this performer lit up the stage with her smile, and wouldn't stop..The acrobatics, especially on the hoops were entertaining, but that final dance off battle was so well done, it moved me from a 4.5 to this 5. Great show!

Company: The Importance Of Being Fotis
Show: Kind Of Funny But Also A Little Sad
Venue: Theatre in the Round

Humor is Subjective - Didn't Connect

Sorry Rita, Mike and Heather. Much of the show missed for me, possibly due to style - loud, East Coast-like material just doesn't connect. I did enjoy the red ink spraying gag, but how did that show connect the dots to a play on classic cinema and TV. Hmmm...

Company: Ladybrain
Show: Unproblematic Faves: Best of Ladybrain
Venue: Strike Theater

Strong Show

Well-prepared sketches. Experienced, talented cast of 5. Our favorite was the first sketch with the robber - Lauren was excellent as the home resident. Recommended for laughs.

Company: Amie Durenberger
Show: Can I Borrow Your Poop?
Venue: Strike Theater

Amie Who? Karl the Parasite Steals the Show

No, not really. But, my favorite part of the show was the lecture on the parasite types, while my wife preferred to skit with the Google Queen and her ginormous crown.This is a terrific, informative, entertaining hour. It's emotional - who didn't assess their own poop for future transfer? It's joyful, it's funny. The audience gets involved.Never disgusting.Long live, Amie!

Company: Third Floor Flat Productions
Show: Swan Song
Venue: Southern Theater

A Well-Written One Act Christie Suspenser

Came as advertised - a whodunit about six strangers brought to a mysterious house under false pretenses. Good, solid acting all-around. Well-written one-act, with the right kind of roll-out, before moving into the battle to survive a miserable evening in the country.

Company: Andrew Erskine Wheeler
Show: Booth's Ghost
Venue: Ritz Theater Mainstage

A Tour de Force

We did enjoy Booth's Ghost. Very much. Andrew Wheeler is the best actor we've seen - so far - in this year's Fringe. From the use of the room, to the inhabiting of at least four distinct personalities, this one man show is brilliantly written. Wheeler's range is excellent - he speaks from the funny to the morose, from laments to asides, from the dramatic to the subtle. There was so much to digest that I reached out to Google to confirm the story of Booth's Theatre. We even learned about the Ritz, itself. . . . But Andrew, what really made this a 7.0 in my heart, was the touching few minutes, after all the deserved applause, when you sat the hat down and talked to us about El Paso on night one, and Dayton on night two, and now it was time for 31 seconds of silence for all those lost souls. . . Thank you, sir! Those last few moments were the true haunting of the Ritz Mainstage for the moved audience of Booth's Ghost. Quite a few tears were dabbed tonight.

Company: Octopode Theater Co
Show: That Sinking Feeling
Venue: Rarig Center Xperimental

This One Was Under Water For Us - Lifesaver Wanted

I debated about a 1.5, but found myself Googling the stories of Viola Jessup, the survivor gatherings of the Indianapolis and the shipwreck of the Essex, afterward, so I bumped it a half point. . . Those were good stories, as is the fight of John Paul Jones in winning our only real Revolutionary War naval victory. That was depicted in funny fashion, but there were few other laughs and far too many unexceptional sketches stitched together. . . I did not really like the opening set with the seniors attending the anniversary of the USS Indianapolis, as the "fan" pushing the erotic shipwreck literature just didn't belong in the show. Using that character again, to read his dirty poem, and aim it at the front row audience members, also did not belong. This one was a disappointment and a failure for us.

Company: M-SHE Productions
Venue: Rarig Center Arena

Beautiful, Captivating Romeo & Juliet

Thank you for an unexpectedly fine performance! I was hooked from the start with Parker Culp's loud, pulsating music, which captured the heartbeats and the shifting mood changes throughout the show. The beginning number was captivating and set the mood for the evening's performance. The costuming and make-up was exceptional. The mechanism of covering the faces and showing just the eyes was sensual, scary and almost erotic, which I express carefully, recognizing the range of ages of the performers - but it was. Maggie Culp has created a very good show, and performs herself as Lady Capulet, adding the group numbers, and winning away attention in her own solo pieces. The leads, Tristan Sanborn and Lola LaFond are exceptionally talented young dancers. They had a very able group of supporting performers in this company. The two youngest, Charlotte and Leighton are very capable and strong dancers for their ages. The tap-off of the two covens was a very well-choreographed number, but I found great beauty in the ending pieces with the red cape-style effect, and in the Romeo & Juliet love story section. The story was very followable. And it was fascinating to see the wide variety of dances incorporated from tap to modern to ballet to acro (new to me, but very easy to identify). Thank you for an unexpectedly good show to have seen in this year's Fringe.

