Ordway
Ordway
Musical theater

A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant

By The Catalysts
Created by Alex Timbers & Kyle Jarrow
New Century Theatre


Praise Xenu! This irreverent off-Broadway musical celebrates the controversial religion and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, in uplifting pageantry and song by a jubilant cast of children in its Minnesota premiere!

The creators say this show is appropriate for ages 7 and up.


 Thursday, 7/31 @ 5:30 p.m.
 
 Sunday, 8/3 @ 1:00 p.m.
 
 Tuesday, 8/5 @ 7:00 p.m.
 
 Thursday, 8/7 @ 8:30 p.m.
 
 Sunday, 8/10 @ 7:00 p.m.
 
Read the reviews

Accolades to the director

by Corrinne Fiedler on August 11, 2014
This user has reviewed 32 shows

We try to see Max's shows, and again we were not disappointed. What a great experience to see kids performing so well. Great job in casting and getting the group ready. I am relatively familiar with Scientology history, and found that the show did a good job of sticking to the facts (at least the facts as described in the popular press).


A Delightful Exposé Of A Cult

by August Berkshire on August 10, 2014
This user has reviewed 52 shows

Surprisingly good presentation for a children's show. The script and actors played it straight (not tongue-in-cheek, not sarcastic), which was right, because the mercenary aspects, vindictiveness, and alien absurdities of Scientology speak for themselves to denounce the cult. But the show also demonstrated why some people would be attracted to Scientology, which is an insight worth having.


Kids! Talented Kids!

by Lesli Randall on August 9, 2014
This user has reviewed 21 shows

Did I mention this was done entirely by a cast of kids?? And not an annoyingly precocious one in the bunch! They pulled this off without hesitation, and with a wry sense of humor that belied their age. The time flew by, and it was very apparent the performers were having a ball. If you're on the fence about this one, GO! (Disclaimer: I'm not a parent, family member or friend of these folks. They really did a wonderful job!)

1 person found this review helpful


They came from beyond.

by Matt Binjah on August 9, 2014
This user has reviewed 4 shows

This was a well acted fun show. The script was very funny. Some of the actors seemed a little green for the material which I know was the point but I feel like some jokes fell through because of it. Other actors knock it out of the park. Over all I enjoyed the production.


Toothless

by Ryan Vanasse on August 9, 2014
This user has reviewed 4 shows

At first glance, this show should have been a knockout winner. Combining the oh-so-conventional children's Christmas pageant with a religion known for crazy celebrities and space alien ghosts should have been an easy source of amusement. But there's something toothless about the satire in this show. It plays the story *too* straight, expecting the absurdities of Scientology to be the only thing that brings laughter. The songs, too, are unmemorable, though ably sung. I enjoyed the young actors and hope to see them in more Fringe shows in the future, though I don't have a desire to see this specific show again.


It's not what you're expecting!

by Barbara Shaterian on August 8, 2014
This user has reviewed 3 shows

Part church nativity pageant, part lounge act (though neither cutesy nor sleazy), and big part tacky, the Scientology Pageant took us by surprise. We weren't expecting these wholesome young actors in a dance line to deliver such a sinister story.

1 person found this review helpful


The "L" stands for "Lots o'Laughs!"

by Mickey Foley on August 8, 2014
This user has reviewed 23 shows

The all-kid cast is a delight, a precociously talented group with strong satirical instincts. The story of L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology is wittily lampooned in this musical comedy. The song-and-dance numbers are well-choreographed and -executed. The actors capture the irony in the scenes, although I'm not sure if the script provides them with enough depth for a well-rounded story. It's a funny show, but it didn't feel much more substantial than a children's Christmas pageant.


Irreverent and Entertaining

by Cindy Lutz on August 8, 2014
This user has reviewed 3 shows

We thoroughly enjoyed this show. It is irreverent, but that was fine with us. The all-children cast is talented and charming. The youngest actor was sometimes difficult to hear and understand, but he has a delightful stage presence. I expect these young actors have promising futures in store for them. Our 14-year-old son, an aspiring actor himself and lover of satire, found it entertaining and impressive.


Very entertaining

by Holly O'Keefe on August 8, 2014
This user has reviewed 8 shows

I laughed throughout this play. Very enjoyable. Would have been even more enjoyable if the music were softer, so we could hear the singers better.


