Minnesota Fringe Festival 2011

My Fringe

Renny Decker: Rise and Fall of the Boat King

Down in the Hole Productions

Written by T. J. Larson

Producer's website

Comedy, Satire

Contains Adult language

For ages 18+

Renny Decker had it all. The homes. The wives. The...assets. But it wasn't enough. Tonight Renny is on trial and he has one last chance to make his case. You are the Jury as Renny gives his side of the story.

Renny Decker is a MUST SEE according to the Pioneer Press


You know a show is going to be good when even the program makes you laugh. This one contains a "disclaimer" that any resemblance of the characters to real people is "purely coincidental." Yes, there is a distinct resemblance between boat magnate Renny Decker and a certain Twin Cities auto dealer. Both the writing, by T.J. Larson, and the acting, by Larson and the five who join him on stage, are delicious. The play features Larson as Decker, presenting his case in front of the prosecutor and the judge -- with the audience as jury.

- Emily Gurnon

vita.mn lists Renny Decker as a best bet of the 2011 Fringe!

Renny Decker: Rise and Fall of the Boat King

Here's what John Townsend said about our venue winning show from last year, "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."

The Lifestyle

Rick Crabtree
Role: Gaylord
Rick Crabtree

Seen in last year's venue winning "The Lifestyle" Rick is ecstatic to be returning to the Fringe for the second time in 2 years. A seasoned veteran of Twin Cities stage and screen and an expert in stage combat, Rick is also an avid motorcyclist and has tore up the asphalt, dirt, and sand of multiple continents. Rick continues to reside in South Minneapolis with his wife and co-star, Renee Werbowski, where they enjoy one of the most comprehensive and extravagant Rock Band gaming set ups you have ever seen. Seriously, the dude has cool toys!

Paul Economon
Role: Paul/Young Renny
Paul Economon

Paul has been working in film and theatre for tons of years now. You can see him on billboards, magazines and TV commercials. He's like the Renny Decker of the local acting scene - you see him everywhere! 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." To relax Paul likes to run for miles in the hot, blistering sun. Dude has issues.

Deanne McDonald
Role: Kelsie Kinkaid
Deanne McDonald

Deanne is excited to return to the Twin Cities after completing her MFA in Musical Theatre from Minnesota State University, Mankato. She spent the last year working on her thesis role of the "Muse" in MSU's production of The Odyssey, which was invited to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, last April.

Renee Werbowski
Role: Judge
Renee Werbowski

Renee has had the good fortune to be working as an actor and voice talent in the Twin Cities for almost 16 years now. She is delighted to do another Fringe Festival after appearing in last year's production of "The Lifestyle" where she turned many heads and broke numerous hearts as the elusive Unicorn.

Jamie Wickware
Role: Prosecutor
Jamie Wickware

Jamie is a native Texan and has been living in the twin cities for a little over a year now. She has participated in theatre in high school and college and is just getting her start in Minnesota Theatre. She was previously in Saved By the Bell as Lisa Turtle. She would like to thank her family and friends for their continued love and support.

Megan Faye Dougherty
Role: Stage Manager
Megan Dougherty

Megan Fae Dougherty (Stage Manager) has been a stage manager, run crew, electrician, prop designer, and wardrobe supervisor in the Twin Cities theatre scene since 2008. She has been seen working with a variety of companies including Bloomington Civic Theatre, Troupe America, Mixed Blood, and The History Theatre. Prior to moving to the cities she traveled on two national tours with Troupe America, and worked out west at Utah Shakespeare Festival, and The Santa Fe Opera.

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

T. J. Larson is an accomplished independent filmmaker whose work has been seen on the festival circuit as well as on the Independent Film Channel, the Sundance Channel, and PBS. He has collaborated with veteran comic Colleen Kruse on the the short film "Stories from the Bottle", profiled local legend Al Milgrom in the documentary film "Last of the Red Hot Programmers" and worked as a segment producer for the IFC show "Split Screen" documenting everything from the filmmaking arm of Billy Graham Ministries to the film career, and rise to political power, of former Governor Jesse Ventura.