Company: no way theatre
Show: Plaid Tales
Venue: Rarig Center Thrust

Split Opinion in Our Car Headed Home

My wife just doesn't appreciate the dramas as much as the comedies and musicals, so she was going 3-3.5. I am rating it a 4.5, however, because like most coming of age stories you see as you age yourself, you get a bit wistful for what might have been, a bit melancholy over what was, and a bit hopeful for what still lies ahead. . . I thought Plaid Tales thread the needle on a pair of friends I'd have loved to see the story of over an even longer piece of work, than the truncated Fringe format allows. . What a well-written story! But it worked because of the three leads, Aaron, Jenny and Dylan. I hope we see more of the three of you in productions around the area. And a thanks to the strong work of the supporting cast of the parents and friends. Well-recommended, especially if it wasn't a show you hadn't planned on, but are looking for a well-acted, thoughtful option to attend.

Company: Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society
Show: Frankenstein: Two Centuries
Venue: Rarig Center Thrust

A Favorite Last Year, and Again This Year!

Seeing the use of the props on stage always gives me new appreciation for those real radio shows I hear replayed on Sirius, including Escape and Inner Sanctum, which our two creative geniuses based these Frankenstein stories upon. Thank you, thank you to the wonderful cast and the full hour of suspense and great humor they provided. The fear and desolation suffered in the Arctic Circle in Tim's story was followed by the punnery of The Host and the Lipton Tea Lady in the second as they led us through a WW II -era Frankenstein finally finding the bride of his dreams - how apt Joshua, how apt, indeed.

Company: Komedio Comedy
Show: Nerd Rage! The Great Debates
Venue: Crane Theater

No Two Shows Will be Alike

It's debatable if the upcoming show you attend will be amazing or merely there. I had the pleasure of a very entertaining evening, because our audience members generated fun ideas for Wonder Dave, who used "Should cell phones have to be shut off after 7 PM?" or "Which cereal box mascot would make the best sports mascot?" or "Who's the hottest monster?" Fine debates followed - seeing Natalie and Michael win the argument for shutting down cell phones at night, proved them to be the best team and crowd favorite, even though they couldn't convince that Pennywise was the hottest monster. . . . On the other hand, a question Wonder Dave chose like, "Which TV cast was better - Dungeons and Dragons or Adventuretimes?" failed, because no one knew them, and frantically searched Google for info, thus arguing for names of characters they'd read just 20 seconds earlier. . . So good ideas and good choices by Dave, and you'll have a great time! You're welcome to borrow these ideas from me - "Atticus Finch or Perry Mason - who would you want to have represent you for a murder charge?" or "Which is the 'bluer' superhero - Green Arrow or the Green Lantern (or maybe the Green Hornet)?"

Company: Weggel Productions
Show: Cat Confidential: The Secret Lives of the Mothers of Lions
Venue: Theatre in the Round

Moving , Memorable Ode to Our Feline Family

We own two cats. Princess Sasha is a Siamese who we've had for 13 years, from the age of three months, and is the Queen of our house. Liza came from my mother-in-law when we moved her into assisted living here in the Cities. She is now 5, a longhair mix, who is eating us out of house and home at 17 pounds. . . Our two cats can't be in the same room. Sasha is half the weight of the 'interloper,' but she is very protective of her territory - our house, inside and the outside perimeter of it. So we spend time juggling cats around, with Sasha outside in her cage on a raised platform (spoiled alert) and Liza roaming the house, or Liza trapped in the basement or upstairs master bedroom and bath, while Sasha gets to reign over the rest of our house. And one sleeps with each of us separately most evenings, although Liza is one of those 4 AM types that drives my wife to move or to move the cat elsewhere. . . These are the kind of stories ten fellow cat owners share in Cat Confidential. It is not polished acting, and the stories may not be committed to memory, but this was a wonderful exercise in storytelling, and I'd recommend it just for hearing the funny, moving, even sad stories these ladies wrote and shared with us - about 100-150 new friends, and therapists.

Company: Mermaid Productions
Show: Xena and Gabrielle Smash the Patriarchy
Venue: Theatre in the Round

Fun, Fine Show

Loved this cast and the messaging working its way through the play. The costuming and cosplay environment were on target. Hey, it's not the most important or most-fully realized piece at this year's Fringe, but it entertains throughout, and holds our interest and attention to the very end. Special nods for their work in this show - and costuming to Ariel, Nissa, Elora and Heather. Congrats to Elora and Heather for your multiple roles/multiple plays - and succeeding in each.

