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'Bad Auditions' packs Fishtank; leaves audience in stitches wanting more

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"Bad Auditions" for Kansas City Fringe Festival

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It’s like “A Chorus Line” on crack. Yes, that’s right it’s auditions gone bad--really bad. It’s Whim Production's 2014 entry into the Kansas City Fringe Festival, bringing together the most outrageous cast of misfits, auditioning for a yet to be announced movie, to be set in a high school in the antebellum period in the South.

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Sound preposterous? Well, it certainly is. Those who attend the always sold-out performances get an added bonus, because as they are being seated prior to the show, this zany characters are inside prepping for their auditions. Watching this cast as they do crazy ancitc as they prepare for their audition by doing warm-ups, is enough to make the audience laugh before the show starts.

King, performing in the piece as the director trying to cast an upcoming production, sifts through a plethora of the most horrid auditions anyone ever imagined. There’s a young woman who tries to emulate the spirit of Sir Laurence Olivier in his most spectacular piece, Shakespeare’s “Richard III.” When asked to do something lighter, still the spirit of Olivier comes forth. That’s just the beginning.

Other actors come forth when it’s their turn, and also attempt to do Shakespeare’s “Richard III.” And if it’s not Shakespeare, it’s Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie.” If not that, sometimes it’s dramatic reading of song lyrics– most notably Whitney Houston.

What show or audition can be complete without a drag queen? Yes, there’s one of those, attempting to audition with second rate magic tricks– none of which inspire any awe or prestidigitation at all. There’s also a young lady who keeps coming back into different costumes and outfits trying so desperately to win a part in the upcoming production. No matter how she tries, Poop Girl is always recognized and thanked for her efforts.

Some of the pieces are memorized and worked on, but others are almost impromptu, and meant to surprise King as the director. Performances are located in The Fishtank Performance Studio, one of the smaller venues for the Kansas City Fringe Festival. Ss such, tickets are a high demand item and must be purchased in advance for any chance to gain admission. The venue seats only about 40 people and all shows have been sold out.

“This is going to be a very fast-paced production. During the show, audiences will go from laughing with the actors, to laughing at them, and from sympathizing with the director to feeling bad for the actors because they have to deal with an unpredictable director.”

In a bit of meta-casting, King plays the director himself. He’ll be joined by actors from diverse backgrounds but most known for their body of work in the Kansas City Metro area.

Most recently added to the “Bad Auditions” cast are: Meredith Wolfe, who recently electrified audiences in Gorilla Theatre’s production of “Elektra.” Ben Auxier and Brian Huther, the members of the popular improv duo Dog and Friend Dog will bring their unique comedy talents. Kenzie West is also part of the “Bad Auditions” cast. West recently starred in The Living Room’s production of “Fat Pig.”

“Bad Auditioners” previously announced: Stefanie Stevens, Matt Sweeten, Alisa Lynn, and Genewa Stanwyck (all from Whim’s “Flowers in the Wardrobe”), local playwright-actor-producer Tara Varney, and Seth Macchi (also regularly appearing with the Kansas City Improv Company).

Don’t be disappointed. Run to your computer and secure tickets through the Kansas City Fringe Festival website. They are going fast and this show is not to be missed. “Bad Auditions” comes with the highest of recommendations.

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