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AWOL Productions

Open and Affirming Fairy Tales

Location + schedule

U of M Rarig Center Arena
330 21st Av S, Second Floor

DateTimeMy FringeAccess
Thursday 8/55:30 p.m.  
Saturday 8/71:00 p.m.  
Sunday 8/82:30 p.m.  
Thursday 8/127:00 p.m.  
Saturday 8/142:30 p.m.  
About the show

For ages 2+
Puppetry, Comedy, Queer/GLBT, Kids

Created by A. Waldron & J. Whitney-Birk

Overall rating

Open and Affirming Fairy Tales: The Fabulous Fables of Rainbeau Bay

*Take some time to peruse the splendid reviews that are two tabs over*

Finally, fairy tales showing diverse families living in the magical Land of Make Believe! A collection of classic stories retold by zany actors showing us to love ourselves, no matter what others may think.

We've taken four stories and adapted them to a broader audience. Not all kids have two parents...and not all parents have a son interested in a princess or a daughter interested in a prince. Not all boys want to play sports and not all girls are throwing tea parties. Life and love comes in so many forms. These fairy tales show the splendid diversity of the human experience and then makes it fun for both children & adults.

Check out this great review from Matthew A. Everett's follow up article on the Thursday performance.

From an article in Lavender Magazine, by John Townsend, about different Queer-friendly fringe shows

Fringe Festival Offers Queer Treats: Rainbow Family Fare Even Adult Singles Will Treasure

"Children’s theater for nontraditional families is fun for youngsters, as well as good for those of us who grew up without such images to see, and reflect on our own conditioning.

Andrew Waldron and Jill Whitney-Birk’s queer adaptation Open And Affirming Fairy Tales: The Fabulous Fables of Rainbeau Bay subverts binary demands for “either/or behaviors” and identity. The Princess and the Frog is reimagined with two dads. The Fish and the Fisherman is revamped to examine how little boys are driven toward ultramacho “acting out.” The Golden Goose is reinvented as a boy getting to date a handsome prince."

Some great reviews from our preview performances at the Fringe for all Event and from the Woodbury Library Children's Showcase

From Matthew A. Everett's Single White Fringe Geek Blog! & TC Daily Planet

"The preview was a snippet of the tale of the Princess and the Frog, only the Frog was also a girl, and turned into a Princess when kissed. But the spell didn't hold for long, so the girl, and girl-frog, headed over to the sorcerer's place. The sorcerer who cursed the girl-frog had a sorcerer's hat with Mickey Mouse ears on it. After tricking the sorcerer into giving away the spell, the girls hurried off to try and work the magical cure themselves (but the red preview light meant they'd run out of time - cliffhanger!)

It's the same fairy tales you remember, just with a same sex twist. Still kid-friendly from what I saw, though the gender switches may make for some interesting post-show discussions between parents and children. I'd like to think we're beyond all that, but outside the Fringe bubble, I know things are more complicated. It's why I'm happy the Fringe bubble exists once a year. Should be a fun show. I was looking forward to it even before the preview, Fringe-For-All just confirmed the instinct.

(Plus, I can't stop giggling over the publicity photo, because I know this wasn't their intention, but it looks like the most uncomfortable three-way ever.)"

Check out Michelle Storm's article "First Viewing of Family-Friendly Fringe Works Gets Thumbs-up From Kid-Critics" also.

Derik Iverson
Role: Actor

Derik is going to be a sophomore at the University of MN-Duluth where he will be recieving his BFA in Theatre Acting. He most recently appeared in the world premier of "Fools & Madmen" by Joe Heaney and Corey Ryan Boe at UMD where he played Orson Rudd, a psychotic murderous trucker. He's happy to be part of such a happy show again. In October, Derik will be directing a production of "The Clean House" by Sarah Ruhl at UMD. In his spare time he can be seen watching movies from his beloved Netflix account, reading, and working happily at McDonalds. He's happy to be part of such a fun show and he hopes you enjoy it!

