Category Archives: Theatre

HFF 17 ends with presentation of awards

The 2017 Hollywood Fringe Festival ran June 8-25, and included 375 shows and more than 2,000 performances.  The eighth annual Festival concluded with more than 800 in attendance at the awards show held at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre, hosted by Festival Director Ben Hill and Communications Director Stacy Jones Hill.  The awards that were handed out came from two sources – the Fringe Freaks Community Awards, given by the Fringe staff and voted on by participants, industry and patrons, and the Sponsored Awards, given by various companies for a designated reason.  Here is the list of awards handed out.

Fringe Freaks (Community Awards):

Sponsored Awards:

ShoWorks Don’t Wait. Create! AwardChimpskin

The Screamiest:   A(partment 8)

The Spirit of the Fringe, Never in a Box Award: TOYS

The Duende Distinction:  Christina Evans – Choreography – TOYS

Tip Your 2Cents Award for Distinctive Voices:  Chimpskin

The Ripest Show:  Definition of Man

A Little New Music Award for Outstanding Songwriting: Turbulence!

Larry Cornwall Award:  Magic 8 Ball (My Life with Asperger’s)

Rogue Machine’s “Premiere” Award:  Urban Unrest – Urban Theatre Movement

Beyond Bechtel-Wallace Award: Thanksgiving

Diversity in American Theatre Award:  In the Valley of The Shadow

Soaring Solo Artist Award: Magic 8 Ball (My Life with Asperger’s)

The Inkwell Playwright’s Promise Award: In the Valley of The Shadow

Short and Sweet Award:  CHATTER

O-Face Award for Orgasmic Achievement (Most Orgasmic Performance):  Yozmit Walker – Do You: Migration of the Monarchs

Best Fringe Flyer:  An Evening With John Wilkes Booth

The Unleashed Award:  Thanksgiving

The LAFPI Most Wanted Award:  Actors Company, Art of Acting Studio,  Assistance League Playhouse, Epiphany Space, Complex Theatres, Hudson Theatres,  Los Angeles LGBT Center, Rogue Machine @ MET Theatre, studio/stage, The Loft, Theatre of NOTE, Three Clubs, Thymele Arts, Urban Social House, The New Collective

The Encore! Producers Award:

Complex Theatres Video Games, Narcissus and Echo, Trixie: The Musical, Human Hothouse: The Aftershow, 13th Grade, Desert Warrior, Claim Jumper, Even If It’s Wrong, Toys, Confessions of an Arab Woman, Incantessimo, Mistero Buffo, Too Many Hitlers, Ripley’s Dystopia, Broke and Ugly, Mary’s Medicine, Under the Jello Mold, Slashed, An Evening with John Wilkes Booth, Do You. Migration of the Monarchs

Lounge TheatreBitch Brow, I’m Too Fat For This Show, Just Like Life, NICAEA, Sapo Cancionero: Live Your Heart Out, Thanksgiving, The Girl Who Jumped Off The Hollywood Sign, Transmission – A One Tran Show

Sacred Fools TheatreQuantum Entanglement, Bono & the Edge Waiting for Godomino’s, Easy Targets, Definition of Man, Divorce: The Hip Hop Musical, The Joe & Joshua Show!, Why We Become Witches, Kinsherf’s Coat, A Harmony Boy’s Christmas, Charlie Moose Makes His Move, 12 Bars, Urban Theatre Movement presents: Urban Unrest, The King’s Language, High Rise, Orange Mango Cabaret

Three ClubsBuffy Kills Edward, Shakespeare and Chill, Hot Dates, Legends of the Hidden Three Clubs, Psychosical, Nights at the Algonquin Round Table

Studio/StageBlamed: An Established Fiction, Nothing Bad: A Werewolf Rock Musical, Here Comes, Rutherford, Herpes: A Love Story, The Tempest: All Women Cast, So You Want to be a Vampire, The Spidey Project, Three Can Keep A Secret, MEXISTANI! Growing up Mexican and Pakistani in America, Gamers
 
The New CollectiveJust Sayin, Got A Minute, I Do … Do You?, Life, Death and … Entertainment

