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Down in the Hole Productions

The Lifestyle

Location + schedule

Minneapolis Theatre Garage
711 W Franklin Ave.

DateTimeMy FringeAccess
Thursday 8/55:30 p.m.  
Sunday 8/85:30 p.m.  
Tuesday 8/1010:00 p.m.  
Wednesday 8/117:00 p.m.  
Saturday 8/144:00 p.m.  
About the show

Contains Adult language
For ages 18+
Comedy, Satire, Relationships

Written by T. J. Larson

Overall rating

The Lifestyle

Here's what John Townsend said about "The Lifestyle" in the StarTribune:

"Writer/director T.J. Larson's marvelous comedy addresses how the insecurities of a strait-laced couple are chipped away at a swingers' party hosted by a website. A sparkling cast reveals the warm humanity beneath what is stereotypically regarded as tawdry. Larson shows that swingers can indeed have their own stringent code of ethics in order to safely play. Alisa Gingerich and David Gangler endear as the "vanilla" couple who voyage into a brave new erotic world. Joy Rakerd is resplendent as the hostess who has harnessed the wondrous power of female sexuality."

Link to the review here: The Lifestyle Review

The Lifestyle

Show Description:

The Swinger Lifestyle.

A culture of evolved and enlightened relationships, wife-swapping and threesomes. No jealousy, no strings, and most importantly, no back hair.


Mick and Tess were. A nice couple with a nice marriage, a nice house and nice jobs. Nice.

They stumbled onto a world populated by couples with names like: The Hard Rockers, The Gotmilfs, and Cheese Humplings, just to name a few. They discovered a secret world of clothing optional camping trips and pornographic potlucks. These aren't the slick wife swappers depicted on pay-per-view. These are people that could be your neighbors. Your co-workers. Your parents. You betcha.

And now, YOU are cordially invited to attend the Swinger's Prom. Experience along with Mick and Tess as they are given a crash course in swinger etiquette, culture, and rules. Participate in the Grand March, dance lines, prom awards and group . . . activities.

This is “Fargo” meets “Caligula”.

And when the night is over will the price for spice be too high? Come and find out for yourself. Oh, and bring a dish to pass...and not just your wife!

Click here for an Interview with T. J Larson about the show:
Visit Behind the Fringe

The Lifestyle

The Lifestyle

The Lifestyle

Alisa Gingerich
Role: Tess

"The Lifestyle" marks Alisa’s first foray into the MN Fringe Festival. Recent roles include Ginny in Relatively Speaking (Theatre in the Round) and Thea Elvsted in Hedda Gabler (Gremlin Theatre). She can be seen next as Loretta in Theatre in the Round’s production of The Melville Boys in October 2010. When not performing in shows Alisa works in Public Finance Investment Banking…go figure.

Dave Gangler
Role: Mick

Dave last appeared in the Fringe in 2007’s Around the World in 80 Days in Under 60 Minutes. Recent credits include Of Mice and Men, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure (Park Square), Biloxi Blues (Theatre Or), Caligula (Walking Shadow). After the Fringe, you can catch Dave in A Few Good Men (Urban Samurai, Sept./Oct. 2010), A Midsummer Nights Dream (Park Square, Nov./Dec. 2010), and The Boys Next Door (Pioneer Place in St. Cloud, Jan. 2011).

Joy Rakerd
Role: Ruby/Buffy

Joy has been working in the Twin Cities for many years and most recently finished year 6 in "The Diary of Anne Frank" at Park Square Theatre in the role of Mrs. Frank. Other shows at Park Square include "The Glass Menagerie", "A View from the Bridge", "Equus", "You Can't Take it With You", and "The Importance of Being Earnest" just to name a few. Additional theatre credits include Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, The Old Log Theatre, Theatre L'Homme Dieu, Mystery Cafe, The Seasons Diner Theater, and Hey City Theater's "Tony and Tina's Wedding." Joy lives in Coon Rapids with her husband Cliff. Their children, Andy and Kelly are both Theatre Majors at the U of M, Duluth.

Paul Economon
Role: Max/Ted/Pete

Paul has been working in film and theatre for tons of years now. You can see him on billboards, magazines and TV commercials. He has performed on nearly all of the local stages including Theatre de la Jeune Lune and Hey City Theater's "Tony and Tina's Wedding." Paul is very happy to be reunited with T. J. for "The Lifestyle." Namaste.