As a playwright and director Mr. Larson, as he demands being called -the prick- made his Minnesota Fringe debut last year producing "The Lifestyle" which won the encore performance slot for its venue. He lives in south Minneapolis with his wife Aileen and their two greatest co-productions: Lily 4, and Hawthorne 2.

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Show & Tell
by Mary Hirsch Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
We use to have to cut a story out of the newspaper and bring it for show and tell. I have a feeling T.J. Larson is reliving his youth with this show -- in a fun way. I have to admit I never really followed this story in the papers but if it was half as weird and strange as this show I may have to go back and read the stories. It was a fun night -- lots of laughs.

Very Entertaining
by Barry Hammond Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Great fun. Especially if you have been reading the news lately! Kudos to cast for creating some great laffs.

Moderately Funny
by George Adams Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
Mixed performances, and iffy material. Had some standout supporting work, and legitimately many laughs, but didn't thrill me.

Funny premise, weak execution
by Peter Ross Follow this reviewer
Rating 2 kitties
Weak script and acting made this show a little to hard to watch. Everyone seemed to be trying a little to hard to be funny. The only actor who seemed to be comfortable on stage was Deanne McDonald.

by Will Weisert Follow this reviewer
Rating 2 kitties
I'm not sure that I saw the same show as the other reviewers. Nothing seem to work with his one other than Deanne McDonald who made a good pass with several of her characters (the two kitties are for her). Give this one a pass.

Deanne McDonald steals the show
by Greg Stevens Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Fun and lighthearted, the show is a clever parody. The performance by Deanne McDonald put her in a league of her own.

Hilarious and Smart
by Harley Gee Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
This show was packed with all kinds of references. I almost want to see it again. Love how they were able make their valid points about "Renny" but do it with lots of laughs. Truly inspired writing and an ensemble that meets the challenge of playing many roles. Loved how even the minor characters got caught up in the act. Don't miss this!

I used to be curious about Renny...
by Sally Rye Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
TJ Larson's clever exploration of boat-mogul Renny Decker's upbringing and motivations is spot-on. Our culture is curious about people who are notorious…Renny Decker satisfied my curiosity with hilarity. Also worth noting actor Deanne really shines in her many roles. Technically, a more intentional lighting scheme could have better focused the audience's attention…the opening night performance I saw offered a stage that was spare and a lighting program to match.

Renny is a Winner!
by Jess Fields Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Caught this Saturday and it was great. Fast paced and hysterical. The cast is charming and winning. Fun satire of a mogul gone bad. Note to staff - turn up the a/c!

renny decker
by Kari Neznik Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I found it very funny and I like having one person do more characterister i enjoys myself good job

Lots of fun!
by Gene McDonald Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Fast moving, light hearted, romp. I really enjoyed the variety of memorable characters, played by the talented small cast.

Renny Decker
by Tice Jns Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Lively,engaging cast. Super funny, fearlessly silly.

Renny Decker is Funny!
by Allison Kuznia Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Saw this on opening night and really liked it. The whole cast does an amazing job. And it's really, really funny. I highly recommend it!

Renny Decker: Rise and Fall of the Boat
by Nancy Jones Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Very Funny ! Go see it !
We went to the first showing I was impressed with the actors , enjoyed it a lot. Good satirical fun on a hot Minnesota evening

Laugh Worthty +1
by Kevin Kocur Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
We went the very first showing, so it's easy for me to dismiss some of the production issues and such. Still, the cast is wonderful and I'm a huge fan of actors who play multiple characters. THAT'S what makes this play really fun, in my opinion.

The script is amusing and I enjoyed how Renny's story was acted out by his own troupe of actors--in a courtroom. Funny stuff and worth going to see.

