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Hollywood Fringe 2014 experience Day Two (part two)

This show is one of the hidden gems of the 2014 Hollywood Fringe!, used by permission

You can find part one here.

My next stop of the day was at one of my new favorite venues, Three Clubs. Their line-up of shows this year is killer! Based on the fact that Efrain Schunior did such a great job with Fancy: Secrets from my Bootydoir, I simply had to check out another one of his shows, Lydia Trueblood: the Black Widow of the Atlantic Coast, and I am so glad I did. In Lydia, I found one of the true hidden gems of the 2014 Hollywood Fringe Festival.

Liz Eldridge is spectacular as Lydia, with amazing support from Clara Dykstra and Bryan Bertone. Eldridge definitely lived up to the hype of "the female Aaron Lyons" with her out-of-this-world voice and acting abilities. She told the story as if she had personally lived it, and her interactions with the audience made us feel like we were part of it.

I was also blown away by the musical abilities of Dykstra, who was impressive on both accordion and trumpet. Combined with the musical talents of Eldridge on ukelele and banjele, and the memorable music and lyrics composed by Eldridge, there was no doubt that this would be an awesome show.

Eldridge, whose side project Many Distant Cities is blowing up in LA, possesses so much talent and goodness that it makes her portrayal of the heartless Trueblood that much better. Eldridge truly gets her character and has crafted a story and songs that allow the audience to become intimate with this true-life criminal.

Eldridge's Trueblood stole my heart and I would gladly become one of her victims. Don't miss her final performance on June 17 at 8 p.m. You will hate yourself if you don't check out this hidden gem.

My next show was also at Three Clubs - We Can be One. This show, and the one I saw next (Woof Woof), shared the theme of PTSD and its affects on our servicemen and women and their respective friends and families. However, the two could not have been more different in their approaches.

We Can be One is a musical that follows three friends getting ready for the return of their mutual friend from deployment. Malynda Hale stars as the hopeful young woman who has only met the returning Marine through Skype and is anxious to meet him in person. Nora Rothman plays her friend who is struggling to deal with her boyfriend, played by Geordie Kieffer, who suffers from PTSD. Michael Thomas-Visgar plays the young Marine returning from deployment, while Mykell and Stephanie Hoston portray the two friends who are there to celebrate.

As a veteran myself and the brother of an Army Chaplain who spent two tours in Iraq, I can vouch for the authenticity of this play, which truly allows the audience a glimpse into the struggles that members of the military have when they return from a war time deployment. The struggle is not just within themselves, but can be felt by everyone in their lives - family, friends and co-workers.

This story brought me to tears, as I remembered my own experiences and those told me by my brother. It is a powerful piece that needs to be experienced. There are two remaining performances on June 19 at 8 p.m. and on June 24 at 4 p.m. I highly recommend you attend - it just might open your eyes to what our military members endure as a result of their efforts to ensure our freedom and liberty.

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