Cindy Alexander reveals her latest truth in ‘Deep Waters’

It has been said that the mark of a great songwriter is the ability to take their own personal story and convert it into a song that delivers that truth in a way that is universally understood.  If that be the case, then Cindy Alexander is one of the greatest songwriters ever, and her latest effort, Deep Waters, is the crown jewel in her songwriting career.

Alexander has previously delivered seven studio albums that showed us her angst, her frustration with the dating scene, her struggles with self acceptance, and her battle with and victory over breast cancer.  With the release of Deep Waters, she provides us with songs about the beauty of true love, and the culmination of her quest for it.

After working with producer and good friend Dave Darling (Boxing Gandhis, Meredith Brooks) for many years, this time out she partnered with acclaimed artist, writer and producer Colin Devlin, best known for his solo work and as half of leading Irish duo, The Devlins.

Needless to say, this change did not come without apprehension.  “When you’re scared to make a change you should do it anyway,” Alexander says, with the conviction of one who has faced her fear and come out the other side.  “You’re not given gifts to hold them back.”

Set up by Blue Élan Records founder/president Kirk Pasich, Alexander and Devlin went on the musical equivalent of a blind date.  “The first thing we were trying to do was see if these two strangers could create anything without having any rules or parameters about what we were going to say or how we were going to do it,” she says.  “I usually write all my own lyrics.  This time, there was someone else’s experiences and life coming in and adding more meaning and context into every song.”

The resulting partnership was a success, as reflected in the first track they wrote together, the turbulent title track, which talks about unreservedly abandoning oneself to another person.  “That’s the beautiful thing about art,” she says. “You can dive in and go to places that may be too scary to go to in real life.”

After hearing their first batch of songs, the label recognized their creative chemistry and asked for a full album.  Alexander ultimately wrote or co-wrote eight of the album’s 10 tracks.  She also does a stunning cover of Jann Arden’s “Good Mother.”

Every song on Deep Waters hits the mark and delivers what will surely be seen as a milestone in Alexander’s career.  Alexander sums it up well, “I feel like you can’t stop me now.  I’ve got this,” she says. “When you’ve experienced any kind of brush with your mortality, you want to thrive, not just survive.  The fact that I get to live my dream and make music for a living, I don’t take any of that for granted.”

Indie Voice Blog is proud to highly recommend Deep Waters as one of the best albums of 2016 and strongly encourage you to grab a copy of it when it is released on July 15.  If you’re lucky enough to live in the Los Angeles area, Alexander will be celebrating the release with a show at one of her favorite venues, Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach on July 17.  Check out her website or Facebook pages for more details, and don’t forget to follow her on Twitter as well.

Thanks to publicist Melissa Dragich-Cordero of MADInk PR for providing the background material.

 

 

 

 

 

 

HFF16 ends with a bang

HFF16 concluded yesterday with its annual Awards Show and Closing Party.  The Awards show this year was at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre, and the venue was packed with excited participants and industry.  The big winner of the night was the incredible solo show, My Big Fat Blonde Musical.  Hats off to the lovely Theresa Stroll and her finance’ Robert McGlynn, who crafted a wonderful show about accepting yourself and never giving up on your dreams, which hit a chord with so many of this year’s Fringe attendees.  So proud to have had the opportunity to see the opening night performance of this amazing show, which was one of my personal Top Ten shows at the Fringe.

Thanks to everyone on the Hollywood Fringe Festival staff, from Executive Director Ben Hill on down, for the incredible event you all put together.  Thanks also to Director of Publicity Stacy Jones Hill for your amazing coverage of the event and the assistance you provided to media members like me, making HFF16 the best one yet.

Here’s the list of awards handed out last night:

Fringe Freaks (Community-Voted Awards)

Top of the Fringe: My Big Fat Blonde Musical

International: MacDeth!

