Minnesota’s festival of performing arts
August 1–11, 2013 / Minneapolis

Carrie (advertisement)
Remember me or Sign up

Shelly Bachberg Presents: How Helen Keller and Anne Frank Freed the Slaves: The Musical

Musical theater /

By The Jansonowicz Players

Created by Michael, Nikki and Max

"I said it, so it's true!" A charming but woefully misguided congresswoman promotes her super-accurate children's history book in this irreverent new musical satire from the creators of FRUIT FLY: THE MUSICAL!

GLBT content, Political content, Historical content, Opera/New Music

World premiere, Actors' Equity participants, Includes artists of color

Just so you know, this show has Adult language.

The creators say this show is appropriate for ages 16 and up.

Sunday, 8/4 1:00 p.m.
Buy tickets
Monday, 8/5 5:30 p.m.
Buy tickets
Wednesday, 8/7 7:00 p.m.
This performance is audio described
Friday, 8/9 10:00 p.m.
Sunday, 8/11 1:00 p.m.
Sunday, 8/11 8:30 p.m.
Buy tickets

New Century Theatre

615 Hennepin Ave. in City Center

View Larger Map


Want to write a review? Just log in and share your thoughts.

Audience reviews

Sharp political satire

By Richard Jackson / August 12, 2013
This user has reviewed 55 shows

Kim Kivens channels a certain Minnesota Republican Representative with disturbing accuracy and anchors this delightfully funny and over the top musical. Excellent performances and a very funny book with equally entertaining music and lyrics made for a great time. The dancing was a little ragged and the inclusion of Helen Keller seemed gratuitous and unnecessary, but I thoroughly enjoyed the show.

Hope it has a life beyond Fringe

By Warren Bowles / August 12, 2013
This user has reviewed 29 shows

Extremely well performed musical. Really good writing. Nice production values. I'm glad I chose this for my encore show. I hope it has a life beyond Fringe.

Must see - our own Book of Mormon

By Leslie Adler / August 11, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

This is a daring clever musical that made me laugh so hard I cried. The characters were brilliant and the acting and singing were all incredibly good. The juxtaposition of Helen Keller, Anne Frank and Shelly Bachberg was hilarious. It was daring in that it took a lot of risks but I thought they worked well and were really appropriate. I appreciated the cole porteresque rhyming in the musical numbers. I'm still smiling. A really great production. This should be seen again and again. It also leads to a series of other history books writtten by Shelly. The sky is the limit!

Sondheim + Book of Mormon = Shelly

By Grant Sorenson / August 11, 2013
This user has reviewed 2 shows

SBPHHKAAFFTS is everything a Fringe show should be. Smart, hysterical, off-kilter and high-octane. Kivens, Innerbichler and Fox lead the cast with intensely devoted characterizations and superb timing. Darrow is finally given a chance to show off his own comedic skills. The trio of Searles, Graham and Mwanza are severely underutilized (I mean, really, no song for these three amazing vocalists?) Rhodes and Grimes are just OK in side parts -- Rhodes could have done more, and Grimes could have done A LOT less. The score by Wojtanowicz and Gruber is a whip-smart comedic confection. Swoboda's direction is less clear or clever; the show lacked grounding and could have used a stronger guiding hand. If you can snag a ticket to the encore, GO GO GO!

1 person found this review helpful

If you like intelligent humor - Go!

By Jenn Baese / August 10, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

This show is phenomenal on so many levels; Max Wojtanowicz's writing is gloriously snarky and witty and insightful (with no help, or lots of help, depending on how you see it from the woman of the hour), the music is amazing -- I left wanting the soundtrack, and nuanced performances all around by the cast. You only have one chance left -- don't miss it. Go early. It will sell out for sure.

Yes! Yes! YES!

By Mary Hoelscher / August 10, 2013
This user has reviewed 7 shows

The only thing I can add is that I sincerely hope that there will be additional performances of this absolutely fantastic show after Fringe. There are so many people I would /love/ to have the opportunity to delight in this musical frenzy of satire.

Art Imitates Life

By Kathleen Hardy / August 10, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

What a wonderfully witty show. The book and music are great. An extremely talented cast, dances and sings their way through a delusional history created in Shelly Bachberg's mind. Definitely art imitating life.
The theater was filled with raucous laughter throughout the performance. This show is a must see!


By Joni Anker / August 8, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

I have not laughed this hard in months! This show is outstanding right from the beginning and all the way through to the end. A well paced production with a stellar cast! A must see!

Freaking Fabulous!

By Rachel Brewster / August 8, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

This show is freaking fabulous! Be sure to get there early - you'll want a front row seat!

Wicked Funny

By Kay Snyder / August 8, 2013
This user has reviewed 8 shows

Oh gosh is this funny! Who's mind thought to put these 3 characters on stage together? Diabolical. The cast is pitch perfect.

1 person found this review helpful

History does it again!

By Tyler Michaels / August 7, 2013
This user has reviewed 2 shows

A laugh-out-loud ride through political (un)truths!

