Scenes. Sketches. Signing. Songs. The Edmonton International Fringe Festival Kidsville has it all.
With anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 kids expected to descend at the festival, organizers have scheduled a combination of full-throttle activities side-by-side the quieter events.
Teeny munchkins can shake out their moves and grooves with preschool hip-hop, salsa babies and family yoga. And there's a vast mix of storytelling, puppetry, Kidsmusic, participatory theatre and clowning.
Scattered throughout the festival site are child friendly theatrical shows that create a lot of rabble rousing fun. And even if you're a big kid, don't be shy about checking them out.
King Edward School
8530 101 St.
I try to avoid one-man or one-woman shows unless it's a comedy club act. There's only so much an actor can do by himself.
But I had a block of time and Sara Vickruck's Aletheia was the only show that fit into my schedule. Within the first five minutes of seeing the former St. Albert drama teacher under a shaft of light, my conviction was upended. By the end of the one-hour performance, Aletheia had climbed to the top of my Fringe faves.
The theme of the show is actually in the title. Aletheia is a Greek word that means 'disclosure' or 'truth.'
Vickruck has constructed character vignettes of people who have participated in heroic acts. Yet their involvement is filled with shame, anger and pain. Carrying a heavy burden, they are desperate to release the pressures and find peace within themselves.
The tragic characters could be our neighbours – an Irish war veteran ashamed of his medals, an East Indian girl who feels violated, a mother whose daughter was killed and a girl in prison for killing another.
What makes this show so potent is that Vickruck doesn't just play the characters with the right accents and mannerisms. She inhabits the characters thoroughly down to the haunted look on her face and tears that slide across her cheeks. Each vignette is a delicate, nuanced performance that ensnares and makes you marvel at her craftsmanship.
Aletheia compels you to understand the characters' lonely and difficult path. It is a mirror that searches for truth, asks questions and is delivered straight from the soul.
– Anna Borowiecki
Madame Mambella's Last Day
Loonatic Fringe Tent
85 Ave. and 104 St.
Hurry. Hurry. Hurry. Step into the big top. The magic of vaudeville is about to begin.
There are no fancy sets, special effects or fireworks. Yes, in Madame Mambella's Last Day, there is only a trunk of props that will enchant and enthrall you. Watch a young man step onto a tightrope and take a journey into the future where there is no turning back.
Have I hooked you yet?
In this delightful two-hander Madame Mambella (Pamela Schmunk) is retiring after operating a theatre her father bequeathed her 14 years ago. She handpicks her successor to take the venue into a future where vaudeville is slowly disappearing. Her successor is Sullivan Pike, the young janitor, known to all as simply Sully.
Sully, played by St. Albert Children's Theatre member Luc Tellier, is stunned and frightened about handling such enormous responsibilities. But in this coming of age story, Madame Mambella puts him through eight trials to gain the confidence needed.
Together they dress up, role-playing and posturing through the theatre's eight acts – an outlandish opera diva, a weepy kick-line and a one-man Irish band to name a few. Each performance is a broad, exaggerated delivery of physical theatre.
Schmunk is every bit the smooth talking impresario while Tellier has a stammering urchin-like charm that perfectly balances the duo. They are a seamless fit feeding off each other's strengths and energy as they take their first steps into a new world.
– Anna Borowiecki
The Kazoodles Present
PCL Studio at the TransAlta Arts Barn
10330 84 Ave.
Just blow on the kazoo and the Kazoodles are only a toot away. These cartoonish creatures, costumed in what appears to be a grab-off-the-clothesline wardrobe, appear magically when kids are in trouble.
Scripted with a very simple plot line strategically aimed at the preschool crowd, The Kazoodles Presents introduces us to Dan (Jordan Sabo). Although a good friend with a crush on Alice, Dan's low self-esteem is holding him back. He is afraid to change and take risks.
Enter the three Kazoodles as Dan's spirits from past, present and future (a spoof handily borrowed from Dickens' Christmas Carol). Reliving his life through fresh eyes, the young man undergoes a light bulb moment of understanding and transformation where he morphs from plain old Dan to Dan-o-mite.
In the dual role of Koach/Teacher, St. Albert Children's Theatre alumnus Josh Languedoc is a fireball of energy, not only giving Dan a pep talk, but also egging on the family crowd to participate.
The other two Kazoodles, played by the kooky Kaylee Gloeckler and slightly more demure Morgan Nadeau, are equal spitfires fostering a wacky humour.
The plot is fairly lean and may bore a few parents. However, the day I attended one little girl stepped on stage during a rock song, pulled up her skirt and started shaking her bootie – a reliable sign of munchkin appeal.
– Anna Borowiecki
Kiss Within a Kiss
10322 83 Ave.
How many prima donnas can you count backstage?
In Kiss Within a Kiss, the lead actress develops appendicitis. Her younger sister Kathy (Andrea McHenry) steps into the role on 24 hours notice. But she doesn't like to swear and being a virgin kisser, she doesn't want to lock lips with Shawn (Trevor Lawless) the lead actor, in the requisite romantic scene.
It's 24 hours before opening night. The director is nowhere to be seen and everything is falling apart including the overbearing, bitchy stage manager Mira (Janice Marschner).
Wearing a triple hat as playwright, director, set designer, St. Albert's Jim Herchak has created a sweet comedy that really goes nowhere much like Seinfeld.
But there is a dash of tension. Right up until the last minute there's that question – will they or won't they kiss?
Timing is everything and what keeps the production on course are the three characters' verbal jousts.
McHenry portrays Kathy with champagne lightness that makes her the ideal ingénue. Mira is the production's barracuda. Delivering the snappiest lines with a deadpan expression, Marschner corners the market on laughter. Shawn is the peacemaker caught in the crossfire of two warring women, and Lawless delivers a controlled balance that anchors the piece.
A relaxed 45-minute show, it is the perfect vehicle after a long day of Fringing.
– Anna Borowiecki