Actors CompanyA Void, Bravo 25, Dead Boys, Dying City, missmatch, Pagliaccis, Songs of the Fall, The Complete History of Drag in a Few Mo-mo, Trump in Space

Asylum6 Figures, 86’d, Andy: The Red Nosed Warhola, CHATTER, Cheek (and other stories), Chemo Barbie, CringeFest: An Uncomfortable Anthology, Devadasi, A Story of Sex, Power and Devotion, Hello Again! The Songs of Allan Sherman, Homebody/ The Anxiety Cure, Just Old Woman from Old Country, Save Me a Spot!, Scarlet Pimpernel, SECRET IDENTITY CRISIS, Secure Storage, SNATCHED…Stories From Down There, Solomon: King Poet &, Lover – A Tale of One Man & 700 Wives, Space Play or The Number of Nothing, Terror on The High Seas, The Amitycode, The Brick – A One Man Musical, The Motherfucker With The Hat, The Rise and Fall of Dracula, The Sacred Beasts, The Second Coming of Klaus Kinski, This Our Now, Two Motherfuckers on a Ledge, Willy’s Lil Virgin Queen

 

Our favorite shows at HFF17

Well, the 2017 Hollywood Fringe Festival is in the books, and what a magnificent event it was this year.  There were 375 shows and more than 2,000 performances during the 17-day run, and we had the privilege of seeing 37 of those shows during our short nine days in Los Angeles.  Here are our top 10 shows.

10.  The Rise and Fall of Dracula.  This was our first exposure to immersive theater, and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  The show was wonderful created by Cassandra Ambe, perfectly executed by her cast, and was a true feast for the audience.

9.  Under the Jello MoldJennie Fahn is the consummate performer, who brought this story to life under the expert directorship of Tom Cavanaugh.  The story was so moving that my wife immediately texted her mom as soon as we left the theater.

8.  The Spidey ProjectTheatre Unleased outdid themselves again, and both of their productions made it into our Top 10 list.  We loved the songs, the performances and the cast of this show, which brought this origin story new life.  Well done!

7.  Three Can Keep a Secret.  The other Theatre Unleashed production, which was even more fun because of the audience interaction.  Great job of playwriting Mr. Crafts.  Perfectly casted and well done.

6.  Hey Hollywood My Hustle Has ADHDRasika Mathur was amazing in this delightful show about coming to terms with a particular brand of mental illness that I am all too conscious of.  We laughed and cried at her dramatic show, and the fringeship that came of it.

5.  The Girl Who Jumped Off the Hollywood Sign.  This show did not disappoint from the hype and buzz we heard, and we were extremely glad that we got to see it.  It was historically accurate and the amazing voice of Joanne Hartstone was a joy to our ears.  Thanks for coming from ‘down under’ to bring your magic to this year’s fringe.

4.  Chemo Barbie.  No previous fringe show has ever moved me the way this one did.  Hats off to Heather Keller for her amazing courage in sharing this very fresh story with us, and for giving us the inspiration to make each day our best day.  This is what Fringe is all about.

3.  Shakeslesque.  What else can be said about the amazing ladies (and gents) of Cherry PoppinsAlli Miller and Sarah Haworth Hodges have assembled the cream of the crop and have once again delivered a memorable and joyous good time.  It was so beautiful to see them get the recognition they deserved with their two Freak awards for Best Cabaret and Top of the Fringe.

2.  Turbulence.  Speaking of amazing, how about those guys and girls at Robot Teammate?  For the second year in a row, they have delivered a stunning original musical that has made even the local music scene stand up and take notice.  Congrats on your numerous awards, including Best Musical.

1.  MexistaniSofie Khan is amazing, both as an actress and a person.  Her show demonstrated that we still have a long way to go towards acceptance of people, especially those of mixed heritage.  But if nothing else, her show gave us hope that with people like Sofie leading the charge, we have a great chance of getting there.

We also wanted to give kudos to two venues that went out of their way to make Fringe special – Studio/Stage and Sacred Fools.  Even though they were “off the beaten path, Studio/Stage’s amazing line-up of shows made it easy to schedule and spend a block of time at the venue.  Sacred Fools made sure that patrons were well taken care of, proving free water and snow cones to help alleviate the heat.  Hats off to both of you!

