Thursday, March 10, 2022

"Stone Baby" by Trademark Theater and Kiss the Tiger at Icehouse

Trademark Theater's first live production after the extended intermission of the last year or two is, of course, something truly original. During the time off from live performance, they've been working on developing new work, including a collaboration with local band Kiss the Tiger, whose lead singer Meghan Kreidler has been seen on theater and music stages all over town. Stone Baby is a concert/theater/performance hybrid unlike anything I've seen before. The rock concert storytelling format in the vein of Hedwig and the Angry Inch combines original rock music and a wild story about a musician who choose her art no matter the consequences. It's completely mesmerizing, and a welcome step outside of my comfort zone of traditional theater. Stone Baby can be experienced every Wednesday night this month at Icehouse, a really cool music venue in South Minneapolis (click here for info and tickets, standing room and table seating available).

Over about an hour or so (this experience sort of made me lose track of time), Stone Baby tells the story of a musician who sacrifices everything for her art. Meghan Kreidler plays the titular character, and the other members of Kiss the Tiger play her band members. Using a sort of spoken word poetry with constant underscoring, this "stone baby" tells of being born with a disease in which her body slowly starts to turn to stone (similar to Greyscale in the Game of Thrones world). She was cured of it as a child, but then she discovered music, and the stone came back, seemingly exacerbated by performing. She's forced to choose between living a life without music, which isn't really living, or going out in a blaze of glory. A bizarre story, and a simple one, but it's all about the storytelling and the music, which is awesome, powerful, loud, and thrilling.

The piece was created by Kiss the Tiger, in collaboration with Trademark's Tylers (Michaels King and Mills). It's really powerful and emotional storytelling, text interspersed with music combining to create this whirlwind life story. It definitely pushes the boundary of theater, which is a good thing, and Icehouse is a perfect venue for it; a traditional theater just wouldn't have the same vibe. A much different venue, and a much different crowd, than what is typical in theater, which is great to sort of blur and merge different artforms and audiences. I was a little worried about the sound, that it would be too loud, or I'd be unable to understand the words, but it wasn't a problem at all and I could clearly follow the story. The songs are varied enough to create interest, but with a cohesive sound (if they release a cast recording, I'll buy it and listen to it loudly whilst driving with the top down, it's that kind of music). Dramatic rock concert lighting punctuates the sound and story. (Lighting Design by Tiffany Clem, Sound Engineer by Cody Bourdot.)

Megan Kreidler and Kiss the Tiger
(photo by Juliet Farmer)
If you've seen her on stage you already know this, but Meghan Kreidler is, simply put, a superstar. Who else can perform in plays both comedic and dramatic, musicals both classical and new, and also sing her face off in a rock band?! No one that I know. She simply is this character of a fearless and passionate musical performer, living only for her art. The emotions, the vocals, the performance, the hairography, she's got it all. It feels like Stone Baby is a place where she's finally able to combine all of her talents into one project, and it'll blow you away.

A word about the venue, which I hadn't been to before (because the only reason I go anywhere is for theater). There are a couple of small parking lots near Icehouse, on the corner of Nicollet and 26th, but you can also find street parking on neighboring streets. Showtime is 7:30, with a different opening act each week, and the venue opens at 5 with food and drink service. It's a fun place for a dinner and a show evening, and I'll be keeping an eye on their upcoming schedule for theater-adjacent shows.

If you're looking for a fun and unique night out that's part theater, part concert, park spoken word, and all engrossing experience, check out one of Stone Baby's three remaining performance.