Our Friday night fringing began with hauling a smoking microwave oven out of the house. Good times. But we still made it to the Music Box Theater in time for the first show. There was free parking available in the Emerson School parking lot two blocks west of the theater. We decided to avoid traffic for the rest of the evening and saw 3 shows at the Music Box.
The first show was Launcelot and Guenever by Six Elements Theatre. The show joins the Camelot legend after Arthur has been King for many years. The production felt like a work in progress. It’s very ambitious with a large cast, lovely original music, and exciting sword fights. But trying to pack so much into a 50 minute fringe show comes at a price. Eleven actors play thirteen or fourteen characters (I lost track). With the exception of Launcelot, the characters are underdeveloped. The knights are interchangeable, and the women are ciphers. We know that Mordred is evil because he cocks his eyebrow while resting his hand on his chin. King Arthur doesn’t have much time onstage; when he tells Guenever he loves her late in the play it doesn’t seem sincere. Still, I would be interested in seeing the next iteration of this show.
The next show was the return of the Ausland brothers, Andy and Rick, in Buckets and Tap Shoes: Excerpts from “DREAMS”. The first year our family went to see them was 2004. Thirty-seven minutes of non-stop dancing and drumming, clapping and stomping, they are still the “must -see” show for the whole family. This time they brought along the fantastic saxophone player Willie Moore to add some melody to the party. By the end of the show kids were dancing and hula-hooping on the stage while the audience was volleying beach balls from our seats. It was one of those perfect “only at the kids’ fringe” moments.
Finally, we ended our evening with Who’s on First: 50 Years of the Doctor in 50 Minutes or Less by out-of-town Wisconsin neighbors Stagenorth Productions, which is a fast-paced linear tour through the world of BBC’s Doctor Who. The rapid-fire progression through the 11 doctors and assorted companions is a hoot. Some audience members even showed up in costume! The cast rotates roles, using wigs, jackets, and small props. They clearly know and love their source material. I have seen the new episodes of Dr. Who with the 9th, 10th and 11th Doctors but not the original run. This little show makes me want to see the old series.
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