A true gem waiting for you to discover!

by Darrel Nelson on August 8, 2014
This user has reviewed 11 shows

Hilarious and intentionally campy, this show provided me with the most laughs I've had at the Fringe this year. The cast of kids are simply amazing with both 'L. Ron' and the 'Angelic Girl' standing out. Peppered with irreverent takes on the creator (and creation) of Scientology and featuring cameos from a few of it's better known acolytes, Tom Cruise, Kristie Alley & John Travolta, it's a can't miss riotous entertainment pleasure. There are many memorable scenes and lines of dialogue to enjoy in this one; the comedic characterizations by the kids are terrific too. What a great find this one was! Make the time to see this - it's well worth it and highly recommended.

2 people found this review helpful


So-so show, good satire

by Karen Smudski on August 7, 2014
This user has reviewed 10 shows

While I generally enjoy poking fun at any and all religions and cults, Scientology is just so creepy and disgusting I found it hard to be amused. The children's performances were not strong enough to distract me from the horror of the all-too-real story. The singing quality was mixed and a bit too weak to hear at times, too. I would suggest, if you're going to showcase children in a show, make sure they are strong performers who know how to enunciate and speak or sing loudly.


Dark Cheer

by David Rust on August 7, 2014
This user has reviewed 26 shows

Perhaps the creepiest, most fun show I've seen this year. This "celebration" of the religious legacy of L. Ron Hubbard was presented in the style of your average Church Christmas Pageant complete with forced smiles and plastic cheer. It was hilarious, well-sung, brilliantly-acted, and extremely memorable.

I heartily recommend this to any Fringer. These young performers have a great future ahead of them and the writer really nailed the subject matter. The pacing was perfect and break-neck with the show flowing easily from number to number and act to act. It's clear the show was very well-rehearsed.

A must-see!

2 people found this review helpful


Solid Satire - and a fine production!

by Adam Qualls on August 7, 2014
This user has reviewed 1 show

When I wasn't doubled over, I was wincing in discomfort. And I'm pretty sure that was the point. This is less Broadway Hit, more Theatre of the Poor. The discomfort wasn't in what we were seeing depicted onstage, it's what we were seeing actually on the stage in front of us: a bunch of kids who (for the most part) didn't understand the scope of what they were depicting. The songs, while unimaginative and even grating at times, fit the whole intentionally-amateurish mise-en-scene perfectly. At any Christian Nativity play like this, we just smile and applaud. But when it's put in the frame of Scientology, we start realizing how ridiculous it is to indoctrinate kids this way. That's the point. Well done. Solid direction, talented kids.


Are you OK with religious jokes?

by Chris Gennaula on August 7, 2014
This user has reviewed 4 shows

* Fibonacci Scale Review: 5 Fibs (a great show - highly recommend )
* If you are easily offended by religious jokes, this show is not for you. It is similar to the "Book of Mormon" in this regard.
* Entire cast did a great job. Ethan Davenport as L Ron Hubbard and Jillian Jacobson as Angelic Girl especially stood out.
* I loved it that the kids did NOT over-sing. The 'Annie' style of singing does major damage.
* I would have preferred a live musician at a keyboard, rather than a piped in music.


Have a happy show!

by Mike Lewis on August 7, 2014
This user has reviewed 2 shows

When I read the premise of this one, I wasn't sure I could make it all the way through it, but it turned out to be much better than I thought. I've seen a lot of amateur Fringe shows over the years, but it takes talent to make your show feel amateur (as if put on by children) when it isn't. These kids are all amazing actors, and I learned a lot during the show - so much so, I spent the whole train ride home googling various things I heard in the show. One thing about the "unmemorable" songs other reviews mention: I read that the show's songs use actual musical motifs and lyrics from Hubbard's songs and books. In that sense, it's like a Yankovic parody in which you aren't as familiar with the source material. Go see it and have a happy show!

2 people found this review helpful


Buoyant, funny & disturbing

by Jenna Zark on August 6, 2014
This user has reviewed 2 shows

Funny, disturbing, tightly paced and buoyantly performed by young actors. Superbly directed and produced. Go see this one!


Clever, Fresh, Daring

by Dona Freeman on August 6, 2014
This user has reviewed 1 show

This perfectly cast little gem bites with sharp kitten teeth! Clever, fresh and daring, last night's audience loved A Very Merry Children's Unauthorized Scientology Pageant. Another hit from Ma Wojtanowicz and The Catalysts! Can't wait to see what they cook up next year!


