My Writings. My Thoughts.

Reviews Start To Roll In

// August 8th, 2010 // No Comments » // Blog, News

We’ve gotten at least one more 5-star review on fringefestival.org (show ID 1341! I just memorized the number!), and here’s one from the Pioneer Press:

“Fringe Festival Review: “Grind: The Musical.”

Squeaky-clean? Well, I guess if you don’t count the f-bombs that open and close the first scene and the “that’s what she said” jokes. We’ll take it.

Also, you should go see “Rachel Teagle Believes In Ghosts” tonight at 10PM at the Rarig XPerimental. Not convinced? Well, yours truly is going to be a guest artist telling a TRUE ghost story that happened to me. Also, Rachel’s show is fab. So come see it.

-Laura

Opening To Close Again

// August 8th, 2010 // No Comments » // Blog, News

ANOTHER Opening Day! Exhausting, isn’t it?

First of all, this entry will be bookended with love for Rob Callahan, whom I disappointed by telling him phil was our favorite. Turns out we’d completely missed Rob being a mensch on his blog:

Rob Callahan Says You Should See “Grind”

Back to him in a sec.

We had a number of “crises” this morning–Alex’s alarm not going off, running out of nine-volts, not being able to find a CVS, losing our shadow screen, realizing five minutes into our load-in time that it was time to load in–but somehow we managed to get everything and everyone into its/his/her proper place.

Turns out we sold every seat but three or four (really five because we stole a couple of chairs for David and the projector. Don’t tell our technician). And for having had a week of off-time and this being the first real performance in a new venue, it went wonderfully well. Sure, there was a stumble or two, and a little bit of microphone trouble, but we felt great about the show and the audience was more responsive than we expected. Apparently they had as much fun watching us load out as they did in the show (imagine lots of young people shouting, “The table! Got the streetlamp?”), which leads me to announce our next Fringe show, “Set Up And Strike: The Musical.”

Seriously, though, people have been great, and we already have one review on fringefestival.org (check it out here). Five kitties! I’m just relieved there’s no actual auctioning of cats going on. Okay, okay, I’ll post the text here:

Grind is A. Must. See.
by Mary Ellen Shaw Follow this reviewer

Rating 5 kitties
The musicality, taut staging, exuberance, and professionalism of this young group of actor/musicians made for a stand out performance. The story, too, was engaging and genuinely moving. (In the dark, no-one can tell if you get a bit teary-eyed.) Minneapolis! (And the music sticks in your head.) DON’T miss it.

We went to lunch with Jenny’s mom, then ran back for Rob Callahan’s “Idiosynchronicity” at the Rarig Arena Stage (tickets here). Told you I’d come back to him. Rob managed a feat that I think few performers can handle–rocking an audience in the round with a one-man show. We’d already seen (and loved) his poem about a “nerdy Aphrodite” whose looks deceive, but a) We laughed just as hard the third time and b) We enjoyed the rest of the show just as much, if not more. Rob went from obviously fictional short stories to probably-autobiographical poems and then into vignettes that were harder to suss out (grounded in reality? Who knows?) with ease, only pausing to swig iced coffee and let us listen to Jonah the Destroyer (he of the epic mustache/sideburns) play the ukelele or bass or saw. I was expecting to laugh and recognize far too many sci-fi/fantasy jokes; I wasn’t quite prepared to be moved by descriptions of beauty and suffering, but there you go. Fringe: exploding expectations.¬†Anyway, go see “Idiosynchronicity.” Before I misspell it horribly.

We hung out with Rob and other Fringers at Bedlam for awhile in the early evening, telling stories and debating the meaning of the word “nebbish.” And now we sit in Max’s mansion, having done our best to drown each other in his pool and hot tub and having gorged ourselves on food from The Keys, his mom’s restaurant.

Sometimes a cast member will wonder aloud, “How is this my life?” I wonder that too.

Come hang out with us.

-Laura

More lavh

// August 6th, 2010 // No Comments » // Blog, News

(As Lady Gaga would pronounce it.)

Turns out Matthew Everett has us at number 12 on his to-see list! Really, here it is:

Numbers 11-20

Then, last night at the Fringe Opening Party, Alec and I got to hang out more with phillip andrew bennett low, only to discover when we got home that he’d already said some nice things about us:

Binge of the Fringe

Aw, guys, we love you. Well, technically we don’t know Matthew Everett, but we’re pretty generous with the love.