Last but not least, that you to the participants, to the new fringeships from this year and the renewed ones from previous years.  You make Fringe the special place that it is, and the reason we drive 3,000 miles every year to be a part of it.

 

 

HFF 17 – see it or skip it (day 9)

We’ve reached the end of our Fringe experience for 2017.  It was an amazing ride – 3,396 miles driven, 11 wonderful nights at Castle Zharinov, 20 new fringeships and countless more renewed.  And along the way we got to see 37 shows and give out our first Fringe award.  We will be back later with our own awards for the shows that we saw, so go ahead and follow our blog so you won’t miss anything.  Here are our final three reviews.

TITLE OF SHOWWhy we Become Witches

VENUE:  Sacred Fools Studio

REVIEW:  My wife really wanted to see this show, which is based on the novel, Lolly Willowes or The Loving Huntsman, written by Sylvia Townsend Warner.  It was not at all what we expected.  The best thing about the show was the dynamic performance by Lisa K. Wyatt, an amazing actress who has multiple television and film credits.  She brought the story to life and kept the audience firmly engrossed in the show.  Kudos to Kate Motzenbacker for a wonderful job of directing.  Congratulations on your Encore award.

RECOMMENDATION:  Definitely check this one out during the Encore run.  It is worth your time.

TITLE OF SHOWThe David Mayes Show

VENUE:  Sacred Fools Studio

REVIEWDavid Mayes and his brother JJ are staples at Sacred Fools.  We had heard mixed reviews about his show, so we had not added it to our schedule.  However on Saturday night, we sat and chatted with them at Fringe Central, and ended up receiving a pair of tickets to check out the show.  Much to our chagrin, it’s really good.  David has assembled the who’s who of Sacred Fools to populate this fake talk show and turned it into such a farce that you couldn’t help but laugh.  The biggest treat was finding out that one of our favorite actresses, Carrie Kerranen, of Lamprey fame, was an audience plant who crawled from the back row to the front row to be a part of the show.  Well done Sacred Fools!!

RECOMMENDATION:  Sad but true, The David Mayes Show is a must see.  Too bad it didn’t get an Encore.

TITLE OF SHOWI’m too Fat for This Show

VENUE:  Lounge Theatre 2

REVIEW:  We met Kate Huffman at our first Lounge show this year (Hey Hollywood My Hustle has ADHD) and after chatting with her a bit decided to close out our Fringe run this year with her show.  It was one of several this year about the struggles with real world issues.  While we loved her performance and applaud her efforts to be transparent about her struggle, we left the show feeling like the story was not yet complete, that merely accepting your condition is not the same as overcoming it.  In addition, the show’s 70 minute length is a little long for a solo show, and it might help to tighten it up a bit.  Overall, it was an amazing show, and we wish Kate well in her acting career.  Congrats on your Encore.

RECOMMENDATION:  This show and Kate Huffman in particular are worthy of your time and attendance.  We recommend you See this show during its Encore run.

 

 

HFF 17 – see it or skip it (day 8) part 2

Continuing on with our reviews of a most intriguing day of Fringing.

TITLE OF SHOWOrange Mango Cabaret

VENUE:  Sacred Fools Black Box

REVIEW:  This show was by far the most political one we have seen this year.  It reminded us of an evening of Jon Stewart, combined with a taste of Saturday Night Live.  The glue that kept it all together was the riveting performance of Sierra Taylor as the hostess, Friv O’ Less, and the guitar strumming of Dylan Peruti.  Sprinkled between her songs and monologues were six short plays about our events and attitudes that have shaped this current political climate.  The rest of the cast, which included Cole Wagner, Jax Ball, Daniel Ramirez, Celina Surniak, Celia Mandela, Kelly Goodman and Bart Tangredi, ably brought us those plays, which provided much food for thought.

RECOMMENDATION:  An interesting show with enough political gunpowder to ignite many a night of discussion.

