Registered Critic: Bob Leggett

Jul

Lear/Loman

t seems that I saved one of the best shows of HFF19 for last, as Lear/Loman delivered on so many levels. Starting with the amazing script written by Kate Schwartz and directed by Scott Leggett, the acting was simply amazing and the show left a lasting impact on me, especially given what had happened to me during the weekend. Suffice it to say that this show is definitely in the top 10 and maybe even the top 5 of the over 600 shows I have reviewed at the Fringe, and I will never forget its impact. Leon Russom (Lear) and Bruno Oliver (Loman) turned in Tony-worthy performances, and were truly supported by Heather Roberts (Linda Loman), Tim Kopacz (Biff Loman), Reuben Uy (Happy Loman), Sarah Schulte (Regan) and Lauren Dewey (Goneril). It is no wonder this show won the Best of Ink Fest. It should be in permanent repertoire at the Broadwater, as I think this one will truly stand the test of time.

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Jul

Transference

Certain Fringe actors have earned their reputation by consistently delivering quality work. Two of those particular performers are Esther Mira and Lisa K. Wyatt. They have brought this show to life which was written and directed by the equally brilliant Jim Blanchette. In what might be one of the most challenging roles of their lives, they play a therapist and her client, who is unintentionally “made aware” of her past lives during the therapy. I will not give away the great story, but suffice it to say that this one is definitely worth your time and money, making it one of the best dramas of HFF19.

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Jul

Olivia Wilde Does Not Survive The Apocalypse

This show is a masterpiece and his hand-selected cast are comedic geniuses in pulling out all the stops to make this the funniest damn show of the Fringe. Featuring Sean-Michael Bowles as the “hack director” and Emilie Martz as the “snooty actress,” the amazing cast also included Francesca Manzi as Rodeo, Chelsea Langenderfer as Chandler, Everett Dailey as Marcus, Chris Bunyi as Crenshaw, Asia Pitts as Abbot Kinney and Ashley Frances Hoffman as Dr. Kelli Hu The show was directed by Robby DeVillez, and he was brilliant. My sides hurt so much from laughing, especially at all the inside jokes. We will be quoting lines from this show for a long time.

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Jul

Red, White, Black & Blue

I witnessed a powerful hour of solo shows featuring Adam Meredith in Drowning (written by Leilani Squire) and Blaine Vedros in Black & Blue (written by Ron Fromstein. This was powerful theater about the effect hope has in keeping us from making bad decisions. Both shows were skillfully directed by Martin, and gave us plenty of food for thought. Because of my own personal experiences with the military and domestic violence, these stories left a lasting impression on me.

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Jul

Jessie's Messy Mind

Jessie Knowles is transparent and lays her soul bare in this stirring production that is filled with original music and brilliant storytelling that shows what it’s like to be involved in a manic episode. I felt like I was reliving the drama of my first marriage, as my ex-wife suffers from the same illness. As Jessie says in her closing remarks, “This show does not have an ending because I’m still living with it every day.” Three cheers for her bravery in sharing her life with us. It is no mistake that this show was a Pick of the Fringe.

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Jul

An Excuse To Behave Badly

This show may well be the launching point for the brilliant comedic team of Drea Garcia, Jenni Halina, Alex Owens-Sarno and Stephanie Sherry. Not only did they write this hilarious romp (with a little help from their amazing director Kelsea Burke), but they also brought it to life, transporting the audience to those wild and crazy things we did when we were much younger. It was the perfect dessert after a wonderful Fringe Prom, and the candy was a nice touch. Thanks to executive producer Matt Morillo for bringing us another gem.

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Jul

Sins

his show will shock you to your core, but not necessarily in the way you think. It is a brilliant piece written and directed by, and starring William Thompson. The cast also included the lovely Willa Adaire, as well as George Parker and Mary Baker. Thompson’s story hits a nerve and provides a stirring look into a valid social issue. We don’t want to ruin the surprises in this show, but leave you with two words as a clue to what lies in store for you – Noises Off.

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Jul

Silent Joy, a New Play

Inspired by Dante’s Inferno and adapted from the graphic novel by Zach Beckert, the stage version was written by Melissa Ordaz, with musical score composed by Matt Ordaz. Maggie Dorfman and John Michael Logie were magical in the lead roles, taking us through every emotion available to lead us to the goal. The supporting players were led by Carolina Reynoso as the young girl, Ramzi Kelley as the mother, Joshua Lopez as the father and Christopher Flores as the brother. Additional support came from Brian Bautista, Aaron Griffin, Janette, Valenzo and Megan Walker. In addition, Matt Ordaz (xylophone and percussion) and Chrissy Johnson (cello) underscored the show with music that made a difference. You will be changed by this show. Hats off to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) for their support and for being there.

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Jul

The Last PowerPoint

Ben Nicholson has created a comic work that on its face looks like a frustrated young salesmen that has been put in his place by an irate tech guru (played by stage manager Pam Noles), who has not been paid for their services. Nicholson’s sheer brilliance is best illustrated by his engagement with the audience and enticing them to sing the “Kars 4 Kids” ditty with him, over and over again, to a techno beat. This one is so much fun and was the perfect culmination to an interesting day of fringing.

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Jul

DROUGHT

Kate Radford is from the UK and has brought to the Fringe a remarkable story that combines spoken word with storytelling and music. She is adept at the proper use of the looper, and weaves her stories into the underlying musical soundtrack that she has created with the looper. She sings in two ancient languages (Hebrew and ancient Greek) while telling a remarkable story in poem and prose that screams about the ancient problems women have faced for millenia. This show should be required viewing for every man alive today, to truly understand what women have been dealing with for so long. This one may make you mad, but it is worth the emotional backlash.

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Jul

Come Back!

