Thursday, May 11, 2017

Minnesota Fringe Festival: Five-Fifths of Jurassic Park at the Ritz Theater

Hey theater friends, the Minnesota Fringe Festival is less than three months away! The largest unjuried theater festival in the nation begins August 3, runs for 11 days, and usually includes about 170 shows at a dozen or so venues around town. The kick-off event (after the lottery, which was held earlier this year and determined who will perform in the festival) is the annual Five-Fifths show, a fundraiser that showcases all that is wonderful about MN Fringe. The crazy brilliant people at the Fringe take a popular movie, slice it into five parts, and give each part to a company to do a Fringe-style adaptation. Then the five fifths are mashed together to make one crazy whole. It's great ridiculous fun and really gives you a taste of what the Fringe has to offer, in addition to raising money to help "adventurous artists meet adventurous audiences."

The movie chosen for 2017 is the 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park. I wasn't as familiar with this one as I was the last two years' selections (Titanic and Dirty Dancing) but I happened to find it on cable and watched it as a refresher. It's fairly simple in plot and structure, and so familiar to most people that it's perfect for a loving spoof (or five).

The five companies below each did something so completely different, but so fun and entertaining in their own way, that it was the very epitome of Fringe.
  • Shanan Custer with the Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society: the old-timey radio show gave us a little background and got the show started, complete with sound effects. I love science!
  • Lounge-asaurus Rex: Loungey (aka Tom Reed) sang a few important exposition points (DNA is important, chaos theory means things get bad quick) and then went out into the audience for some chatting and improv singing, concluding with a song about how "life finds a way" set to the tune of "My Way."
  • Wayward Theatre Company: this is where the chao sets in, as this able company wordlessly and with lots of cool light and umbrella effects brought us right into the disaster.
  • Blackout Improv: the very funny foursome (part of the troupe that often performs at Pheonix Theater and Huge Theater) improvised scenes around a few iconic moments drawn from a hat, with the help of the audience.
  • Erin Sheppard Presents: dinosaurs dancing! This company brought us to the end of the storywith some fun and action packed movement and dancing.

Watch for these talented artists and many many more at the MN Fringe Festival this year. If you would like to support the Fringe as they support these artists, you can make a donation on their website. And watch for the announcement of the detailed schedule, which usually around the beginning of July. See you at the Fringe!