Rachel Piersdorf
Role: Actress

Rachel recently graduated summa cum laude with a BA in Theatre Arts from the University of Minnesota. Her specialties include acting, stage management, and scenic artistry. You can catch some of her most recent paint work at the Minnesota Centennial Showboat, or at The Minnetonka Art Center's summer production of The Drowsy Chaperone. In the fall she is looking forward to playing Olivia in Twelfth Night at The People's Center Theatre. She is extremely excited to be working on this wonderful production with some old (and new) friends! She would like to thank her family, friends, and her wonderful boyfriend for their continued support. Enjoy the show! :)

Kari Steinbach
Role: Actress

Kari's last fringe experience was a show she directed and took to the fringe festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. She is a free-lance director and an occasional actress. Past favorite roles include Amanda in The Glass Menagerie and Sister Aloysius in Doubt. This winter she will direct The Lion in Winter for Lakeshore Players in White Bear Lake. Her hobbies include dressing up dachshunds and personifying glitter.

Andrew Waldron
Role: Actor/Playwright

While not busy teaching or going for a bike ride, Andy takes a stab at creating fun theatre experiences. After graduating from Winona State University with degrees in Language Arts education and Theatre, he moved to the Twin Cities area and got a job teaching high school. Incidentally, many of the young folks involved in the show are former students. Frustrated by the lack of plays that appeal to a GLBT family audience, he decided to team up with his colleague Jill and write the play you are seeing today. His past Fringe experiences include dancing in "That Which Binds Us" in 2008, and acting in "Danny is Going to Die" in 2009. He has also worked with Starting Gate Productions, Theatre Du Mississippi, and The Great River Shakespeare Festival.

Derek C. Waller
Role: Actor

A recent graduate of Forest Lake High School, Derek has been actively involved in theater. He has acted in many high school productions, and most recently performed in Louis Sachar's There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom. In addition to acting, Derek has run lights with a local community theater, and plays the violin. This fall, he will be attending St. Olaf College in Northfield to study English.

Jill Whitney-Birk
Role: Director/Playwright

Jill is enthusiastic about directing "big" people for a change since she's directed high school musicals and one acts for the past 19 years. At present, Jill directs, sings with two local bands (Prior Avenue & 7 Cats Swing) deals in antiques, creates jewelry ( takes care of a pink house, daughters Hannah (16), Ruby (11) and hubby, Dave. Thanks to Andy for all the teamwork and Kari for being her partner in personifying glitter.

Becky Zierke
Role: Actress

Becky is going into her final year at Luther College where she is majoring in Political Science. She is a typical female stereotype, as she spends her summer waitressing and nannying. This is her first stage appearance in 3 years and she is so happy to be spending it with such a splendid (and remarkably short) group of people! She hopes you enjoy the show!

User reviews

Agenda > Entertainment
by David Trudeau Follow this reviewer
Rating 2 kitties
My three year old granddaughter was mystified and bored and so was her dad and grandma. Maybe appropriate for teens with gender identity issues from non traditional families, but the open and affirming stories seemed to be only for them. Maybe therapeutic for those young adults who want to reclaim a happy childhood - but not child appropriate - over the heads of pre teens and under in my understanding of development. Execution rough, directing shoddy and script a bit lame.

I left the play smiling from ear to ear
by Laura Vaughn Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
As a non-parent in my early twenties, I was not really the target audience for this play. And yet I was wholly and completely entertained. The writing managed to be kid oriented with out being preachy. The jokes were absolutely hysterical, showing that you don't need to be obscene to be funny. The acting was solid, with actors able to play multiple and obviously different roles within the same scene. And the audience participation was wonderful for the participating kids without being disruptive to the flow of the play.

I would definitely love to see future projects of AWOL Productions and also anything that these very talented actors and writers do next.

stories familiar retold well
by Fred Marfell Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Most enjoyable ! A well directed production dealing with kids of different ages, each coping with life's idiosyncracies and foibles.
The talented cast was lively and enjoyable as they dealt with frog princesses, golden geese, and other stories.

The Best Fairy Tales Ever!
by Emily Antin Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
This is a show that is worth seeing whether or not you have children in your life. Uplifting, funny, and a good message bring together a great time. If you do have kids bring them it is very interactive. If I gave this a grade it would be an A+.

Good message.
by Kenneth Hanf Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
A great positive message. Pretty smooth delivery. Fairly well written but the intended message is a little obscure at times.

Lots of Fun
by Heather Baldwin Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
This is a charming kids’ show that is just as enjoyable for adults. It contains four original stories, in the “fairy-tale” style, but updated for the 21st century. They convey uplifting messages of acceptance of others and being true to oneself, without being corny. And they were quite funny, too.