This one is a must see. The impossibility of the plot, the ridiculous songs, the one liners, the perfect impersonations, the extravagant costumes... they all add up to a real winner. Stand out performances by David Darrow and Caroline Innerbichler.

wow wow wow

By Jim Loeffler / August 7, 2013
This user has reviewed 5 shows

Outstanding production featuring some of the hottest and busiest actors in town! Amazing performances, music, choreography, and everything in the book. Don't miss this!
I loved "Fruit Fly" but this is even better!
Congratulations to everyone involved

Should be seven stars

By Angela Paulson / August 7, 2013
This user has reviewed 7 shows

I was at the sold out show on Wednesday, and all I can say is RESERVE YOUR TICKETS NOW!!!! Absolutely hilarious and irreverent and as ridiculous as Shelly herself!!

I love her Broach!!!

By Mike Dvorak / August 7, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

Just got back from seeing this witty, hilarious musical. If you haven't seen it, you're missing out. Wonderful performances by the whole cast. Absolutely laughed from beginning to end, with a few head shakes and cringes.

Couldn't stop laughing!

By tara borman / August 7, 2013
This user has reviewed 2 shows

This show is a MUST SEE. There were so many talented actors on stage bringing such a brilliantly HILARIOUS script to life! I literally laughed through the entire show. This is an extremely creative, witty show with clever, catchy songs and an enormously talented cast! You CANNOT miss this one!

My sides hurt...

By Mindy Eschedor / August 7, 2013
This user has reviewed 5 shows

Where to start? Kim Kivens is going to need to detox after stepping so deeply into the body and mind of our 6th district gal. She's got her down - mannerisms, crazy eyes, folksy expressions, mangled facts. Brilliant! Caroline Innerbichler's Anne Frank is plucky and sweet, and Mary Fox's Helen Keller left me in tears more than once - no small feat when you have no lines! Ryan Grimes' cameos as Shelly's husband are highlights, and the powerhouse ensemble is dynamite!! SMART writing - both book and music - and energetic staging and choreography! Wish I'd had a 'rewind' button, as I was still laughing so hard at some jokes that I missed the next one! Reserve your ticket - this is a sellout!!

Hilarious and Smart

By Alex Brightwell / August 6, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

A brilliant, thought provoking political satire that will entertain and disturb. Do yourself a favor and go see it. The cast is top-notch. Kim Kivens' performance as Shelly Bachberg is truly remarkable - simultaneously charming, hilarious, and unsettling. Someone give this woman an award. Congrats to Max Wojtanowicz, Nikki Swoboda, and Michael Gruber for creating entertaining and intelligent theatre. Essential fringing.

Sparkly, Satisfying Satire

By Lynn Cross / August 6, 2013
This user has reviewed 12 shows

The sparkly, absurdist silliness of the show’s subject is a perfect match for this genre. (You might ask, how can you satirize a walking satire, but they did it.) Casting was perfect too, and the performances were superb. If I had directed, I might have cut it here and there, as certain sections went on too long in relation to their content, but the pointed and super-smart bits in the script stitched it all together and provided a reassuring counterpoint to the alternate universe that does exist in our state and country, and that a fair number of upstanding citizens appear to actually live in, as evidenced by their abiding faith in the aforementioned subject. Great show!

1 person found this review helpful

Tons of fun!

By Laura Posterick / August 6, 2013
This user has reviewed 10 shows

This show was a blast and the cast was extraordinary! I didn't stop laughing the entire time.

Crazy Eyes!

By Sarajo Wentling / August 6, 2013
This user has reviewed 26 shows

Maybe this sounds weird, but might have struck me the most was how well Kim Kivens captured the "crazy eyes" of a certain congresswoman. Great production with lots of laughs... many of them while cringing because it's 1000% true.

fun time!

By Clark Kinser / August 5, 2013
This user has reviewed 6 shows

This is a fun and funny show. I can't say any more that hasn't already been said.

I laughed so hard I missed lines.

By Emily Madigan / August 5, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

This show had me flailing in my seat, and laughing so hard that I missed some of the dialogue. Perfectly cast, it had me in tears starting right away in the first musical number. It was brilliantly written with huge punch lines, mixed with little backhanded jokes that kept the laughter rolling.

Shelly Bachberg Presents: How Helen Kell

By Rick Cicharz / August 5, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

A great reminder why we need to be active politically, and not just hand over power to anyone. A very funny and witty script. Wonderful and engaging characters.with superb staging. Another hit for this team.

Great Show

By Jo Miller / August 5, 2013
This user has reviewed 2 shows

I really enjoyed this show. This is the second show I have seen that Max Wojtanowicz was involved in. The storyline was funny and the music and choreography were great.
I recommend it highly.

Shelly Bachberg Presents

By Debra Orenstein / August 4, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

Probably the only thing that could make me sad Michelle Bachman isn't running again! A delightful romp, great cast headed by the wonderful Kim Kivens, and music/lyric/themes that not only parody the subject, but reference a long history of musicals. Great direction, all in all a treat!

1 person found this review helpful

So Much Fun!

By Paul Engebretson / August 4, 2013
This user has reviewed 3 shows

Yes MB is an easy target, but the show uses her to skewer the political right in a deft manner; using the tea party's penchant for attacking intellectuals, women and the gay movement as the "know nothing right" tries to rewrite history for its own political ends. Funny songs and well acted performances make this show as much fun as you can have for an hour.

A Must See!

By Cassie Johnson / August 4, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

This show is full of really talented performers with wonderfully witty material to work with! All around great and hilarious show. There were no week links in this musical and I was laughing throughout the entire thing. This is a show you HAVE to see!

