Additional reporting by Stephen Tortora-Lee
Mini Fridge was a qualified success this year, with seven shows and seven ways to beat the heat, be dazzled by a variety of entertainers and cross your fingers in the hopes that some of these great shows will be returning bigger, better and badder. Hopefully you read the Elevenses so you had your pre-show snack … and even more hopefully you caught some of the ‘fridge. But if you didn’t, here’s what was in that tiny box (besides beer of course!) —
Bare. Stripped down and honest, in your face and not making any excuses, Bare. was a riviting collaboration between paired teams of burlesque performers and seriously stimulating storytellers. The idea was to deliver stories which were uncomfortable for everyone – audience and performer alike. But sometimes what gets revealed in the uncomfortable moments is actually more familiar than we’d like to admit, and Bare. offered the unique opportunity to experience something difficult in the universally safe environment of theatre.
It was the juxtaposition of unveiling while weaving – taking away while creating – salty and sweet: the best use of your senses. The result was unconventional and groundbreaking. Issues included having sex for the first time, initial attraction to girls and one memorable performance which was the reenactment having a hymen broken. This was sensuality and strangeness … all living up to the straightforward title and leaving nothing hiding undercover.
The intention is for Bare. to go on from here; three more performances are in the works: September, November and capping off with a final show in December. For those interested in a REALLY different set of circumstances, the September show will feature a switch up: the burlesque performers will write the stories and the writers will strip down.
Curated and hosted by Peter Aguero this special Mini Fridge volume starred Adam Wade, Sarah Jenness, Diana Spechler, Magdalena Fox, Francine, Amelia Bareparts, and Mary Cyn as The Kraken.
Written by Alexis Roblan and Rachel Kerry, Bible Burlesque is what happens when your FRIGID show, Daughters of Lot, needs to raise money to get to the Edinburgh Fringe. Whereas Daughters of Lot was the story of the two bible gals told through the eyes of feminist burlesque performers, Bible Burlesque goes behind the scenes to tap into the funnier side of what goes into creating a show - especially one with a premise that tries to marry Bible with Burlesque.
“The events depicted in this show are real … at least the parts about fundraising” states the program … and so, without pulling any punches, begins the meta telling of this journey. Equal parts storytelling and burlesque (with maybe a little more storytelling) Roblan and Kerry are portrayed by Marelena Kalm and Victoria Longwell who re-enact the process of how one (or in this case, two) exactly go about creating a unique burlesque show built on biblical themes. Everything from a Noah’s Arc theme to “What if God F*cked one of us?” crossed thier minds and crossed the stage with often hilarious results.
The good news is that as of the time of the show they raised enough money for Daughters of Lot to get to Edinburgh … just not enough money for any of them to eat during their overseas stay. Let’s hope when they’re abroad they meet a dude who can work a miracle or two around some loaves and fishes. Hey, it worked once, right?
Bye Bye Bombay was full of the sights, sounds and personalities of India, all channeled through Gauri – a young woman who makes the trip to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Cara Yeates – who wrote and performed – channeled many different characters convincingly and used screen projections and a driving soundrack to bring the world of Bombay – and Bollywood – alive.
Most impressive among talents such as puppetry, mimicry and storytelling was the way Yeates performed a showstopping dance as she lip-synched to a dazzling Bollywood production number, bringing the lavish world of Bollywood to UNDER St. Marks. Yeates also notably embodied an arguing couple who fought with each other in one of the many languages spoken in India. When Ms. Yeates says she lived in India for a year, there’s no doubt about it.
By turns both forceful and delicate, Bye Bye Bombay was a true delight. As a New Yorker I thrilled to the fact that, through this one-woman-show, I was given confirmation that a place exists which appears to be crazier, more crowded, and more chaotic than New York. However, what India also appears to have is a plethora of spirituality and a means to find your center if only you can break away from the hypnotic Bollywood beat … something else which Ms. Yeates was able to capture and manifest beautifully. Bye Bye Bombay may be bye bye for now, but I’m hoping we have another chance to meet again soon.
A striking combination of futuristic noir, multimedia and music ranging from lounge to complex ambient initium/finis is a gripping story that pulls you through many layers of a world that represents – as the title implies – the beginning and the end, melding past with future.
Metropolis fans will find an echo of that world here. Ellery Royston embodies two clones who are experiencing two sides of a story which involves murder, intrigue and a journey toward self discovery in an alien future.
initium/finis was mezmerizing, with deep themes that were well executed with a stunning multimedia component which alone was worth the price of admission. It depicted an overlay of lush city scenes as well as short movies. These shorts captured Royston’s stunning range — for while she’s expressive on stage she’s even moreso in the filmed sequences.
Possibly most compelling were scenes executed in shadow play where much of the “real” action happened at times – the intrigue of this heightened version of the characters offered an extra note of theatricality and dimension.
Back after a successful FRIGID run, initium/finis shows that there seems to be no end in the near future for this deeply affecting story.
As usual Killy Mockstar Dwyer and her talented band delivered an inside-out performance – crowds who know and love KTB should know better than to expect run of the mill when it comes to this bunch! Kill the Band: Mock Bottom started off with a dark theatre – extremely so – as we’re all trapped in the darkness with Killy who gropes about and tries to figure out where she is.
Of course it’s a relief when she comes to find she was simply lost in a closet after a night of drunken debauchery right after recording Kill The Band’s new album, Mock Bottom.