Fringe First (World Premiere): My Big Fat Blonde Musical  

Cabaret & Variety: Angel’s Flight

Comedy: Lamprey: Weekend of Vengeance

Dance & Physical Theatre: Office Beat – A Tap Dance Comedy

Ensemble Theatre: Night Witches

Musicals and Operas: My Big Fat Blonde Musical 

Solo Performance: Still Got It

 Sponsored Awards

A Little New Music Award for Outstanding Songwriting: Thug Tunnel

Beyond Bechdel-Wallace Award: Disrupted

Cherry Poppins’ Cherry Picks: Ripest Show: Tilt & Here There Be Dragons

FPI’s Most Wanted Award:  Actors Company, Fountain Theatre, Lounge Theatre, Macha Theatre/Film, Rogue Machine @ MET Theatre, Sacred Fools TheaterStephanie Fuery Studio Theatre, The Hotel Cafe: Second Stage, The New Collective, Theatre Asylum and Underground Theatre

O Face Awards for Orgasmic Achievement: Keight Leighn from (A)partment 8 (Most orgasmic performance), Will Michaels from Night Witches (Most orgasmic writing), Kitty Serial Killers – Sacred Fools (Most orgasmic production)

The Duende Distinction: Moving Art Collective: Metamorphosis (for overall production)

The Inkwell Playwright’s Promise Award: Vanessa Espino for Odilia

Lumpy-Cramp© Spirit of the Fringe, Never in the Box Award: Wheel of Invention

The Rogue Shakespeare Award for Artistic Excellence: Daniel Llewelyn-Williams for Writing/Acting Excellence in A Regular Little Houdini 

The Unleashed Awards: Porn Rock (Most Unleashed Show), Jessica Moreno in All Aboard the Marriage Hearse (Most Unleashed Performance), Elizabeth Dement in Porn Rock (Tracey Collins Funny Girl Award) 

The Encore! Producers Awards: 

Three Clubs: 30:30:60 – A Competitive Birthday Event, 50 Shades of Shakespeare, A Whole Newd World: Cherry Tales at The Knock Shop, Broadway Noir, Live From The Grave…It’s John Belushi!, MADLIB! The Musical, Nilbog: The Unauthorized Musical Parody of Troll 2, Ruby, Human Test Subjects

Actors Company: Amy Snowden’s Confessions from LA to L.A., Charlotte’s Shorts, F—- My Life, Freakout, Girls Together Always, Makin’ A Movie featuring the Mad Jackrats (LPNSImprov), The Gay Guide to, Tinseltown, Thirteen’s Spring, She Got Off the Couch, YOU

Asylum: A Horse With a View, A Regular Little Houdini, American Man Dream, Awkwardly Fabulous, Bin Laden: The One Man Show, BOUND, CRAFTSMAN, Einstein!, Happy Hour, How to Be A Virgin (in 13 morally ambiguous steps), In The Garage, Kill All Politicians, Las Garcia, Night Witches, Occupation, Voices, Bull, Smoke

Complex Theatres: Time Stands Still, The Art of Falling Down, Suicide LIVE, I am Vertical, Cockroach Dialogues, Julianne: Live from LA!, Lolita, Daisy, Ophelia: A Love Story, MacDeth!, Punch and Judy, Slightly Dramatic, Sticky-Fingers Monologues, Tony Danza’s Letterz 2 2pac: an evening with Tony Danza, Washed in the Blood

Lounge Theatre: All Aboard the Marriage Hearse, Aurora and Larry, Bloody Beautiful, Cold Tangerines, Fairytales Against Humanity, Feast of Snacks, MmHmm, Please Stand Clear the Doors Are Closing, SpiritWheel, Strap-On, The Creeps, Uterine Affairs, Whalefail

Sacred Fools Theatre: Thug Tunnel, Office Beat: A Tap Dance Comedy, Alien Vs. Musical, Still Got It, My Big Fat Blonde Musical, Mark Twain Answers All Your Questions!, Tilt, Lamprey: Weekend of Vengeance, All The Best Killers are Librarians, Paul Dooley: Upright and Personal, Up Down Stick Stuck, Thanks a Lot! My Gratitusical, Penny For Your Thoughts, The Princes Charming, Come Fux With Us, Tell Me On A Sunday, Nine Dresses: Sex, Death, Fashion

If you live in Los Angeles, I strongly urge you to support the shows that have been selected for extensions.  Keep the Fringe spirit alive.  See you all next year.

