Archive for the ‘Theatre’ Category

Fringe: Butter, a Love Story

Under other circumstances I might be tempted to come up with some quip here about artery-clogging and the name of this show, or something in that vein. Even five days later, however, the suckitude of this event, start to finish, continues to lay on me like a smothering blanket. My darling girlfriend and I only had two unpleasant experiences at Fringe this year and this one won the race to the bottom. By about a mile. Or twelve.

Part of me feels bad pulling out the knives for this. Butter: A Love Story is, after all, the creation of a person who signed up to present at Fringe because she had something to say and a passion to perform, and a big part of the Fringe mission is providing such people with a venue they wouldn’t otherwise have. The problem is that while Cantwell’s creation had a somewhat interesting idea and story, she’s clearly got no awareness of that fact that she’s just flat-out bad and there’s apparently a lot of people failing to give her anything resembling constructive guidance. The show she put on could have been somewhat fun and interesting – if not fantastic – if it was done with the awareness that her singing and acting are, to say the least, rough.

The concept of the show is that Sandy Patti has, though pluck and determination, managed to get herself a cooking show despite the fact that she isn’t much of a cook. “Almost home cooking,” she calls it, this assembling of pre-made food into something more for the sake of entertaining. The fact that she’s out of her depth and not quite up to the challenge that she’s set herself up for would be a fine way to make Cantwell’s weaknesses work for her. It wouldn’t even contradict the empowerment message that she’s woven into the show. If it might be a little to winking and ironic, well, that’s almost a requirement at Fringe anyway.

Instead it’s sad and painful, as both Cantwell and her creation Sandy Patti cause you to wince your way through an hour as she’s flat, fails to hit notes, hams it up in all the wrong ways, and just generally make you wish someone would take her aside and say “you are completely failing in what you’re setting out to do.” Somehow I doubt it’s going to happen – the program for Butter included not only thanks to her voice instructor but an ad from him as well. Seeing this show isn’t an enticement to hire him, it’s a warning. The best thing Cantwell could do is realize that if he’s telling her she’s sufficiently competent to do these shows at her current level then he’s pretty clearly unable to accurately asses her and her skill.

Barring that, the rest of us need to just stay away from his teaching and her performing.

Fringe: I am a slack-ass

Must be hump day here at Metblogs as well as everywhere else – only two posts before noon? I blame myself – I owe y’all more than half a dozen Fringe reports. Soon, I swear! In the mean time if you’re interested in joining the Car-free DC crowd there was a flyer in one of my Fringe handouts from sponsor Zipcar: join now and use promo code ‘capfringe’ and get $50 in driving credit. Presumably you Alexandria residents can stack this with the reimbursal your city offers.

Fringe: Fini

With today, the second annual DC Fringe Festival draws to a close. I’ve got a backlog of shows to tell you about, primarily ones that I saw today or at their last showing, reducing my pressure to get a writeup out to you. You can look forward to (or dread) my analysis of Air Heart, The Blue Lagoon: A Musical, Butter: a love story, Carrie Potter at the Half Blood Prom, Petpourri, Queen of the Bohemian Dream, Reefer Madness: The Musical, and Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind.

As soon as I get some SLEEP.

Fringe: Super Secret Awesomeness

The first of my three Fringe outings yesterday was the Super Secret Show at Noon, which was, as the narrator said, “possibly the earliest burlesque performance ever… I’m still asleep. So I’ll just be phoning it in.” Maybe true, but his phoning was about a million times more entertaining than my last show of the day, Butter. But more about that train wreck later – we’re here to talk about some burlesque.

Let’s cut to the chase: Get off your ass and go to this show tonight. Aside from the fact that it’s smart, funny, and dumb in all the best ways, the burlesque aspect is well done and enjoyable. You’ll get suckered initially into thinking this is just going to be some silliness with some pseudo-striptease only to see the routines get more complex and impressive. Which doesn’t even address the hysterical use of flashlights to do a piece set to “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” Hell, Trixie Little’s trapeze act is worth the price of admission alone. The tenuous plot to hold it all together manages to be a perfect balance – not too pointless or moronic but also not taking itself more seriously than it deserves.

The show is a gas and a fun hour. It also has the advantage tonight of being at 9pm at Warehouse, which is having it’s farewell party tonight. There’s still going to be theater there starting again in September but the music and – sob – the bar will be gone. Come mourn and have a laugh break in the middle and I’ll see you after my last show lets out of Playbill at 9.

9pm July 29th at Warehouse Arts – Mainstage
1021 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001

Fringe-ish: Reefer Madness

We’re going to see Reefer Madness tonight at Studio as part of our Fringe outings, but unlike most of the other performances it’s not limited to a few showings. It opened in early July and we’re entering the last week of showings now – the show will close on August 5th, a week from Sunday. I’ll try to find some time to talk about it – continuing my lovingly named ‘reviews too late to do you any good‘ – but this far into the run there’s already plenty of reviews. Of the ones I can quickly find they’re positive, positive, positive, and Peter Marks.

Fooey on him. I’m expecting a good time.

Fringe: Super Secret Show location change

I suppose there’s some irony in this, but the Fringe show called “Trixie Little & The Evil Hate Monkey present:
The Super Secret Show
” has had a venue change, as well as a different time for all but 1 show, potentially resulting in people (like myself) with tickets showing up at the old venue only to discover the show in fact happened a mile away 12 hours prior. Secret indeed.