Helen Keller stole the show

By Perry Smaglik / August 12, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

The show was hysterical to begin with but when the set started malfunctioning in the middle and Helen Keller catches the flag I couldn't stop laughing.
I think they churned up some hot air coming from the 6th district.
No one missed a beat..
A save that would have made Janet Jackson proud.

Defiantly made the show even better.

A Fringe Miracle

By Daniel Pinkerton / August 11, 2013
This user has reviewed 18 shows

I guess Shelly is right, and there actually is a God because an anonymous theatregoer *gave* me an extra will call ticket (and Amy is his heavenly messenger)! The show was absolutely perfect (well, the falling flag excepted, but that only added to the hilarity). It was more than a one-joke show; it wrought all kinds of changes on the simple premise that Minnesota's wackiest politician was going to put on a history pageant. Pretty broad humor a lot of the time, but that's just fine with me. Great music and lyrics, hugely talented ensemble, and above all, a perfect performance by Kim Kivens in the role of Shelly Bachberg. Really! She sang, danced, and did a perfect imitation of the state's beloved wingnut. I laughed and laughed and laughed.

Remarkable, Approachable

By Dan Beckmann / August 11, 2013
This user has reviewed 3 shows

"Shelly Bachberg" is a semi-political musical satire with an engaging and ridiculous story that spins further and further out of control as it progresses --

-- and I mean that in the best way possible.

The concept of the show is absurd, which helps to support the wry jabs at a certain Minnesota Congresswoman who, under the guise of a clever and thinly veiled moniker, narrates and participates in a story written by her; a non-fiction history lesson.

The music and characters are a blast to behold and the energy of the cast infectious. They roll with the punches and have enough fun to satiate a hungry pack of overly-social birthday clowns.

"Shelly Bachberg" is a triumph, which is a fact -- if I said it, it must be true.

Why Haven't You Already Seen It?

By Alex Moen / August 11, 2013
This user has reviewed 2 shows

These kids are so talented it hurts my brain. This show is probably exactly what the inside of a certain state representative's brain looks like: depressing to watch in the real world, but put it on stage, and it's hilarious! The songs are catchy, the script is smart, the performances are AMAZINGGGG. Shelly is spot on (shout out to the downturned mouth corners), Anne Frank should just win a Tony already, and Helen Keller's comedic timing was so good that she could just stare blankly, and we were all in stitches. Don't forget to clap on the 1 and the 3.


By Jackson Cobb / August 10, 2013
This user has reviewed 2 shows

Oh my god please go see this. This is the best satire I have seen anywhere this year, and it's performed by an outstanding snd perfectly casted cast!! Their sense of comedic timing is amazing, and the portrayal of a "A certain female Minnesotan politician" was stellar. Just go. Now.


By Jan Plager / August 10, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

Max and company did it again! You laugh while wanting to cry at how true it is! The acting is spot on. Great voices. Make this your must see before Fringe is done for the year. Congratulations to all.

Satire with singing and dancing

By Naomi Kritzer / August 9, 2013
This user has reviewed 15 shows

Everything came together in this show -- there was political satire, as you'd expect, and lots of funny lines, but the singing was also excellent and the dancing was polished.

Reserve your tickets now if you want to see it (or cross your fingers and buy the ticket to the Encore), and show up early if you want a seat near the front.

1 person found this review helpful

My review is true because I wrote it!

By Theresa St. Aoro / August 8, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

This is the best musical ever invented since God created the universe 2000 years ago! History is important, so if you don't see this you are missing out on the most hysterical show of the Fringe!

This show is important.

By Anna Bregier / August 8, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

Quick witted and fun, this show is awesome! Great job to the cast & writers!! You can't help but laugh at Shelly's uncanny bright-eyed stare or each cast member's unique contribution to the humor. Just loved Anne & Helen's path to friendship. It was a packed house Wednesday night and it will be for the remaining performances, so get your tickets now.
Anna Bregier

Must be remounted

By Carl Lundstrom / August 8, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

This show made me laugh for 60 minutes while being some of the best political satire I've ever seen. Oh yeah, and the was phenomenal music and choreography. If this doesn't sell out two more nights, the terrorists win.

Witty, Wise and Wickedly Wonderful

By Therese Walth / August 7, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

I know its cliche, but if you see one Fringe Show this season this is the one to see.
Shelly Bachberg Presents, (etc...) is filled with snappy humor and show stopping numbers. The idea that we as a society need to do our own research and stop getting our "facts" from celebrities, media and (in this case) politicians was never so amusingly set!
My only complaint is that I need to see it again to hear all the parts I missed while I was laughing uncontrollably.
This musical has everything you want great music, funny script, brilliant actors and a message that is all too relevant. With excellent pacing, you will want to see this short but perfect fringe musical!!!

Satire is important!

By Paul Coate / August 7, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

On the surface, this is a witty satire poking fun at (arguably) our most poke-fun-able Minnesota politician, but beneath it all, the creators of this work had an incredibly important and powerful message about the state of American politics and the sharing of information (and misinformation) about our past, our discourse in the present, and our diverse opinions about what our nation should be in the future. This was a piece of theater that needed to be made, and it was beautifully performed by all involved. Special kudos to Kim Kivens for her uncanny portrayal. She could read a phone book on stage and I'd buy a ticket to see her do it, so what a double-bonus that she and her supporting cast had such excellent writing to work with!

