By Kelly Luck
Justine Ryan is a remarkable individual, a young woman with obvious gifts whose talents have already taken her to experiences most of us can only imagine. She is also someone who has had to face some serious challenges in her young life, coming from multiple sources both internal and external. In her one-woman show, “Lessons From My Suitcase,” she gives us a frank look into her past and present.
Ryan starts with introducing us to a six-year-old version of herself, brimming with confidence and ambition, but at the same time deathly afraid of her secret being found out. As a young adult, she moves upward, finding her voice and her passion as an actress. She travels the world in a leadership program, even goes to Cambridge...and then it all comes apart and she winds up at home, in her old room, having an anxiety attack and wondering if her life is going anywhere.
There is a certain fashion among persons of a certain mindset to lay at the feet of the millennial generation every failing of the world into which they have been unceremoniously dropped. Ms Ryan’s story should give the lie to such notions, for those willing to listen. She is part of a generation working harder than ever, raised in the panopticon of the Internet, standing at the base of a ladder bereft of rungs. What happens to this generation, and the one that follows, should be of utmost concern to us all. Ms. Ryan has talents to bring to the world, some of which were on display in this fine performance.
By Bob Evans
Original Review on KC Applauds
h yes, it’s the Fringe Festival and even on opening night, Bohemian Cult Revival sent out a clear message: Best of Venue candidate.
Opening night, Friday, July 20, in the late night slot, 10:30 p.m. at the Just Off Broadway Theatre, BCR kicked off their Fringe Festival with a rollicking Burlesque review of characters from famous movies of John Hughes.
Movies selected to lampoon include: Home Alone, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Buehler’s Day Off, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Sixteen Candles, and Weird Science. In a fun filled-hour of non-stop entertainment, expect music, singing, lip-synching, clowning, comedy, and, of course, strip teasing.
Do not wait to purchase tickets. Opening night nearly sold out. Subsequent shows will sell out. Purchase advance tickets to avoid shut outs at the Box Office. General seating, so line up early for the best seats.
“Don’t You Forget About Me: A Tribute to the Films of John Hughes” takes the audience on a thrill ride through several of John Hughes’ memorable movies by depicting characters from those teenage smash hits of the 1970-80s. ““Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it,” their Fringe information states.
“Don’t miss Bohemian Cult Revival as we pay tribute to each brain, athlete, basket-case, princess and criminal in these extraordinary films! Don’t worry about your pillows, dust off your prom shoes, and join us!”
The show is adult-based with strong language at times and standard Burlesque demonstrations. Yes, strip-tease. It’s what audiences expect and Bohemian Cult Revival always serves up, with flair.
Paying tribute to John Hughes movies and the characters in the movies are the normal (if really normal) troupe of entertainers from Bohemian Cult Revival: Katie Gilchrist as Beer Girl from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and as Ducky from Sixteen Candles; Danny Dismay as Clark Griswold from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation; Sara d’Joue as Allison Reynolds from The Breakfast Club; Damian
Blake and Annie Cherry as Harry and Marv, ‘The Wet Bandits,’ from Home Alone; Danger Alex as “Geek Girl 1” as played by Joan Cusack in Sixteen Candles; Johnny Dismay as Bender from The Breakfast Club; and with a special guest appearance by Vanessa Davis as Lisa from Weird Science, and as Ferris Bueller from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Frankie Dismay did the pre-production audio
Concessions and adult beverages are available for purchase at the JOB Theatre. As a special this year, a food truck is available just outside the venue with a varied menu of offerings.
In it, we meet the two strangers, the small-town boy from Missouri who never even saw a black man before he was ten, and the preacher who grew up in the deep middle of segregated Mississippi. They tell about their different backgrounds, each struggling against a system that does not wish to see them or to acknowledge the sins against them. The incident is replayed, and each of them walks away a different man.
The second act brings us closer to home, in the wake of the Charleston church massacre. Again, two strangers: a black lawyer and a white soldier. Another encounter in another airport. What follows is a frank discussion of a world that hasn’t really changed that much. But there is humanity in the exchange, and where there is humanity there is hope. And sometimes, what goes around, comes around.
The Charlie Mike Theatre Company is dedicated to telling stories for and by “the service community”: that is, military and first responders. As a veteran, this reviewer was particularly interested to see the approach taken.
It must be said that they bring real truth to the material: there was much that this reviewer knew all too well to be true. It is a raw truth: this is definitely not one for children. But for those who have gained battle scars of their own, be it through combat or the million ways in which society declares war against itself, it may just be a good way to help with the healing.
By Luke Dodge
A loose collection of jokes and stories we are lead to believe are somewhat based on Brenda’s Brumbaugh’s life and told through the sassy and vaguely southern Lady SINcerely persona. I was a bit worried when the show opened with a Trump joke, but it quickly became apparent Brenda would not be performing a set derivative of late night television.
Full of puns, physical humor, and sexual outbursts, Brenda focuses on the experiences an aging woman faces, particularly the failings of her own body and mind. Dressed almost in pajamas and with a magenta loofa pinned in her hair, Brenda has a certain stage presence about her.
Some stories feel half-baked and not fully formed, but when she pulls out a pun laugh line she knocks it out of the park with her clever word play. A couple of small dance numbers to music along with the first verse of incomplete songs change the pace of the show and give us a break between stories. Regularly irreverent, the sexual moments are meant purely for the shock factor so brace yourself.
Some jokes hit, but others met with awkward silence. While obviously practiced and polished, the show does not have a cohesive flow and jumps around topically with abruptness. Without a throughline the humor falls flat at time as the audience catches up to what is happening. Perhaps done intentionally, but I found it disorienting at times.
I won't spoil it for you but the "cooking lessons" stole the show; some audience members even took selfies with her afterwards. Brenda’s personality and stage presence turn what could have been a tedious show into a pleasant hour. In a world where stand-up comedy is dominated by young men, it’s great to see an older woman come out and put on a show such as this one.