Intelligent and Entertaining Theater

by Travis Rother on August 6, 2014
This user has reviewed 2 shows

Pageant is an entertaining hour of theater, so much so that you begin to get lulled into the Scientology story, which makes the final moments bone-chilling (go see it and you will see what I mean). The music is delightfully simple, a la typical pageant material and the costumes excellently create the home-made pageant feel. The children are talented and cute...again, allowing the audience to immerse themselves in the pageant experience. Well done to all involved!


A laugh riot!

by Dan Heggen on August 6, 2014
This user has reviewed 4 shows

As far as subject matters to make fun of go, Scientology is kind of like the quail Dick Cheney likes to hunt inside a big cage. A very easy target. So I was pretty sure this show would be funny and entertaining. But it was extremely funny, entertaining, and just plain fun! And the kids were just great! From the singing to the acting they all did a tremendous job. With special guest appearances from John Travolta and Tom Cruise this is a great show that I highly recommend everyone go see!


Inspired casting, but too much/too ong

by Florence Brammer on August 6, 2014
This user has reviewed 42 shows

I loved the casting of kids in the show (and they are great), but the content got repetitive quickly and failed to hold my interest after 20-25 minutes.


Xenu To The Max!

by Greg Hernandez on August 5, 2014
This user has reviewed 13 shows

A very cool offering at this year's Fringe. If you have any interest in religious cults or gleeful kid's choruses or just like quirky shows, see this one for sure. You're not likely to see anything like it this side of the Celebrity Center.


HEY!

by Kim Kivens on August 5, 2014
This user has reviewed 1 show

Those KIDS! They didn't miss a beat. I laughed so hard my throat hurts! Go see this show for a fun and laughter filled experience. Congrats to all who worked on this show...you should be proud!


Deceptively entertaining satire

by Lori Constable on August 5, 2014
This user has reviewed 4 shows

If you are looking for a show that balances open faced innocence with strong edged satire, then this is a must see. Cleverly blending parody with nuanced realism means that The Catalysts offer a Fringe Show that truly is risky. No nudity, no F-bombs; instead, angelic faced children (who don't smack of cloying sit com acting) spouting the troubling diatribe of a zealot...as if it was a real amateur pageant, uneven production values and all. Reading some of the earlier reviews, it is clear that a few have missed the point: the repetitive musicality and banal choices (for choices they are) combine to be spot on as we discover that it is not merely Scientology being parodied, but so much more. Strong cast, effective staging and a great choice.

1 person found this review helpful


Quirky but Flawed

by Grant Sorenson on August 5, 2014
This user has reviewed 1 show

If it was 2008, this show would probably kill. At this point, however, Scientology jokes are just a bit past their prime, especially when shows like Book of Mormon are lancing religion but with much better and smarter material. The cast of bright-eyed kids, smiles plastered onto their faces, do the show service, with some funny sight gags and deadpan "Kids Say the Darnedest Things" takes to the audience, but the music is like fingernails on a chalkboard and the jokes too repetitive. I left wondering what exactly The Catalysts were trying to say with this production, and how it worked in their mission as a company. I much prefer their original work, which I hope we'll see more of next Fringe!


Too Crazy? Think Again.

by Paul McGuire Grimes on August 5, 2014
This user has reviewed 2 shows

Leave it to Max Wojtanowicz and his Catalysts crew to put on another all-too-hard-to-believe piece of theater. Like last year's mega Fringe hit, "Shelley Bachberg...." they offer another up another show with a biting commentary. I'm no Scientologist, but I have a feeling many of the shows declarations are coming from some source of truth. Ethan Daveport and Jillian Jacobson lead a terrific cast of young talents that will no doubt keep popping up at the Guthrie, CTC, Youth Performance Co, Stages, and pretty much any other theater that needs some scene-stealers.

1 person found this review helpful


Good Family Fun

by Ben Theisen on August 4, 2014
This user has reviewed 1 show

Great fun! An all kid cast beaming with future talent. See it! You'll laugh and learn.


