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Adam reviews 'Wolf Tails and Stolen Footprints,' 'Good Joke/Bad Joke Bingo,' and '50 Shades of Gay'


“Wolf Tails and Stolen Footprints” opens with the show’s 12-person cast running about Blackfriars' darkened stage, each of them fearfully crying out. The chaos carries on for a time, until the din suddenly falls away as a voice calls out, “Once upon a time!”

This brief opening neatly encapsulates the idea behind the production, in which students of the Nazareth College Department of Theatre and Dance perform adaptations of several Grimm’s Fairy Tales. In her introduction before the performance, co-director Lindsay Reading Korth spells out her intentions: “We’re a culture living in shadow,” she says. The ugliest aspects of our society have been made increasingly plain in recent times, and it seems the only way forward is to acknowledge our culture’s collective demons, and face them head-on. It’s time to explore the darkness.
"Wolf Tails and Stolen Footprints" on stage at Blackfriars Theatre. - PHOTO BY FRANK DE BLASE
  • "Wolf Tails and Stolen Footprints" on stage at Blackfriars Theatre.
“Wolf Tails” is a bare-bones production; there are no sets and few props. The cast dresses all in black, alternating roles through each story, with the rest of the ensemble acting as a Greek chorus to narrate the action. The talented group performs as a true ensemble and it’s difficult to single out any one particular member as they act out the tales — some familiar and some lesser known — including “Frau Holle,” “The Juniper Tree,” and “Little Red Riding Hood.”

Grimm’s tales are the kind where characters learn valuable life lessons, often through suffering, torture, and death. But these stories have for centuries performed a function: they’ve been our way of making a certain sense out of our confusing and terrifying world. As Korth points out, the characters in these stories are archetypical; they’re often without names, allowing us to see aspects of ourselves in each one. There’s plenty of darkness to be found in each story, but they’re ultimately hopeful, reminding us that though terrible things may happen, we’ll eventually make it through the woods.

“Wolf Tails and Stolen Footprints” will be performed again on Wednesday, September 20, 7 p.m., at Blackfriars Theatre. $15. Appropriate for ages 13 and over.

After confronting the darkness, I spent the rest of my Fringe evening engaging in some good old-fashioned silliness, starting with “Good Joke/Bad Joke Bingo” at Geva. The rules are simple: bingo numbers are pulled and each number corresponds to a different joke or story host Shawn Wickens gets to tell. Some are good. Others, not so much. Along the way audience members have the opportunity to win silly prizes.

Wickens keeps things moving, cycling through a few of his old tweets, some stray observations, stories, knock-knock jokes, and even the odd impression. A boisterous audience on Saturday night ate it up, and a great time was had ... even if I didn’t win a damn prize.

“Good Joke/Bad Joke Bingo” will be performed again on Sunday, September 17, at Geva Theatre Center: Fielding Stage. 4 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Note: the 4:30 p.m. performance is appropriate for ages 5 and up, while the 8:30 p.m. is 18 and over. $8-$10.

I later joined another enthusiastic crowd at Abilene for a performance of “50 Shades of Gay,” a raucous adult variety show by comedian Ike Avelli. It’s a variety show in the traditional sense, with Avelli performing live songs, stories, some ridiculous costume changes, and tossing off loads of 90's pop culture references. The set is rounded out with musical numbers from Tym Moss, along with stand-up and lipsync by drag queen Viki Villainess.

The production is a charmingly low-budget operation, with Windows Media Player being cued up to provide the backing track for each song (only once did seeing the title of a track pop up on screen spoil a song’s punchline), but what the show occasionally lacks in polish, it makes up sheer energy and talent. Werk, queen!

“50 Shades of Gay” will be performed again on Thursday, September 21, 9 p.m. at the TheatreROCS Stage at Abilene. $15. Mature audiences.

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