Mission: Possible

The Fringe Festival is theater at its most raw. From August 1–11, Minneapolis venues will be buzzing with 176 shows and hundreds of talented hopefuls crossing their fingers to be the “it” act of 2013, the fest’s 20th anniversary. Actress Shanan Custer is a Fringe pro—writer, actor, viewer—and shares her top 15 shows here. Use this list to successfully conquer the Fringe—and enjoy it, too.

Tedious Brief Productions

The Final Act
What: This Elizabethan noir thriller will finally reveal the truth behind the death of Christopher Marlowe, the greatest playwright of 1593.
Where: Woman’s Club of Minneapolis
When: 8/1, 5:30 p.m.
Why: Film noir, Shakespeare, great cast, beautiful costumes—I’m in!

Ferrari McSpeedy Theatrical Productions

Hickory Minimum Security Correctional Facility Presents: Hoosiers: The Stage Adaptation
What: In a prison where all hope seems lost, hope is found in the one place hope hides when hope needs a little quiet time: competitive prison theater.
Where: U of M Rarig Center Thrust
When: 8/1, 7 p.m.
Why: Mike Fotis and Joe Bozic are two of my fave improv performers in town, so I have to see this!

Love’s Prick Productions

How To Date A Werewolf (or, Lonesome, Wild and Blue)
What: When you’re a werewolf and your ex is a zombie who just won’t go away, dating can get complicated. A rom com with a supernatural twist.
Where: Theatre in the Round Players
When: 8/2, 10 p.m.
Why: Matthew Everett is a wonderful playwright, and his plays are always insightful and heartfelt.

The Peanut Butter Factory

To My Son, Born Five Years From Today:
What: Every father has a secret sadness for his son, wishing he could go back in time to put a message in a bottle for the man who will succeed him.
Where: Woman’s Club of Minneapolis
When: 8/3, 4 p.m.
Why: The Peanut Butter Company is always worth seeing. The end.

Tigerlion Arts

What if I’m Dead?
Where: Mixed Blood Theatre
What: Red Nose Clown Bartholomew discovers death is real when he stages his own funeral in this highly physical solo show.
When: 8/3, 8:30 p.m.
Why: From the creators of The Dragons Are Singing Tonight. I promised myself to see more of their work. And I’m not freaked out by clowns, so I’m good.

The Jansonowicz Players

Shelly Bachberg Presents: How Helen Keller and Anne Frank Freed the Slaves: The Musical
What: A charming but woefully misguided congresswoman promotes her super-accurate children’s history book in this irreverent musical satire.
Where: New Century Theatre
When: 8/4, 1 p.m.
Why: Um, did you see the title of this? ’Nuff said.

Gigglepus Productions

Dear Madde
What: A one-woman musical inspired by 50 years of “Dear Abby” letters. Madde Gibba answers all of our neurotic love quandaries—through song!
Where: Red Eye Theater
When: 8/5, 5:30 p.m.
Why: Madde Gibba is a triple threat: she can act, improvise, and sing. She’s also adorable in her postcard photo.

Cities Classical Dance Ensemble

What: Classically trained dancers bring to life the voices of five Twin Cities choreographers through ballet and contemporary dance.
Where: The Southern Theater
When: 8/6, 8:30 p.m.
Why: The Fringe is a great way to see dance, which I don’t get to do often. After, I like to discuss how I could never do what I just saw over a beer.

Transatlantic Love Affair

These Old Shoes
What: A new story of old age that takes you down a trail of memories, choices, and second chances.
Where: Music Box Theatre
When: 8/7, 8:30 p.m.
Why: This company is the real deal: gorgeous storytelling that wears its heart on its sleeve. I might have lost control of that metaphor, but I think you know what I mean.

Erin Sheppard Presents

Bump in the Night
What: Equally terrifying and whimsically absurd, finding humor in the darkness of the horror genre using dance and storytelling.
Where: U of M Rarig Center Proscenium
When: 8/8, 10 p.m.
Why: See this now so you can talk about Sheppard’s “early” work at parties. She’s awesome.

Olsen Family Circus

Mainly Me Productions’ One Hit Thunder
What: Their voices are auto-tuned. Their mission is real. This is either the dumbest idea the CIA has ever had, or at the very least in the top five.
Where: U of M Rarig Center Thrust
When: 8/9, 4 p.m.
Why: Josh Carson knows how to deliver a show that is tight, funny, and topical. Also, this one promises “whimsical pop,” so I have to go.


English Scrimshaw Theatrical Novelties or The Interplanetary Machinations of Evil Thomas Edison
What: Tesla versus Edison. Who will win the War of the Currents? What’s the secret of the dancing martians? Why does Madame Curie keep radium in her brassiere? Find out in this retro silent comedy.
Where: Intermedia Arts
When: 8/9, 8:30 p.m.
Why: This show has everything: dance, martians, electricity, and Scrimshaws.

Natalie Rae Wass

Fashion Risk or the Accidental Nudist
What: Raised in the U.K. by nudists employed by the NSA, Natalie reveals lesser-known facts about her life and muses on why it’s so hard to decide what (not) to wear.
Where: Mixed Blood Theatre
When: 8/10, 4 p.m.
Why: Natalie is such a unique spirit on stage, and apparently she has quite a story to tell. I also think her parents are in this show. I have to see that.

Comedy Suitcase

Comedy vs. Calories: FIGHT!
What: Three men. 780 calories. Can a 50-minute show burn the calories from a single Happy Meal? A sweat-soaked cardio comedy for the whole family. You’ll laugh. They might puke.
Where: U of M Rarig Center Thrust
When: 8/10, 7 p.m.
Why: I can bring my daughter to this one! Also, I love these guys, so seeing them do physical comedy while eating massive amounts of food is both perfect and terrifying.

Claudia Haas

La Bella Cinderella
What: The Cinderella tale turned upside down. Help clean for the ball, save Cinderella from a wild boar, and stop Dandini the clown from stealing the crown!
Where: Minneapolis Theatre Garage
When: 8/11, 4 p.m.
Why: Another one my daughter and I can go see together! I’ve long admired Claudia Haas’s work from afar, so this is perfect.

More shows plus ticket and location info at fringefestival.org