Killy then launches into a strong opening performance which got the crowd pumping. What followed was 60 minutes of pure energy and frenetic joy delivered in typical Kill The Band style as Killy and her loyal (and seriously talented) musicians- Joe Yoga, Mike Milazzo, Blair Frowner and The Human Drum Machie- delivered one song after another that was both funny, thoughtful and catchy.
No simple concert, though, the songs were couched in the centeral theme of Killy at her shrink’s office with each of her band members representing one or more of the stages of grief. A monologue of the creative process would then seque into a Mock Bottom song.
And if you found yourself loving these catchy songs (which include favorites Ben Kingsley, Girl Balls, Clone U, See Something Say Something and Famous Baby) an album was included with the price of admission.
If you weren’t able make the show that doesn’t mean you have to be empty handed with no Kill The Band songs to sing – never that.
- To order the hard copy CD (with 12 page art/lyrics/liner notes booklet!) visit www.KILLYTHEKID.com.
- To buy the album on ITunes click here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/mock-bottom/id530564603.
- To buy on Amazon http://amzn.com/B0086JZTHQ
Legendary: A Man-tasia was first described to me as a drag show without the drag, but Legendary: A Man-tasia wound up being much, much more. Sure, there was superb lip-synching with so much sass, attitude and choreography that at times it was impossible to sit still in your seat. But the story was expertly woven through the showstopping numbers – finely crafted to tug at your heartstrings. Not simply a backed-into plot to accomodate the songs, this story of two men: Larry (Michael Awusie) and his love Stev (Mark O’Connell) trying to define their relationship as they try to define themselves was heartwarming, bittersweet, loving, sexy, and a triumph. But oh, let’s talk about those lip-synch numbers!
Larry’s rendition of Sheree Whitfield’s – “Who Gon Check Me Boo?” was absolutely inspired (and I can’t stop YouTubing it. Not for the original, but in memory of Michael’s version). The show was filled with moments of pure, joyful production numbers like this. To watch O’Connell and Christopher Burris as Bishop Eddie Long (who has a naughty, nasty hold over Larry) duke it out in a battle with musical fireworks worthy of those spewed forth by Harry Potter and Voldermort as they channeled superdivas Whitney Houston & Aretha Franklin for “It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Never Gonna Be” to underline the point that “he aint never, ever, never never, never gonna be your man” gave me goosebumps. In fact, it made me wanna go out and steal someone’s man just so I could re-enact this scene on my own. I mean … seriously boo.
Cap this all off with a stupendous Jennifer Holiday channeled by Kimberlee Walker who had me shaking and, well – could you want more? Oh … wait … a fantastic story. All this lucious lip-synching is draped over the terrific bones of a strong story of one man who is trying to shake off the past (Bishop Eddie Long – who is actually there in spirit, but what a spirit it is) and embrace his present: Stev, a tall drink of water who loves him like Islands In The Stream (aww! Sweet!) but can’t quite come out of the closet far enough to shout it from the mountains. Well, not yet.
And, I did mention Jennifer Holiday, right? This was A Man-tasia in the truest sense of the word -and while I actually don’t KNOW what the truest sense of the word ‘Man-tasia” actually is I will say it’s a fantasy, told from the heart, set to a driving soundtrack of amazing songs (and a little Babs in there too of course). This was no show – this was an experience. I want it back again, ASAP. Weekly if possible – with surprise guests! Pleeeez???
Xmas in July? You bet your buttons! Or, in the case of Lord Gregory & Mademoiselle Godin’s miniXMAS Spectacular - you bet your bouton!
This french brother and sister act have it all. Charm, style, talent … and what friends they have! Greg Levin and Michelle Leona Godin don the outfits of a bygone french era and the personalities of french twins to create a salon in which their charming circle could congregate to celebrate miniXMAS for our enjoyment.
One after another their talented friends came to the stage to kick up their heels with the crowd. So many! Joe Yoga was there and you know what a fan I am of his! Leslie Goshko did the most inspired version of Frosty The Snowman I ever heard … If Frosty was actually that guy whom Alanis Morrisette wrote about in You Oughta Know. (WHY did no one ever do that mashup before? No matter … Leslie did – and it’s brilliant). AND imagining FROSTY is a lot better than imagining that guy from Full House putting it to Alanis, non?
Michael Birch reminded everyone that We Need A Little Christmas … and also reminded us that the whipping sound in Sleigh Ride (1:07 in this beloved Boston Pop version) is actually … you know ... a horse being whipped. Still, it didn’t keep us from merrily participating whip and all. After-all, miniXMAS is all about tradition! Then Beezy Douglas weighed in with an anti-christmas song because it is JULY after all.
But there were skits too! Lord Gregory himself wound up playing the Santa who got caught in a sting set up for a pedophile … though he digs himself deeper and deeper (But Becky wrote me a letter! I brought this bag of toys! Children write their fantasies to me!!!) Later after Chromatic Stampede sang about wanting nothing more for christmas than consumer debt forgiveness Peter DeGiglio flipped the script on Twas The Night Before Christmas and pulled out an aresenal of voices from his bag of tricks as he told a Mook miniXMAS story — in verse. C’est Manifique
With a Krampus making an appearance via shadow puppet master Ceili Clemens the whole evening was pretty much complete.
Like any good miniXMAS there were a few other little surprises under the tree, but the real present was the great feeling of joy and good will toward men and … oh forget it. It’s JULY.
Thanks Lord Gregory and Mademoiselle Godin for sharing your love of miniXMAS – and your love of each other … and sharing your friends with us! See you next miniXMAS! Whenever that may be!
And that’s it for Mini Fridge this year. Good job everyone. See you next year, starting with Elevenses.