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Fringe Review - The Miss Longview Texas Drag Pageant - TRP - 3-1/2 stars

As I said in a previous tweet after seeing this show, The Miss Longview Texas Drag Pageant is a whole lot of gay in one place, but I approve. Brazen Theater’s Fringe offering, written and co-directed by Brazen founder Mark Hooker (with co-directing assistance from Janice Orlandi), is a streamlined version of a full-length piece, and given all the character and plot lines crammed into this Fringe-sized package, I can understand why they might all need a little more room to breathe. As it stands, though, The Miss Longview Texas Drag Pageant still manages to make its own kind of wacky sense. The extra time no doubt went to further character development and pacing to smooth out some of the rather abrupt twists and turns the plot makes in the current incarnation. Right now, once it cranks up past the basic character introductions, the show moves along like more of a farce. If there were doors, they’d be flying open and slamming shut quite a bit.

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Reach at the 2014 Minnesota Fringe Festival

Reach, presented by Nautilus Music-Theater at the Rarig Xperimental, is a buffet of new music, sung by some of the Twin Cities' best singer-actors. I never miss the Nautilus collaborations at the Fringe. While I enjoy the frantic energy of the "fringier" musicals, it was nice to hear a show where intonation wasn't optional. Presented as an anthology of five vignettes, some pieces have a self-contained story and some are excerpts from a larger work. But all loosely share the universal theme of aspiration.

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Fringe Review - Failure: A Love Story - Illusion Theater - 5 stars

At the time I write this, I’ve seen 38 Fringe shows thus far. When people ask me what shows I recommend, the two that float right to the top are Failure: A Love Story and One Arm. Why Failure: A Love Story? It’s the best script for a show I’ve seen this year. I could sit here and just retype quote after quote from the dialogue that I furiously scribbled down as the show flew along. The best thing to do, though, is to go and see it for yourself.

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Fringe Review - From Here To Maternity - Illusion Theater - 5 stars

It would be easy to take comedy offerings from either Joshua Scrimshaw or Shanan Custer for granted. After all, in this Fringe alone, each of them is in multiple shows, and they are reliably hilarious is all of them (Our American Assassin, Kafka Nuts and Amateur Hour, to name the ones I can remember off the top of my head). From Here To Maternity has also been mounted and remounted before (I can’t believe I just used the word “mount” in reference to this show. Apologies). But as anyone who has sat through unfunny Fringe shows in the past can tell you (and believe me, Mom and I have seen our share), an actually funny Fringe comedy is worth its weight in gold. Scrimshaw and Custer, together or individually, are a comedy treasure, and we should all happily glut ourselves on that fact.

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Fringe Review - Fiddlestick Conundrum - New Century Theater - 5 stars

I may actually have run out of new words to use to explain why I enjoy Ben San Del’s comedy so much. I’ve seen and reviewed all his Fringe shows, and given the competition that any Fringe show has to get on my radar, much less my schedule, that is saying something. I’d have to sit and think about it but I could probably count the number of Fringe artists I can say that about on one hand and still have fingers left over.

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Fringe Review - Yama and Kalindi: A Transdimensional Love Story - TRP - 4 stars

Alternate universes and romantic comedies have been crossbred before (not to mention time travel and doppelgangers), and it often makes for interesting viewing (The Double Life of Veronique, Sliding Doors, countless sci fi TV shows, etc.). It’s all based on the big “what if” - what if I’d turned right instead of left, what if I hadn’t been late for the bus, what if the alarm clock never rang, what if I’d never met that person, or never let them go? The latest entry in this sub-genre is Hey Rube’s Fringe 2014 production of Marcus Anthony’s new script Yama and Kalindi: A Transdimensional Love Story.

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"Happy Vagina Puppet Show" is for (mostly) everyone at the 2014 Fringe Festival

Hopefully this isn't a spoiler, but there aren't any vagina puppets in Happy Vagina Puppet Show by Dangerous Productions. The closest thing that comes to a puppet, and what happens to also be the star of the show, is a silver, inchworm-like tube, which you'll really just have to see to believe. 

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High school senior expands self-made soda company in Seward

(Photos by Susie Voss) Tree Fort Soda creator Eva Duckler stands next to equipment she uses to brew her artisinal herbal root beer.

It’s not every day a 17-year-old creates her own soda company. Especially right before her first semester of college.

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Stairway to Kevin at the Minnesota Fringe Festival

Another artist hailing from parts other than Minnesota is Kevin Thornton, bringing us Stairway to Kevin, my favorite in a pretty stellar lineup yesterday (Failure: A Love Story, Green T's 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Amateur Hour, all at the Illusion).

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Israeli-Palestinian protests continue, move to Klobuchar and Star Tribune offices

The Anti-War Committee of Minnesota continued their protests this week. This time, the group set their sights on another Minnesota lawmaker and the mainstream media for what the protesters call a complacency over the ongoing violence between Israel and Palestine.

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