Holy Talented Children

by Matthew Briggs on August 4, 2014
This user has reviewed 3 shows

If you have ever had the joy of working with kids, you should be able to appreciate what a feat it is for a cast of 7 (no adults onstage) to own the stage for an hour with a full musical story. The kids are almost freakishly talented, professional, and wholly engaging. Staging was crisp and clean, and there was never a full moment. Congratulations to the team behind this very impressive production.


Sing out, Louise!

by Ryan McGuire Grimes on August 4, 2014
This user has reviewed 3 shows

At times, I was afraid to laugh or clap because I thought I may miss something. The New Century is an acoustically-tough space, so I was thankful they were able to use microphones for the singing, at least, but I wanted more projection overall. However, these are some enormously talented kids with bright performance futures ahead of them. Was this a pageant put on by Scientologists' children? That wasn't clear, and I think there's opportunity for more comedic gold in the material by playing up the melodrama. These are really just questions to make an already strong show even stronger; you won't be sorry you spent an hour with these children!


Talented kids!

by Lynette Eastwold on August 4, 2014
This user has reviewed 3 shows

This was a very funny show, and the cast was excellent. A little weak and repetitive musically, but it was fun to watch (and educational!).


The More You Know

by Julie Blaha on August 3, 2014
This user has reviewed 7 shows

The more you know about L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, the funnier this show will be. The play focuses on just what a pageant of this type would highlight and using kids heightens the absurdity. Based on earlier reviews, there seems to have been improvements on technical issues as it seemed smooth on Sunday. Easily in my list of tip top shows.

1 person found this review helpful


Cheerful, Slightly Creepy Fun

by Sara Robinson-Coolidge on August 3, 2014
This user has reviewed 14 shows

I had heard mixed reviews from friends of this show, but I'm glad I went. The content is quite funny, and I left feeling like I learned a bit about L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. The songs weren't particularly memorable but they were fine and the middle school-aged cast was great. It probably helped that I didn't go in with sky high expectations; it's a fun show and one of the ones I enjoyed most (out of ten) this weekend.

2 people found this review helpful


Missed the Mark

by Keith Rose on August 3, 2014
This user has reviewed 2 shows

While there was some talent in the cast (although some cast members need to project better and slow down so the audience can understand what they are saying), the script was weak. The music was repetitive throughout the show, and annoying at best. There were some humorous moments, but they were few and very far between. I am sure the show will do fairly well because parents and friends of the children in the show will come, but it does not live up to expectation.


Thoroughly captivating!

by Wendy Blackshaw on August 3, 2014
This user has reviewed 1 show

Today's performance was pure entertainment! From the angel's opening melody thru L. Ron's childhood, the WWII slow mo battle, the Prince Xenu story and "Annie"'s soul searching ballad, this is a must see! Ethan Davenport is perfect in his portrayal of crazed narcissistic Scientology founder L. Ron. The whole cast of kids totally brings it - lots of talent and it shows. A "must-see" fringe show by the great Catalyst troupe. Don't miss this one!'


Nice try

by Jim Loeffler on August 3, 2014
This user has reviewed 8 shows

This is an overly ambitious production utilizing a group of very talented young actors. It attempts to do for L Ron Hubbard (in 55 minutes) what "The Book of Mormon" does for the Latter Day Saints in about 15 minutes. I couldn't help wondering if these kids even knew who and what they were satirizing. Tons of costumes, good direction but music was very repetitive and it was way too long. Would have benefited from shorter length. Yo don't have to use every second of your alotted time!

1 person found this review helpful


Go See It

by Chris Moore on August 2, 2014
This user has reviewed 1 show

Dashing through the City Center, I passed Suite 145. An angel appeared, as well as Tom Cruise, Kristy Alley, and a pint-sized John Travolta. Really, like 4' 2". They're kids, putting on a Scientology pageant all about the life of L. Ron and his rise to fame, fortune, and intergalactic flim-flam. Sure, the show has some technical issues, but they're kids puttin' on a pageant, and you won't see better comic performances at the Fringe than you'll see from some of these youngsters.

1 person found this review helpful


Tom Cruise Would Be Proud

by Eric Wentling on August 2, 2014
This user has reviewed 28 shows

This was a somewhat strange show with an all child and teen cast, set as a pageant exploring the life and times of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The cast did a good job with this, though being child actors and also the first show the fringe they had a few slightly missed cues. All of the actors were very earnest and the subject matter was frankly a little creepy and weird (more so than usual) coming from this cast! Entertaining for sure.