TITLE OF SHOWMartha Washington Killed a Redcoat

VENUE:  The Other Stage at Actor’s Company

REVIEW:  A sterling comedy about the night of the Boston Tea Party, and the first Redcoat killed in the revolution.  Martha Jefferson, played by Corrine Mestemacher, who previously played Bella in Buffy Kills Edward, joins with Dolley Madison (Laura Lee Walsh) and Deborah Reed (Megan Barker) to cover up the murder of a Redcoat by Martha Washington (Katie Stevens) in this hilarious spoof of American history.  Wonderfully directed by Matt Richey, the show was well done with great pacing and laughs.  There were great performances by the supporting cast as well, but no programs were supplied so we can’t credit them by name.  We enjoyed laughing at this zany cast and the storyline of the first cover-up in American politics.

RECOMMENDATION:  Definitely worth seeing.  Check it out if it receives an extension.

TITLE OF SHOWThe Rise and Fall of Dracula

VENUE:  Asylum @ Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre

REVIEW:  We have not had much experience with immersive theater so we were totally unprepared for this awesome experience.  Starting the show lined up against a wall at the huge Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre, the show unfolded before our eyes as we moved from room to room and back again while the show happened right in front of us, enveloping us in its splendor.  We got to participate in this show in a way we thoroughly enjoyed, becoming part of the performance.  It made the story more real.  Melissa Ortiz, the writer and director, and Cassandra Ambe, who played Dracula and choreographed the show, have created a masterpiece of immersive theater that simply must be experienced.  The rest of the cast, which included Tamara Burgess, Sam Flemming, Matt Jennings, Corissa Pacillas Smith, Gerard Alvarez, Mary Emfinger, Sarah Rodriguez and Guilia Blandino were amazing in their support of the story.

RECOMMENDATION:  This show was the perfect ending to one of our busiest Fringe days and must be experienced to be understood.  We understand that the show has been extended, and we highly recommend you See it on July 14 at 9:30 p.m. or July 15 at 10 p.m.

HFF 17 – see it or skip it (day 8) part 1

What a Fringe experience we have had.  We saw six  shows on Saturday and plan to see three more today, bringing our total to 37 shows in 9 days.  Quite a run.  Saturday was one of the most diverse days of Fringe we have ever experienced, and we are happy to share our reviews with you.

But before that, here are our nominees for the first Larry Cornwall Award for Musical Excellence, which will be handed out today at the Fringe Awards show at 6 p.m. at the Montalban Theatre:

Under the Jello Mold

Nosferatu

The Girl who Jumped off the Hollywood Sign

Lights Camera Lyla: The Second Act

Magic 8 Ball (My Life with Asperger’s)

TITLE OF SHOWMiddleschoolandia

VENUE:  Sacred Fools Main Stage

REVIEW:  An interesting musical, written by a 12 year old girl and her mother, based on her journal about the trauma caused by attending middle school.  The entire cast, with the exception of the Dad, Teacher and Advisor, were children, and they taught the adults how to do a show.  It was cute, like Alanis Morissette on steroids, full of angst and satire, but not quite as tight as it could be.  Some of the songs were too basic, but the overall gist was that the three years of middle school were a rite of passage that every child must endure.  As Dad says in closing, “There are scarier things in life than Middleschoolandia, like Trumperica!”  It was a worthy effort and several of the kids were outstanding, both in the vocal deliveries and their characterizations.  Hats off to Carson Goring, who wrote the show and portrayed Ashley, Mia Ruhman, Cheyenne Rimando, Lilly Mae Stewart, Veronica McFarlane, Jacob Accardo, Kai Johnson, Jacob Smith and Lily Hightower who portrayed the children; Carlos Chavez, Amsara Holly, and Nikki Lewis, who portrayed the Wild Teens, and to Steven Bray for his portrayal of Dad.

RECOMMENDATION:  It was an interesting show that has the potential to become something even better.