Company: The Winding Sheet Outfit
Show: You Are Cordially Invited to the Life and Death of Edward Lear
Venue: Crane Theater

A Fine Eulogy to Edmund Lear

There once was a man named Lear. Who had a fine brush it is clear. He wrote nonsense by pen. And was a prince among men. This was our introduction to Edmund Lear. Not quite as compelling as the bloody queen from Nocturne. It's a sweet, loving show, but for us, the breaking down of fourth walls continues to bother in productions. The written Amber breakdown section just takes away from the show, for us. The introduction of the actors mixed with the roles they play is off-putting. But, then there's the genuinely moving story of Lear, of Emily and Frank and Gussie, and Giorgio, too. They doves were beautiful, the art and the Jumblies and the limericks and poem were entertaining. This is a favorite troupe of actors, from Amber to Boo to Derek to Kristina... this show didn't fully connect for us last night.

Company: Smartmouth Comedy Co
Show: Director's Cut: Survivor
Venue: Rarig Center Arena

An Improv Style with Too Much Direction

A very likable group of eight performers. A great show to parody. As we saw night 2 of five unique improvs, this episode of the on-going Lena and Ole tribes, got derailed for us by far too many Director's Cuts. Hey, let's play out a funny parody, and maybe just improvise four or five times in the 55-minute show. Squirrels were funny once, Grandma was funny twice, maybe, and Clare's and Tatiana's Jeff Probst fixation was good context for the final candle extinguishing, but there just too many interruptions. It was funny, but sometimes things got forced. Props to Kendra's underlying script (and choice of Boundary Waters wear), along with her co-writers. And thank you to the full group of performers for individually-fine work.

Company: Sneaky
Venue: Southern Theater

Well-Acted Drama, But Story Dragged Late

The two actors on stage were quite good, Fjaere in particular. She took the character from an apparent robbery victim to a wise manipulator, quite quickly. But, at the same time, she helped us to understand the largest manipulations of the banking industry. But, after a strong first 20-25 minutes, the story itself began to drag on. I'm afraid I began to tune out, and actually fuzzed over for the money exchange scene. My wife filled me in later. More drama than comedy, I did appreciate the underlying political content.

Company: Silver Slipper Productions
Show: Queer Circus
Venue: Rarig Center Arena

Surprised, Amazed and Entertained

We wouldn't normally go to this type of show, but this year the cirque style options at Fringe Fest have been among the most entertaining. Props to the Ringmaster for keeping the flow and for his act with the Bearded Lady. Amir and his pole acrobats were thrilling. But two ladies in particular deserve our praise. Stella and her lighted hoops were such a delight to watch. And Wanda, you are a fun clown, but a really lovely singer, foremost. This is a highly entertaining show, one that won't be for everyone, but which will be well worth the hour of your time to attend!

Company: MDK Productions
Show: Tess Jones, Space Archaeologist
Venue: Rarig Center Arena

Didn't Work for Us

We were looking forward to the lively, fun show described by earlier reviewers. We walked out wondering what happened. We both started dozing off, and if it were a bad movie, might have walked out early. While there was clearly an enjoyment in the performances, the show itself felt flat, the writing got ponderous, and we just simply got lost and confused among all the planet names and the deceptions and affronts.

Company: Haute Dish Productions
Show: Chisago: The Musical
Venue: Rarig Center Thrust

A Total Delight!

Terrific, entertaining show. Well-written parody of a classic Broadway hit, easily set to the Minnesota experience. The puns were just right. The observations on how we're 'different' were enjoyable. We bought our buttons afterward - mine as a transplant, my wife as a native born. We went to eat in place of the late-afternoon show, and caught ourselves ordering a 'pop' - or should that have been a 'soda'? This is a five-star show. The musical interpretations and use of the ensemble excels. As noted elsewhere, where else do get a Paul Bunyan so light on his feet in the multiple dance numbers? The only reason to give a 4.5 was the volume problems in the singing numbers. As well as Carissa fills the role of Velma, she does have a second-row voice, especially for those of us sitting in the side-angled sections. We wanted to hear and enjoy all of the lyrics and dialogue.

Company: Elite Entertainment
Show: Looking Glass- A Shattered Cirque Wonderland

Yes, This is Show to See

But our late-night Saturday show wasn't the best experience. We sat too far back. You have to sit on the side or in the front row to see the show properly. Too much of the action happens on the floor, and it's tough to see around the heads in front of you, especially when one guest wears a top hat in their front row seat. It's also difficult with a fired up, boisterous crowd that hooted, hollered, whistled and yelped in response to acrobatic endeavors or sexual innuendos. Still, it's a great show - and well-worth going to for we adults out for some late-night adult Fringe entertainment. I echo others' compliments for Ms. Fatale as Alice, for the commanding Red Queen. for the fire-eating duo, for Mr. Hodge's terrific athleticsm on the rope, for the incredible pole-dancing duo, and certainly for the sultry work on the hoop to kick off the cirque performances.