Today we’ve been singing and sermonizing in the streets of Minneapolis, first at the U of M and then (now) at the Uptown Arts Fair, which we completely lucked into. We were going to perform on Hennepin anyway, but now there’s tons of art and lots of strolling, happy people who’ll spend five minutes to listen to us. Also, it seems that we’re as sold out as one can be in advance for our first show tomorrow! Of course, that’s when everyone we know is coming…but we’re still pretty excited.

We ran into Rachel Teagle and some other friends here at the Fair, and we’ll be here til 6:30 at least–if you’re around, come find us!

Tonight is the Fringe Prom. I’ll be the girl in the dress made of duct tape and garbage bags. Seriously.

Love,

Laura

That’s More Like It!

// August 5th, 2010 // No Comments » // Blog, News

Did you see? Did you see?

Today in the Tribune’s “vita.mn” section they have an article on “Fringe Virgins.” (I know, we’ve been over this, but we’ll take it.)

Page 19. “Fringe Picks.”

“Fringe: The Musical

‘Just about every word in the dictionary has appeared in the Fringe program placed before a colon and the words “The Musical.” Buzz is promising for Uncommon Time Theater Co.’s charming show “Grind: The Musical”–which is not about dirty dancing, but rather about coffee shop baristas who fall in love and break into song.'”

by Jay Gabler

THANKS JAY! Now we feel all nice, warm, and validated. Pass it on!

(Don’t believe me? Link here: Fringe Virgins)

Take A Chance on Us

// August 4th, 2010 // 2 Comments » // Blog, News

If you change your mind, I’m the first in line

Honey, I’m still free–take a chance on me


An Open Letter to Minnesota Fringers:

Dear Fringe-goer, opinion maker, theatre maven,

I know the timing is strange.

We met a couple of weeks ago, at that preview or party or in the internet worldwide blogospheres, and everything seemed so promising. We were excited to meet you. You seemed excited to meet us. You wrote to your friends, telling them that something new had come into your life, and even if you weren’t sure how it would turn out, you wanted to pursue it. We stayed up sleepless nights, wondering if and when we’d see you again.

Then it came–that inopportune vacation, that gap in the crucial getting-to-know-you period that might have jeopardized our budding relationship. We were off to KC, and though we tried to keep in touch, there were so many others right here, others with offers of nudity and awkwardness and glitter and the chance to have a beer with you in person.

And of course it’s further complicated by the fact that you’ve–ahem–been with some of these people before. You’ve, shall we say, patronized them. You’ve enjoyed what they’ve done for you. You feel a sense of obligation at the least, of pleasant expectation or excitement at the most, for what they have to offer this summer. We understand.

So out come the lists, and one by one we are conspicuously absent. Well, it makes sense. Out of so many offerings, what can you expect for a shy, virgin group like ours? (Not quite virgin. There were those wild Kansas City nights.)

All we can say is, if you can find the time, if anything we can offer will tempt you, please give us a chance. The connection we felt before was real. It’s still there, we just know it is. We’ll treat you right. We’re remarkably gentle.

Please consider seeing us again. Otherwise, you may find that you’ve missed the very thing you’ve been looking for this whole time. And nobody wants to live with regret.

Love and hopeful wishes,

Grind: the (coffee shop, comic book) Musical

Gonna do my very best, baby can’t you see

Gotta put me to the test–take a chance on me

Reviews, Ends, and Beginnings

// August 3rd, 2010 // No Comments » // Blog, News

I know, I know. You’ve been panicking in the two days without updates. Well, never fear, dear readers, we’re back in Minnesota and we’re settled into the now-much-more-secure Casa we’ve come to love.

Right before our final KC performance we saw that the reviewer from KC Stage had posted her review, which reads:

“5 of 5

I can’t say enough good things about “Grind: The Coffeeshop and Comic Book Musical”!!! I loved it!!! This is the story of Coco who runs a coffeeshop in Minneapolis, MN, her brother, Dylan, her one employee, Perk, and all the regulars that come in and out of the coffeeshop. They’re all dealing with their own lives and problems, like Coco’s losing the shop space due to impending building demolition, and Perk’s problems with helping support his family after moving from New Orleans after Katrina.

The cast consists of Maia Rodriguez (Coco), David Kornfeld (Dylan), Max Collyard (Perk), Alec Scott (Dan), Siri Hammond (Libby), Laura Stratford (chorus, writer), Diasuke Kawachi (chorus, orchestration), and Cari Jones (chorus). Every one of their performances is wonderful.