TITLE OF SHOWChemo Barbie:  My Lady Bits’ Journey Through Breast Cancer

VENUE:  Asylum @ Studio C

REVIEW:  If there were an award for the most tender, emotional and inspirational show at Fringe, then Chemo Barbie would win hands down.  I have personally never cried so much during a Fringe show as I did at this show, which tugged at my heart and connected with my past experiences with friends and family.  As a cancer survivor myself, this show hit me like a ton of bricks, giving me new found courage to live even stronger than before.  Heather Keller is a powerful actress with the emotional strength to make her journey relatable to her audience as well as inspire them to live.  The show was wonderfully directed by Jessica Lynn Johnson, who squeezed out an amazing story of triumph and hope from the tragedy that could have been Keller’s life.  Believe me when I tell you that seeing Chemo Barbie is a life-changing experience I will cherish forever.

RECOMMENDATION:  This show is a MUST SEE and truly worthy of an extension.  Don’t miss your opportunity to be inspired.

TITLE OF SHOWAn Evening with John Wilkes Booth

VENUE:  The Flight Theatre at the Complex

REVIEW:  History has always told us about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln from the victim’s side.  This show explored it from the view of the assassin, actor John Wilkes Booth, exploring his reasons and frame of mind in creating and carrying out his conspiracy to kill Lincoln, General Grant and Secretary of State Seward.  It was an insightful journey through the mind of a killer, and Stephen Spiegel was excellent in bringing the audience along.  The show was wonderfully written and directed by Lloyd J. Schwartz.  Although it did drag at times, the overall pacing was good and the acting was well done, resulting in an interesting show.

RECOMMENDATION:  This show is worthy of your attention, and we recommend that you See it if it returns for an extension.

 

HFF 17 – see it or skip it (day 7) *UPDATED*

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 SHOWAscent

VENUE:  Studio/Stage

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 SHOWBilly . . . 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 SHOWConfessions 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.  *UPDATE*  We have just found out that this show will be extended, with performances on August 23, 25 and 26 at 8 p.m. and on August 27 at 7 p.m.  Now you have no excuse, so go 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.

HFF 17 – see it or skip it (day 6)

The 2017 Hollywood Fringe Festival is rapidly coming to a close.  We attended two shows today, with three shows scheduled for Friday, six (or seven) on Saturday and two on Sunday before the awards are given out.  It’s been a wonderful run this year and we’re so glad we had the chance to come down.  We’re looking forward to handing out our first award on Sunday.  Hope you’re all there for that!

TITLE OF SHOWTough Brown Leather

VENUE:  Lounge Theatre 2

REVIEW:  We love that so many people have been able to tell their personal stories through the magic of Fringe solo shows.  This vehicle has allowed people like Tonya Jones the freedom to reveal her experiences with sexual abuse and to showcase her triumph over that event.  Her story is inspiring and her journey to acceptance and victory is a work of art.  It is a sad testament to our society that so many people have to go through this in silence because the justice system treats these victims as criminals, instead of making the perpetrators pay for their crimes.  Thank you Tonya for reminding us of those who suffered silently.  Thank you for being the voice that can help them unlock their past and move on with their lives.  We need more inspirational people like you, Diana Varco and Kimleigh Smith to continue sounding the alarm and showing other victims that they can have a full life again after sexual abuse.

RECOMMENDATION:  We highly recommend this show and urge you to See it.  Her final performance is June 24 at 6 p.m.  Don’t miss it.

TITLE OF SHOWNosferatu, a Symphony in Terror

VENUE:  Studio/Stage

REVIEW:  In what has to be the most unique show we have ever seen at Fringe, Crown City Theatre Company brings us the stage version of the classic 1922 film, Nosferatu.  What makes it so unique is the complete lack of dialogue, other than what is projected on the back wall, and the amazing voice of the narrator.  The story is told through classical music, dance and the amazing dramatic movements of the cast, who all turned in stellar performances.  The cast included Michael J. Marchak as Thomas Hutter; Alina Bolshakova as Ellen Hutter, Michelle Holmes as Count Orlok, Amanda Walter as the Gypsy; Shayna Gabrielle as the Innkeeper’s Daughter; Renee Cohen as Sister Agatha, Rolando J. Vargas as Herr Doktor Schmidt; Kristian Steel as the evil Herr Knock and Matthew Campbell as the Postman.  Special kudos to Holmes, who braved three hours of makeup to create the diabolical Count Orlok.