SO, if you’ve got tickets to The Super Secret Show you need to get yourself to the Warehouse stage NOT the Scientarium. The times are Friday @ 5:30pm (still), Saturday @ Noon, and Sunday @ 9:00pm.

Warehouse Arts – Mainstage
1021 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001

Fringe: The Eddie Lounge Show

My Fringe outing last night was stag – I couldn’t convince my darling girlfriend that three shows in thirty hours was a good plan. But how could I, a stout Richard Cheese fan, miss The Eddie Lounge Show?

The show’s a good, simple time, a dozen or so song performances loosely bound together by a a lightweight love triangle. The shape of a martini glass viewed from the side – surely no coincidence. The singers range from okay – Rocco – to good – Eddie – to pretty amazing – Brandy Alexander. It’s perfectly appropriate for Brandy to outshine Eddie and Rocco – she’s performing below her station both artistically and as a beauty who could do way better than Eddie and Rocco combined.

There’s a little audience participation in the show, beyond the audience playing the part of the lounge act’s, well, audience. Rocco’s interaction with the crowd is particularly funny, as well as his tendency to offer advice ranging from simple to pure lunacy by prefacing it with “You know, in my experience…” All in all an enjoyable hour of entertainment worth you $15.

Remaining shows are 8pm every night from tonight, Wednesday, July 25, through Saturday, July 28th. Two additional shows are scheduled for Friday, July 27 and Saturday, July 28 at 10:00pm. Don’t be fooled by the Arena Stage name – this is their ‘black box’ theater on 14th St NW, just a block up from Source and a few from Studio, not the main Arena Stage location in SW.

Arena Stage – Black Box Theater
14th St. NW & T St. NW
Washington DC, DC 20009

Kabuki @ The Warner Theatre

Heisei Nakamura-za Kabuki troupeAnybody here into ancient Japanese theatre arts and music?… C’mon, raise your hand, I see you.

So Heisei Nakamura-Za Kabuki is in DC this Thursday at the Warner Theatre downtown (as if it was anywhere else). I’ve kind of been enchanted with, at least, the music that could be heard, since it’s not ethnically from my “eastern heritage”, namely Russian and German. I’m pretty much am looking for a visual expansion of what is the only traditional Japanese music I have in my collection (and now, dull my ignorance of the genre.. thank you Blade Runner).

Good tickets are still available, although a little pricey, but the cool factor outweighs price at this point. The performance website describes the event thusly:

“The Japan-America Society of Washington DC proudly presents two performances of Japan’s most famous theatre—-Kabuki. Join us on Thursday, July 26 as one of Japan’s greatest actors, Kanzaburo Nakamura XVIII and over 80 members of the Heisei Nakamura-za Kabuki troupe of Tokyo come to the Warner Theatre. On the playbill are Kanjincho, one of Kabuki’s most famous dramatic works, and Migawari Zazen, a more light-hearted play with a universal theme.”

“All balcony seats for this performance will have an obstructed view of the hanamichi

Fringe: Cautionary Tales & Trixie Tickles

While I did a little eye-rolling waiting for the show to start, once “Cautionary Tales for Adults and the Many Adventures of Trixie Tickles” got going I didn’t have time to do much of anything but laugh. The long name is reflective of the fact that this is really two shows back to back. The first, Cautionary Tales, is presented as a sort of odd storytime for adults. The not-so-well-meaning librarian brings four stories to life with the not entirely willing assistance of her audience of four. A transparency projector provides us a view of some of the pages as her charges act out the scenarios.

Being subversive is easy – it doesn’t take much talent to thumb your nose at The Man. The trick is making it interesting, as anyone who’s ever had to listen to the ravings of a patchouli -stinking longhair with a bullhorn can tell you. Cautionary Tales manages it handily and is funny not just in the punchlines but in the moments in between.

After an interstitial song/spoken word performance, presumably to provide time for the actors to change costumes while providing the audience a cleansing few minutes of complete confusion, we launch into the Many Adventures of Trixie Tickles, a children’s show gone insane. If someone were to re-animate Hunter S Thompson and task him with creating an amalgam of Dora the Explorer and The Wiggles this is probably what you’d get.

The two shows make a fun pairing. Cautionary Tales riffs on the fact that life is often unfair and sometimes miserable, in complete opposition of what we tell kids in their stories. Trixie flirts with this, particularly in the hysterically funny scene in which the kindergarten teacher asks her kids what they want to be when they grow up, only to inform them that things rarely work out how you want and that they’ll probably only manage these things in their dreams.

Most of the rest, however, is given over to turning the children’s show on its head and teaching all the wrong lessons with the standard kid’s show messages. You should make friends with new people… and that stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet, so why not take that candy he’s offering? Imagination is your key to grand adventures… why not play pretend with daddy’s gun?

You’ve got one more shot to get out and see it and I highly recommend it. Have a cup of coffee, pop a few no-doz, and head out on Saturday, July 28 @ midnight.

Source Theatre
1835 14th St. NW
Washington, DC 20009

The whole town’s gone to pot(ter)

Here’s the sight I saw three seats to the left of me when my darling girlfriend and I sat down for Fringe play Cautionary Tales for Adults/The Many Adventures of Trixie Tickles. I guess the moral here is that Wayan doesn’t have to be housebound with his addicted ladyfriend if he’s willing to lead about a book-laden zombie.

In fairness, I didn’t look to check and see if she stopped reading when the play started…

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