My favorites were Max (Perk) and Siri (Libby), and their song ‘Something Brewing’ is not to be missed. David (Dylan) on keyboards and beatboxing (sometimes at the same time) entertains the ear, and he’s not bad to look at either! Siri (Libby)’s song ‘People Watching’ is funny.

My only concerns with this performance were that it didn’t seem like Maia (Coco) had her mic turned on when she was singing, and the drum, played very well by Laura (chorus), overpowered the singing at times, especially in Alec (Dan)’s song ‘The End of the World’ (he’s a street evangelist…what do you expect him to sing about?).

As I’m finalizing my schedule of shows to see this evening, I’m fervently wishing that I could see “Grind” again. Since I can’t, you definitely should! Their final performance is tonight (Sat) at 6:30pm at The Pearl Living Room.” -ajennings (see page)

May I point out that the one thing we hear over and over about this show is, “David Kornfeld is pretty.”

(It’s true, but come on. There are eight attractive cast members. Show someone else some love.)

Our last show in KC had a very vocal audience and was, all told, our best performance to date. After the show we caught “Head,” a play about John the Baptist, and drooled and gasped our way through it until the end, which we thought could have used work. I nearly had an awesome-induced heart attack when John was possessed by God and, in a very Macbeth way, the hanging dead in the torture chamber stepped out of their nooses to converge on Herod.

I’m not going to complain too much here, but after the show we were led to believe that people were either going to bed or going clubbing, so imagine my surprise when the next morning it turned out that every person in the cast except for me and Daisuke had gone to the birthplace of swing and listened to jazz until three am at a bar that Playboy voted one of the ten best in the country. I’m happy for you guys. Really, I am.

We’re back home now, and planning to make some little changes–new comics, maybe some new dialogue, and some cuts (plus I’ll be playing djembe more softly). Our tech rehearsal at the Rarig Xperimental went well yesterday, and the space is like a gladiator pit combined with a black box. We even have specialized lighting! This will be a “Grind” like no one has seen before. Mark my words.

Love to Rachel Teagle, who just arrived in town–we’re hoping to catch some slam poetry with her this evening. I’m so excited for MN Fringe, I could just bust!

-Laura

Free Theatre and Tater Tots

// July 30th, 2010 // No Comments » // Blog, News

Yesterday was an off-day, so Alex gave us notes over bubble-tea and cupcakes and we ironed out some of the issues we ran into at The Living Room on Wednesday.

At 7 we trekked over to Upstairs at The Pearl and rode in a sweet freight elevator to the second floor to see “The Revenge of Rumplepunchkin,” featuring our new friends Molly, Beth, and Tristan. We were especially impressed with Beth and Tristan’s physicality, and the whole show was a lot of fun. As Rumplepunchkin, Tristan came off as a combination of Spike from Buffy and Captain Jack Sparrow, just with more flips and rolls.

After the show, we found our way to Tammy Gay’s house for a dinner of tater tot hot dish, prepared by our two Minnesotan boys. The combination of three large dogs and a dinner of starchy goodness made us feel almost like we were home (except the walls were decorated with a Western and not Midwestern theme). There is little more adorable than Cari and Max wrestling a young, energetic husky.

Next came “Descendent of Dragons,” phillip andrew bennett low’s one-man show about trying to record his family’s history. Damn. I knew this man could write and perform, but I didn’t know quite how well. He has a masterful grasp of timing, an obvious talent for turns of phrase, and the ability to switch from comedy to drama and back within a split second. Plus, it’s all true. KCers, you need to see this show.

Daisuke and I were on our way home, we really were, when a well-punctuated text from Max (“Party!!!!!!!!!!”) turned us around and we went to Fringe Central for yet another Open Mic. This one wasn’t much better attended than the last, but it didn’t stop us from making fools of ourselves onstage again. I just hope we acquit ourselves (yes, David, acquit ourselves) better at our second performance tonight at 8PM.

-Laura

One Down, Eighteen To Go

// July 29th, 2010 // 1 Comment » // Blog, News

Well, we did it.

Opened our show, that is.

And no one died or literally broke a leg (although I came closer than I would have liked).

Even more, it was a great opening night. We made ’em laugh, made ’em cry, and made ’em glad they weren’t wearing winter gear like we were.

So what was it like, opening our Fringe show?

Well, first there was a lot of waiting. The show wasn’t until 10PM and so we had the entire day off. Then we had a line-through at the Jerusalem Cafe that was interrupted by a flaming cheese platter. Daisuke and I snuck off to see “The House of Fitzcarraldo” (tickets here). We’d been warned that there were men in G-strings and adult diapers (not at the same time), but there was so much more. Aggressive audience interaction, ridiculous energy, extreme silliness, and a story that sort of made sense but mostly didn’t matter, punctuated by metatheatrical antics. It’s the sort of show where you can’t quite decide if it’s good or not, but you enjoy yourself immensely.