Our only complaint was that the staging often prevented the audience from being able to read the written dialogue.

RECOMMENDATION:  You should definitely See this show.  Its uniqueness will give you a fuller Fringe experience.  Their final show is June 24 at 3:30 p.m.

HFF 17 – see it or skip it (day 5) part 2

After those three magnificent dramas, we were ready to cut loose with some comedy, mischief and mayhem.  That can only mean another production by the amazing troupe at Cherry Poppins Productions, held at Three Clubs, the best place for late night entertainment in Hollywood.

TITLE OF SHOWShakeslesque (To Thine own Cherry be True)

VENUE:  Three Clubs

REVIEW:  We fell in love with the ladies (and gents) of Cherry Poppins Productions last year, and couldn’t wait to get back this year for another delectable slice.  The addition of Michael Shaw Fisher this year has made for an absolutely appetizing and appealing show.  Kudos to Alli Miller and Sarah Haworth Hodges for creating this delicious morsel that is so much more than burlesque, with triple threats in abundance that add to the sheer beauty of the art that they create.

Hats off to the entire cast, which included Fisher, Miller and Hodges, as well as Tyler Olshansky, K.C. Lindley, Cory Robinson, Schoen Hodges, Amber Bracken, Kelly Stevenson, Taylor Baker, Reagan Osborne, Angie Hobin, Rebecca Reaney, Sabrina Moiseyev, Brin Hamblin, Sarah Wines, Kim Dalton and Megan Esber.  Every one turned in amazing performances.  We also love the ad libbing that goes on, especially from Miller, and the overall chemistry of this troupe – they are one of a kind.

RECOMMENDATION:  This one is a pure no-brainer.  If you love music, beautiful ladies, handsome lads, drag and burlesque, then you simply MUST SEE this show.  Your fringe experience is not complete without it 🙂  Their final show is June 23 at 11 p.m. and it is currently sold out, but you should make the effort to get on the wait list – it will be worth it.

HFF17 – see it or skip it (day 5) part 1

After two days of clearing out our storage unit, we hosted the LA Music Critic Awards winners showcase on the Second Stage at the world-famous Hotel Café on Tuesday night.  During that amazing night of indie music, we were treated to performances by Wendy Sweetlove, Elyse Haren, Jon Mullane, Janey Street, Jerad Finck, Lovers & Poets, Katie Costello, The Spider Accomplice and Papermoon Gypsys.   In addition, Janey Street was awarded the 2017 Icon Award.  Kudos to her team at Blue Élan Records, who showed up in force, led by label owner Kirk Pasich, label-mate Cindy Alexander and their publicist, Melissa Dragich-Cordero of MAD Ink PR.  Other notables in attendance included Alexis Keagan, Aleksey Zharinov of Sika, Kris Angelis, Alisha Zalkin and Dan Kalisher of Sleep Machine, Jennifer Lyneis of Ue3 Promotions and Patrick O’Hefferan of LA Musica Radio.  Thanks to everyone who attended.

Moving on to Wednesday, it was time to get fringing again, and we took in three plays which are reviewed below, and topped it off with the Cherry Poppins production of Shakeslesque, which we will review in part 2.

TITLE OF SHOWMagic 8 Ball (My Life with Asperger’s)

VENUE:  Sacred Fools Black Box

REVIEW:  We first learned about this show when he submitted for our Larry Cornwall Award, and we are so thankful he reached out.  This show has got to be one of the hidden gems of HFF 17.  Wonderfully directed by first time directorial team Penni and Crystal Wilson, the show was written and performed by George Steeves, who is also a singer-songwriter with songs available on iTunes.  Needless to say, this was one of the best shows we have seen at Fringe this year.  It is a very personal story of triumph over adversity that was also educational in understanding the struggles of people living on the autism spectrum.

RECOMMENDATION:  If you only have time for a few shows at Fringe, this is a MUST SEE!  We are proud to give Magic 8 Ball one of our highest recommendations.  He still has shows available on June 24 at 4:30 p.m. and June 25 at 2:30 p.m.

