Daily Planet Originals

Fringe Review - Fringe Orphans 3 - TRP - 3 stars

Mom and I attended on that rare night when the full roster of content was actually part of the show for Fringe Orphans 3. One of the advantages of the Fringe Orphans format, lining up random short content from a variety of artists, is that if some artists aren’t available on a particular night because of other Fringe shows in which they might be involved, still others are available to pitch in. Also, some artists that don’t have the time available to prepare a whole Fringe show can often be enticed into fitting a shorter sketch into their schedule. And on some nights, like this one, the stars and schedules align and everyone can perform the full range of shorts.

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Fringe Review - The Sex (Ed) Show - Rarig Xperimental - 5 stars

Mom pronounced this one “Just raunchy enough” and had a thoroughly good time. It’s no surprise The Sex (Ed) Show is selling out its venue. As racy as The Dirty Curls can often be in their choice of subject matter, they also really love their audience. They’re not there to shock or repulse anyone. They’re out to sing the praises of sex and sexuality as a healthy and fun part of life. Plus, as Mom quite rightly points out, Courtney McLean, Samantha Veldhouse. Anna Weggel and Lacey Ann Zeiler have gorgeous voices that sound even more gorgeous together. Sort of an angelic choir of mischievous sprites. Not only that, they play a mean guitar, banjo, mandolin and/or ukelele, and tambourine. (They also got an assist from token dude friend Kevin Scott on upright bass).

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Fringe Review - Happy Vagina Puppet Show - Rarig Thrust - 3-1/2 stars

I love the fact that, at Fringe time, there are things called Happy Vagina Puppet Show. And that I have a mother who is game to accompany me to something called Happy Vagina Puppet Show. As previously tweeted, Mom was willing to be quoted as saying, “I’ve never seen so many vibrators in one place before.” And apparently they can also be used for eating pudding - just one of the many helpful hints you can take away from this show.

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Fringe Sampler, Friday Night, Rarig

Heading into the final weekend of Fringe, and you haven't had a chance to catch any shows yet? Maybe you're overwhelmed by all of the options, further complicated by all of the show reviews...who to trust? Well, me. Here are some shows you can try out. These might not be everyone's favorites, but they're really excellent and will have very broad appeal. And I don't predict that they will sell out and leave you stranded without a plan at the last minute.

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Jumpin' Jack Kerouac at the 2014 Minnesota Fringe Festival

In Jumpin' Jack Kerouac, at the Rarig Proscenium, choreographer Windy Bowlsby takes on the challenge of teaching a bunch of veteran Fringe writers to dance. The Fringe preview gave the impression that the show might be played for laughs, but the whole production was done with sincerity and commitment. The result is a show that is a celebration of the collaborative spirit of the Fringe Festival itself.

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Fringe Review - Shakespeare Apocalypse: A New Musical - TRP - 4-1/2 stars

Mom said I could quote her, so, “They had me right up until the virgin sacrifice and the song about the anti-Christ. After that, they kind of lost me.”

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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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