Finally, at 9PM we gathered in the alley behind the Pearl to change clothes (we don’t need no stinkin’ dressing rooms), warm up, and get our mics on. We entertained some smokers by singing in the parking lot. Then came a chaotic load-in and the show was a go.

High energy, a nearly full house, and the excitement of opening night combined to work some magic, and the show went very well. No major flubs–I’d say the biggest issue was excited speeding up in a couple of songs. Personally, I began a vendetta against a low step-platform to the side of the stage that I swear wasn’t there when we did tech. I tripped over that thing five times, once so dramatically that I almost pulled down the adjacent curtain and that I somehow managed to flip four of the toes on my right foot through a high decorative hole in my shoe. Watch out, platform. It’ll be your turn soon enough.

After the show, dripping with sweat, we grabbed phillip andrew bennett low (or “phabl,” as Alex christened him) and a couple of his students/friends, piled into our vans, and went to a host family’s house for some celebratory champagne. We ended up staying up until 3:30 AM, mostly telling bad shaggy-dog jokes. Maybe that was just me.

Today’s another off-day, and we’re going to see “Revenge of Rumplepunchkin” (tickets here) and phabl’s show, “Descendent of Dragons” (tickets here). Break legs, Beth, Molly, and Tristan, our new friends in “Rumplepunchkin”! (You too, phil, I guess.)

-Laura

Opening Night

// July 28th, 2010 // No Comments » // Blog, News, Video

It’s all come down to this. This evening, at approximately ten PM at the Living Room at the Pearl, 1818 McGee Street, Kansas City, the world will witness “Grind: The (coffee shop, comic book) Musical” in all its glory. Honestly, we haven’t run the show in a couple of days, so there’s no telling how it will go.

To stave off the mounting nerves, we’ve been exploring the city. We sang a bit at the Power and Light district around lunchtime yesterday, and then finally found the part of town we’d like to live in: Westport, home of thrift stores, cafes, and lots of tattooed people. Jenny and I almost got coffee cup tattoos, but thought better of it (and our wallets thanked us).

What does street performance look like when you’re promoting a musical? Well, sort of like this:

Street Performances

Siri wrote that song about ten minutes before the events of that video. Yeah, I’m impressed too.

The ladies (except me) cooked dinner for their host family, and the gentlemen and I caught three Fringe shows. First was Tim Mooney’s “Lot o’ Shakespeare” (tickets here), in which Tim performs monologues from each of Shakespeare’s plays, with some sonnets thrown in, order drawn from Bingo balls. You can even win prizes–each person is handed an “IAGO” sheet, and the first to get four in a row gets a t-shirt, the first to get two rows of four gets a CD. Tim’s energy was incredible, and his memory and specificity were truly impressive. We sat next to phillip andrew bennet low and shared Bingo markers. I even got to play the Fool to Tim’s “King Lear.”

Next, in the same venue (Just Off Broadway) was “Boobs, Burlesque and The Bard.” (tickets here).* Why do I ever go to shows that don’t involve burlesque? Obviously this is the highest art form. And there was added culture, what with all the Shakespeare. Local artist “Opal Malone” MC’d as Prospero, and made us all fall in love with her instantly. We each had fans with breasts taped to them, and she would conjure the breasts by reciting a certain “spell.” Then there were Shakespeare-themed burlesque dances (a crazy Ophelia trying to kill herself, a tempestuous Kate obeying Petruchio’s teasing commands) and limericks by the Lord Mayor’s Company, a Shakespearean improv team. Do I have to say outright that this is worth seeing?

Finally, we barely caught “The Last Straight Man in Theatre” (tickets here). This was a multimedia one-man show about a small town and all the characters who inhabited it, from a strange millionaire to a shy grad student to a Venezuelan gigolo. We were impressed at the interplay between the video components and the live Kurt Fitzpatrick, although the show was not our favorite of the night. (Really, what can compete with burlesque?)

Today’s a restful day, although I would like to catch “The House of Fitzcarraldo” tonight at seven (tickets here). Then, at nine, we head over to the Pearl and give it all we’ve got!

For all the other Fringers out there about to open their shows, break legs! We’re rooting for ya.

-Laura

* “They got a big the-a-ter there they call the burly-cue. For fifty cents you can see a dandy show!”

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