Tuesday, January 8, 2019

"Rough Cuts" at Nautilus Music-Theater: "Fidgety Fairy Tales" and "Heroine"

On the second Monday of (most) every month, in a little studio space in Lowertown St. Paul, you can listen to exciting new works of music-theater. The place is Nautilus Music-Theater, a company committed to developing new works. Once a month (typically repeated on Tuesday at a location in Minneapolis), composers and playwrights have the opportunity to see their work read by talented local actors, and we the audience have the opportunity to witness a new work in the making and provide feedback to help the creators in their process. That's a pretty cool thing. Here's what I experienced at Nautilus last night, to be repeated tonight at Open Eye Figure Theatre (for a suggested donation of $5, which includes milk and cookies!).

Heroine, by Benjamin Emory Larson
- Music direction by Jill Dawe
- Performed by Keri Rodau and Andrea Leap
- The second installment (that I've seen) in a series of songs about inspirational women throughout history. This time we heard songs about transgender pioneer Lili Elbe, ancient Greek poet/compsoer Kassia, and early film star Myrna Loy. The songs don't tell the history of the women, but rather express their emotional journey and give us a picture of who they are. What I wrote last time still holds here: "The songs range in musical style and really seem to fit the personality of each woman." My favorite this time was Myrna Loy's "Montana," which brought tears to my eyes because of the sheer emotion of the song. After watching two iterations of this ever-changing piece, I look forward to watching it continue to develop.

Fidgety Fairy Tales, book by Matt Jenson, lyrics and music by Marya Hart
- Music direction by Eric Jensen
- Performed by JP Fitzgibbons, Andrea Leap, Kym Chambers Otto, Jennifer Burleigh-Bentz, Daniel Greco, and Bill Gilness
- Sponsored by the Minnesota Association for Children's Mental Health, Fidgety Fairy Tales is currently celebrating their 10th anniversary season. As Nautilus Artistic Director and Rough Cuts host Ben Krywosz explained, they often present their new show at Rough Cuts as a final step in the development process before it's performed for the public. From their website: "Fidgety Fairy Tales – The Mental Health Musicals use gentle humor, great music, and compelling performances by talented youth to raise awareness about children’s mental health." Although their shows shows are performed by children; this reading was performed by adults accessing their inner child. Fairy tales (mental illnesses) covered in this episode are The Ants and the Grasshopper (ADD), Mary Had a Little Lamb (anxiety), and Puss in Boots (autism). I found these mini musicals to be entertaining and educational, fun for kids and adults alike. I might have to seek out a performance this year (watch their website for the schedule, or to book a performance).

Follow Nautilus on Facebook or sign up for their mailing list to find out more about the Rough Cuts series.