Saturday brought the last full day of activities at the second annual Zootown Fringe Festival, and it was a beautiful day for Fringing. Viscosity Theatre's presentation of Mystery Mark continued to pack them in at the Downtown Dance Collective as they presented their third and final performance.
The eight artists exhibiting their work as part of the Not From Here exhibit at The Hive closed out their exhibition with a 12 hour viewing and closing party. I was impressed with the quality and variety of work on display, and especially enamored with the photography of Jesse Swanson. Kudos to Jennifer LaRue of Spokane for coordinating this fascinating art installation and for bringing it to the Zootown Fringe Festival. Congratulations also to local artist Geoff Pepos for being part of this exhibit.
Although most of the action for the day centered around the shows taking place at the Crystal Theatre and the Roxy, there were a couple of musical presentations at the Brink Gallery: Steve on Piano and Mechanical Wonderland.
Of the 14 shows taking place at the Roxy and the Crystal, I was able to catch three (and had previously caught four others on Friday).
The first show I saw was Sean Kirkpatrick's delightful first foray into the Fringe with Kelsey Grammer is Abraham Lincoln: Live! at the Crystal. Kirkpatrick, a 21 year old student at the University of Montana, is studying for his Bachelor in Theater Arts. His presentation, which he wrote, directed and produced, was a multi-media extravaganza that kept his audience laughing from start to finish. Mixing video clips with live performances on stage, Kirkpatrick showed just a hint of the remarkable comedic genius that we can expect from him in the future. Among those featured in his video clips was MCT's own Cathy Capps.
My next show was Wendy Woollett's The Last Montana Monolog, a dramatic interpretation of her work, which featured Rachel Petite, a concert violinist and actress in the lead role. While Pam Carlton, Julie McFarland, Chris Kennedy, Bob Campbell and John Petite contributed supporting roles to the production, the focus of the show was on the musings and observations of Mistress, portrayed by R. Petite. Although her performance fell flat at times, the gist of the story emerged as R. Petite recounted her character's journey from California to Montana, and the married men, casinos and bars she encountered along the way. Considering the amount of space available on the tiny Roxy stage, the cast did a great job of presenting this fascinating show. Kudos to the one-man band, Caleb Coffey, for providing the musical score, which included songs from Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch, Mississippi John Hurt, Jimmy Cliff and Dirk Powell.
My final show for the Fringe was my personal favorite. Jordan Watkins traveled all the way from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to bring Project Gingervitis to the people of Missoula, and the effort paid off with a stirring and thought-provoking piece of theater. As a proud Ginger myself, I was intrigued by the premise of the show, and Watkins delivered one of the best shows I have seen in my time in Missoula. Between the massive film clips and the amazing live characterizations presented by Watkins, Project Gingervitis delivered its message. This is one of those "don't miss" shows that truly exemplified the reason why fringe festivals exist - to spotlight and give a platform to outstanding works that go "outside the box."