3 Reviews: Opening Day Fringe Blitz Part I (Herbie Cox, The Bro Show & 2 to Django)
Calgary Fringe Festival Shows Reviewed Here:
The Ballad of Herbie Cox, The Bro Sho and 2 to Django (guest review)
Yesterday was the first day of the Calgary Fringe Festival, and as is my usual habit, I did a blitz of back-to-back-shows – not as frenetic as when I do it by bike, but still busy enough, with 4 shows in 4 theatres in 6 1/2 hours. I still have most of my take-out dinner in my fridge since I didn’t have time to inhale that between shows. As I mentioned in my Calgary2012 article, there don’t seem to be any musicals in the traditional sense at this year’s Fringe, so I’m trying to hit most of the shows that have at least one of music, dance or singing in them, as well as others that I think might be good based on artists’ reputation or track record, word of mouth or other reviews. No doubt, I will also pick a few just based on the schedule, the artists’ sales pitch, the fact that someone else I know wants to go or that I can’t get in to see the show I want. I figure since I’m going anyway, I might as well review everything I see, whether “musical” or not. I’ll try to keep them my reviews short, since I have a lot of writing to do between shows – and a lot of shows to see between writing!
The Ballad of Herbie Cox (Festival Hall)
The Ballad of Herbie Cox is an ecelectic mixture of contemporary dance, music and story-telling by Melbourne husband-and-wife duo Victoria Chiu and Roland Cox that was really interesting to watch. It tells the funny and not-so-funny stories of their Chinese and Australian families whose DNA combined to lead to the creation of the title character – 14-month old-Herbie – who was introduced at the end of the show. The storytelling part of the show started a little slowly for me, but once the artists got into the dance and movement – mostly led by the talented and extraordinarily flexible Victoria (in my dreams …) with Roland on keyboard, I was entranced. If you think singing and playing the piano at the same time is hard, imagine two people dancing, tumbling and playing the piano, on top of each other, as a duet. This one might be a stretch for mainstream theatre audiences, but I don’t consider myself a modern dance/movement fan and it worked for me. If you’re open to something a little quirky, I’d say go for it.
The Bro Sho (Dade Art & Design Lab)
Here’s a show by another duo – this time from Florida. In The Bro Show, Chase Padgett (star of last year’s popular one man show, Six Guitars) is joined by his younger brother Ross for an hour of sketch comedy. I thought the show was great fun, and the “bro’s” did a good job of playing up the real or make-believe sibling rivallry between the two. It included sketches about a marijuiana legalization advocate trying to teach a pot-head to respresent the cause, two homeless guys trying to one-up each other with fantastical stories (“I believe!”), and an improv bit where they take questions from the audience, one answering as a sterotypical American and the other as a Canadian. (Apparently they’ve picked up a lot on their Canadian tours – or met a lot of Canadians in Florida). The brothers kept the action going and the audience in stitches throughout. Those who really enjoyed Chase’s musical performance last year might be disappointed here, as there is only one guitar and one song (other than some so-so rapping). The good news is, Chase is remounting Six Guitars at the Improv Guild Sunday August 12th. So if, like me, you missed Six Guitars last year, you have another chance. For info and tickets go to sixguitars.com.
Two to Django (Jacqueline Suzanne’s Bistro) – Guest review by Will Arnold
I had never heard of Django Reinhardt before going to this fantastic concert at the Calgary Fringe Festival. The setting in Jaqueline Suzanne’s restaurant was ideal and Colin Godbout is an amazing guitarist. Although Django is listed as a jazz founder who lived in the mid 20th century mostly in Paris, this is not classic jazz. Godbout plays an historical retrospective of Django tunes which were mostly quite familiar – with a very much ballad sound - and interweaves some biographical information about Django’s life as banter between tunes. The guitar playing is unusual with mostly 2-3 strings being picked and not strummed (Django suffered an early accident which paralyzed several fingers). Godbout picks beautifully for the full hour of the concert and makes great music. I learned a bit about Django and thoroughly enjoyed the concert. Everyone sits at tables in the bistro. I ordered a chocolate cake and ice cream dessert to eat while listening. This is not typical theatre, but is a familiar coffee house type of concert show. If you are looking for something different than your usual Fringe fare, this is an excellent choice.
Will Arnold is a retired computer manager living in Calgary and following his wife Susan to theatres and musicals. [I hope to take this show in later, but since Will went to the opening he kindly agreed to contribute to my blog to get an early review in for you. Thanks, Will! LMC]
More to come! Watch for my reviews of She Has a Name and Late Night with the Improv Guild around 1 PM and my reviews of today’s shows tomorrow.
The Calgary Fringe Festival runs from August 3 to August 11. Tickets are $10-$15 per show plus your $5 Fringe button and most shows are about an hour long. For schedules and online tickets (well worth it for popular shows), go to Calgary Fringe Festival. If you want to see what I’m going to or find people to go with, check out the Calgary Musicals+ Meetup Group.