1 person found this review helpful

Even though Kim Kivens is my niece

By Laurie Savran / August 7, 2013
This user has reviewed 2 shows

I thought the show was as funny and zany and clever as anything I have seen lately including Sarah Silverman. I could not stop marveling at Kim Kivens portrayal of Shelley Bachberg. As much as I dislike the real Congresswoman, I LOVE Shelley Bachberg. Oy vay and mazeltov to the writers and cast. From a devoted aunt, Laurie Savran

Shining and hysterical song-making

By Andrea Dvorak / August 7, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

The perfect mix of truthiness (with %1000 real people and facts) and wildly impossible events, this show was a delight from beginning to end. Once you've fully comprehended the clever historical-hysterical subject matter, you'll be confronted with an absolutely stellar, knock-your-socks-off cast (especially the two shining song-making stars of the evening that are Caroline Innerbichler and the absolutely incomparable Kim Kivens). After you're done marveling at the fantastic cast, you'll be blown away by the many layered lyrics and shining script. And at that point, this hilarious romp will be over and you'll be on your feet cheering and hoping they have an encore number (think about it, Max, Michael and Jason!). See it folks. SEE! IT!

Witty and Wonderful

By Paul McGuire / August 7, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

With the likes of Michelle and Marcus Bachmann, their ridiculous nature practically feed the witty script and lyrics by the uber-talented Max Wojtanowicz and Michael Gruber. Kim Kivens and Ryan McGuire Grimes are quite perfect at bringing these characters to life. They are joined by an all-around talented cast to bring you one of the funniest Fringe shows you will see. I saw the first performance and it was almost sold out. Run, don't walk, to see "Shelly Bachberg...". In fact, buy your tickets in advance just to be safe.

See This Show!!

By Janet Trow / August 7, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

Delightful, clever, joyously staged and brilliantly performed, Shelly Bachberg is a true winner! Perfectly cast, this is the political party that rocks! Great music, great material made even better by the talent onstage. I loved it!!

So Many Laughs!

By Debra Berger / August 6, 2013
This user has reviewed 4 shows

Catchy songs, great jokes and lots of laughs. The show kicks off with a bang and doesn't stop for 50 minutes. Kim Kivens leads the cast with amazing stage presence and impeccable comedic timing. Mary Fox, as Helen Keller, and Caroline Innerbichler, as Anne Frank, provide loads of laughs. The rest of the cast is wonderfully supportive, each offering their amazing voices and well timed character shifts.

Max, Michael and Nikki have created a wonderfully playful script of hilarious satire!

Absurd musical

By Scott Pakudaitis / August 6, 2013
This user has reviewed 40 shows

That's a history lesson I was never taught. Wonderful performances from the entire cast, a sharp, snappy script, and fun choreography made this a great start to my evening of Fringing.

They did it again!

By Wendy Plager / August 6, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

Two years in a row this group of fancy folks has kept us laughing and taping our toes to great musical numbers! I hope they make this into a full length show, I wanted MORE when the lights went up at the end!

Get that lady a corn dog, stat!

By Grant Henderson / August 6, 2013
This user has reviewed 2 shows

Now THIS is what a Fringe musical should be…

Outrageous, funny, catchy tunes, this one deftly covered all the bases. Kim Kivens as Bachberg was…well, downright scary, and I mean that as a compliment. A strong cast, no weak links in the bunch. A special shout out to Mary Fox as Helen Keller. More often than not, I found myself watching what she was doing during the show, and she never dropped character, even when "singing and dancing".

It must be 5 stars because I said it is

By Kelly Rosenthal / August 5, 2013
This user has reviewed 21 shows

Brilliant show with the underlying message of not believing everything you hear

It Truly Makes History!

By Scott Gilbert / August 5, 2013
This user has reviewed 16 shows

It was my first fringe show this year. I am so happy that I started out with this production that was solid in every possible way. Get your tickets to this one.

Those Who Willfully Disregard History...

By Corinna Troth / August 5, 2013
This user has reviewed 3 shows

...can have a great future in public service AND children's literature, especially if they can sing and dance like this cast does! The performances are superb but the artful use of historical incongruity is what makes this piece truly brilliant. You never know which seemingly random historical figure is going to show up next, never mind those silly timelines! The fact that you can have a modern politician in a cat-fight with Socrates...well, there is something to simultaneously love and shudder at all at the same time. And that is what this show is all about: Love and Shuddering. Strong writing, fantastic performances, streamlined but highly effective scenery and excellent costuming push this show right over the Fringey top.

1 person found this review helpful

Could not be better.

By Florence Brammer / August 5, 2013
This user has reviewed 56 shows

Everything is in place here for a great show -- concept, music, lyrics, writing, performances, staging. A lot of fun and is sure to sell outnumber

Great Political Satire!

By Christina Meyer / August 4, 2013
This user has reviewed 2 shows

Amazing music, acting, and story! This is a must see. It was hilarious and entertaining from start to finish!

Terrific production

By Beth Bryant / August 4, 2013
This user has reviewed 4 shows

Will be enjoyed by all socialists, :-). We enjoyed the performances, script, choreography, costumes -- irreverent & fun!

Cast Your Vote

By Kevin T. Houle / August 4, 2013
This user has reviewed 18 shows

Kim Kivens bears an uncanny resemblance to Minnesota's most hateful politician, but like the 6th District scourge, the characterization is a bit one note. The show really belongs to some of the other performers, especially Caroline Innerbichler as the triumphant Anne Frank. Mary Fox's uncanny portrayal of Helen Keller is hilarious, and Ryan Grimes as Marquee Bachberg is appropriately joyous. They've got my vote.