The Best Scientology Pageant Ever

by Mark Greneer on August 2, 2014
This user has reviewed 3 shows

Irreverent and loads of fun, and what a crew of talented kids! Very silly and a bit rough around the edges in spots....but this is Fringe, so that is all part of the experience. Very recommended!

1 person found this review helpful


Promising young cast, but musically weak

by A. Jung Werther on August 1, 2014
This user has reviewed 3 shows

This show was OK, but the music and lyrical content left me flat. A small set of pieces/themes were re-used a lot throughout the show. I did learn some new things about L. Ron Hubbard and his church. The youthful cast did a great job, and several were outstanding, especially in their bit parts.


Great Expectations...

by Scott Gilbert on August 1, 2014
This user has reviewed 48 shows

I have directed a fringe show that included kids and have seen many others with my own children. I know the routine. It will do well because parents and friends will come and support the show. But I need to express my issue with this show - script and execution. The script itself is a comedy about LRonHubbard. I did not find the music interesting or catchy. At its core it is supposed to be a bad production and campy. This is hard to pull off with adults, but even harder with middle-schoolers. While they tried, they were struggling to take themselves serious. I have seen a couple of these young actors do phenomenal work, but in this production it seems that they did not receive the support (or material) that they needed.

1 person found this review helpful


OMG ridiculous amazing robot talent kids

by Anna Weggel on August 1, 2014
This user has reviewed 2 shows

Where did these children COME FROM. They are absolute pros. I learned so much from them and the show is so weird and quirky and perfect for Fringe. Sit up close if you get the option because some of the chillens are a little hard to hear, but they are all so amazing and the music is great and you will love it. GO! Ok?

1 person found this review helpful


The "L" is for Laughs!

by Vanessa Holste on August 1, 2014
This user has reviewed 1 show

Using kids to tell the story of L. Ron Hubbard and the founding of the Church of Scientology is genius. The innocence of the kids juxtaposed with this ridiculous, outrageous history is actually hilarious. The kids are great too, especially given some of the difficult words in the script! My only complaint is that it was sometimes difficult to hear -- not sure if this was a mic issue or if a few of the kids had trouble projecting. But overall, I loved it and would highly recommend!


THINK! happy thoughts.

by Robert Droddy on August 1, 2014
This user has reviewed 1 show

RUN! I repeat, RUN to The Catalysts production of ‘A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant’ performing at The New Century Theatre. I cannot for the life of me stop thinking about this show. Not only does it feature some of the best and brightest young talent the cities have to offer, but it’s wildly satirical. The earnest, unsmug young performers leave no stone unturned as they reveal Hubbard’s “way” with those most disparaged in our communities. You’ll laugh AND you’ll think!


Hour of Pure Entertainment

by Mary Gruber on August 1, 2014
This user has reviewed 1 show

Song, dance, humor and philosophy were combined in a fast paced, entertaining hour. Costume/prop changes were handled effectively and professionally by the young cast. The young actors seemed to truly understand the material and enjoy being in the production.


Great Cast, Meh Show

by Patrick Gallagher on August 1, 2014
This user has reviewed 6 shows

The kids who make up the cast of the show are talented, enthusiastic, and winning. The direction was clear, the production ambitious. The problem is the show itself, which sticks its tongue out at an easy target (scientology) without engaging in any of the things that makes it interesting and scary, or examining why a man might start such a belief system and why people might choose to follow it.

2 people found this review helpful


Creepy...in a good way

by Joshua Campbell on August 1, 2014
This user has reviewed 1 show

This is such a fun show. The kids were so cute and talented. The subject is so creepy and it's especially weird to have kids tell the story. But that's what makes the show work! It adds to the ridiculousness. Great Job.


Energy, charm and cute

by David Trudeau on August 1, 2014
This user has reviewed 37 shows

An engaging off broadway hit of ten years ago - with lots of punchy songs and funny satire - is resurrected by a cast of high energy charming talented middle schoolers. Size-blind casting - a requirement with middle schoolers - makes it even more charming. The only thing I didn't love was allowing down center mike stands to upstage the actors when the mike stands had no business - they could have been moved up or to the side. Direction is otherwise superb, bring out the best in each of the actors. The premise of having a seasonal pageant celebrating the birth of the founder of scientology is too much fun, and the professional script is much tighter than the usual fringe set up. BTW - I am not a relative or friend of anyone in the show.