Renee Werbowski
Role: Kendra/The Unicorn

Renee has had the good fortune to be working as an actor and voice talent in the Twin Cities for almost 15 years now. She is delighted to do another Fringe Festival production this year because "Fringe shows are always a blast to do!" Renee is learning puppeteering and the TRX in her free time.

Rick Crabtree
Role: Kirk

Rick Crabtree is ecstatic to be returning to the stage after a 15 year hiatus. Currently Rick works in the pixel mines as a business intelligence manager and tries not to say “What’s happening” to his employees on a daily basis, even though his work does have TPS reports. The big bonus for Rick in this show is that he is working with his wonderful wife Renee Werbowski, which leads to a big thank you to Victoria’s Secret for the “Hello Bombshell” bra.

T. J. Larson
Role: Writer/Director/Producer

T. J. Larson is an independent filmmaker and writer living in Minneapolis. He has received grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Jerome Foundation. His film and video work has appeared on the Independent Film Channel, the Sundance Channel, and Twin Cities Public Television. Credits include "Male Bonding","Looking for Her", "Al Milgrom: Last of the Red Hot Programmers" and "Citizen Jesse". T.J.'s wife Aileen would like everyone to know that they are not Swingers.

Kelli Tatum
Role: Producer/Choreographer
Kelli has been at the heart of the Twin Cities Theatre scene for several years working as a dancer, choreographer, producer and now founder of her own showhouse- The Widespot Performing Arts Center( lovely Stockholm, Wisconsin. Kelli can also Rock with the best of them and has the leather and lace to prove it!

User reviews

A so-so show
by Edwin Strout Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
Dave Gangler and Alissa Gingerich are amazing in this show. They made the weak writing and dialogue seem natural, which is a Herculean feat. Everyone else tried, but couldn't make anything of this poorly-written show.

Occasionally there are moments that the script sparkles, but for the most part it's very clichéd.

by Publius McGee Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
This was not the worst thing I've seen, but it was nothing special. It was neither edgy nor risque, despite the show description. There was very little plot, and most of the acting just kind of fell flat.

Wanted to see a Second Act
by Stefanie Hofman Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
This show revealed a little bit about the unknown world of swingers. Unknown to me anyway... But, instead of being about sex and naughty behavior, I thought this show was about marriage. In the end, Tess had to decide which way her marriage would go and we were left knowing her decision but nothing else. Dearest Playwright, if you are intending to turn this little gem into a two-act show, please do so with confidence. You are on to something real here and I heartily believe this show will go far if you dare take it there. Please give us more, more, more!

A hot dish missing key ingredients...
by Justin Alexander Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
A married couple decides to try out a swingers club and a cavalcade of vignettes guides them (and the audience) through alternative lifestyles.

This basic structure if functional enough.

But the show is lacking two key ingredients for a successful play: First, characters. Second, a plot.

The swingers at the club are left as a parade of empty archetypes, while the married protagonists can be called "vanilla" not only for the previously straight-laced lives but also because they are ultimately bland, empty ciphers.

The only reason the show works at all is in large part due to Gingerich and Gangler turning in marvelous performances. They breathe life into roles which the script leaves as cardboard cut-outs. (All of the actors actually do a fantastic job of squeezing out every ounce of potential from the lackluster material on the page.)

At the moment, I feel The Lifestyle is only the outline of what could be a much more successful and powerful play. If that play is ever made, I'll be the first in line to see it. (Particularly if Gingerich and Gangler are in the leads.)

cliched stereotypes
by mark browning milner Follow this reviewer
Rating 2 kitties
this wasn't that funny, nor sexy, nor particularly revelatory. filled with all the usual cliches, it cheated on the climax (so to speak). the innocent couple were cute enough, though...

Nervous Laughter
by Liz Floyd Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
I got a chuckle over the Minnesota nice audience. I wonder if this would play better in Las Vegas?

by Tristine Miller Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
For those who are too “vanilla” to even consider swinging as a humor-based comedy performance, please move along…this is not the show you are looking for. But for those who have a bit of an open-mind and/or personal experience with fringe sexual culture, this is a show for you!

While the point of view throughout the play was very heterosexual, throughout the writing, they rode the wave of the more socially acceptable female-on-female dynamic to keep things safe. It was a good balance I suppose for Minnesota audiences despite the controversial topic.

The actors were phenomenal in their portrayal of various couples. It truly showed how diverse they were as performers to be able to change clothes and character so quickly! I was a little put on spot when the hostess of the evening came to me and my significant other in one of their cross-audience segments. I blushed so hard when she referred to my partners cock size! OMG!!!! What else are you to do in those situations but nod and laugh in agreement? (For the record, he makes me happy, and I’m not looking for new single males. Unicorns may apply!)

