BYOV: Häos at church, $ 12
Dancer Michelina Moen, who will be familiar to fans of VarieTease, undergoes torture test and brilliantly emerges in her improvisational solo exhibition Always now. Prior to each performance, audience members are invited to write down answers to randomly selected questions from a personal question set, which then provide the emotional inspiration for Moen’s propulsive dance. The lighting design by venue technician Isabel Hernandez and various musical selections are also different for each show, and included Queen, Katzenjammer and Celine Dion during the show I attended.
Despite all the luck, Moen’s passionate impromptu movement often creates the illusion of intentional choreography, as she deftly switches from physical humor and athletic groundwork to punchy hip-hop and high jumps. flight with finely tuned lyrical timing. While I can’t exactly claim that I could identify any specific themes explored, watching Moen command the scene with unwavering energy for over 45 solid minutes was one of my favorite expressions of pure kineticism at this Fringe.
Good Girl is single
Red place, $ 12
Theater teacher and singer-songwriter Sherilynn Cherry from Virginia makes her Orlando Fringe debut with Good Girl is single, an unpolished yet powerful piece of daring performance poetry recounting her odyssey through divorce, dating and single motherhood. Despised by the man whose Caesarean birth she had just given birth to, Cherry shares her struggles through vicious verses and sassy soliloquies about toilet seats afflicted with STDs, debt-inducing bedroom furniture and delusional suitors of white knights. Some of the sharper segments include a Seduction game parody of ineligible bachelors, enigmatic exchange with an Internet technical helpline and an inspiring church sermon on Matthew 6:22.
Much like the buzzing fly that torments Cherry throughout her show, Good Girl is single entered under my skin and buried itself in my brain. She really needs a director’s help to shape her transitions and polish the abrupt ending, but Cherry represents a unique voice among this year’s Fringe performers, and she deserved my attention.
Josie and Grace
Silver room, $ 12
A chance meeting at Manhattan’s legendary Stork Club led to a long-standing friendship between two of the most iconic artists of the mid-20th century and forms the basis of this magnificent new piece from the creators of the successful musical cabaret. Josephine. The screenplay (from writer-songwriter Tod Kimbro and producer Michael Marinaccio, with playwright Paris Crayton III) tells a compelling story drawn from the slim historical record of pioneering black singer Josephine Baker (Tymisha Harris )’s relationship with Rear window star and with future royal Grace Kelly (Rachael Comeau). For those who have seen Harris’ previous solo tour as Baker, much of the factual material will be familiar, but the parallels to Kelly’s struggle against Hollywood misogyny add emotion to Baker’s battles against the racial prejudice.
Harris never sounded better with Baker’s songs, as well as two original Kimbro killers; Comeau captures both the exterior of Kelly’s ice-cold bombshell and the injured woman beneath the blonde tresses. Aradhana Tiwari’s dreamlike direction flows cinematically through the decades, with help from Stephen Lima in several male characters (including Alfred Hitchcock) and a chiaroscuro lighting design by Alexander Hehr. The elegiac tone could use an injection of energy at times, and the storyline could take some crunch, especially as it nears its heart-wrenching end. [Full disclosure: I provided the creators feedback on an early draft of the play.] But the love and loss that bonded this unlikely pair are palpable in Harris and Comeau’s winning performances. Josie and Grace the rare spectacle with the potential to travel far beyond this year’s Fringe.
Abduction of Amy
Pollack, $ 10
Struck with frustration after attending endless botched auditions, struggling actress Darcie decides the surest way to reach stardom is not by training and working hard, but by removing her comic idol, Amy Poehler, and Stockholm Syndrome-ing the SNL alumna to become his mentor. It’s a terrible career plan, but a pretty decent promise for a high school comedy club skit, which this inauspicious Fringe show closely resembles.
Unfortunately, even with a short runtime of barely 30 minutes – about half the advertised time – the script manages to be both over-completed and under-developed. And while the lead performer shows promise in the quick opening moments, the energy quickly wears off and her co-stars all look uncomfortable on stage. Even the biggest Parks and recreation fans will want to pass this one on.
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