Archive for Media

TimeOut Chicago Review

// September 2nd, 2010 // No Comments » // Blog, Media

I knew we chose Chicago for a reason. Here’s what TimeOut Chicago has to say about the show:

Grind: The Musical
It’s hard not to greet the melodramatic plot of this musical from a group of Carleton College students with an eye roll. A neighborhood coffee house being shut down by demolition! So forget about the plot. Because the youthful enthusiasm and humor that comprises the rest of the production has charm to spare. Each member of the cast of eclectic coffee-shop “regulars” is constructed with zeitgesty eccentricities, from the girl who always shows up with her laptop and sings, “I’m not a creeper; I’m just writing a web comic starring you,” to the Minnesotan who does a spoken-word poem to Culver’s Frozen Custard.—Julia Kramer

Read more:

We couldn’t have put what we’re trying to do better ourselves. Thanks so much for coming, Julia!

Our second show went well, although we’re still adjusting to the addition of new puppets and to the new space. Shout-out to Daisuke’s family who smiled at us the whole time! Tonight we rehearse in Cari’s and my apartment, then hit the Chicago Jazz Festival. Look out for us around noon tomorrow in Millenium Park, and then hit up our show at 5:30PM!


More Press, More Press!

// September 2nd, 2010 // No Comments » // Media

We’ve got a brief interview up on the Loyola Phoenix website here:

Loyola Phoenix and Fringe

Interesting use of the word “bizarre.”

And along with the RedEye, we’re one of 5 Fringe Highlights in Chicago Metromix:

Metromix Fringe

So, the local press agrees–all of Chicago should come see “Grind!”

We’re in the RedEye!

// September 2nd, 2010 // No Comments » // Media

Pick up a copy of Chicago’s RedEye free newspaper in print or online–we’re mentioned on page 34 as one of five Fringe highlights!

RedEye Fringe and Highlights

Some More Reviews

// August 25th, 2010 // No Comments » // Blog, Media

This one is from Bravo Indianapolis (here):

Minnesota based Theatre Undeclared offers musical talents on Theatre on the Square’s main stage. Always in awe of those with talents I do not possess, I commend the creators of Grind: The Musical for their exploration of various musical genres throughout their show. Though the writing was a bit hokey and only a few of the singers really shone, creativity abounds as shadow puppets further the setting. This slice of life musical from the RENT generation pays homage to the rock musical concept, yet remains unaware of itself. Biting off a bit more than they could chew, writers Alex Higgen-Houser, Laura Stratford David Kornfeld attempt to tackle eviction notices, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the death of parents and the search for artistic fulfilment. They simply had too many loose ends to tie up in fifty-five minutes. Musical theatre fans will appreciate the hard work these novices put in to this production and even recognize their success, which equally balance their failures.

Worth Seeing at Theatre on the Square’s Main Stage:
Monday, August 23 at 6:00 pm
Friday, August 27 at 9:00 pm
Saturday, August 28 at 6:00 pm
Sunday, August 29 at 9:00 pm

Thanks for coming out, Katelyn!

And Dori Kay wrote this on the IndyFringe website (here):

The Grind Cast was spotted doing a street performance in Indy yesterday – performing their hearts out with overflowing talent, fun, and humor. It made me want to rush out and buy a ticket to every one of their performances in Indy before they sell out, and then follow them to Chicago for more. After seeing them in Minneapolis, I can honestly say this energetic, talented, brave, strong, collaborative group is not to be missed. Go see Grind to experience connection – you’ll be better off for it! Grind Cast – do keep your public informed of your future endeavors – you have a following <3

Right now we’re all taking a couple of days off, and Alex, Cari and I are scouting out Chicago, but never fear, Indianapolis–we’ll be back and ready to rock in time for our next show on Friday at 9PM!


Indy Theatre Habit Review

// August 23rd, 2010 // 1 Comment » // Blog, Media

“Grind: the Musical” – Theatre on the Square

The Act – A coffee shop called “The Rush” in Minneapolis, Minnesota is emotional home to several people.  Only the owner, a young woman named Coco who is trying to fund her brother’s college degree in music, knows that their building is scheduled for demolition.  Each of the characters has his or her own concerns.  Their stories, and the overall story arc, are conveyed through spoken interactions, dance, beat poetry, shadow puppetry, web comics, and live instrumental music sampling a variety of musical styles from rap to gospel.

The Art – The plot is a cliché but the execution of it is not.  The fact that the show is a portfolio of the company members’ many talents could be overwhelming but somehow it is delightful instead.  Somehow, the overflowing artistic smorgasbord is also a neatly packaged homage to the wide variety of creativity and human interaction that (forgive the expression) percolates daily in coffee shops around the world.  Also, from the dinging of the bell over the invisible shop door to the funny coffee references in the script to the hand-lettered “practice encouraged” sign taped to the electric piano to the paint-spattered barista aprons to the dramatic red and blue lighting design to the exaggerated Minnesotan accent of one of the cameo characters, the show is filled with pleasures for fans of theatre craft.  Also, my first down-my-face tears at the 2010 IndyFringe came during a song in this show when Coco and her brother, Dylan, remember their parent’s deaths and re-affirm their gratitude and support for each other.

