|From You Don't Have to Choose Between Llamas and Dancing and Being With the One You Love by Samantha Johns, Savannah Reich, and Co. |
In case you didn't know, Minneapolis has a city right next door to it that has tons of fun stuff to do. For Minneapolites who are driving instead of biking in the winter months, there really is nothing stopping you from heading over to the other side of the river for some new comedy by a few young theater artists under the helm of Jon Ferguson.
Ferguson visited the Lowry Lab in downtown St. Paul a couple of months ago to see Theatre Unbound's Anna Bella Eema.
He found that he really liked the space, and thought it would be a
great place to do more work. So, he contacted a few talented comedic
theater makers, and put together a lineup of shows that would add some
"new comedy in the cold of winter," he says.
Ferguson embarked on a similar project last year as the theater curator for the Southern Theater, which presented the Brouhaha Comedy Festival.
For this effort he chose Tyler Olsen, whose outfit Happy Minnesota is presenting Happy Hotdogs. The artist was trained at the Dell'Arte school, and Ferguson describes Olsen's efforts as "brilliant physical work" and "super positive." Also included in the lineup is Matt Spring, Ryan Underbakke, and Brant Miller presenting The Nose. Ferguson chose the group because he "knew they would do something smart and entertaining."
|From You Don't Have to Choose Between Llamas and Dancing and Being With the One You Love by Samantha Johns, Savannah Reich, and Co.|
Ferguson also wanted to work with Samantha Johns, who he says takes a lot of risks in her work. Johns chose to collaborate with Savannah Reich. Together, they have created a piece of work called You Don't Have to Choose Between Llamas and Dancing and Being With the One You Love.
During Wednesday evening's rehearsal, it was clear Johns isn't afraid of taking chances. The show, which uses meta-theater and lots of song-and-dance numbers set to pop tunes, tells the story of Alisa (played by Alisa Mattson), whose romance with the cop who arrests her takes her away from her farm of llamas, who suffer in her absence. A strange story is made stranger by the way that it is told, where the actors are interrupting each other and giving each other notes as they put on their play, sometimes even changing roles. It's narrated by two actors who speak into microphones and act as omniscient directors. It's the kind of show that would have worked perfectly at Bedlam -- indeed a number of the performers are Bedlam vets -- in that it is probably enhanced with a few pints before the show. There are perhaps one too many song-and-dance numbers, and there's a problem with the soundtrack drowning out the dialogue, but as a whole, the show is weird and funny enough to make it worthwhile. The llamas are hilarious, Johns and Reich show potential as writer-directors to be reckoned with, and Mattson shines in particular as a comedic actress.
IF YOU GO:
|From You Don't Have to Choose Between Llamas and Dancing and Being With the One You Love by Samantha Johns, Savannah Reich, and Co. |New Comedy
350 St. Peter St., St. Paul
Through February 19
Tickets are $30 for all three shows; $12 seniors, students, and Fringe Button holders; $14 Full Price
"The Nose" Trailer from The Piltdown Men on Vimeo.