Sacred Fools has mounted some amazing shows since moving to the Broadwater, and this production is one of their best. Springing from the Serial Killers series, Come Back! has it all – a great story, interesting characters, and the perfect integration of music and words. The show was written by Tony Foster, directed by Marisa O’Brien and stars Amir Levi and Demetris Hartman, with amazing support from Evie Abat, Andrew Villarreal, Julia Sanford and Brian Allman. The finale is truly worth the price of admission, and will leave you hungry for more.

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Jul

Meet Me In Mizzery

Lindsey Mallard is an amazing comedian who has written and delivered one of the best sketch comedy routines I have ever seen. Not only that, but this woman can SING! I haven’t laughed so much in a long time, and she kept the audience engaged and entertained for an hour. This woman deserves her own television special and her show should be extended. She also deserves a recording contract, because I think she could sing the phone book and people would buy it. I am so glad I got to experience this Fringe show, and taste the magic.

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Jul

Paper Trails

I have done administrative work all of my life, so this play intrigued me from the start. The fact that they could present three complete plays in only 30 minutes was a major coup, and all three stories were truly relatable. Hats off to Off the Page Productions, which has presented these three amazing stories: Dear Diary, starring Helen Burak (writer/co-director and Dana) and Audra Leffingwell (young Dana); Egucchi, written by Isabelle Moreau and starring Amanda Noriko Newman (Isabelle); and Snow, written by CJ Hoke and starring Timothy Dvorak (Glenn) and Christine Weatherup (Lacey).

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Jul

ORANGUTAN

Beginning with the amazing script by Troy Deutsch, the brilliant diretion of Tinks Lovelace and the Tony-worthy performance by Kristina Mueller, this show should win the Top of the Fringe award hands down. It is truly thrilling to be totally engaged in a show from start to finish, and this show takes you on a roller coaster ride worthy of an amusement park. Don’t miss this imaginative and highly entertaining show.

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Jul

Keith Moon: The Real Me

What happens when the tribute band phenomenon combines with the Fringe? You get an amazing solo show about Keith Moon, long-time drummer for The Who. Mick Berry is brilliant in his portrayal of this legend, walking, talking and truly playing the part as he beats his drums to a soundtrack of the best songs from The Who. He tells his story and pulls you into it, separating the myth from the truth, and leaving you with a better understanding of this oft-misunderstood rock legend. Don’t forget your earplugs, because this one is loud!

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Jul

(IM)PERFEKT

I almost missed this masterpiece, but was able to juggle my schedule to include it, and boy am I glad I did. I think this is the best solo show that I’m reviewed during HFF19, and there have been some great ones, including Raised by Wolves, Hollywoodn’t, Leaving Prince Charming and Corina. Jannica Olin is a gifted performer with such a powerful and personal story that the audience feels every emotion that she does. It was an honor to learn about the life-changing event that happened to her, and how she was able to turn it all around. Sweden’s loss is our gain, and I couldn’t be more proud of her, and the remarkable work that she and director Jessica Lynn Johnson put into this show.

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Jul

45 Milligrams

Who says you can’t tell a great story in less than 30 minutes? I would have seen this show no matter what because one of earliest fringeships, David Haverty, was involved. He turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg when it came to the awesomeness of this production. The show was written by Ian Kaye and directed by Nikki Muller and Jason Rosario, all of whom also starred in the show, with an amazing cameo from Kelly Pierre. This one is pure Fringe gold, and one of the more physical shows at HFF19. It is also one of the best shows of the Fringe.

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Jul

Lincoln 2020

This year we have seen a plethora of political shows as we head into the 2020 elections, but this one take an unusual stance on the entire election process. Have we truly reached the point where it doesn’t matter what the candidates believe but only how well they are known? This show examines that question with an irreverent look at Presidential elections, and features an all-star ensemble cast to achieve that vision. With an incredible script by Holiday Kinard and brilliant direction from Colleen Labella, the cast truly had the freedom to deliver a strong contender for some type of award recognition and is most worthy of an Encore performance. Allie Leonard as Tess and Tim Kopacz as Lincoln turn in especially savory performances, while receiving amazing support from Monique Getineau (April), Amadia Bearden (Hunter), Rebecca Knowles (Kenzie), and Janet Chamberlin (Mallory). Patrick Censopiano, Kristen Cook, Eric Delgado, Adam Gentzler and Dan Torson all provide outstanding support in multiple roles as part of the ensemble.

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Jul

The Last Croissant

If there was an award for the most elaborate and complex show at Fringe, then this one would win hands down. The cast treated us to a pre-show outside the venue, which spilled over to the venue until it was time for the show to begin. The cast is uber-talented and were surprisingly great vocalists, not to mention the incredible musicianship of Luke Medina, who accompanied every song on his guitar. This is a true ensemble piece, and we salute every member of the cast – Julia Finch as Frederick, Medina as Imogen, Meg Cashel as Mumbo, Tyler Bremer as Jumbo, Veronica Tjioe as October/February, and Conor Murphy as Ranger Dave. Brandon Blum (Bear), Kat DeVoe-Peterson (Teabag) and Taylor Bennett (The Postal Service) provided excellent support to the main characters. There were even foley artists involved with the show. Tjioe’s playwriting was spot-on and beautifully realized by director Rosie Glen-Lambert, making this a truly fun way to spend a couple of hours at Fringe.

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Jul

The Circle Table

Watching this show was like watching my kids and grandkids, all of whom have grown up and are growing up in a digital age where so much communication is carried out on Facebook, Facetime and Instagram. The series of vignettes introduced us to a group of amazing characters who had grown up together but gone on different paths. There is lots of comedy and dramedy, and we bet you can find at least one of these characters to relate to. Hats off to Flat Tire Theatre for a brilliant production.

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