2 people found this review helpful

It's all been said: great writing, actin

By Gregory Abbott / August 12, 2013
This user has reviewed 7 shows

Smart script, wonderful actors. I'd see it again.

You can quote me verbatim!

By Eric Salo / August 11, 2013
This user has reviewed 56 shows

Pure delight. A uniformly excellent cast, fun music and a brilliant script. I have no idea how Mary Fox managed to maintain her deadpan but she absolutely nailed it. Everyone did, really. I loved this show.

Shelly Bachberg: How Anne Frank and Hele

By Susan Hofflander / August 11, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

Clever! Hilarious! Brilliant! Thought provoking! All these adjectives to describe the same show? Absolutely. Max Wojtanowicz and his witty collaborators have done it again. Music is well written and coincides with the lyrics that effectively tell us the story. We get a handle on the characters and the theme from the very beginning. I sing the praises of cast, crew, production staff and musicians. Such an entertaining and WONDERFULLY executed story. Great night of theater!!! Bravo to all~

Do Not Miss This Crazy Show/Woman!

By Brian Skellenger / August 10, 2013
This user has reviewed 2 shows

If this show didn't have you hooked with its title, then there's something wrong with you. Seriously. Kim Kivens plays "Shelly Bachberg" with passion and insanity, Caroline Innerbichler and Mary Fox are hilarious as Anne Frank and Helen Keller, respectively, and the rest of the ensemble is so committed, they should all be institutionalized. The script, music, and lyrics are engaging and clever, so you'll want to listen extra closely so you don't miss anything. I wouldn't mind seeing a full-length musical of this, frankly. But barring that, I strongly encourage you to see this show before it closes! You won't regret it!

"Shelly" Jiggled My Belly"!

By Beth Hersman / August 10, 2013
This user has reviewed 2 shows

Shelly Bachberg was a laugh a minute...literally! I would love to see it again just to catch more of the subtle nuances and facial expressions. So much fun and parody is going on all at once that you have to stay alert. We were impressed by the amount of effort that went into this top-notch production! Great costuming and set design. Impressive from start to finish.

Legislate the V-jay jays!

By April Anderson / August 10, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

Hi-larious! We thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this show-the music, the choreography, the satire and the flag! We laughed, out loud, amazed and astonished the entire time, job well done everyone!

Six Stars!

By Carolyn and Keith Dehnbostel / August 9, 2013
This user has reviewed 5 shows

Continuous laughter
Hilarious political humor
Amazingly talented cast
Great costumes
Another sold out show with good reason
Very, very wrong in so many ways

I said it, so it's true!

By Stephanie Wojtanowicz / August 8, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

Which is why I say this is absolutely the best thing at the fringe this year. If you ever wanted someone to take the helm and write something TRULY smart, witty and dead on (Many lines from the show are actual quotes) to expose the insanity and ridiculousness of a certain MN congresswoman- it has happened. This musical is something we've always wanted to see; its a beautiful political-satire revenge-fantasy /comedy and all the right people came together to make it 100% perfect. Max's lyrical writing and rhyming is just genius and delightful, and he does himself and the subject matter credit by hiring a truly talented cast and crew!

A reall 5-star

By Diane Mountford / August 8, 2013
This user has reviewed 4 shows

You know how you give some shows a five star review ... because they were really good ... and then you see this show, and you think you should have given those other shows four stars instead? That happened to me last night. Reserve your tickets. Unless you voted for Michelle Bachman because you think she's the smartest woman on the planet, you will love this show.

Oh my!! Best of the Fringe once more

By Suzanne Sharrock / August 7, 2013
This user has reviewed 56 shows

What a musical! What a hilarious, over-the-top satire. The very essence of fringe comedy - strong, strong casting -How could I have almost missed seeing this??? Hard to see anything immediately afterward - all else pales by comparison!!

Get there early!

By Mike Lewis / August 7, 2013
This user has reviewed 4 shows

I wasn't sure how long it would take me to get downtown during construction season; as it happened, I got there at 6:05 and there were already about 70 people in line! The fact that it would sell out was very apparent. So, get there very early or reserve a seat online!

As for the show, it was very clever with catchy numbers. Great singing, great dancing, great music. The show was definitely a lot of fun. The only thing I could say was that some of the numbers went on a bit too long. It needed just a little tightening up. But except for that, it was a great show. Kim Kivens has Bachmann down completely, and Caroline Innerbicher did an outstanding job with some solos as Anne Frank.

Oh Shelly Bachberg!

By Ryan Bregier / August 7, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

A definite must see at the festival! Great cast, great music and lots of laughs! Don't miss it!

Bachman unveiled!

By Nathan Curland / August 7, 2013
This user has reviewed 11 shows

Hilarious original musical that pokes fun at someone who you can't poke enough at. If you didn't realize what an idiot Bachman was before, you will after this. The cast is great and absolutely in sync through the whole operation. Standing ovation!

See it!!

By Jason Rojas / August 7, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

Seriously amazing. Such great execution. If only there was a magic way to force Bachmann to see this. I truly believe in my optimistic heart that she would actually learn something. So well done. Bravo!

Very funny

By Jenny Kuehlenberg / August 7, 2013
This user has reviewed 2 shows

Obviously very funny, especially for those of a certain political perspective. Just good fun.