I was thoroughly entertained during this performance and found the set changes and dialog intriguing. What was the most pleasant surprise of the night was this particular writer knew how to end the play! WOW! The first of my Fringe experience and it was on a hot topic of sorts! And the main actors’ facial expressions at the very end were very satisfying. For those who can appreciate the fringe of the Fringe, go check this one out!

Fast witty show
by Ron Weber Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Fun show about newbie swinger's. Well acted with lots of big laughs. See it!

Funny and interesting
by CJ Mueller Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Lighthearted and funny short play. Dynamics in the couples' relationships gave us some good discussion material afterward.

Campy Sexy Fun! … with a good dose of r
by MyFringe IsMyFun Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
The Lifestyle is not for everyone and find out why! You will laugh at the characters in the lifestyle and identify with the couple that may take the plunge. And there are Unicorns!

Shy Little Fee
by Brian Watson-Jones Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
Fun little show! Unexpectedly even-handed treatment of an unusual lifestyle, well done ending that avoids a pat resolution, good acting all around. Main peeve- too many one gag characters, too much double casting. The quick changes that this combo required led to a bunch of characters that weren't differentiated enough to easily tell them apart (with a few notable exceptions).

Must avoid this
by Tony Hanson Follow this reviewer
Rating 0 kitties
The writing is bad. The acting is bad. This is a tedious show.

There are many other Fringe events where you can better spend your money and time.

Belly Laughs!
by Gail Mollner Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Well written play made even better with actors who really had fun with their roles. What a treat!

A Pleasant Surprise
by Kim Nelson Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I didn't know much about this show going in and found myself delighted by the performances. The show really flew by. I especially loved the actress who played Tess. I really could relate to her and she did a good job of reacting to the strange world she entered.

by Claire Avitabile Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
I really support the idea behind this play, and enjoyed it for the most part. I felt that the pacing seemed a bit choppy or slow at times, and I was distracted a bit by the seemingly long set/scene changes.

Dave and Alisa were wonderful, and their characters and relationship were very genuine. Part of me wishes the play was just about the two of them... This is just a personal opinion/peeve of mine - but I always struggle to take a play seriously when there are multiple characters played by the same actor (especially within seconds of each other!). It feels 'high school' to me, not genuine - especially when the character changes (costume-wise and development-wise) are minimal. With double- or multiple-casting, I find that I often don't 'care' about any of the other characters at all because there are so many of them, and no time to believe in each character's reality.

Cute & campy
by Fringivitis Vulgaris Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
First: yes, that bodacious brassiere does appear in the play. The show is a quick tour of a swingers party as experienced by a heterosexual couple who are "open-minded." All the relationships in this show are caucasian male-female pairs. There are amusing kinks, too many drinks, and a very creepy guy who never scores. The music throughout was hilarious. Hurrah for the actors who decided to perform even though the roof started leaking right before the show!

Have to pay for any experience
by Igor Blokhintsev Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Good playing by all performers. The final passage of the couple was very convincing. It was the culmination.
Igor Blokhintsev

Sexy & Fun Fringe!
by Cari West Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
This was a great show! Well acted with characters that are real, flawed, and human. I laughed but I also found myself really caring about them. It is a funny, sexy show. Don't miss this one. 5 kitties!

needs work
by Dave Stagner Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
It was a pretty good concept for a show, but suffered from some serious problems. First, it felt preachy, as alternative-lifestyle fringe shows often do. But worse, the character development (or at least, the one character that actually developed) felt forced and unrealistic. I can't put a finger on whether it was the writing, the acting, or the directing, but I just couldn't buy it.

It's not a BAD show, mind you. But I think that with some tightening and clarity, it could have been much better than it was.

Swing on over . . .
by Looking Forher Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Loved it! This is a terrific entry into the Fringe universe. The Grand March, which introduces the audience to a variety of "swingers", reminds us that swingers aren't the idealized beauties of TV and the movies. This is the real world and the members of The Lifestyle may just be your next door neighbor.

A well-written script that finds humor in realism instead of camp, is one of the highlights of this fun romp.

A fun, light romp in a darker world.
by Andrew Fafoutakis Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
The Lifestyle is a very light, comedy about the world of sexual adventure. The cast was good, going, and game, but they had a few vocal problems being heard throughout the space. While it did avoid some cliches, I was happy to see some life hiding behind the many side characters along with the clever language.

