Sunday, August 4, 2013

Fringe Festival: "Shelly Bachberg Presents: How Helen Keller and Anne Frank Freed the Slaves: The Musical"

Day: 3

Show: 6

By: The Jansonowicz Players

Created by: Michael Gruber, Nikki Swoboda, and Max Wojtanowicz

Location: New Century Theatre

Summary: A musical satirical look at politics, politicians, and history, in which a Minnesota congresswoman reads from her new book (see title), a fresh interpretation of "history."

Highlights: The creators of last year's Fringe hit Fruit Fly: The Musical return with this completely ridiculous (in a good way) offering, featuring a fantastic cast. The always delightful Kim Kivens is perfectly cast as the wide-eyed and misguided congresswoman. She begins to read a story about the inspiring American Anne Frank (played by Caroline Innerbichler as a spunky Nancy Drew type), who just happens to live upstairs from Helen Keller (a hilariously deadpan Mary Fox, stumbling around the stage randomly groping whatever's in front of her). The two become friends and set out to free the slaves, visiting Ben Franklin, Abraham Lincoln (both David Darrow), his wife Mary Todd, and Marie Antoinette (both Whitney Rhodes) along the way. Eventually right wins out, as our heroines triumphantly "Fan the Flames of Freedom." The show is jam-packed with mixed up historical stories, songs that are fun and lively (despite their messed up messages of "truth"), rousing ensemble numbers, and costumes that are way above average for a Fringe show. Shelly says "I'm not here to talk about facts, I'm here to talk about history," bringing to mind my favorite Wicked quote: "Where I'm from, we believe all sorts of things that aren't true. We call it history." It's scary because it's true. This show pokes fun at that notion in a hilariously entertaining way.