Venue-by-Venue 08/08/2013 - 10:34am

New Century Theatre On Monday night, I took the light rail downtown and attended a block of shows at the New Century Theatre. This was a space I hadn't attended my theatre-going career, so I was excited to be in a new space. Not only was I excited to see the space, I wanted to scope it out to get a better idea of where to sit when I see Carrie The Musical in October. There was a line out the door for Shelly Bachberg Presents: How Anne Frank and Helen Keller Freed the Slaves. People were sprawling every which way out the door, and it was a confusing as to which line was which. Staff is, as always, helpful and directed me to where I needed to be--and when I got to the end of the line of ticket holders and met a friend who'd joined the line, I pointed him where he needed to go to get a ticket. Since New Century is in the City Cente, there were plenty of passersby coming and going. One man, noticing the queue, came up to me after I got my ticket and asked what was going on. I told him it was for the Minnesota Fringe Festival and that if he was interested in how Helen Keller and Anne Frank freed the slaves, this was the show for him. He didn't stay. Though the crowd dug Shelly Bachberg, they didn't stick around for the rest of the night. A send up of Michele Bachmann sells, and I hope that a hit like that would cause people to stick around for the next show. I was disappointed that they didn't. The audiences for every show after were dwarfed by that baseline crowd at Shelly Bachberg. I attribute it to a Monday and people being fringed out and calling it early. Sitting through show after show at New Century revealed that the venue eats sound for breakfast. It's basically a box some curtains and seats. I missed portions of Shelly Bachberg--not a lot, but enough for me to be annoyed on occasion--so I sat up front for A Brief History of Irish Music. But since The Dregs had a full band and singing against the acoustics of the space, it was still hard to hear. The only solution seemed to be microphones, which helped DIRTY MESSY LOVE. Advice: sit up front and stay there. New Century Recommendation Doubtless you've heard of Shelly Bachberg at New Century, but you might not have heard of Schrödinger's Apocalypse, a tight three person No Exit riff set during a zombie (fast or slow? viral or supernatural?) apocalypse.

The Woman's Club I spoke a bit about the Woman's Club in my last entry. That was my first time there as a Fringe venue--the last time was on a date with a fellow where we saw Frank Theatre's The Santaland Diaries. I haven't been back since, and I was looking forward to it. I love the atmosphere of Woman's Club--the building is old and has a sense of history in every brick. I approached the building from Oak Grove Street entrance (and sort of got lost once I entered the building and had to be directed to the theatre space) and learned that I probably should have came in on the 15th Street entrance. It was raining on Tuesday, so hanging outside in the small alcove at the theatre entrance was cool and a perfectly millable place to mill. Like the New Century, The Woman's Club can be a difficult venue to hear actors if they're aren't projecting. Instead of working against the shape of the space, they're working against the air conditioning. I had the most problem with hearing them in The Final Act (large audience, and I was further back), but this wasn't quite the problem it was in New Century--I was still able to follow the language and plot. UPDATE: I've seen official tweets from Minnesota Fringe stating that the A/C problems have been fixed! So don't let that deter you from The Woman's Club. I went to the space knowing from others that the A/C was an issue, so I was actively listening for it, which colored my perception.

The Music Box Because the Red Eye is so close, I did a little flirting with it while I was parked at the Music Box. I love moving between the venues and chatting up different people in line, and did it several times over the course of the night and was even tempted to see Dear Madde. Though Music Box has a lobby you can hang out in before the show, I found myself outside again and again. Maybe it's that I'm getting tired of sitting in a venue for too long--I always feel cold (maybe I should stop wearing shorts) and any sunlight or warmth is a welcome change to the blur of shows and cold air. I found myself sitting in one of the side balconies for Oil Tutor: The Musical. I wanted to be different and sit somewhere out of the way. This availed me of the actors in profile with a nice view of their pates and an angle where I could see a couple of them changing into large No. 2 Pencil costumes. And since I was viewing them in profile and they were playing to the main audience, again I was at an acoustic disadvantage (though this time it was my own fault). Music Box Recommendation At this point in my fringing career, I am hard and jaded and cynical. And yet, tears came at the end of These Old Shoes. They squeezed them out of me, even though I was being as stingy as I possibly could be.

Today's Agenda: I go a fringin' at multiple venues.
Headshot of Joshua Humphrey
Joshua Humphrey
Venue-by-Venue: Each Fringe day, a new Fringe venue. What shows will Joshua Humphrey see that he might otherwise skip? How does the audience ecology change from show-to-show? And where can a guy get a drink around this place?