 

HFF16 – Final wrap-up

HFF16 has been my favorite Fringe experience yet, and I have attended six of the seven years of the Festival.  Hats off to Ben Hill and his amazing staff for all the work they have contributed to make this Festival such a success.  I can hardly wait for HFF17.  But before that time, here are shows I felt were worthy of Honorable Mention:

Fifty Shades of Shakespeare.  With a killer cast of two men and two women and the Bard’s sexiest scenes for material, what could go wrong?  Throw in the twist that the audience decides what roles they play, and you have the makings of a great Fringe show.

Bumpersticker:  The Musical.  A last minute addition to my schedule, this group brought an engaging and funny take on the countless bumper stickers that drivers have been forced to see while stuck in traffic.  A truly fun time.

Thug Tunnel.  Kat Primeau and her Robot Teammate & the Accidental Party company created a visually stunning musical romp through the sewers of apocalyptic Earth.  Getting the chance to see this masterpiece was a gift from the Universe, and one of the privileges of creating fringeships at the Festival.  Thanks Kat for inviting me.

And now, my awards:

Best solo show:  My Big Fat Blonde Musical

Best ensemble:  A Whole Newd World – Cherry Tales at the Knock Shop

Best musical:  A Feast of Snacks

Best comedy:  How to be a Virgin (in 12 Morally Ambiguous Steps)

Best drama:  Chemistry

Best venue (tie):  Sacred Fools and Three Clubs

Most personal (tie):  30JJ or Bust and Sexy Maus

Most ready for Broadway:  Tell me on a Sunday

Most heart:  Gilda: A Tribute to the Beloved Comedienne Gilda Radner

Best Fringe Festival:  HFF16

Thanks again to everyone for making me feel special this year.  I especially love the welcome I got from David Haverty, the friendliness and openness from so many of the participants and staff, and especially my new friends at Cherry Poppins.  You all contributed in making this my favorite Fringe experience ever.

Ten Favorite Shows of HFF16 (wrap-up part 2)

Before I reveal my Top 5, I need to apologize to some shows that I intended to see but was unable to, whether because of scheduling issues or change of plans.  Those shows included The Truth, A Horse With a View, The 7 Guys You Date Before you get Married, Amy Showden’s Casting Confessions for La to LA, Awkwardly Famous, Washed in the Blood, Vintage Box, Beethoven:  Immortal, Up Down Stick Stuck, Angel’s Flight, Voices, Slightly Dramatic, Thirteen’s Spring, The Father, The Son and the Holy Sh!t and Still Got It.  I also apologize to the two shows I had to cut short in order to make another show:  Broadway Noir and Mad Lib the Musical.  I did enjoy what I was able to see.

And now my Top Five favorite shows of HFF 16:

5.  Lamprey:  Weekend of Vengeance.  This show rocked.  It was fast paced and tight, with an amazing cast of characters, led by the unbelievably talented Carrie Keranen.  Great job by all and thanks to Sacred Fools for giving this kind of talent a place to grow.

4.  How to be a Virgin (in 12 Morally Ambiguous Steps).  Carla Neuss has written a dynamic story that was perfectly presented by the amazing powerball known as Katelyn Schiller.  I laughed so much at this show that I almost peed, and it was one of the best hours I spent at the Fringe.  Well done!

3.  A Feast of Snacks.  Theatre Unleashed has never failed to deliver in their annual offerings at Fringe, and this might be their best show to date.  All four mini-musicals rocked, and gave the multi-talented company members the chance to shine.  Hats off to Greg Crafts and company for giving us another reason to love the Fringe.