The Appeal – This is a fully-staged theatrical production with live music and a gazillion props and set pieces.  It has an 8-member cast and a 3-member traveling crew.  All of this is rare (perhaps nuts) for a Fringe production, especially one from out of town.  If you don’t usually go to the Fringe because you think it is all solo shows, this IndyFringe show is worth going downtown for.  Also, the piece itself is an original piece and its presence at the 2010 Indy Fringe Festival is an Indiana premiere.  Beyond all that, this piece, although it has different content and structure, has a heart that reminded me of “Edges,”  “bare: the musical,” and “Songs for a New World.”

The Audience – I don’t remember any language or content that would make parents of elementary school children cringe but its main audience is probably teens, college students, people in their 20s, older adults who are still young and idealistic in their hearts, and any solo artist of any age that has ever found the human interaction they needed in a coffee shop.” –Indy Theatre Habit

Thanks so much for coming to the show! We’ve got another at 6PM tonight. Today, we’re putting up posters and street performing…for real this time.

Also, a two-line review from East of Indy:

Grind: The Musical – a warming and comfortable show that I would really like to see fully fleshed out. A real pick-me-up! –East of Indy

Happy Monday, everyone!


First Indy Review

// August 22nd, 2010 // No Comments » // Blog, Media

Our billeter, Amy, warned us that while the IndyFringe audiences are great, many Indianapolis reviewers are jerks. So far we agree with the statement about audiences; we’ve yet to garner enough reviews to form an opinion of reviewers. Here’s the first review. You be the judge:

IndyStar Review

As our friend Max Herzl-Betz wrote in his MN Fringe review, “But I LIKE Minneapolis…”

Anyway, our morning was a sleepy one, but Christa, the friendly barista at Henry’s Coffee and Sandwich Shop, taught us a lesson in remaining cheerful and finding energy. Henry’s is our default hang-out spot now. At one point, two people came in and said, “Oh look! “Grind!” We’re almost like B-list celebrities!

“Do Not Kill Me, Killer Robots” was funnier last night than I remember it being the first time (to be fair, I went to the drinking-encouraged show the first time), and Ben got all the heckling he asked for and more. Definitely check it out at The Phoenix.

Our matinee was fun–a small but responsive crowd and a lot of cast members trying little new things. My favorite was when Daisuke (as George, an older man whose character we cut, in crossing the streets for Daniel’s Sermon) had a coughing fit and sat down while Alec aggressively preached to him.

We’re actually going to do street theatre to promote the show tonight. We promise. We’re also hoping to catch “The Tale of Mephisto,” a retelling of the Faust story from the devil’s perspective, at 6PM and Tim Mooney’s “Lot O’ Shakespeare” at 10:30. See you on the street!


More Love and Frustration

// August 22nd, 2010 // No Comments » // Blog, Media

It’s been a day.

We showed up for our second tech this morning, given the fact that we had only an hour and a half during our “official” tech time, but there were some crossed wires apparently and our technician didn’t show up (or answer his phone). We still got to ninja-spike our props (with black gaff tape, since someone had pulled up our yellow tape) and rehearse the toughest numbers in the space, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

After talking to the Technical Director and our venue tech (once he made it to the theater), we agreed to come early before our 6PM show so they could help us load in and so we could quickly run some cues. Unfortunately, it started to sprinkle while we were unloading our sound equipment into the alley behind the theater, and we had to stash anything that couldn’t afford to get wet back in the van. I covered the costume pieces with my comforter; thank God it didn’t actually rain very hard. We managed to get all set up and ready in the allotted time despite all of our challenges.

The show went wonderfully well–the audience was louder than some of our fullest houses, and they laughed at practically every other word. There was some improvisation, too. Daisuke did “The Worm” during the Finale, for one. Next time we’ll have him do it further downstage so everyone can see.

Maia’s mom and sisters got into town yesterday and have astonished us all, because they all look exactly like Maia. You can stand them in a line and it’s like The Evolution of Maia. So many blonde women!

We also very much enjoyed the one show we’ve seen so far: “They Touch In Flood” by paperStrangers. It was a sexy, gorgeous dance and spoken word/poetry piece exploring how humans “make love” instead of just mating for procreation. I could not believe what some of those dancers could do, and the choreography was remarkably inventive for its subject matter. We did wish there was a bit more representation of queer relationships, but they had at least one lovely piece with a gay (male) couple. Definitely worth seeing–it’s in the smaller space at the Theatre on the Square.

Tonight will be a reprise of “Do Not Kill Me, Killer Robots” at the Phoenix, because Ben’s added some new material. You probably shouldn’t miss it.

