IndyFringe Reviews, Part II: Who You Gonna Call? Spirit Fighters!
After marathoning through three shows in a row on my first IndyFringe outing, I decided to slow down a little for day two, taking in one insanely funny musical and hitting up the Beer Tent for a little Brazilian flair.
DON’T CROSS THE STREAMS: THE CEASE & DESIST MUSICAL Aug. 24, 7:30 p.m.; Aug. 26, 1:30 p.m.
I previously attended a show that received an actual cease-and-desist letter (From Hipster to Dipster), but thankfully, the letter that this show revolves around is purely fictional.
A director and his cast attempt to put on a musical production of Ghostbusters when Columbia Pictures comes a-knockin’, dragging the show to a screeching halt. Of course, it takes a lot more than a piece of paper to stop true thespians, so the director and his stage manager come up with ridiculous yet effective ways to axe the copyrighted no-no words. The New York setting moves to “Hotlanta,” Proton Packs become Neutron Knapsacks, and ectoplasm is renamed Phantom Jelly. Even the word “ghost” becomes taboo, replaced instead for “spirit,” which just doesn’t work when you have to inform someone that there are (gasp) spirits in his restaurant.
The show really takes off when one of the lead actors twists his ankle, forcing famous soap opera actor Hugo West (played impeccably by Tom Highley) to bring his, er, masterful skills to the stage. Highley plays the role with such perfect physical comedy that audience members can’t help but double over in laughter when he dances around with a toothpaste-ad smile, singing like a cross between William Shatner and the guy from the B-52s. This is when it pays to be in a small theater, because Highley’s ridiculous facial expressions alone are enough to make one crack a grin.
After a series of pitfalls, mishaps, and more than a few drinks down the director’s pipe, a brick flies through the imaginary rehearsal space window, with a note informing the cast that a lawyer will be attending their opening performance, and if they mention any copyrighted material, they will be slapped with more than a million dollars in fines. The director is ready to call it quits until the cast comes up with a new idea. If they can’t use the film’s original devices, they can tell the story in ways that only the stage can present. Enter Ghostbusters presented though Japanese-language Kabuki theater. (I couldn’t tell if the actors were speaking correct Japanese phrases, but I know they were using real Japanese words, which was impressive enough.) Also involved: interpretative dance (which involved a man in a Twinkie costume—see for yourself), and a big swooping gospel choir performance, complete with flowing green and gold robes.
Simply put, the entire show is hysterical. In contrast to the acoustic problems I had with 465 Sex Drive, as this show uses only a piano for music, the lyrics are always clear and enunciated, and the cast comprises a phenomenal ensemble. Sean Mette’s performance as lovable doof Corky is uproarious, especially when he dresses up as the play’s version of Slimer in what looks like a tie-dye green Snuggie. And while he only had a few lines, Steve Milloy’s understated portrayal of piano player Leroy earned more than a few chuckles, even when he was merely munching on Cheetos.
Post show, the audience was all smiles, and for good reason—this musical rocks. However, if you’ve never seen Ghostbusters, you’ll be at a serious disadvantage. I was one of those unfortunate viewers, and I felt as though I was missing something for a huge portion of the musical. But as long as you do your homework, attending this play is a no-brainer.
Brazil Night at the Beer Tent
After the show, I headed down to the Beer Tent located across the street from Forty Five Degrees. While I didn’t get a chance to sample the tent’s signature beer, an apricot wheat Flat12 brew (media credentials don’t comp beer purchases, sadly), I did get a glimpse of some samba, danced to the beat of a live DJ spinning perky, lively Brazilian tunes. An energetic instructor took to the stage, and through dance moves and hand signals alone, led a decent-sized crowd through a variety of samba moves. None looked too difficult for your average Joe to pick up and groove with. Other events will be happening at the Beer Tent for the rest of the week, so make sure to head out for a fun and free (unless you purchase a beverage) way to partake in Fringe events.
Beer tent photos by Myrydd Wells. Don’t Cross the Streams photo courtesy IndyFringe