2.  A Whole Newd World – Cherry Tales at the Knock Shop.  Alli Miller and Sarah Haworth and the ladies of Cherry Poppins Productions have definitely created a winner in this sexy romp through the woods, introducing adult versions of your favorite Disney characters.  The show was both visually stunning and a musical delight.

  1.  Charlotte’s Shorts.  Charlotte Dean is an amazing writer.  The daughter of Tracy Newman (According to Jim) and the niece of Larraine Newman (SNL) provided the perfect material for her pool of actors to interpret, and in so doing created my favorite show of HFF16.  It was an honor and a privilege to witness this incredible talent.

In my final article on HFF16, I will list the shows worthy of Honorable Mention, as well as give out a few awards of my own.

 

 

Ten Favorite Shows of HFF16 (wrap-up part 1)

What a festival HFF 16 proved to be.  I drove 2600 miles round trip to attend 35 shows in eight days, and reviewed every one of them on my blog and on the Fringe website.  I reconnected with past fringeships and built new ones.  I walked miles up and down Theater Row going from show to show.  I drank more than I have in the past two years.  But most importantly, I had fun, thanks to the amazing participants and Festival staff that make up the Hollywood Fringe Festival.

The Freaks will be handed out next Sunday for the best shows at Fringe, as voted on by the participants and those who have reviewed shows.  But I wanted to take this time to hand out some of my own awards.  Here are the bottom five of my top 10 favorite shows:

10.  Gilda:  A tribute to the beloved comedienne Gilda Radner.  Helena K. Cosentino gave us one of the best tribute shows I have ever seen.  She nailed many of Radner’s routines, but it was the way she captured the spirit of Radner that made this show so special.  Thanks Helena.

9.  Tilt.  With a cast like Ben Moroski and Michael Shaw Fisher, both multi-award winning actors, how could you lose?  You can’t.  This show was very different from what they have previously done, but different is good.  They both turned in amazing performances, and it was an honor to be able to witness this next step in their Fringe careers.

8.  The Old Woman.  John Grady has been bringing excellent theater to the Fringe since it started in 2010, and his latest offering continues that tradition.  It is a moving story that gives his audiences a chance to see his ballet skills.  It provided a much needed respite from the heat and refreshed my spirit.  Well done John.

7.  My Big Fat Blonde Musical.  I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about seeing this show.  Theresa Stroll has created a masterpiece of theater that brings attention to one of the remaining biases in Hollywood – being fat.  Stroll proves that she can write, sing, perform and do comedy just as well as a skinny person.  My hat is off to you Theresa.  Thanks for the reminder that we still have a long way to go in erasing stereotypes.

6.  Happy Hour.  Fringe is the time to try new approaches, and this one worked.  Combining elements of theatre with live music and dance movement outside the confines of a musical was brilliant.  I look forward to seeing what Elitia Daniels and Wesley Flowers come up with next.  Hats off to the Venice Symphony Orchestra for making the show powerful and fun, and for bringing music to the masses.

Check out the rest of my Top 10 Favorite Shows in my next post, along with a few awards of my own.

HFF16 – Day Eight (part 2)

The second half of the day began with my most anticipated show, Gilda: A Tribute to the Beloved Comedienne Gilda Radner.  Like many of you, I fondly remember Gilda and the greatness she brought to the founding cast of Saturday Night Live, including those amazing and memorable characters Judy Miller, Emily Litella, Baba Wawa and Roseanne Rosannadana.

Gilda

Helena K. Cosentino embodies the memory of Gilda and truly brings her back to life again in what is the most beautiful and loving tribute I have ever witnessed to a Hollywood icon.  In addition, she embodies the soul and spirit of Gilda by donating the proceeds from the show to the Cancer Support Community and Gilda’s Club of Kansas City in honor of Gilda.  You can also make donations by clicking here.