By Kate Plager / August 6, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

Although there are a plethora of easy jokes in pop culture about all three of the main characters : Bachberg/mann, Helen Keller and Anne Frank, this show manages to put a creative, fresh, and ingenious spin on on the humor that I never compared it to pages on reddit. The music was enjoyable, and the message sincere. I wish I had time to see this show again!

Almost too funny

By Jake Endres / August 6, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

Max! My only problem with your show was that it was so freaking funny that the audience was laughing over too many of your brilliant lyrics. So I hope this one has a life as well after the Fringe. You can make some deliciously twisted rhymes, bro. Great job all around!

Great Show

By Bob Radecki / August 6, 2013
This user has reviewed 2 shows

Funny, great music, great acting...what more do you want! Everyone should see this show (unless you supported Michelle Bachmann's Presidential run!!).

Like not love

By Natalie Adams / August 6, 2013
This user has reviewed 20 shows

After seeing last years Fruit Fly I was extremely thrilled to see Shelly Bachberg. And while it met my expectations it didn't go above and beyond like Fruit Fly. As the play continued on it seemed like it was stretched out almost to the max. The lyrics and music weren't as catchy and exciting as I was hoping. It was still a good time and made me laugh the whole way through. I just liked it and didn't love it.


By Steven Flamm / August 6, 2013
This user has reviewed 5 shows

This show juggles so many comic balls and keeps them in the air for most of the show. Toward the end it gets a little frantic and a few balls get close to the floor, but none are actually dropped. Quite a feat for a large cast in a broad satire in a small space. The song numbers alone are worth the trip. Darrow does yeoman service. Kevins, Fox, and Innerbichler are a terrific trio. The whole cast does fine work. See this one!

Satirical Brillance

By Marie Strampe / August 5, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

Between the classic musical references, perfectly campy choreography, strong voices, and 1000% commitment from everyone on stage, this is show should not be missed! Mary Fox's portrayal of Helen Keller is especially great since the role could easily dissolve into over-the-top, one-note moments. Fox manages to give Helen depth and comic timing without cracking a smile. Once you see this show, you'll understand what a feat that is.
You'll be laughing too hard to slow down and think about how scarily similar Shelly Bachberg and Central Minnesota's infamous congresswoman really are. Max manages to tell a poignant, cautionary, political tale during the most entertaining and well-crafted hour you'll watch this Fringe.

1000% factual (and hilarious)

By Vanessa Holste / August 5, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

For the performance I saw, everyone gave 110%. Everyone. I don't even know if I could pick a favorite character because the comedic timing was so spot on.

This is a show that will bring tears to your eyes...from laughing so much. The lyrics are so brilliant, so clever. And they'll get you thinking about those in power and the weight their words can carry.

If you don't already have tickets, get them now because it was pretty much sold out at the first performance (before any solid reviews). Look at all these high ratings. DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW!

Funny and frightening!

By Ben Krywosz / August 5, 2013
This user has reviewed 2 shows

A hilarious examination of our current political madness -- committed performances, sharp writing, crisp pacing, with a fun nod to musical theater conventions -- probably the best way to confront an otherwise scary topic -- you'll laugh just to keep from crying :) VERY WELL-DONE!

You'll be wanting to will-call this one

By Delano DuGarm / August 5, 2013
This user has reviewed 3 shows

I don't much like political shows, but went to this one based on Gruber and Woitanowicz's "Fruit Fly" at last year's Fringe. I loved this one, mostly for two things:

1) The cast's absolute conviction in their roles, and

2) The great production numbers.

I though Mary Fox stole the show as Helen Keller, though I also thought Caroline Innerbichler was great as an all-singing, all-dancing, all-slave-liberating Ann Frank.

1 person found this review helpful

I said it, so it must be true!

By Mark Kieffer / August 4, 2013
This user has reviewed 3 shows

The latest pairing of composer Michael Gruber and lyricist Max Woitanowicz with additional material by director Nikki Swoboda is as disturbing as it is hilarious. The book is tight, the music is appropriately snappy or touching depending on the moment, and the cast presents the material with conviction and flair. I still think my stomach muscles are sore from laughing! Where it gets disturbing is when you stop laughing for a minute and think about the material being presented and realize that for some people, this show might be highly offensive because they really believe that "if Shelly said it, it must be true."

1 person found this review helpful


By Marla Wojtanowicz / August 4, 2013
This user has reviewed 1 show

Although you may think that having Max Wojtanowicz as my brother I would be partial, but this show was absolutely amazing! Hilarious, catchy, and poignant with many laughs a minute. This is a show that you can see just once, but you will want to see again to keep catching the multilayered jokes and jabs at our good friend Shelly Bachburg. A great cast, wonderful music, and everything one wants in a political musical satire! Well done!

History's Important!

By Andrew Troth / August 4, 2013
This user has reviewed 28 shows

Brilliant satire and hilarious performances by Kim Kivens, Caroline Innerbichler, and Ryan Grimes made this the perfect Fringe kick-off for me!

1 person found this review helpful


Background information + more

What, what, what in the world... is this show about?

After the 2012 Fringe Festival, as the FRUIT FLY creative team was having its post-mortem, Max told a story from his days as an English teacher's assistant in high school, when he came across this actual test answer:

Q: What questions did you have about Anne Frank that her diary didn't answer?
A: How old was she when she freed the slaves?

