Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Minnesota Fringe Festival: "Five-Fifths of Mary Poppins" at Park Square Theatre

We're only three months away from the most hectic, exiting, exhausting, wonderful week in #TCTheater: the Minnesota Fringe Festival! This year's festival will take place August 1-11 (with the related Family Fringe happening July 26-28 and August 2-4), but events have been happening all year. May brings one of my favorite Fringe events, the "Five-Fifths" benefit, in which a popular movie is divided into five parts and handed to five Fringe companies for them to interpret as they wish. It's a very clever concept, and one that really showcases what's unique about each company. This year's choice was Mary Poppins, and the results were, as my friend Jules from Minnesota Theater Love succinctly put it, "weird and fun." Just like Fringe!

Below is a summary of the five companies, who all put their own unique style on the pieces they were given.
  • Shrieking Harpies: why have I not seen them perform before, musical improv is my favorite thing! Two of the members, Taj Ruler and Lizzie Gardner, accompanied by John Pumper on the keyboard, imagined the world up in the clouds that Mary Poppins comes from. I'm not sure how much of it was prepared and how much was made up on the spot, but it was hilarious. And musical!
  • Sheep Theater: a most sheepy interpretation of Mary, Bert, and the children's journey to the fantasy world of Bert's paintings. Which is to say slightly creepy, very funny, and sincerely ridiculous.
  • Oncoming Productions: I'm not sure I've seen this company before, but my friends at Minnesota Theater Love tell me they're regulars at the TC Horror Festival. This was a much darker Mary Poppins, figuratively and literally, as they did lots of cool things with light effects. Uncle Albert is creepier than I remember.
  • Javier Morillo: similar to his hit Fringe show Broken English, Mother Tongue, Javier brought us all the nerdy power point goodness as it relates to this seemingly harmless children's movie. Who knew that Mary Poppins provided commentary on the relationships between colonizer and colony, and between capitalism and labor. Super fascinating, funny, educational.
  • ALL DAY: this funkstyle dance troupe, that I stumbled upon at Fringe a few years ago, is pure joy. Bringing the funk to some familiar songs from the movie, as well as some related (or not) songs. A perfect way to end the evening with happiness.
Mark your calendar for August, and also check out the events happening prior to the fest, including "Drafts and Draughts," free performances, and previews (click here for the full list). And watch for my annual Must-See list to come out sometime in July.

See you soon, Fringers!