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Show reviews by Peter Erickson

The Princeton Seventh
The ultimate bar story by Peter Erickson
Rating: 5 kitties
Laughs and twists all the way through this tale of writers comparing success in a hotel bar. Great story, acting, timing, and characters. A top-of-the-Fringe event!

Trouble in Tahiti
Opera for the hip by Peter Erickson
Rating: 5 kitties
If you're not an opera fan, relax. This contemporary urban opera by the great Leonard Bernstein was made to delight and entertain. The central story, the failing marriage of an alienated couple, is indeed "operatic," but Bernstein and director Bob Neu support the tragedy with a counterpoint of song and dance by a Trio of very cool and tightly choreographed entertainers. All are fine singers, but I especially enjoyed the vocal richness of Meredith Cain-Nielsen, playing the role of the disaffected housewife Dinah.

Speech!
Speech Contest Comedy by Peter Erickson
Rating: 5 kitties
A hilarious take on the high school speech contest. The story is not quite true to my experience, but still brought back memories. Very talented comedic actors, great lines and timing, produce a crowd pleaser, likely to be among the top Fringe shows.

You/Provoke/Me (Again)
Dance Provokes by Peter Erickson
Rating: 5 kitties
Gut-provoking dance. A good balance of the angry, frustrated, near-violent in "Gray Noise," with the well-needed satire of "Politics Religion Sex."

Paul Bunyan: An Unlikely Beginning to a Tall Tale
Charming, charming by Peter Erickson
Rating: 5 kitties
I went to this show because I like puppets. It turned out to be much more. A very charming tale of how Paul Bunyan breaks free of the corporate cubicle, told in engaging physical humor, song, and puppets. I was especially enchanted by the use of human bodies as household objects, nature, and even computer bugs. A great show that you might only see at the Fringe.

Fruitcake-Ten Commandments from the Psych Ward
Insanity from the inside by Peter Erickson
Rating: 5 kitties
The funny thing about this one-man show is that, while it is hilarious, the material is at its core really rather sad. Nevertheless, I recommend it highly--a view of a place most of us never see. Rob Gee presents his insane characters with accuracy and respect. His accent and rapid delivery may make for a lost line here or there, but most came through clearly. Between each story or poem, there are "Voice of God" pronouncements, which helped to delineate each part, but were hard to understand and overly loud. The show would work well enough without them.

ROBO-homa! A Territory Tale with a Technological Twist
A Cure for the Common Musical by Peter Erickson
Rating: 5 kitties
Seen Oklahoma! way too many times? This may be the antidote. Robots attempt to recreate the world in fragments of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Original song, dance, and laughs--all well done.

Opera Bob Presents: Riders to the Sea-A One Act Opera
Dark opera worth a chance by Peter Erickson
Rating: 5 kitties
Riders of the Sea is very somber opera. This production presents fine singing and convincing acting, especially from the mother, Maurya, played by April Hanson, in a sparse but effective set. Most Fringe attendees, while considering themselves to be an open-minded lot, will likely not readily embrace a serious opera such as this. The problem may be further compounded by the opera itself, which is almost all sung dialog, or recitative, except for a short chorus in the beginning and a longer solo by Maurya near the end. Still, I feel the show is worth its five kitties, and hope that Opera Bob's daring presentation will encourage more than a few to chance a crossing of the long bridge from the usual Fringe fare.

Finding a Fit
Would fit a full audience well by Peter Erickson
Rating: 5 kitties
A polished song-and-dance show about the woes of women's apparel, by, and probably mostly for, women. Not that guys won't appreciate it--the performance level is high--the four women are accomplished singer/dancers. They commiserate with great numbers about blue jeans, high heels, the invention of bras, among others. Seeing Vera Mariner do a rap song might be worth the trip in itself. The only thing lacking Tuesday night was much of an audience, probably due to the late time and heavy rain, so the energy was a bit low--no fault of the ladies. This show should see packed houses. For women, it may be therapeutic; for most men, maybe we can be thankful we don't have to worry about what we have to put on today. In any case, try this show on for size.

Taiko BAM!
Taiko beats all by Peter Erickson
Rating: 5 kitties
High power and high energy, and a sell-out show Wednesday evening. Really primal drumming. The performers were all highly skilled at both their instruments and catchy movement. A fantastic sound and visual experience. Also very loud. You might want to bring ear plugs for some of it.