The more he read the answer, the more ridiculous it got. He knew the student, and knew she couldn't possibly have been trying to be funny. The answer was genuine. How in the world could the educational system fail her so badly? His friend was reading a test answer about Helen Keller, and a ridiculous story about these two young women ending abolition became a long-running inside joke.

The story always seemed like it had theatrical potential, and after FRUIT FLY was voted Best Musical of the festival last year, we were eager to collaborate again.

As it happened, that day, Michele Bachmann had said something dreadful in the news that day, or had misconstrued history somehow, and an idea was born.

When politicians use their own revisionist history to promote their personal and political ideologies, the line between fact and fantasy is blurred, and although we can scoff at their words, they have dangerous implications. SHELLY BACHBERG PRESENTS: HOW HELEN KELLER AND ANNE FRANK FREED THE SLAVES: THE MUSICAL combines an impossibly far-fetched narrative with actual Bachmann quotes, and asks the audience: can you tell which is which?

Kim Kivens sings the opening number, "History's Important," at a Fringe preview in July!

promo photos: Dan Norman
book cover: Emma Trithart

Cast + crew bios

David Darrow


David Darrow is thrilled to be making fun of some really exemplary Americans. He has worked around the Twin Cities at the Guthrie, Theatre Latte Da, The Playwrights Center, Sandbox Theatre, and most recently 7th House Theater Collective, of which he is a founding member. This fall, he can be seen in Skiing on Broken Glass in the Dowling Studio. Love to everyone - especially Caitlin. And Elvis.

Mary Fox

Helen Keller

Mary has been acting in the Twin Cities for the past five years. Some recent credits include Sylvia and Stay Tuned (Yellow Tree Theatre), A Day In The Death Of Joe Egg (Public Dreams Theatre), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Theater Latte Da), and Street Scene (Girl Friday Productions). Mary also works in special exhibits, film, and voice over work for The Science Museum of Minnesota.

Brianna Graham

Slave / Ensemble

Bri is thrilled to be in her very first Fringe show! She is even more excited that her debut with the Fringe is telling the magical (and factual) story of how Anne Frank and Helen Keller freed the slaves, via Shelly Bachberg! You may have seen Bri in 7th House Theatre Collective's Hair. Other recent credits would be Appomattox at the Guthrie and Hairspray at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre! Thank you so much for reading this. Hope you enjoy this brilliant and factually accurate untold tale!

Ryan McGuire Grimes

Marquee Bachberg / Ensemble

Ryan McGuire Grimes has amassed numerous theatrical credits throughout the Twin Cities over the past twelve years, including productions with Minneapolis Musical Theatre, Theatre in the Round, 20%, Starting Gate, Pigs Eye, nimbus, and Urban Samurai Productions, for whom Ryan directed the Twin Cities premiere of [title of show] while serving as Managing Director. Ryan is excited to participate in the Minnesota Fringe Festival once again after appearing as Starla in Urban Samurai’s 2008 hit Musical: The Musical at the Rarig Center.

Caroline Innerbichler

Anne Frank

Caroline is thrilled to be playing one of her childhood dream roles, regardless of context! Just finished Hair with 7th House Theater Collective. Upcoming: Fiddler on the Roof at Chanhassen Dinner Theaters. Caroline would like to thank her dog, Finna, for her constant validation and support.

Kim Kivens

Shelly Bachberg

Kim is ever-so-thrilled to be back at the Fringe! She was most recently seen on stage with our fierce and fabulous writer Max Wojtanowicz in Theater Latte Da's new work series production of C. and Johnny Baseball at Park Square Theatre... she just can’t get enough of that Max! Other performances include: Company (Jenny) and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Rona Lisa Peretti) both with Theater Latte Da, Deal! The Musical (Millie) with Tyrol Hills Music at The Ritz Theater - yep, Max was in that one, too - and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Muriel Eubanks) with Minneapolis Musical Theatre at the Illusion Theater in which she was honored by Lavender Magazine in 2011 as a Best Supporting Actress (Musical). Kim also works consistently as a voice-over and on-camera actor. Favorite roles: Mom & Wife to Lily & Joe.

Kasono Mwanza

Slave / Ensemble

Kasono feels blessed to be a part of the Shelly Bachberg cast! Presently a company dancer for Kinetic Evolutions Dance Company, past productions include Johnny Baseball (Park Square Theatre); A Hometown Christmas Pageant, Xanadu (Midwest premiere), Hairspray, Jesus Christ Superstar, All Shook Up! (Chanhassen Dinner Theatres); Footloose (University of Minnesota-Duluth); Footloose (Istanbul, Turkey State Theatre through Sieur Du Luth); The Hot Mikado (Birmingham University, U.K.); and Porgy & Bess (Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra). "Thank you for the opportunity to do what I love. To my friends and Family, I love you always." Member of Actors’ Equity Association.

Whitney Rhodes


Whitney is active in the Twin Cities’ theatre scene as an actor, singer, writer and producer. She has worked with Theater Latté Da, Park Square Theatre, Actors Theater of Minnesota, Arts Center on 7 and the Minnesota Fringe Festival. Independently, she is active in creating and performing in several cabarets and concerts including: Where’s My Parade?, Seriously...Where's My Parade?, Where's My Parade: The Remix, Where's My Tony?, The Could Be Project (benefitting the SpotLight Musical Theatre Program) and most recently, Dear 27 (benefitting HopeKids Twin Cities). She is also a founding lyricist for the songwriting collaborative Prosody. She is a Nebraska native and a Drake University graduate with degrees in acting and advertising. By day, she manages the SpotLight Musical Theatre Program at Hennepin Theatre Trust. Whitney is unapologetic in admitting she screamed with joy when Max asked her to be in Shelly. Her parents & TK can vouch for this. Enjoy our skit!