Oh, and a couple of things:

-We’ve got on interview on (it says it’s with me, but it was actually an email interview with me, Alex, and David):  Behind the Fringe with Grind

-Our first baby Indy review, via @IndyTheatre on Twitter:


“Grind: the Musical” is a LOT of show. Big cast, big set, big variety of performance art forms. Fun & charming. #indyfringe #Indy #theatre

Aw, thanks, Indianapolis! We might just warm up to you yet. Especially if you see our 1:30PM matinee tomorrow.



// August 14th, 2010 // No Comments » // Blog, Media

Turns out we’re up for Best Musical at the Fringie Awards–voting is open until 11PM, and we sure would like an original musical to get some credit over the Leonard Bernstein show we’re competing with, wouldn’t we?

So vote right here, right now!

Also, our very last MN Fringe performance is tonight at 10PM at the Rarig, and it’s going to sell out, so get there early if you want to see it!


Grind: 4 1/2 Stars, TC Daily Planet

// August 10th, 2010 // No Comments » // Blog, Media, News

August 10, 2010

Another Cup of Grind, Please!

Grind: The Musical – Rarig Xperimental

If you want to see a cast of eight ridiculously talented and adorable young singer/actors who can also play instruments *and* do shadow puppet work, stop reading this review and go make a reservation for Grind: The Musical (or get your spot in line *really* early), because the thing is selling out and packing them into the Rarig Xperimental space. This crew knows how to do a musical right. I had them in my Top 20this year for a reason, and they didn’t disappoint.

In fact the only thing that’s wrong with Grind: The Musical is that there isn’t time for more of it. So the multitude of characters and subplots feel just a little bit cramped or rushed here and there. Oh, you can follow it just fine. In fact, the story, for all its twists and turns and tangents, is still pretty straightforward. I just found myself wishing that the whole thing had a little more room to breathe. The characters and their relationships are all so charming that I wanted to spend some more time getting to know them. But what I did get to know, I very much liked. Writers Laura Stratford, Alex Higgin-Houser, and David Kornfeld have crafted a clever little musical, and Higgin-Houser’s direction makes great use of every inch of the Rarig Experimental space.

Caroline (Maia Rodriguez) runs a coffeeshop in order to help put her musician brother Dylan (Kornfeld) through school, since their parents have died. But the building the coffeeshop is in is set for demolition, and Dylan has stopped going to class. Meanwhile, their employee Perk (short for Percival) (Maxwell Collyard), is a refugee from New Orleans who lost his family in Hurricane Katrina, and just wants to get back to warmer climes and pursue his dreams of being a rapper. Regular costumer Libby (Siri Hammond) is secretly the artist behind an insanely popular cartoon, culled from the conversations around her in the coffeeshop. She also has a crush on Perk (but really, who doesn’t?) Among the other regulars is Daniel (Alec Scott), a street preacher, who may hold the key to more than one kind of salvation. The chorus (Cari Jones, Daisuke Kawachi, and Stratford) fill out the community which passes through the coffeeshop.

Mom loved the voices and the way they blended – she was particularly impressed by Rodriguez and Hammond. There’s not a lot of room to dance but Julia Barlow’s choreography is still playful and fun. Kudos also to Jenny Fink their stage manager because this cannot be an easy show to run (and tour – they’re on the Midwest Fringe Circuit this year). There’s a lot of moving parts, and delicate musical instruments, to juggle and the whole operation looks pretty seamless.

They enchanted me right out of the gate with their shadow puppet introduction – passing streetlamps on the highway, then under the Minneapolis highway sign, leading to the skyline, leading to a building, and… we’re here in the coffeeshop. Simple, but brilliant. Cheeky scene introductions like “Secrets Are Revealed” just add some extra fun to the mix. I appreciate the many different kinds of theatricality they’re playing with here, in the context of a musical romantic comedy.

Some of the writing is pretty sharp, too. Both Mom and I were particularly fond of the way the street preacher Daniel was handled by the script. He could have just been a fire and brimstone breathing loon – that’s what most Fringe shows would have done. Not Grind. A modern day parable he unspools late in the action is pretty stunning, and his solo, “The World Ends,” is not at all what you think it’s going to be. Plus, who doesn’t love a musical that rhymes “heavenly host” and “French Roast?”

Trust me, you want to find a way to squeeze yourself into the Rarig Xperimental Theater space to catch Grind: The Musical. It’s a hell of a lot of fun.

4-1/2 stars, Very Highly Recommended

NEXT PERFORMANCE – Tuesday 8/10 at 8:30pm

(Then Friday 8/13 at 4pm, and Saturday 8/14 at 10pm)

Their Fringe page

Fringe show #19 – Sunday, 8/8 5:30pm—4-12-stars

We’ve got audio!

// July 22nd, 2010 // No Comments » // Audio, Media

And we’ll give it to you, sloooooowly.

Here’s a fully-audible recording of “Coffee for Two,” complete with a new and improved final pun: Coffee for Two.

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