The 9th annual KC Fringe Festival is upon us. CherylKimmi (a/k/a Wonder Woman) and her 200 volunteers have rounded up another 134 artists to put on 363 shows now thru Sunday. How all of this gets done is beyond me; that it does is a testament to the creative teams that put it out there and the thousands of KC hipsters who show up.
So go Fringe yourself.
I caught a couple of shows on the opening weekend. Central Standard’s Bob Paisley has once again fielded a neat complement of artists, this time from as far afield as Australia. THE SUBMARINE SHOW, a New Vaudeville clown and mime effort out of the Bay Area, landed squarely on the family funnybone. I didn’t see it, but I hear his BEDTIME SOLOS is hot—so leave the kids home for that one. JUST SO STORIES mashes up Rudyard Kipling’s colonial tales as interpreted by KC music talents like Barclay Martin and Erin McGrane. This all goes down at the MET, 37th and Main.
Heidi Van’s got a clutch of projects running at the Fishtank (1715 Wyandotte in the Crossroads Arts District). Chicago storyteller Devin Keast tells a long and winding tale (maybe a little too long and winding). Ms Van directs an evening of Playboy contributor Shel Silverstein’s “Adult” plays that remind us how quaint “naughty” in the Sixties turned out to be.
Out at 38th and Main, things are popping at both Unicorn Theatre stages. I got the biggest kick out of Forrest Attaway’s OUTTA BEER AND OUTTA SPACE, directed by Katie Gilchrist. Phil Newman and Nick Uthoff play a couple of red necks who get abducted by aliens intent on playing “The Price is Right” for the survival of Life As We Know It. Attaway and Gilchrist ramp up the comic wattage by challenging their talented cast (Matt Leonard and Missy Fennewald round out the onstage madness) to interpolate random words from the audience into the proceedings. Newman, Uthoff et. al. pulled it off without a hitch.
VICTORIA MARTIN: MATH TEEN QUEEN is a cute, teen-oriented entry from the Coterie’s Jeff Church. Daria LeGrand has got to be the hardest working eighteen year old in show business (besides those One Direction guys, I guess). She played the eponymous role in two full length plays—this one and Kyle Hatley’s THE DEATH OF CUPID at the Living Room—in back to back weeks. In TEEN QUEEN, she’s the popular girl with a penchant for math problems. There’s a squad of math geeks, problems at home (Dad moved to California) and a big kiss. The piece could use some dramaturgy, but the cast was winning and it moved along briskly. Little Daria is off to the Big Apple, so this may be your last time to see her before she turns up on GLEE or something.
It’s fun to hang out in the lobbies at Fringe and hear what else is hot. A SOLITARY CHOICE at the MET and Amber Bastards’ take on MEDEA have a nice buzz going. WICCANS IN THE ‘HOOD and TEABAGGING THE TABOO both sound intriguing. EXTENDED 4PLAY and CIRQUE DU GAY: ANOTHER OUTING (both on the Unicorn’s intimate Jerome Stage) are bound to find an audience. And RHYTHM AND BOOBS and OPERA OOH-LAH-LAH uphold up the Fringe tradition of mounds of flesh, if you catch my meaning.
But don’t take my word for it. Go online at fringe.kcstage.com and read the reviews. Better yet, sign up for the Fringe’s mobile app (tinyurl.com/kcfringe-ios for Apple, tinyurl.com/kcfringe-android for the rest of us) and find the complete schedule, buy tickets and see pics of the shows.
However you consume content, be sure to take in the Fringe, now through Sunday all over town.