Hot Night, Hot Shows

26 08 2010

It was a hot time in the Event Centre (aka Fringe Venue 5) last night when a more-than-packed house sweated out the two-hour madness that is the annual Fringe Preview Night. Fringe organizers Intrepid Theatre asked me to host the event—no pressure there, mind you, getting a theatre critic and journalist to emcee for a room full of actors, directors and audience members eager to see this year’s crop of talent (good thing no one was reviewing my performance!)—but things clipped along fast and furiously, with nearly 40 of this year’s 60-plus Fringe shows offering two-minute snippets of their productions.

And while you hate to play favourites (Die Roten Punkte, anyone?), the beauty of the Fringe Preview is that it lets you get more a sense of the various shows on tap than you can by just reading the program guide. For example, Christel Bartelse and Jimmy Hogg’s ONEymoon (A Honeymoon for One) played far more hilariously on the stage than it reads on the program page and has suddenly shot up my list of shows to see.

Similarly, the post-Disney musical Happily Ever After? by Edmontonians Poeima Productions couldn’t help but grab audiences—hard not to when you’ve got princesses Snow White, the Little Mermaid, Belle and Cinderella singing about their lives after their respective princes have come. And no, it’s not just another Sondheim rip-off; clearly, these ladies are out to prove there’s more to fairy tale deconstruction than Into The Woods.

Hey Snow, how's life without dwarves? Find out in Happily Ever After? (foto by David Bukach)

Local talent was in fine form too, with strong performances by the likes of Missie Peters (Public Confessions of a Public Servant), Ingrid Hansen and Elliott Loran (Ginger Ninjas, as directed by Fringe veteran Britt Small), Dave Morris (Dave Morris is an Asshole), Peter Carlone and Chris Wilson (Peter n’ Chris Save the World), and a chunk of the cast of Theatre SKAM’s Smalltown: A Pickup Musical. And speaking of musicals, there’s a lot of them this year, with last night’s snippet from Z-Day: Anthem for the Post-Zombie Apocalypse looking particularly, uh, tasty; anyone who’s keen on the burgeoning undead musical genre (which now includes shows like Once More With Feeling, Evil Dead, Ride the Cyclone, Young Frankenstein, Rocky Horror and, arguably, even Forever Plaid) should try and catch this one.

Past Fringe faves Elliott Loran and Ingrid Hansen return with the Britt Small-helmed Ginger Ninjas (foto by David Buckach)

In the colour-me-intrigued category, chalk up the likes of Reckless Daughters (the Carole King/Carly Simon/Joni Mitchell team-up featuring Laura Harris of Pitch Blond fame), The Human Body Project (less a scripted show and more a naked conversation about, well, whatever comes up), Canning Season (with its just plain weird demonic children’s music), Gonads and Gametes (enthusiastically described by creator and performer Jeff Leard as “a jizz-filled splooge-fest”) and the frenetic Tokyo pop that is A Day in the Life of Miss Hiccup.

It all topped off with the annual flying-of-the-freebie-tickets air show, which saw Intrepid staff and volunteers winging colourful paper airplanes into the house, each of which was good for a pair of opening-night tickets for various shows. Here’s hoping we didn’t put anyone’s eye out with a poorly aimed plane!

Intrepid honcho Janet Munsil with an armload of freebie-ticket airplanes ready to launch (foto by David Bukach)

Finally, a tip of the hat to perpetual funnyman Nile Seguin (Fear of a Brown Planet) for taking a few good-natured jabs at my emceeing . . . and my beard. Hey, if it was worth making fun of, I couldn’t have been to bad!

See you in the lineups.

—John Threlfall

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