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Monday, 15 July 2013 21:45

Performing arts review: 'Rhythm City,' 'Asperger's: A High Functioning Musical' and 'Brave Women: Another Revolution' at St. Lou Fringe Festival 2013

Performing arts review: 'Rhythm City,' 'Asperger's: A High Functioning Musical' and 'Brave Women: Another Revolution' at St. Lou Fringe Festival 2013 Virginia Harold Photography
Written by Erica Kenney

"Rhythm City"
The Four Fronts

In a tribute to classic American Lindy Hop and early traditional jazz dancing, "Rhythm City" made Kranzberg Cabaret travel back in time with a high-energy act that was guaranteed to make you start hand-clappin' and toe-tappin'.

Comprised of two swing dance pairs, (Christian Frommelt and Jenny Shirar of St. Louis; Jon Tigert and Krystin Larsen of Nashville, Tenn.), The Four Fronts chose to debut two of the act's new dances (Rhythm City and the Charleston) for St. Lou Fringe. Whether they performed solo, as a pair, or the four of them together, each number was a fantastic showcase of classic Lindy Hop combined with original choreography. The vintage-inspired music and costumes made you feel like you were indeed in an actual 1950s cabaret.

Unfortunately, the St. Louis natives didn't quite live up to their Nashville counterparts. Tigert and Larson were the stand outs; they each had an undeniable stage presence and complimented each other well as partners. Tigert had every person in attendance laughing uncontrollably as he impersonated a bus driver, and you couldn't help but swing your eyes to him and/or Larsen the whole time.

That being said, overall, the Four Fronts were a dynamic and "Rhythm City" was 50 minutes of feel-good fun for all ages. The dancers visited with the audience after the show and everyone left with a smile on their face and wishing for more.

"Asperger's: A High Functioning Musical"
Highly Distracted Productions

The show that was arguably the most-anticipated performance of St. Lou Fringe 2013 lived up to its hype and had Fringe fanatics buzzing around midtown all weekend. Highly Distracted Productions' "Asperger's: A High Functioning Musical" made its debut at Kranzberg Black Box on Friday, and quickly became one of the festival's "must see" acts. Friday's performance made St. Lou Fringe history as the festival's first pre-sale sold-out performance, with the succeeding shows selling out quickly after. Ask any friend or stranger about their favorite shows from the weekend, and "Aperger's" will most certainly be on their list.

The musical, directed by Ed Reggi, tells the powerful story about the struggles and triumphs of six young adults living with Asperger's Syndrome. Mary Beth Black was the stand-out of a dynamic cast of rising starts who brought the lovable personalities of the characters to life, aided by the compelling music of Adam Rosen. Rosen (who lives with Asperger's Syndrome) did a beautiful job using his musical gifts to empower those who are also living with AD, while bringing awareness to a disorder that is, sadly, often ignored or misunderstood.

While the production serves its dramatic purpose, it is also infused with comedy; Reggi's contagious sense of humor shines through the script that had the audience laughing out loud throughout. The characters' quirky habits (Corey, played by Robert Michael Hanson has an adorable infatuation with ceiling fans) and musical numbers like "Take Only as Directed" lighten up what is, for the most part, a serious message. Between the cast, music and production, everything came together to make the premiere a hit at St. Lou Fringe and "Asperger's: A High Functioning Musical" is sure to be around St. Louis for a long time.

"Brave Women: Another Revolution"
Leverage Dance Theater

One of the great things about St. Lou Fringe is that it brings in new audiences and opens up the world of performing arts to those who are "culturally curious." "Brave Women: Another Revolution" did just that. "Brave Women" was a hit at last year's festival and Leverage Dance Theater retuned to Fringe with a performance that attracted a diverse audience to Satori on Saturday.

LVDC without a doubt kept their promise for "quirky habits, outrageous conversation and exceptional dancing." The first number of the show gave the crowd a glimpse into the company's dressing room from Locust Street, and it was nothing but 50 minutes of fun from there. The audience was entertained throughout the entire performance that had everything from dance and drama to music and comedy.

Leverage did a fantastic job telling a story about the day-to-day lives of women through their unique characters, creative movements and hilarious anecdotes. Whether they were griping about their wearing spanks or rolling around in a girl fight pulling each other's hair ("You broke my nail!" "Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry!"), these brave women gave a performance that both men and women could enjoy. The dancing was outstanding, the monologues hilarious, the transitions clever, the music upbeat and fun (think: "I'm Sexy and I Know It"), and each number never failed to either make you smile, laugh or cringe.