I survived my first weekend at Fringe with 10 shows under my belt. Monday’s shows didn’t start until 5:30 p.m., so I had plenty of time to write, catch an In-n-out fix, visit the old hood in Los Feliz, and talk to friends about getting together while I’m in Los Angeles.
The theme of the day was definitely comedy and I laughed at these shows more than I have laughed in a long time. The first of them, How to be a Virgin (in 12 Morally Ambiguous Steps) started my day off right with some of the best lines and deliveries I have seen at Fringe. Studio C was packed, and the audience anxiously awaited the start of this autobiographical story from six-time playwright Carla Neuss.
This show is proof that the Fringe system works, and it is perfect for this environment. Not only is it wonderfully written, it is brilliantly directed by Payden Ackerman and lovingly performed by two comic geniuses, Katelyn Schiller in the title role and Josh Bross providing all the support she needs.
Fourth wall be damned – Schiller interacted with the audience and broke down all their barriers while delivering such a believable and memorable performance that some of the audience members thought the story was hers.
This was probably one of the best hours I have ever spent at Fringe, and I highly recommend this show. Remaining performances are scheduled for June 18 at 11 p.m. and June 25 at 7 p.m. Don’t miss it.
Next up was a play that debuted as part of the Serial Killer series at Sacred Fools, Lamprey: Weekend of Vengeance. Heads were constantly turning on the shoulders of this packed house as this tightly paced dramedy steamrolled from one hilarious scene to the next, with dialogue delivered at lightning speed. The audience hardly had time to breathe as the play unfolded and we were all rooting for Lamprey to discover the perpetrator of the crime.
This show was written by the uber-talented Peter Fluet and perfectly directed and produced by Victor Isaac with an amazing assist from Scott Golden. Carrie Keranen in the lead role is pure dynamite, and her supporting cast of Pete Caslavka, Maya Imani Estephanos, Fluet, Amanda Blake Davis, Glenn Stanton, Derek Mehn, Dana DeRuyck, Marshall Givens and CJ Merriman all turned in stellar performances.
This show is what Fringe is all about, and is mega-highly recommended for all those who want to spend a solid hour in the presence of theatrical greatness. Be sure to catch one of their remaining performances on June 18 at 2 p.m., June 20 at 7 p.m. or June 24 at 11 p.m.
I had a two and a half hour wait until my final show of the night, so I spent it at Fringe Central hanging out with the cast of Virgin, as well as Fringe staffer Meghan McCauley before heading back down to Sacred Fools for The Toxic Avenger Musical.
This show is one of those rare Fringe events – a fully staged off-Broadway musical that chooses to return to the Fringe, and boy are we glad it did. With music and lyrics by David Bryan and book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro, and near perfect direction by Janet Miller and musical direction by Corey Hirsch, Toxic Avenger delivers.
With only a five-member cast that included Jared Reed in the title role, Kim Dalton as the blind librarian Sarah, and a supporting cast of Shirley Anne Hatton, Wesley Tunison and Danny Fetter, the production never takes itself seriously, creating many fun “insider” moments for an audience that was totally invested in the show.
The only thing that marred this great show was the technical issues with the sound, but the cast rose above it and gave their all to entertain the crowd. Huge kudos to both Dalton and Hatton for going above and beyond in providing award-winning performances.
Even for those who have never seen the Toxic Avenger movie, the show is campy fun and enjoyable for all. Don’t miss the chance to catch one of their remaining performances on June 15 at 11 p.m., June 16 at 7 p.m., June 18 at 6 p.m., June 22 at 10 p.m., June 24 at 8 p.m., June 25 at 5 p.m. or June 26 at 1 p.m. You won’t regret the decision to invest two hours in this fun romp.