I was very fortunate to catch her final Fringe show before she heads home for the Kansas City Fringe Festival.  Hopefully she will share her gifts with us at the Zootown Fringe Festival in August.

My next show was Sexy Maus at the Studio portion of Sacred Fools Theatre.  It is wonderfully written and delightfully performed by Andrea Schell with superb directing from Wade Gasque.

SexyMaus

This show takes the audience on a thrilling trip around Europe as Schell tries to escape the real life hell of helping her parents by going on a whirlwind tour of some of Europe’s hot spots, all the while looking for love in all the trendy places.

Schell tells a very compelling story, complete with breathtaking slides documenting her trip.  Her storytelling is first rate, and kept the audience engaged throughout.

We recommend you take a little trip with the Sexy Maus, and live vicariously through her story.  Her final performance is scheduled for June 25 at 10 p.m.

My sixth show of the day was a special appearance by New York premier actor Khalil Mhammad who brought his new solo show Pryor Truth to the Fringe for a two day stint.

Pryor

Muhammad has crafted a finely tuned one-man show that felt just like a performance by the late comedian Richard Pryor.  His performance was spot on, from his vocal delivery to his constant sweat wiping and colorful language.  I felt like I was in the presence of greatness as I thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity I never had to hear Pryor live.  It was a fitting tribute to the man proclaimed as one of America’s greatest comedians.  The entire house became engrossed in the show and gave him a rousing ovation at the end.

Unfortunately this was his only appearance at HFF16, but we can only hope that Muhammad will return with another show in the future.

My final show for the night (and, as it turned out, HFF16) was Erica Flor’s provocative tale Bloody Beautiful. 

Beautiful woman with red tissue around her waist

The show centers around the story of one of the world’s most prolific serial killers, Countess Elizabeth Ba’thory, the Blood Countess from Hungary, who allegedly killed more than 650 young women between 1585 and 1610.

In her performance, the evil spirit of the Countess is seeking to take over the mind and body of Flor so that she can once again be free to kill.  While the concept is not new, Flor makes a valiant effort to show the constant struggle as she fights off the Countess’ attempts at possession.

While it was neither my favorite nor least favorite Fringe show, it was definitely memorable and compelled me to look up the story online to find out the rest of the gory details.  For that, I thank Flor for bringing such an interesting character to the Fringe.

Tomorrow I will post my HFF16 wrapup, which includes my top 10 favorite shows.  Until then, happy fringing.

 

 

HFF16 – Day Eight (part 1)

Friday night had been my favorite night of fringing and I looked forward to my seven shows on Saturday to further what has become my favorite fringe experience yet.

My day started off with 30JJ or Bust in Studio C of the Complex Theatre.  The show was written and performed by Joan Afton and was developed and directed by Deana Barone.  In a word, it was magnificent.

30jj

Kudos to Afton for having the courage to tell this very personal story, and to Barone for helping develop both the story and the performer and bring them both to the Fringe Experience.  Our shared Renaissance Faire experience also contributed to my ability to connect to this show, and to Afton.

Go see the final performance on June 25 at 11:30 p.m.  It’s well worth your time.

Up next was Sticky Fingers.  Compiled from stories told by female shoplifters after they were caught, the show was wonderfully written by Terry Anne Holzman and directed by her husband, Ernie Holzman.  Its wonderful cast included Maya Ferrara, Sidney Aptaker, Hallie Mayer, Francine Daniels, Breon Gorman, Dionne Jones and one of the show’s producers, Fiona Lakeland.

Sticky

Hearing these stories from this fine cast of actresses was a true highlight of my HFF16 experience.  It was enlightening to hear their rationale for stealing, and especially to hear the story about the most famous shoplifter of all, Winona Ryder.  Lakeland’s portrayal of her was spot on, and one of the best performances of the show.

We highly recommend this play.  Catch its final performance on June 25 at 10 p.m. in the Dorie Theatre at the Complex.