TITLE OF SHOW“Lovesick” The Misadventures of a Love-Crazed Maniac

VENUE:  Sacred Fools Black Box

REVIEW:  Lovesick is another show wonderfully directed and developed by Jessica Lynn Johnson, and amazingly written and performed by Gabriella DeMarco.  Told through a host of characters, including cats, the story was funny, uplifting and all too universal.    What made it all the more special was that DeMarco has had some personal losses while preparing for Fringe that would have driven most people into a deep state of inactivity and depression.  The fact that she was performing during this turmoil goes to the true professionalism she displayed in her acting, and in sharing her story with the Fringe.

RECOMMENDATION:  This was her final show, but hopefully Combined Artform will pick her up for an extension.  If they do, we highly recommend that you See her show.

TITLE OF SHOWShattered

VENUE:  Sacred Fools Black Box

REVIEW:  Our final drama and one-person show of the day turned out to be Diana Varco‘s amazing production of Shattered, which was also wonderfully directed by Jessica Lynn Johnson.  Not since 2010, when Kimleigh Smith rocked the Fringe with her dramatic tale in T-O-T-A-L-L-Y, has such a powerful piece about sexual abuse and its aftermath rocked my Fringe world.   Told through 35 characters, which included many of the emotions that haunt most of us, this show made its mark and earned the distinction of being among our favorite shows of HFF 17.  It was funny, sad, heart-wrenching and hopeful, and left us with a true sense of purpose to becoming the person we were meant to be.  Kudos to Ms. Varco for a true Fringe work of art.

RECOMMENDATION:  We strongly advise you to See the final performance of this show on June 24 at 9:30 p.m.

 

 

 

 

HFF17 – see it or skip it (day 4) part 3

We closed out our day with a pair of musicals, and they totally made our night.  They more than made up for the lack of Fringe shows we would be attending on Monday and Tuesday.

TITLE OF SHOWTurbulence!

VENUE:  Sacred Fools Main Stage

REVIEW:  Not since Orgasmico has a theater company become synonymous with great musicals.  Last year Robot Teammate brought us Thug Tunnel, which was pretty fricking amazing.  This year they have left that one in the dust with their current production of Turbulence!  From the first moment they took the stage, Kat Primeau. Chris Bramante, Miles Crosman, Dave Reynolds and Molly Dworsky owned the stage as they took the audience on a wild space race around the galaxy.  The chemistry between the members of this ensemble was palpable and the force was strong in them.  Two members of their killer band, Sam Johnides and Branson NeJame, even did double duty as the evil Martians, on top of the killer licks emanating from back stage.  This is one of those Fringe shows you don’t mind seeing more than once.

RECOMMENDATION:  Unless you want to be kidded for missing out on the BEST (according to my wife) show at HFF17, then you simply MUST See this show.  Make sure to catch one (or more) of their remaining shows on June 21 at 8:30 p.m. and June 22 at 10 p.m.

TITLE OF SHOWBuffy Kills Edward: A Musical Romp

VENUE:  The Three Clubs

REVIEW:  From the moment Laura Wiley told me about her idea for a cross-over event between the worlds of Buffy and Twilight, I had been dying to see this show.  The hype is real, people, this one is a blast.  The venue was packed with both Buffy and Twilight nerds, and I was firmly in the Twilight end.  But I still enjoyed the cross-over world where Buffy was allowed to kill Edward, and the ensuing war where she kills still more of them.  The very talented cast totally captured the nuances of their characters, including Bella’s annoying lip biting.  Kudos to Sherry Berg as Buffy, Kim Dalton as Alice, Dawn and Jane (which she NAILED), Corinne Mestemacher as Bella, Cory Robinson as Xander, Jacob, and Emmet, Lauren Sperling as Willow and Rosalie, Casey Suddeth as Edward, Spike and Aro and Matthew Thomas as Giles, Angel and Dr. Cullen.  Of course, none of these amazing performances would have been possible had Wiley not written such a wonderful musical.  Hats off to you, Laura, as well.

RECOMMENDATION:  Definitely See it, especially if you are a fan of either Buffy or Twilight.  It is well worth the effort.  The final show on June 22 at 7:30 p.m. is sold out, but get on the waiting list and you just might win the lottery.