3 people found this review helpful


MOST ENTERTAINING ONE HOUR OF MY LIFE

by Sarah G on August 1, 2014
This user has reviewed 1 show

I can hardly believe that they fit all of that entertainment in a one-hour show. Plenty of costume, humor and scene changes to keep you engaged the entire time. The actor who played L. Ron was amazing and the show didn't rip Scientology like I thought they would. A must see.


Thought provoking!

by Tara Davenport on August 1, 2014
This user has reviewed 1 show

A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant entertains from start to finish and keeps your mind busy long afterward no matter how old you are. The next day, my 7-year-old asked, "Mom, does it really work?" I clarified. No, not the props, he wanted to know about the real deal: Dianetics. What a conversation starter!

The cast and creative team deliver this clever musical with a delightful mix of sincerity and sarcasm to tell the story of Scientology and founder L. Ron Hubbard. You don't want to miss seeing what these kids can do on stage. Their energy, innocence and professional-level talent make this a must-see at the Fringe. This show definitely works. As for "auditing", well, that's something to think about and discuss.


Hilarious, with Depth

by Elizabeth Weilandgruber on July 31, 2014
This user has reviewed 1 show

Strong direction + impressive young actors + a solid script= a wonderful show. Perfect balance of humor and genuine thought provoking material.


Loved it!

by Kim Chase-Kozak on July 31, 2014
This user has reviewed 7 shows

If you want to laugh, learn something about Scientology, and leave with something to think about this is the show for you! Extremely talented young and adorable cast.

2 people found this review helpful


Video
Cast and crew

Bella Blackshaw

Ensemble

Bella is so excited to be in the Fringe Festival, for the second year in a row, previously appearing in Gwen and Mary at Glen Ross Academy with Colfax Theatre. Bella most recently appeared in Shrek the Musical at Children's Theatre Company. Other CTC favorite credits include Annie and The Wizard of Oz. Favorite roles include Susan Walker in Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical with Troupe America National Tour, Junie B. Jones and Anne Frank at Youth Performance Co, Annie in Annie at EPP and Young Baby Jane in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? at Torch Theater. She has also worked in film, TV and print. This coming year, Bella will be a freshman at Southwest High School in Minneapolis. Thanks to the Catalysts for making this crazy show such a phenomenal experience. It's a Happy Day!

Ethan Davenport

L Ron Hubbard

Ethan is ecstatic to perform with such a wonderful cast and artistic team. Although he’s not a Scientologist, he’s having a lot of fun pretending to be one! Ethan’s an avid baseball player and sports talk radio listener who gets creeped out by centipedes, but recently developed an affinity for spiders. Last fall he played Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web at Children’s Theatre Company. Other favorites include Shrek, Pippi Longstocking and Jackie & Me at CTC, and A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie Theater. He’s also worked with History Theatre, CTC’s Theatre Arts Training Program’s Jr. Intensive, Fidgety Fairy Tales, Centennial Showboat, Stages, Morris Park Players and onscreen. Ethan thanks his family, friends and teachers for their support.

Tatum Geving

Ensemble

Tatum has been looking forward to this show all summer. She lives in Saint Paul and just finished 5th grade at L’Etoile du Nord French Immersion school. Prior to this opportunity, she’s performed at Stepping Stone Theatre and the Historic Mounds Theatre. Tatum and her family are moving to San Francisco the day after the show for a two year adventure. She would like to thank Max Wojtanowicz and the Fringe Festival for this fun pageant.

Lillie Horton

Ensemble

Lillie is very excited to be performing in her first Fringe show! Recently she appeared as Pinocchio in Pinocchio the musical and as Alice in Alice in Wonderland at Nova Classical Academy, and as the sassy lamb in Charlotte's Web at the Children's Theatre Company. This summer she is also acting in Macbeth with the Public Theatre of Minnesota, where she'll be killed onstage (a first for her)! In September she'll be starting high school! Lillie enjoys dancing and reading in her free time. She thanks her family and friends for their continued love and support -- and for driving her so much to and from rehearsals!

