Had a wonderful day yesterday. After writing my reviews for Thursday’s shows, we lounged around our Airbnb most of the day. Around 3 p.m. we both decided at the same time – “Let’s go to Margaritaville!” So off we went to Universal City Walk and had dinner and drinks before heading out last night to hang with fringeships and see some shows. We saw another three to bring our total to 28 shows. Here are the reviews.
TITLE OF SHOW: Ascent
REVIEW: I would not have gone to see this show except that they applied for our Larry Cornwall Award. To put it nicely, it was a hot mess. Of course they waited until it was over to tell us “we’re a work in progress.” Boy was that an understatement. The concept is there but the show lacks structure. The best part of it was when the two performers, Adam Kerbel and Shih-wei Willie Wu played the Taiko drum. Other than that, as my wife says, “it reminded her of two boys playing outside during recess.”
RECOMMENDATION: Not ready for viewing – skip it.
TITLE OF SHOW: Billy . . . from Como to Homo
VENUE: The Sheperd Theatre at the Complex
REVIEW: In what has to be one of the most physically demanding of solo shows, 70 year old Lynne Jassem tap dances her way into our hearts in this amazing and brilliant production, directed by the solo queen herself, Jessica Lynn Johnson. Had Jassem not been persistent in inviting me to her show, we might have missed this true gem of HFF 17. We were fortunate to share the experience with Johnson and several of her other students, Sofie Khan (Mexistani!) and Gabriella DeMarco (Lovesick), and the show proved to be the highlight of our night. Jassem is a natural storyteller and weaves her life story in such a way that it is ripe for a sequel.
RECOMMENDATION: You simply MUST SEE this show. The tap dancing alone is worth the price of admission, but the story will cheer you up and encourage you. Her final show is June 24 at 8 p.m.
TITLE OF SHOW: Confessions of an Arab Woman
VENUE: Dorie Theater at the Complex
REVIEW: We would definitely have to say that female empowerment is one of the themes of HFF 17, and this show was one of the strongest statements of that theme. Joumana Haddad is considered to be one of the most powerful Arab women in the world today, and this insight into her was breathtakingly beautiful. An amazing cast featuring Cynthia Yelle, Madia El-Tawansy, Gamon Quinn, Sandy Rather, Tiffany Badie, and Brenda Salas portrayed Haddad at various key times in her life, each delivering stellar performances. They were aided by the truly supporting cast of Evan Langle as the Ringmaster/Marquis de Sade, Gilbert Reynoso as the Father and Alexandra Olson as the Journalist. The imagery and staging were first rate, and the piece left us thinking long after the final bow. This was a true work of art.
RECOMMENDATION: Unfortunately, this was a limited three-performance run, and we got to see the final performance. If this show gets extended, we highly recommend you taking the time to See it.
We were going to see another show afterwards, but we both hit a wall and couldn’t stay awake another minute. Time to refresh and prepare for the final big day of Fringe on Saturday, when we are scheduled to see six shows.