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Sometimes working in the entertainment biz seems like a real fairytale. The people you meet are quite literally fantastic, and it only takes a little push for everyday experiences to take on an outrageous, otherworldly glow. Two shows that are a part of this year’s FRIGID festival shine brightly in the alien luminescence of the stage. Sisters Grimm: Fables of the Stage by Bricken Sparacino and Amy Witting and JonBenet: Murder Mystery Theater!!! by Medium Face Productions recreate the magic of childhood in order to smash it into a thousand glittering, glamorous pieces.

In the opening scene of Sisters Grimm, a group of men are waiting to audition for a new TV adaptation of Jack and the Beanstalk. One of the men is very large, and the other is appropriately named Jack. Is this a coincidence, or is the universe trying to tell us something? Giant is a natural for the part — he is just gianormous! And Jack has been training for this audition his entire life. He’s even growing a big ole’ beanstalk in his backyard in Brooklyn. Feel the intensity of Jack’s immersion method! Unfortunately for Jack, his new Giant friend doesn’t want to share his big pot of gold in the sky, though he will show Jack his recipe for bread.

ShowImage-1.ashxIn the second half of Sisters Grimm, a troupe of travelling musical theater types intrigue backstage while performing an enviro-lehrstück in front of an audience of fragile, young minds. Pointy the Starfish and the Little Girl, who is Pointy’s behind-the-scenes wife, are on the outs. Both of them are having a secret affair with Neptune, lord of the sea. Meanwhile, the poor Seagull, who must deliver the moral lesson of the play (don’t pollute), and the harried stage manager try to keep it together long enough to make sure the closing number is performed, so the cast can cram back into the van and head to the next unsuspecting group of kids in a town far, far away.

Like all good fairytales, Sisters Grimm has a moral, even if it’s as twisted as a pair of Dorothy’s panties after her house landed on the Wicked Witch of the East — viz., in showbiz the magic pixie dust is more addictive than crack. Why else would theater folk continue to work long, odd hours for little pay, and less chance of stardom? Of course, it works the other way too. Our fame obsessed, reality-TV-industry culture weaves fairytales and nightmares out of life’s quotidian straw. JonBenet: Murder Mystery Theater!!! is a musical homage to the little girl who stole America’s heart, which was subsequently interred with her diminutive, six-year-old body. Through song and the most insane, giddy, border violating humor ever seen by this pair of eyes, the talented Medium Face Productions crew bring a touch of theatre magic to the horrible unsolved murder of a six-year-old child.

Both productions are musical, you might even say musicals, with clever adaptations of classic gems like “Suddenly Seymour” and David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and plenty of rib-ticking new material. The Sisters Grimm cast — Bill Bria (Jack), Derby Thomas (Giant), Brandon Schraml (Pointy), Elisabeth Furtado (Stage Manager), Bricken Sparacino (Little Girl) and Adam Sullivan (Neptune) — charmed the audience and delivered a tight, exciting (if occasionally off-key) performance.

Three Medium Faces

Three Medium Faces

The Medium Face crew is sick. As shit. Seriously, these are some demented comical geniuses. I mean, you have to be to want to write a musical about JonBenet Ramsey, especially a musical that starts off with three JonBenets onstage / in heaven, singing and cursing Honey Boo Boo. (I have some doubts as to whether or not any of the following are the actors’ legal birth names, but that’s what’s in the playbill, so that’s what I report.) Bob and Tobly McSmith are the Bonny and Clyde of stick-a-firecracker-in-it comedy, and their co-conspirator Mary Crosbie, a demented live improvisator from the Will Ferrell mold, had the audience blowing snot bubbles. They clearly are having a good time saying the evil things they say on stage, and their energy is infectious. April Kidwell has the funniest fake British accent ever enunciated on the Kraine Theater stage. If you enjoy soiling your drawers, be sure to check out Medium Face’s next production Showgirls! The Musical!, coming in April.

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