Jillian Jacobson

Angelic Girl

Jillian is thrilled to make her Fringe debut! Her recent credits include Letters to Sala and The Children’s Hour (Sabes JCC), Elephant’s Graveyard (Theatre Pro Rata), Cinderella (Children’s Theatre Company), Ruthless! The Musical (Chameleon Theatre Circle), Agent Fidelio: a Picnic Operetta (Mixed Precipitation), Anne of Green Gables, It's a Wonderful Life, and Orphan Train (Holy Trinity Theatre Circle), The Match Girl’s Gift (‘10, ‘11, and ‘12; Cerulean River Productions onboard the Minnesota Centennial Showboat), The Music Man (Eat Street Players), The Wizard of Oz (River Valley Theatre Company), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Guthrie Theater), and Street Scene (Girl Friday Productions). Jillian will be attending Chesterton Academy as a freshman in the fall. Her hobbies include dancing with the Wild Rose Cloggers, reading, writing, sports, and babysitting. “God bless, and enjoy this crazy show!”

Chase Kozak

Ensemble

Chase Kozak is thrilled to be part of his first Fringe Festival! Chase is a homeschooled 13-year-old from St. Paul. He’s been on a number of stages in the Cities, most recently appealing as Zebulon in Youth Performance Company’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. You can also catch him at CTC’s Cargill Stage this summer in Dear Edwina Jr. Chase studies theater, voice, piano, and has recently added dance. He would like to thank The Catalysts and the Minnesota Fringe for this amazing and fun opportunity!

Zel Weilandgruber

Ensemble

Guthrie Theater: Dollhouse (2010), A Christmas Carol (2013). Theater Latte Da: Our Town (2014). Rosetown Playhouse: A Christmas Carol (2010), The Wizard of Oz (2011). St. Anthony Community Theater: A Christmas Carol (2011). Zel will be a fifth grader at Dowling School in Minneapolis. He plays piano and accordion and has taken six years of tap & ballet classes at Ballare Teatro. Zel loves reading (especially Harry Potter), drawing, Legos and Minecraft.

Whitney Rhodes

Director

Whitney hails proudly from Lincoln, Nebraska and received her B.F.A in Acting, minor in Advertising from Drake University. Her love of creating work and performing came at an early age when she produced, directed and choreographed “sold out” neighborhood dance recitals at 12.

She now calls the Twin Cities home working as a singer, actor, director, producer, educator and Hennepin Theatre Trust’s SpotLight Musical Theatre Program Manager. She has been seen on the stages of Theater Latte Da, Minnetonka Theatre, Children's Theatre Company, Actors Theatre of Minnesota, Park Square Theatre and the Minnesota Fringe Festival and is the creator and performer of a series of one-woman cabarets. She is humbled to be a part of "making it go" with The Catalysts and thanks the team for allowing her to put on her director hat and her rockstar cast for being rockstars.

Jason Hansen

Music Director

Jason is happy to be returning to the Fringe festival working with fantastic friends and colleagues after the last two years (Fruit Fly, Shelly Bachberg Presents...). Jason 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 Theater Latte Da (Aida, Our Town), Mixed Blood Theater (Passing Strange, Next To Normal, Avenue Q), Guthrie Theater (Othello, BFA Program), the Children’s Theater Company (Mainstage and TAT Programs), FLiP! Theater Company (The Last 5 Years), Mu Performing Arts, Open Eye Figure Theater (2006 IVEY Award Winning Production), MN Fringe Festival, Hennepin Theater Trust’s Spotlight Showcase, University of Minnesota, UofM Centennial Showboat, and Eagan Community Theater. He also works on productions with several educational and community organizations including the St. Paul Conservatory for the Performing Arts. Jason is also the resident music director for the Twin Cities senior rock ensemble Alive & Kickin, and is a commissioned composer and arranger developing new music for choir, cabaret and theater. Upcoming projects include: Romeo and Juliet (Ten Thousand Things) and Into the Woods (Theater Latte Da). Jason lives in St Paul with his wonderful wife Alise.

Retsey Anderson

Costumes

Retsey Anderson is thrilled to work with Max, Jason, Whitney and Carissa after having SO much fun costuming Shelly Bachberg Presents: How Helen Keller and Anne Frank Freed the Slaves at the 2013 Fringe Festival. As a high school teacher for 30 years, Retsey costumed many variety productions at Rosemount High School and Eagan High School as well as community theater in Eagan. Retsey is excited to costume in other venues in the metro area and thanks Jason and Max for getting her involved in all these new adventures!