Well done and avoided a hackneyed trope.
by Aaron Greer Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
I had some trepidation coming into this show. All to often there’s a stock story arc surrounding the theme of a couple making a foray into the world of consensual non-monogamy, one that ends with the experience serving solely as an epiphany moment which re-enforces monogamy as the right and proper option both for the couple, and for us as the audience (since the protagonists serve as our proxies). Thankfully, “The Lifestyle” avoided this for the most part, treating these strangers and the strange land they enter with what very much feels like the knowing of an insider poking gentle fun at a world he loves well but in which he sees the faults which generate comedy. What we get is a fun and funny script, which is well-executed with lighthearted fun by an adroitly able cast. Certainly a good solid show, and for me a good way to kick of my 2010 Fringe.

A fine and funny peak into swinging
by Brian Alm Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
thought it was well done all around

Great Fun, Must See
by Kate Hanson Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
The Lifestyle is thoroughly entertaining. The whole ensemble hit all the right notes, whether it was portraying the campy fun of some very unusual situations or the serious messages about judging others' choices. Kudos especially for the writing and acting of characters Mick and Tess - who made it so easy for the audience to feel a connection to the emotions they experienced along the way!

Great Idea for a Play
by Jim Pounds Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
Led by great performances from Dave Gangler, Alisa Gingerich, Joy Rakerd and Reneee Webowski, this premise showed lots of promise. Unfortunately, it is not well written and refuses to go anywhere but the safe surface you would expect at a Lion's Club event. Do we need 15 different couples in order to get one joke out of each? No, we need three couples that we care about. Mick and Tess give us one.

rocked the house
by Fringe Cred Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
This was a fun time. The actors were really good and the audience was way into the show. Lots of good jokes mixed with a story you actually care about. I didn't know what to expect but found myself really drawn into the characters' lives.

It was so fun, I may go again! Highly recommended.

Swinging at the Fringe
by Roark McGee Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
The Lifestyle hits all the right notes; from the awkward elevator ride to the Horny Chicken Dance to the powerful ending, we ride along with the "newbies" as they make some very significant decisions that will forever change them.

Funny and endearing, naughty and sweet, The Lifestyle is not to be missed!

Hotdish and HOT DISH!
by Pro Fringer Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
What a great script! What a great show! Bravo to TJ Larson and cast for walking a delicate balance between realism and camp. It's educational, too. Don't know what a unicorn is? You will after this show.

What fun!

Throwing a party
by Claude Sigmund Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
This was one of those plays where you swore only 15 min had gone by when in reality it was 50.

Humor, honesty, insightful and fun, fun fun.

The ability to relate to Mick and Tess as they nervously enter the world of "The Lifestyle" was as captivating as... life.

A must see.

Swingers + Heart
by Jon Carson Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Really enjoyed the performances in this show. The actors told a story that was hilarious and heartfelt at the same time. A MUST SEE!

Good times at the Ramada
by Lina Wiksten Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
Fun-filled, non-pretentious show full of playful performances. Enjoyed it!

loved the lifestyle!
by Julia Becker Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
loved the lifestyle! the show was engaging from start to finish. the actors did an excellent job of making you laugh and care about the unique and enjoyable story. definitely worth checking out!

Do You Like To Party?
by Kelli Tatum Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
The Lifestyle cracks open the bedroom door for a peek into the allegedly enlightened world of swingers. And what a view we get! While the show is a comedy, it never loses sight of the very serious issues the lifestyle brings to relationships.

The script is tightly written, and the actors balance the comedy with reality. It's hilarious, but still packs an emotional punch.

Not to be missed.

Crockpots and Riding Crops!
by Aileen Larson Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Fun show! Great music, good dance sequence, lots of laughs, talented actors, and a California King bed...don't miss this one!

The Lifestyle
by Roger Rosvold Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
_Lifestyle_ has 3 things going for it:

First, the Director truly knew what was needed in the various characters - and casting was spot on for every role. Good work.

Second: Fun, wholly enjoyable - intellectual fun, situational comedy, with plenty of just plain fun moments. All a tribute to good writing + ensemble.

Third: Lifestyle's strength comes from its human core & honest portrayal. Great relationships, sound appreciation of real emotions and needs.

Fully human, honest and funny. A must see.

by Holly Fix Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
The Lifestyle is a good time, plenty of laughs, and features a cast that are obviously enjoying themselves. I didn't think it was too raunchy either... very enjoyable!

The Lifestyle Swings... and Hits!
by Allison Kuznia Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Loved this play. The cast was awesome. The script was hilarious. It was all amazingly well done. It had spunk. Vulgarity. And naughtiness. As well as heart. Drama. And loveliness.