Thursday, August 10, 2023

Minnesota Fringe Festival 2023: "Gilda: A Tribute to the Beloved Comedienne Gilda Radner"


Show: 23


By: Helena K Cosentino

Created by: Helena K Cosentino

Location: Southern Theater

Summary: A tribute to the late great comedian Gilda Radner, including history, songs, and sketches.

Highlights: It's obvious that Kansas City-based theater artist Helena K Cosentino loves Gilda Radner, and not just because she tells us so in the intro. Her love, admiration, and respect for Gilda, most famous for being one of original cast members of Saturday Night Live, marrying Gene Wilder, and dying of ovarian cancer at the age of 42, is obvious in how she speaks of her and how she performs. Changing into multiple wigs and outfits, Helena tells us a bit about Gilda's life and career, and then launches into some of her most famous characters. Although I know of and like Gilda, I actually haven't see many of her performances (I'm not a SNL viewer), so it was fun to see her comedy come alive again through Helena. Many of the people in the audience were familiar with her, as they called out her various catchphrases even before they were uttered on stage. Helena also performs a couple of songs, including a tap dance number, that Gilda made famous. The show is very well constructed (she's performed this show at multiple Fringe Festival in recent years, so it's well polished at this point), with just enough history to provide background, but not so much that it overwhelms the performances. Props and costume changes are smartly arranged around the stage, and neatly placed into an open suitcase when she's done with them. If you're a Gilda fan you absolutely have to see this show. And if you're not that familiar with her, like me, it's still a positively lovely and inspiring and moving show about one of our funniest people of the 20th century. A portion of the proceeds are donated to Gilda's Club - Twin Cities, an organization that provides emotional and social support for people living with cancer, continuing Gilda's legacy beyond her comedy.

Read all of my Fringe mini-reviews here.