With a few days off for OCTAFest rehearsals, I saw some solid mid-week shows on June 7 and 9. In one way or another, each show I saw had a similar message about empathy and caring for one another. Sometimes all it takes is listening and understanding others, but other times we need to be a part of making a change for the better.
Keeping Our Torches, RUH-Roh!, and Mothering & Mourning brought me to a new venue, Gabriel’s Corner. Just a bit further away from the rest of the action, this beautiful space set the perfect backdrop for the choreographed shows and offered the flexible seating that made RUH-Roh! work so well. Gentrification: The Musical! was back at the familiar Arts Academy.
Keeping Our Torch by Pones
All I knew about this production before walking in was that it was movement-based, and that was enough to pique my interest. Their program does a great job setting up the piece with a quote from their interviews explaining how Gloria Steinem does not want to “pass the torch” as the saying goes, but wants to keep it and use it to light the torches of others.
We start with a collection of video interviews that seamlessly transitions into poetry and dance. They beautifully tell the stories and express the voices of an often ignored aging population.
Keeping Our Torch mixes video, music, poetry, and dance throughout 5 vignettes that highlight the themes we hear in the interviews. Themes of wanting to be heard, feeling afraid, being excited with so much left to do, and much more.
If you’re familiar with Cincy Fringe, you’re probably familiar with Queen City Flash’s series featuring teen detective Nolan Blackwell (Jordan Trovillion) and her dog Casper (Trey Tatum, also the playwright). And you’re likely a fan. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry! I’ve heard plenty about ZOiNKS! and JiNKiES!, but RUH-Roh!was the only one in the series I’ve seen, and I didn’t feel lost at all.
This show calls on the audience to help tell the story, asking us to read lines and hold props or set pieces. This fully-immersive style helps us engage with the story and adds plenty of laughter along the way.
Props to Bridget Leak for her collaboration with actors Trovillion and Tatum. It’s clear they make a great team as this show flows so well from the interactive gags to more story-driven moments.
They also handle the tough subject matter of addiction and recovery well, with both grace and gravity. They display how it realistically affects Nolan and others without making it her whole life, and balance the show with plenty of humor without making the topic itself a joke.
While we do find out in the program they’re turning this series into an audio drama, you won’t want to miss this live show at Cincy Fringe! Get your RUH-Roh! tickets now while you can!
Mothering & Mourning by Megan Flynn & Teresa Vandenend Sorge
Mothering & Mourning brings quality dance-driven storytelling that rounds out Cincy Fringe’s many lovable genres. It tells stories of motherhood through dance and spoken word. Dancers Megan Flynn, Teresa VanDenend Sorge, Lindsay Helock, Nadia Ureña, and Rodney Veal collaborate beautifully in the pieces that flow into each other seamlessly. Megan Flynn and Teresa VanDenend Sorge also directed!
The final piece, which is listed as an excerpt from Motherload: a very large amount of something valuable, is aptly billed as “a tribute to all those who are cared for and those who care.” We hear about “the sandwich generation,” which refers to people who care for both children and parents.
The performers help us understand what everyday life (and stress) is like for mothers who care for so many. They ask, “who will care for me?”
Definitely a must-see for dance-lovers and those who want to be more empathic of motherhood, or want to feel seen and heard as a mother. Get your tickets now!
Gentrification: The Musical! by A Doin’ Too Much Productions
With its timely and local significance, it’s no wonder Gentrification: The Musical! keeps selling out. We start with a classic frustrating scenario: automated help systems that don’t help. In this case, it’s the automated parking system, which is a repeated and building gag.
This leads into “Why We Built This Place.” What UCDC did to get to the present state, like removing homeless people, is our first hint that things aren’t headed in the right direction. UCDC is the city development committee for the city that we conveniently missed the name of.
Cast Aiden Sims and Brantley Goodrich excellently differentiate each character with only a few costume changes. While the satirical singing has its place, both Sims and Goodrich shine vocally when they sing as Jasmine and Casey. After hearing the comedic vocals, I was especially amazed with Goodrich’s vocal expression in “Social Media Anxiety.”
Music director and musician Dan Zimmer guides them well with live music throughout. His direction shines in the contrast between comedic and dramatic songs. Tatiana Godfrey deserves praise for directing this piece with great pacing and balance.
After the show, I appreciated that we weren’t left just to ponder it, but asked to take action. Local voters can sign a petition to bring an affordable housing issue to the ballot. This is well-rounded and action-oriented show you don’t want to miss!
Local Food and Drink Recommendations
Looking for a pre-show drink and bite near Gabriel’s Corner? Somerset has a beautiful space with craft cocktails and beer, as well as a food bus. Liberty’s Bar & Bottle Shop is a great place for beer or wine to chat after a show. If you want a nice pre-show dinner, make a reservation at Nicola’s. It’s right across the street, and make sure to order their bread service!
The Bottom Line (TLDR)
More and more shows I see are sold out, so don’t wait to get your tickets so you can join in the fun! I’m loving the dance shows at Cincy Fringe this year, and highly recommend Mothering & Mourning! There really is something for everyone, so read more Cincinnati Fringe Festival reviews if you’re trying to find the right show for you and check out the full schedule on the Cincy Fringe website!