My third show of the day, MetaFam, was coincidently also at the Complex in the Flight Theatre, and featured Barone (the director of 30JJ or Bust).

Metafam

Barone tells her story of growing up in a family that included a mentally ill sister, a sick brother, an adorable mother and a guru-like father.  These personalities all played a role in her development as an artist, and I believe shaped her to become a guru herself in allowing solo artists to bring their stories to the stage.  I just might have to work with her to bring my own story out.  But that’s a story for another day.

Barone did a great job of melding those stories into a true Fringe experience.  I was especially amazed at her ability to improv real-world issues like late arrivals into the fabric of the show without breaking character as she repeatedly shattered the illusionary fourth wall.

Metafam has one remaining performance on June 25 at 1:45.  We recommend you check it out and see for yourself the awesomeness that is Deana Barone.

More Fringe reviews to come in part 2.

 

HFF16 – Day Seven (part 3)

The third show I attended on Friday was one that has been sold out the entire run of Fringe, A Whole Newd World – Cherry Tales at the Knock Shop, featuring the cabaresque stylings of Cherry Poppins Productions.

Newd

Created by the incredibly talented Alli Miller and Sarah Haworth, Cherry Poppins is so much more than just a burlesque troupe.  Every one of them are legitimate triple threats who can act, sing and dance.

Ali & Sarah

The show was wonderfully written and can best be described as an adult version of Into the Woods meets Disney on Broadway.  The multi-talented cast included Miller as Tinker Twat, Haworth as Lady Maleficience, Kelly Stevenson as Cherry Godmother, Heath Butler as Little RoHo, Rebecca Reaney as Evil YAS Queen, Brin Hamblin as Pocahottass, Megan Elise as Aerola, Madeleine Heil as Lady Reads a Lot, Tyler Olshansky as Lezmerelda, Taylor Baker as Hoe White, Shannon Glasgow as Purple Cat, Sabrina Moiseyev as Marachino Devile, Schoen Hodges as Prince Charming, Reagan Osbourne as Prince Not-so-Charming, Cory Robinson as Genie and Spencer Hayden as Russ Russ.

Cherries

There is not a weak moment in the show.  Every performer gave his or her all to the show, and made us believe in this magical place called the Knock Shop.  The featured songs gave these performers the chance to shine, and several of them truly knocked it out of the park, especially Hodges and Osbourne on “What Does the Fox Say.”

Come and see why this show is so popular .  . . and so damn good.  It was truly one of the best shows at HFF16, and the springboard to some of my best new fringeships.  Thanks so much to Miller and Haworth for making HFF16 my favorite year yet.

Although this show has ended its Fringe run, the ladies of Cherry Poppins can be seen every Wednesday night at Three Clubs, in addition to the remaining shows for Angels Flight on June 23 at 8:15 p.m. and June 25 at 8:30 p.m.

 

HFF16 – Day Seven (part 2)

My fourth show of the day was Mad Lib the Musical and it was a rousing good time.  I wish that I had the time to see the entire show, as I had to slip out to go to Aliens vs. Musical, but what I saw was absolutely brilliant and amazing.

Madlib

I liken the show to a musical version of Whose Line is it Anyway? on steroids.  The concept is that the audience picks ten songs and three nouns to form the basis for the musical.   The cast then has five minutes to formulate the show based on those nouns and incorporating the songs.

The show features four regular cast members, Kate Bowman, Lauren Byrd, Nathan Ondracek and Mitchell Turner, plus two guest stars.  On this night those guest stars were Alli Miller from Whole Newd World and Angel’s Flight and Theresa Stroll from My Big Fat Blonde Musical.

I only got to see three songs, but the improv “script” was witty and fun.  The only drawback was the time it spent in setting up the show.  Had I not had another show coming up, it would have been a great way to close out another fun day of Fringe.  Catch one of its final two performances on June 24 or 25 at 10:30 p.m.