Rudolph (Tre) Searles III

Slave / Ensemble

Rudolph Searles III was born and raised in Aurora, CO. He comes to Minneapolis, however, by way of Casper, Wyoming where he received his Associate of Arts in Musical Theatre, and also Mankato, where he got his BFA. He is ecstatic to be working with this amazing group of people and also to finally lose his fringe-inity. Love to his family and Adam!

Max Wojtanowicz

Book / Lyrics / Producer

Max is so glad to be back at the Fringe! He wrote, produced and starred in Fruit Fly: The Musical last year, which was voted Best Musical and came in #6 in overall ticket sales. His other Fringe outings were Joe Dowling's William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet on the Moon, featuring Kate Mulgrew as Lady Capulet (2012), in providence (2010) and Musical: The Musical (2008). A native of Rice, Minnesota, and a graduate of St. Olaf College, he performs regularly throughout the Twin Cities, and he and Sheena Janson also curate a monthly cabaret series, Musical Mondays, on the first Monday of every month at Hell's Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis. This fall he will play Warren in the regional premiere of Adam Gwon's Ordinary Days with Nautilus Music-Theater. Thank you to everyone involved with this project -- it's a dream come true! Enjoy the show!


Michael Gruber

Music / Additional Lyrics

Role: Composer / Additional Lyrics
Michael is a recent Minneapolis transfer who has performed on Broadway in the original companies of Miss Saigon, Swing!, Stairway to Paradise, Jackie Mason’s Laughing Room Only, My Favorite Year, Kiss Me, Kate! (both Bill and Hortensio), The Wizard of Oz (the Tin Man), Cats (Munkustrap), and Mike in the final cast of A Chorus Line as well as Greg and Zach in the 2008 revival. Mr. Gruber also performed the role of Munkustrap in the movie of Cats, filmed at the Adephi Theater in London. Over the past 23 years, he has starred in over 50 regional productions. Cast recording include: 42nd Street, Singin’ in the Rain, Wonderful Town, Good News, Swing!, Follies, The Most Happy Fella, My Favorite Year and The Music Man. Mr. Gruber is also the composer of four musicals: Hit it, Mike!, The Old Dead Five, Vegas Organic and Fruit Fly as well as the following song cycles: Love Returned, The Not So Peaceable Kingdom, The Tennessee Cycle and Songs for 2 Women.


Nikki Swoboda

Director / Choreographer

BFA in Musical Theatre - UMD; MFA in Directing - MSU. Nikki has directed and/or choreographed over 70 productions thus far in her career. Her work has been seen across the Midwest, East Coast, and even at Alice Tully Hall in the Lincoln Center. She has been on faculty at Nazareth College in Rochester, NY, as Artist in Residence, as Assistant Professor of Theater at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN, and as Musical Theater and Dance Faculty at the Walnut Hill School of the Arts in Natick, MA. She is currently the Education Program Manager at Stages Theatre Company and is so happy to have found a home there. Nikki may be giving birth as you read this--she was due during tech--and hopes her daughter has the unflinching confidence of Shelly Bachberg, the adventurous spirit of Anne Frank and the open heart of Helen Keller. XOXO to Ben and Stink.

Jason Hansen

Music Director / Additional Music

Jason Hansen is a musician in the Twin Cities with a growing reputation for his work in the theater. He has held positions of music director, arranger, educator, and/or performer at the Children’s Theatre Company, Theater Latte Da, Mixed Blood Theater, Guthrie Theater (BFA Program), Theatre Mu, Open Eye Figure Theater, University of Minnesota, MN Fringe Festival, and Eagan Community Theater. Jason most recently directed music for Theater Latte Da’s production of Aida, Mixed Blood Theater’s Next to Normal, Eagan Community Theater’s Peter Pan, and Fruit Fly with the 2012 MN Fringe Festival. Jason is also the resident music director for Alive and Kickin, the Twin Cities senior rock ensemble and is also heavily involved in area schools and community organizations, directing and arranging music for bands and choirs. As a composer, Jason is developing new music for cabaret and theater and works with the songwriting collaborative Prosody. Upcoming work includes the debut production for FLiP! Theatre Company (The Last 5 Years) and a new work in collaboration with Max Wojtanowicz.

Alex Young


Alex is honored to have performed and/or record with such artists as Breanne Düren (of Owl City), The Farewell Circuit, Bella Ruse, Rogue Valley, Chris Koza, Jeremy Messersmith, The Honeydogs, And The Professors, Sophia Shorai, Mick Sterling & The Irresistibles, This World Fair, Alicia Wiley, Ari Herstand, Sleep Study, The Blenders, Ashliegh Still, Will Hutchinson, Danielle Thrush, Joel Hanson, Bill Mike, Lauren Redpath, Dan Musselman, Cory Wong Quartet, Pamela McNeill, and countless others. He has also performed with the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra and the Childrens Theatre Company. He has performed in clinics with Joe Lovano and SO Percussion.

Carissa Bombard

Stage Manager

Rita Anderson


Five Course Love (advertisement) (advertisement)