Stay Carl Stay
Fetch this one by Peter Erickson
Rating: 5 kitties
Charming and well crafted, Stay Carl Stay is a very solid show both in story and in acting. Lots of humor well tuned to the story--not just a bunch of gags. For that reason, I think this one is better than a lot of "hit" Fringe shows. Check this one out.

Can Michael Come Out and Play?
All in a name by Peter Erickson
Rating: 5 kitties
A serious and moving show about racial misunderstanding, expressed through the "simple" difficulty of getting a name right. His senses of drama, humor, and movement finely tuned, Mahmoud Hakima tells it with just the right touch.

Idiosynchronicity
Clever tales by Peter Erickson
Rating: 4 kitties
Stories--Sci-fi, fantasy, relationships--read and told by the author. This is not a show for the actor, but well crafted stories and jazz poems, effectively told. The Rarig Arena was well suited to the intimacy of this telling. The audience was responsive and apparently quite familiar with the author. The dense and rapid pace of the stories require attention. One may have to be in the mood for this, but I enjoyed them. Many movie, music, and Star Wars references.

The Damn Audition
Story lost in laughs by Peter Erickson
Rating: 4 kitties
Great lines, characters, and laughs. My only criticism is that the story seems to be just a scaffold to hang the humor on and ends basically nowhere. I'd like to see the possibilities of an everyday-Satan-in-all-of-us theme developed further. Also, the West Coast vs Midwest stereotyping is maybe getting a bit old. Still, it's great entertainment anyway.

Superlatives of Excellence: A Jamboree of Breviloquent Masterworks by Josef Evans
A pause that refreshes by Peter Erickson
Rating: 4 kitties
And as crazy as everyone says. Don't try to analyze this--just let it roll over you and let its insanity recharge your too thoughtful brain. But if you decide to take this one home with you, keep it in the garage.

The Lonely Visitors
Welcome the Lonely by Peter Erickson
Rating: 4 kitties
Physical. Lots of chair activity. Creative. Sensual. Interesting. Fine dancers from Chicago. No, I don't know what it all means. Well worth seeing.

Aardvark Fandango
Charm of the aardvark by Peter Erickson
Rating: 4 kitties
When John Munger, a rather paunchy elder of dance, appeared for the first two numbers, I was unsure how to take this: was this serious, was it comedy, just what was he doing? The audience appeared to have the same reaction--applause was just barely polite. I was about to spend the rest of the show at the Town Hall Brewery. At the third dance, a comedic romp with an empty liquor bottle, and afterward, it got better--sometimes moving, sometimes humorous. A couple numbers appeared to be statements about aging and movement. By the end, this charming man, a true artist, had won us over. Guest appearances by Zenon Studio students and by Jessica Ferris also worth seeing.

Mike & Matt
Wandering tales by Peter Erickson
Rating: 4 kitties
Two tellers, two unrelated stories. They engage and entertain, but not especially memorable. The second story, by Matt, about Baby Sotis, was the more complete tale.

Open and Affirming Fairy Tales
Fairy tales you wish you heard by Peter Erickson
Rating: 4 kitties
Delightful and well done, a youthful re-telling of some well known fairy tales. The magic fish helps the artist find himself. The princess finds her princess. And people find the power to keep a ridiculous leader from telling them how to live. Well suited to children, but still great for all.

The Selkie
Never leaves Scotland by Peter Erickson
Rating: 3 kitties
The opening show of this Scottish music/dance interpretation of the Selkie (seals who shapeshift into humans) stories was well attended, apparently by a lot of fans of Scottish music and dancing. It did indeed appear to be mainly by and for the Scottish dance community. But it failed to transcend its roots, and could have benefited from a lot more energy, especially musically.

Grind: The Musical
Slow grind at times by Peter Erickson
Rating: 3 kitties
The show started strongly, with some fine vocalists and tight punchy chorus work, but dragged through much of its midsection with probably too much wandering material and wavering pitches. All the coffee puns began to get tiring, and the chorus staging a bit corny. When we got to the open mike scene, it began to feel as long as most open mike shows do. The show picked up some energy again at the end. There is talent and potential here, but the script could use some work.

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