Better than disney
by Leigh Severson Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
This show was filled with everything, from comedy to drama. It was a great experience and I was continuously wishing that Disney could come up with stories like these just so more kids could see them. It is definitely worth it whether or not you have kids.

Sweet and funny
by Anna Amyx Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Sweet, funny, creative vignettes, all taking place in one imaginary location. One or two heavy-handed moments, but overall a laudable approach to introducing (or reinforcing) the idea that all sorts of families are acceptable, especially because the whole thing was couched within the larger message, "it's good to be understood, listened to, and accepted for who you are."

A winner
by Marcia Skafte Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Three generations from our family were captivated by these 4 stories well told...

funny and endearing
by Naomi Kritzer Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
My concern before seeing this was that it would either be overly didactic, or that it would treat the idea of gay fathers as inherently funny. It's not, and it didn't. This was a sweet and delightful show, great for kids but fun for the parents as well.

by Publius McGee Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Good show for little kids, a little heavy-handed with the moralizing, but fun and spirited.

Excellent children's show
by Gabriel Heller Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
I'd have given it 4 1/2 Stars if they'd have let me! The writing was excellent, and the acting quite good. It was sweet without being saccharine and inclusive without being preachy. The unadulterated goofiness of the show, especially the town name, began to wear on me a little by the end, but only a very little. The fourth tale, "the Mayor who outlawed Jelly-Beans" is the best modern fairy-tale I've heard recently. This is a great date show for people who have children, or who plan to have children.

A great way to start Fringe!
by Lucy Nelson Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
This has to be the star kids show this year! Wonderful stories, great actors with lots of energy, and plenty of fun! I would recommend this to anyone who has kids, (or who don't like me) it's 4 short stories that are well told and have a great message. BONUS, you get a button when you leave, and who doesn't like free buttons!!!!

Fairy tales you wish you heard
by Peter Erickson Follow this reviewer
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.

Great for Kids, Important for Adults
by Anthony Rydberg Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
The script is charming, the ensemble is well balanced, and the effect is poignant. What most impressed me about this show was that it is not only an introduction of issues to children, but it was also a legitimate remedial lesson for adults. In the midst of your hectic Fringe schedule, this show will be a refreshing and fun reminder of the beauty within all people. Give your soul a big hug by seeing this show!

A Great Kid Act
by maria keith Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I waffled between 4 and 5 kitties. 4 Kitties for the adult I am and 5 kitties for the kid in me. The show will make all kids feel good about themselves just B U.

Great for all ages!
by Liz Capouch Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
This was a super-cute, but also well-played show for all ages. The troupe takes on subject matter that could normally make for a difficult conversation (why does Nichole have two daddies?, etc.), and makes it accessible for and parents and kids. The bright colors and high energy in such an intimate space grab and hold the audience's attention throughout. Gentle and appropriate humor, along with kids' audience participation at the end, made for a fun hour!

Open and Affirming Fairy Tales
by becky haven Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Fun, engaging and thoughtful family show. The intimate space is perfect and the performers use it well. Audience response was consistently enthusiastic. Overheard from a ten year old: "I loved it!"

Not Impressed
by Craig J Maas Follow this reviewer
Rating 0 kitties
Was looking for a little more in affirming the GLBT aspect of the fairy tales that did not exist, The cast tried but was definitely filled with JR performers it seemed at times that a group of kids were just goofing around on stage. The worst part was the Director sitting in the front row of an arena theatre mouthing all the words and laughing at the oddly performed jokes before they happened. DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME.

Open and Affirming Fairy Tales
by Karen Waldron Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
This is a MUST SEE for every Fringe Fan. This is 4 great stories geared to people of all ages. It had all ages of the audience laughing at the great performance and story lines. This great troupe even got the kids in the audience involved!

Great Show
by Michael Hentges Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
A very nice, fun and cute play. It also made me think about things and realize things I hadn't before. Very well done. Very funny.

My daughters and I loved it!
by Scott Gilbert Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
"I got to get up and say a line in the last play." - My 10 year old
"I especially liked the Mayor who outlawed Jelly beans" - My 12 year old

Very nice play about accepting others for who they are. Actors were great and engaged and connected with the audience in this very nice intimate space. Take your kids - no matter how old they are.