Believe in "A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant" at the 2014 Fringe Festival

A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant is what so many shows claim to be: Fun for the entire family! I was a little leary of going into a show that advertised a "jubilant cast of children," but The Catalysts, comprised of Michael Gruber (composer), Jason Hansen (musical director), Nikki Swoboda (director and choreographer), and Max Wojtanowicz (playwright and lyricist), find that sweet spot where both children and adults can actually enjoy the same thing, even if it is probably for different reasons. 

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Fringe Top 10 - #2 - Native Man, The Musical - New Native Theatre

First, the insertion of Native American faces into a black and white rendering of members of The Avengers is brilliant and cheeky marketing - Native American Iron Man, Native American Hulk, and Captain Native American. Playwright Rhiana Yazzie has been a willing volunteer when I wrangle together writers for Theatre Unbound’s 24 Hour Xtreme Theater Smackdown. It takes a hardy soul to be willing to take on sleep deprivation and instant collaboration with another writer, using element unknown until the night of the writing to create a short play, much less a good one. Her willingness to pitch in this way is only the beginning of why I like her and want to support her work. There’s also the whole controversy surrounding a recent local production of the musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

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Fringe Top 10 for 2014 - All The Links

Here's the full list of titles in this year's 2014 Fringe Top 10 list with links to the individual write-ups:

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Fringe Top 10 - #1 - One Arm - Perestroika Theater Project

One Arm is a stage adaptation of an unproduced Tennessee Williams’ screenplay about a military boxer who loses an arm in a car accident and ends up using the body he has left for prostitution, pornography, and murder. So, not a comedy. But for a change, the homosexuals are front and center in this story, not unseen supporting players who end up eaten by cannibals or blowing their brains out. So, progress.

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Fringe Top 10 - #3 - From Here To Maternity - Shanan Custer and Joshua Scrimshaw

As I said in tagging From Here To Maternity as one of my Fringe 5 of artists who I inexplicably keep missing at the Fringe, I’ve missed this show in every one of its incarnations. And though Mom has seen many a Scrimshaw in the Fringe over the years, Joshua included, she’s never seen Shanan. So I must rectify that glaring omission. Ever since I saw her in Emilie and 2 Sugars Room For Cream, Shanan can do no wrong in my eyes. She can be funny without saying a word, and her dramatic work has the ability to break my heart. This will be a fun end to a very long opening Saturday marathon for Mom, and she’ll finally be able to see what I’ve been going on about.

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Fringe Top 10 - #4 - Brazen Theatre - The Miss Longview Texas Drag Pageant

I didn’t get the decorating gene, I didn’t get the fashion gene, and I didn’t get the drag gene - I missed a lot when they were putting together my gay portfolio as a fetus apparently. Thankfully, my fellow homos have been very patient and generous in making up for the gaps in my education. I still may not “get” drag, but I no longer look at it in complete befuddlement, and that’s progress. Fringe time helps move my consciousness forward, even in the guise of comedy - and thus, The Miss Longview Texas Drag Pageant. I appreciate the good work Mark Hooker is doing with Brazen Theatre, embracing camp and holding it up as its own particular form of art. Plus, this has the added bonus in the cast of Erica Fields (who did an amazing job as the Duchess in the recent production of my play But Not For Love), and her wife Patience. We’re not getting to this one until Monday, but Mom and I are very much looking forward to it.

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Fringe Top 10 - #5 - Yama and Kalinda: A Transdimensional Love Story - Hey Rube Productions

Yama and Kalinda is another one from my Fringe 5 of artists I continue missing at the Fringe that I want to finally catch this year. They had a preview that impressed me, which I wrote about here. Not getting to this one until Sunday, but again, Mom and I are looking forward to it.

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Fringe Top 10 - #6 - The Happy Vagina Puppet Show - Dangerous Productions

How is it that when you type the word Vagina into the Fringe website search engine The Happy Vagina Puppet Show is the only show that comes up? Is the Fringe getting soft or less edgy? We seem to be vagina deficient, how is that possible? (Well, it is in the Rarig Thrust so I suppose that bit of theatrical space humor helps make up for it.) At any rate, that’s a side issue. Dangerous Productions creeped me the heck out with their offering in the Twin Cities Horror Festival last fall, Hear No Evil. I have no idea how they do happy, puppets or vaginas, but these are theater artists impressive enough to make we want to find out. Added bonus, Shannon Leach in this cast was one half of my sexy robot in Love Bot in Gadfly’s sci fi short play festival earlier this year, so I’m always happy to see her on stage again.

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