Saturday, August 5, 2023

Minnesota Fringe Festival 2023: "The Shrieking Harpies"


Show: 4


By: The Shrieking Harpies

Created by: Lizzie Gardner, Justin Nellis, Taj Ruler, and Hannah Wydeven

Location: Rarig Arena

Summary: An improvised musical based on audience prompts, new every night!

Highlights: The Shrieking Harpies are another sure thing good show. What you see will be different from what I saw, which was a family friendly gay period piece. But what will be the same is three talented performers, and one talented musician, creating a brand new musical storytelling show before your very eyes. It's so polished, with recurring musical themes, multiple characters played by just three actors, and a plot with beginning, middle, and end, that it's almost hard to believe it's improvised. But the trio of Lizzie Gardner, Taj Ruler, and Hannah Wydeven (with Justin Nellis on keyboard accompanying not just the songs but also providing underscoring for all of the scenes) have been doing this so long that they can finish each other's... harmonies. Like any good improv troupe, they can follow along and see where the others are going, and somehow create a compelling and entertaining story (this one about two lonely men in Jane Austen's England, one with seven sisters, one of whom is pregnant - this might come up a lot since Lizzie is too), with surprisingly great music that I'm still singing in my head ("you're not alone," "go off the edge with me," "white gloves without a spec"). If you've never seen The Shrieking Harpies before at the Fringe or TC Horror Fest or any of the other places they perform, you're just not doing it right. And if you have, you know how much fun their shows always are.