My final show for the night was one of last year’s hit shows, Alien vs. Musical.  From what I understand, this year’s show was longer than last year’s, and included additional material, including bits from West Side Story and Hamilton.

Alien

The show started off innocently enough in the land of Musical, where some of our favorite characters live in peace, including those from Grease, Wicked, Dreamgirls, Music Man, Hairspray, Book of Mormon, Les Miserables, and Annie, to name a few.  Speaking of Annie, Allie Costa turns in the performance of the decade in her role as Annie.  She gives the character true life and her song “There is no Tomorrow” is the highlight of the show.

The cast includes Levanna Atkinson-Williams as Effie, Christopher Bunyi as Danny, Nick Emmet McGee as Harold, Taylor Minckley as Elder, Ally Mulholland as Tracy, Matthew Noah as ValJean, Suzanne Petrela as Elphaba, Brad Simanski as Mark and Briane Sanborn as Maria.

Hats off to the creative team behind the show.  With book, music and lyrics by Erik Przytulski, book and creature design by Steve Troop and choreography by Regina Laughlin, and direction by Matthew Tyler and musical direction by Emily Cohn (who provides an interesting cameo with the Alien), the show appears to be on its way to its off-Broadway debut this fall.  It remains a fan favorite at Fringe and we’re sure it will do well in New York.

Catch one of its two remaining shows on June 23 at 8:30 p.m. or June 26 at 6 p.m.

I have saved my final review of the day until later.  Still waiting for additional information from the producer, but the show was one of the highlights of Fringe 2016.  I probably won’t get to work on it until I get back to Montana, along with my reviews of my Saturday (seven shows) and Sunday (two shows) experiences.  Until then, Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads and have a wonderful day Fringing.

HFF16 – Day Seven (part 1)

Friday began innocently enough without any warning as to the Fringe incredibleness that was coming.  I spent the morning writing and relaxing before heading out to the Fringe for what I thought would be a normal night of great shows, with four of them planned for the evening.

Upon arrival at Three Clubs and looking at their line-up for the night, I shelved my previous plans and decided to catch all four of their shows and still be able to catch Alien vs. Musical afterwards.  That plan proved to be a wise idea.

The night began with the stellar performance of 50 Shades of Shakespeare.   The premise enticed me – two men, two women, doing Shakespeare’s sexiest scenes – but the twist was that the audience selected which actors would take which roles.  These guys KNEW their Shakespeare, inside and out, and delivered a stirring performance regardless of the role they played.

50 Shades

With a cast that included Kelly Nienaltowski, Jordan Mann, Noah James and Eddie Vona, under the superb direction of Jess Shoemaker, 50 Shades was a can’t miss production.  Their acting chops were put to the test and they responded with some of the best Shakespeare I have ever witnessed.  This is definitely one of the best shows at HFF16, and we highly recommend you catch one of their remaining performances on June 19 at 11 p.m. or June 20 at 8:30 p.m.

We’ll skip over the next show I attended and come back to it in Part 3 of this review.

Third on my plate for Friday was Black Widow Laughs, a show that I had intended to review on Sunday, but due to a change in plans, decided to check out on Friday.  The production team and the venue were very amenable to my request and took care of me, despite almost being sold out.

BWL

Vampire shows are always popular, and this one is even more so.  Nina Rose Carlin has crafted a great piece with an amazing cast featuring Wellesley Daniels, Cheyann Dillon, Savannah Gilmore, Lucy Keith and Darrin Luginski as a family of vampires who run a 1920’s speakeasy, and Charlie Haakenson, Greg Feiner and Carlin as their unwitting victims.

This production has the same kind of sexiness usually reserved for vampires of a more sparkly persuasion, and delivers a bloody good time for all.  Definitely check out of their remaining shows on June 19 at 9:15 p.m. or June 23 at 6:45 p.m.

The night continued in part 2, to be posted shortly.