The Minnesota Fringe Festival opened its 15th year exploding with this smash hit. “The Mistress Cycle,” chronicles the lives of five women both historical and fictional throughout history. It explores the choices and consequences these women make in their lives. The story reminds us that these mistresses could be our wife, daughter, mother, sister or neighbor; a fact that really got you thinking.
Starring Jen Burleigh-Bentz, Kathleen Hardy, Andrea Leap, Sara Ochs and Karen Weber, Directed by Perrin Post, Music by Jenny Giering, book and lyrics by Beth Blatt and produced by Mindy Eschedor.
Asian American Press arrived at The Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater 45 minutes early expecting to be one of the first at the box office; instead it found a line winding through the restaurants dining room past the bar to the front door. We were fortunate to get in, others were turned away.
The actresses all do a superb job, stressing that in all things there is a beginning, middle and end. Each really seems to enjoy themselves in their roles, as they explore sexuality through the centuries in song. Each tries to answer a key question, what goes on in the minds of these women as they try to justify their actions that are neither celebrated nor condemned in the production. The story explores what it means to be a mistress in a man’s life: coming second to his wife. These women are considered an adulteress, vixen, kept woman, home wrecker, gold digger and whore.
AAP focused on Korean born actress Sara Ochs who plays, Ching, a 14-year old concubine living in 12th century China that has been sold to a man by her family to pay off debt.
The beginning of her story is heart wrenching. She is the youngest of the women in his household and must endure the advances of a man much older than her. While being looked down on by his other wives; whom she must be a servant to, feeding the older wives first and she is only given the morsels of food they don’t want.
The middle of her story is a complete turn around in the household. Ching gives her husband a son which none of his other wives are able to do. This moves her into the number one wife position. Now the roles are reversed and the other wives must serve her. She receives the choice food and is pampered. This is a happy time; but as fate would have it she is not able to bear anymore children.
Sara was born in Korea and was adopted by a U.S. family moving here when she was 6 months old. She plans on going back to Korea to learn Korean after The Minnesota Fringe Festival but will return next summer for the production of, “Flower Drum Song.”
AAP will keep in touch with this talented actress.