Company: Bellydonna Dance Company
Show: The Wizard of Oz Bellydance Show
Venue: Ritz Theater Mainstage

Wonderful Wizardry - Brilliant Production!

Bellydancing. A pair of unitiated observers. Hmm.. this should be different... it's gotten good reviews... let's give it a try. I don't know if we're going to see anything better at this year's Fringe. Bellydancing is magical to watch. Ms. Morem, you are spectacular. The costuming (and lighting) is gorgeous. MY wife loved the gingham in Dorothy's blue dress. The Tin Man and Scarecrow and Lion costumes were so clever. The Glinda costuming is so gorgeous. And Ms. Polk's Wicked Witch of the West was sultry and devastating at the same time (and a huge thumbs up for the makeup work on Ms. Polk - that look was amazing!). Later the red costumes for the Poppies scene was just eye catching for the ensemble cast. The attention to detail throughout was really mind-boggling. For a show with no spoken lines, the entirety of the familiar Wizard of Oz movie was easily understood and played out in twenty decipherable scenes. Again, Ms. Morem you directed a fabulous show. I headed right to my many-year High School reunion right afterward. I recommended it to at least half-dozen 60-something, one-time classmates - none of whom were even aware of the Fringe Festival. But a 5-star bellydancing production of the Wizard of Oz - that piqued some interest.

Company: New Endeavors
Show: The Buttslasher: And Then There Were Buns
Venue: Rarig Center Thrust

Highly Recommended - Great Cast & Show

Who doesn't love a show featuring an ass-tensive bunch of butt puns? Writing - top notch! Performances - great all-around. Had the crowd in stitches - indeed! Saw Buttslasher last year, had to come back - glad we reserved this performance. Thank you for a great time - would recommend this to all of this year's Fringe attendees.

Company: New Endeavors
Show: The Buttslasher: And Then There Were Buns
Venue: Rarig Center Thrust

Highly Recommended - Great Cast & Show

Who doesn't love a show featuring an ass-tensive bunch of butt puns? Writing - top notch! Performances - great all-around. Had the crowd in stitches - indeed! Saw Buttslasher last year, had to come back - glad we reserved this performance. Thank you for a great time - would recommend this to all of this year's Fringe attendees.

Company: Monster Science Productions
Show: How To Come Back From The Dead
Venue: Mixed Blood Theatre

Smart, Funny, Best of the Night!

Having missed previous Reverend Matt shows, never again. This was one laugh after another. This was a real educational outing - the key to redheads, Malaysian critters, necromancers, vampires, mummies, ghosts and zombies. Elora, the assistant is not credited, but played an essential in making the show smart, funny and sexy, too. Great writing. Mighty nice execution.

Company: Timothy Mooney Repertory Theatre
Show: Man Cave, a One-Man Sci-Fi Climate Change Tragicomedy!
Venue: Mixed Blood Theatre

Unexpected- I Want This Shared 2 Environmentalists

Tim- I don't know what I expected - it actually wasn't this. At times a sermon, at times an educator, at times a piece of fear-mongering, at all times an awakening... this was powerful and gripping frequently. I was expecting it to be wrapped comedically - it was far more tragi, than comedy. But I have groups of acquaintances in political and environmental circles that I think would love this show in those contexts, so I will be recommending us to explore bringing you in Tim. From that perspective, this was a full-on experience.

Company: 1929Crash Productions
Show: UStopiA
Venue: Mixed Blood Theatre

Great Concept - Needs Some Polishing

A nod of thanks to the actors, especially Amanda and James who provided the strong core to this story. David Heath - you almost stole this thing with your portrayal of Hank, who has spent an indeterminable amount of time in "The Pit." The show's synopsis drew me in. The concept of 20 years after America closed itself off to the rest of the world (am picturing the Great Wall of Canada here), was so ripe for comment, and frequently the zings scored. But the story never did fully work itself through, there seemingly was no actual final end here (so Ruth and Mika did get flown out, presumably back to Europe?), and I felt there needed to be a moment of awakening that just didn't quite happen, but almost did, to pull the whole's show's vision statement together. One last thought - I was really wishing for some very unpleasant candlers to be lit in the neighborhood scenes, just to give the audience that extra sensory impact that post-Trump environment had sprung.

Company: Literally Entertainment
Show: The Scranton Strangler: An Office Musical
Venue: Rarig Center Thrust

Well-Crafted, Especially for 'Office' Fans

Having enjoyed previous work of several involved, was an attraction for this show. But not being devoted "The Office" fans, a lot of the inside references and character parodies flew overhead. Despite that, it is a fun, entertaining show, and I recommended it in line later in the evening. You will like this cast and the hard work they put into their show!

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