Carissa Bombard

Stage Manager / Set / Props

Fringe: in providence (Populus Theatre), Fruit Fly and Shelly Bachberg Presents... (The Catalysts). Cardinal Theatricals: Rocky Horror Show. Yellow Tree Theatre: Stay Tuned, The Glass Menagerie, Still Life with Iris, [title of show] (not with Max), The Movie Game. UMD: BFA Stage Management.

Anna Moskowitz

Production Intern

Anna is an incoming senior at Southwest High School. She assistant directed Cinderella at Children's Theatre Company and has been seen at CTC, Bloomington Civic Theatre, The Playwright's Center, Historic State Theatre and TASU Theatre Company. She'd like to thank Max and Whitney for the opportunity to explore the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard.

Max Wojtanowicz

Artistic Director / Producer

Max is so thrilled to be back in his third consecutive Fringe with The Catalysts, after writing Shelly Bachberg Presents: How Helen Keller and Anne Frank Freed the Slaves (2013) and creating and starring in Fruit Fly (2012). A native of Rice, MN, and graduate of St Olaf College, Max has performed with the Children's Theatre Company, Theater Latte Da, Nautilus Music-Theater, Frank Theatre, and Paul Bunyan Playhouse, among others. He and Sheena Janson also run Musical Mondays at Hell's Kitchen, a monthly cabaret series in downtown Minneapolis. Upcoming: Dr Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas at CTC and The Unsinkable Molly Brown at Ten Thousand Things. So much love and gratitude to this fantastic cast and crew!

Nikki Swoboda

Managing Director

More information
Reviews are coming in!
"This is a kids’ show unlike any you’ve ever seen before... Even by Fringe standards, the Catalysts’ Scientology Pageant is a daring proposition: with a cast consisting entirely of children, systematically mock a major global faith claiming millions of adherents. The show is so well-written—by Kyle Jarrow—and tightly executed that it would probably work even if it were performed by adults, but the all-kid cast gives the show an extra edge, reminding the audience what’s at stake... consistently entertaining and absolutely charming... sets a high bar for any Fringe show to match!" -- Jay Gabler for The Tangential

"It's sharp and sweet... an irony-free ensemble of seven young teenagers proclaim the origin story of L. Ron Hubbard and how he invented a religion... The strength of this production is its buoyant young cast, under the direction of Whitney Rhodes. They keep up with the rapid pace of the show... And hats off to music director Jason Hanson for guiding them to sing in a healthy and natural way." -- Wendy Gennaula for the TC Daily Planet

- Minnesota Public Radio: ten shows not to miss!
- City Pages: best bet!
- Cherry and Spoon: must see!

A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant celebrates the controversial religion in uplifting pageantry and song by a jubilant cast of children. The actual teachings of The Church of Scientology, as well as the life of the Church’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, are explained and dissected against the candy-colored backdrop of a traditional nativity play. It was originally presented in 2003 in New York City and won an Obie Award for its creators, Kyle Jarrow and Alex Timbers. The Catalysts’ production is Pageant’s Minnesota premiere.

The Catalysts are comprised of: Michael Gruber (composer), whose stage career has spanned Broadway and regional theatre for three decades and who now makes Minneapolis his creative home; Jason Hansen (musical director), an up-and-coming talent in the Twin Cities theater scene; Nikki Swoboda (director and choreographer), a profoundly gifted director and teacher; and Max Wojtanowicz (playwright and lyricist), who has made a career on many stages in the area.

Their first project together was Fruit Fly, an autobiographical musical about the relationship between a gay man (Wojtanowicz) and a straight woman (his real-life best friend Sheena Janson). The show’s premiere at the 2012 Minnesota Fringe Festival was a hit with critics and audiences and was the sixth-best-selling out of 163 at the festival. Fruit Fly was then workshopped as a part of the Illusion Theater's Fresh Ink series in July 2013, and a state-wide tour is being planned for 2015. The Catalysts’ second musical was an irreverent political musical satire based on the political musings of Michele Bachmann. Shelly Bachberg Presents: How Helen Keller and Anne Frank Freed the Slaves: The Musical premiered at the 2013 Minnesota Fringe with even bigger success, selling out three of its six performances and becoming the second-best-selling show out of 176 in the festival. This collaborative of artists is hard at work on new material as part of their mission to create socially relevant and engaging musical theater.
Minnesota Fringe
Minnesota Fringe