Very Funny
by Martin Norman Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
I thought the whole cast did a great job. I liked the "Defense by Play" angle. I think maybe they let Renny off a little easy, but being too harsh would have made it too heavy.An excellent start for our Fringe this year

Pretty Flippin' Good
by John Mansir Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
If you're in the mood for something light hearted and want a quick laugh or two, then this might be your thing.

Laugh Worthy
by Holly Gilbertson Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Fun show! Definitely laugh worthy. Deanne McDonald did an amazing job playing multiple faces! She took the show in my book.

Good supporting performances,
by Ben Seligman Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
That's about it though. The script felt like a concept that never clicked. Production was disjointed and poorly rehearsed.

REALLY good supporting work by Deanne McDonald, Rick Crabtree, and even the tiny bit by Renee Werbowski, was a highlight, but not enough to save this sinking ship.

Renny Charms Us All!
by Aileen Larson Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Great show! Loved seeing the Renny Decker Players "defend" Renny against all the "trumped up charges" he was facing. T.J. Larson give a hilarious portrayal of a swaggering, self-deluded man unable to admit wrongdoing even in the face of overwhelming evidence. The "Renny Decker Players" are chameleon-like in their ability to transform into multiple characters with minimal props. I laughed, I smiled, and I convicted Renny on all charges.

Weak script sinks this ship
by Richard Jackson Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
The acting is uneven and the script is definitely weak. Pacing needs to pick up because too many of the laughs fall flat. Uneven acting doesn't help. Kudos to Deanne McDonald and Paul Economon for making the best of it. Their performances lift this from 2 to 3 kitties.

by David Morrissey Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Deanne eats it.

Renny was convincing enough you just wanted to push him.

great ensemble
by Melissa Morrissey Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I thought Deanne McDonald was amazing! She plays 8 different (really different) people! The actors who act out the 'defense' were all really great. Funny premise and lotsa talent.
Be careful though that Renny has a wandering eye and he might try to hit on you. And then your husband will try to beat him up . . .
It was awesome!

by grace butler Follow this reviewer
Rating 0 kitties
it's a triple threat: bad acting, bad writing and no direction. the jokes are bad, the characters are wholly unlikable and you don't need to squint the see the gnaw marks on the scenery. it's all the fun of the denny hecker trial, if there was any, compacted into an hour and told by a fictional troupe of method actors as the mogul's defense. i wish i had passed.

Comedy Sports Ref Needed!
by Andy Lechner Follow this reviewer
Rating 1 kitty
Because every time the actors stumbled over their poorly timed jokes premised on the word Bangkok sounding like Bang cock, someone needed to call a "Groaner Foul."

And even if the Sandman swept Paul Economon off the stage with a machete instead of a broom during his Al Pachino impressions, it would have been a fate too kind. I love seeing actors do impressions of other actors. But if you are an actor, and you're on stage doing an embarrassingly bad impression of an actor, you either picked the wrong impression or you picked the wrong career.

I did give one Bunny for two reasons. First, I love the Fringe because it shows what happens when the funniest guy at the water cooler thinks that writing comedy is the same as having a snappy comeback.

Second Deanne McDonald is actually a really talented actress. More than just cute in a cocktail dress, she really committed to her solid repertoire of characters. And in an all to short monologue, she really established rapport with the audience. Not only did she recive applause, there was a real sense of loss when the monolouge was over, and everyone realized how great this show could have been if were a solo performance written by someone else. It's not to difficult to believe that she will go on to great things in her career. But this wasn't one of them. I thought about giving 2 Bunnies just for her, but by giving only 1 and lowering the cumulative average, I hope that she will take care in the future to work with people who befit her stature.

This Bunny is for you Deanne McDonald!

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Thursday, 8/1110:00 p.m. 
Sunday, 8/145:30 p.m. 

Minneapolis Theatre Garage venue information
711 W Franklin Ave.

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