’The 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Festival is underway. I’m writing up two shows in this post. The first is Ingenue, which stars Melanie Gall. Ingenue centers around the stories and songs associated with Deanna Durbin and Judy Garland.
*Show times for both of the shows listed here can be found by clicking on the show’s link in the copy below.
Fringe Festival Traditions
Ingenue will mark the sixth show by Ms. Gall that I will attend. One of the remarkable things about her Fringe career is that she is always mounting new shows. She does repeat some of her others as well, but she is always stretching herself as a performer.
Attending a Melanie Gall show is one of my Fringe Festival traditions. There are a couple of others. One is my visit to the India Palace food tent. Every year I go with either an order of Curry Beef or Butter Chicken. This is a quick, tasty meal. I also go for a visit to the beer garden while I eat. This year’s sponsor is Sleeman’s, and while it’s OK, after the beer at Sookram’s, it’s a bit of a letdown.
Rain Delay before Ingenue
After eating I contemplated running home to drop some things off. However, just as I started to leave, it started pouring down rain. Luckily the beer garden is not far from Across the Board Game cafe. Ducking in there allowed me to wait out the rain delay while enjoying a piece of Saskatoon Berry Pie, and a hot chocolate. Depending on how your Fringe viewing is scheduled, A meal and a board game from Across the Board is a great way to break it up.
Ingénue tells the story of Deanna born (Edna Mae) Durbin, one of the biggest start of 1930s and 40s Hollywood. Her story starts here in Winnipeg, where she lived for two years, before her family moved to Hollywood. Despite here short stint in this town, she is still known as Winnipeg’s Sweetheart. There, as a young teen, she wound up under contract to MGM studios and Louis B. Mayer.
Every aspect of life was under studio control, including education. As a result Durbin attended school alongside the likes of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland.
It’s Durbin’s relationship with Garland that forms the storyline of Ingénue. The show is set in Paris around the time of Garland’s death. Durbin, recounts her career and friendship with Garland to a reporter(never seen), who came to Paris to track Durbin down.
All About Deanna
Several things make this a really great show. First and foremost, there is Deanna Durbin. Despite being on of the biggest stars of her day, she’s large forgotten. She was a remarkable woman, who carved her own path through the Golden Age Hollywood Studio system. Gall does a fine job of capturing this element of her life. This also serves to contrast with Garland’s story. One amazing part of the Deanna Durbin story is that she walked away from Hollwood and fame while still in her late 20s.
Talking with Melanie after the show, it is clear that Ingénue is the most personal of the shows that she has done to date. She worked for six months getting the script done and it shows. This is the most complete script and plot of any of her shows.
As always, Gall’s singing is superb. One of the things I always appreciate about her shows is that she pays homage rather than imitates. For example, on Somewhere Over the Rainbow, she uses her own phrasing rather than copying Garland’s.
Being a Fringe show Ingenue is limited in the ability to take on Durbin’s life. Given Gall’s passion for her subject, I hope she gets a chance to offer a future, deeper look at Durbin’s story.
The Tom Hendry warehouse where the show is stage is a great location. One that allows for the full strength of Gall’s performance to shine through. She wrote the play with this theatre in mind.
This is definitely a must see Fringe Show. The singing is great, and the story shines a light on the life of a remarkable woman from Hollywood’s Golden Stage. Tell all of your friends to take in this show. The show is entertaining and educational, and should leave you and your friends talking about it and Deanna Durbin after the show is all over.
After the show I headed off for a beverage at the King’s Head, along with Melanie and Eden Ballantyne. Ballantyne is a friend of Melanie, and also a Fringe Performer. Eden is a storyteller and I really enjoyed him last year when he starred with Gall in Carmen and Don Jose. While enjoying our beverages we were joined by Fringe Fest veteran Jem Rolls.
Mix Tapes From My Mom
My Fringe going actually got off to a start on Tuesday. I happened to stop off for an iced coffee at X-Cues. I knew they were hosting a show, but I didn’t realize they were offering a preview for Fringe volunteers.
The show they were putting on is Mix Tapes from My Mom, featuring Cory Wojcik. I wandered in shortly after the show started. I sat at the bar, and didn’t get all of the details of the show, but I got the main story.
A Day in the Life of Cory
The story revolves around one day in Cory’s life. A day unlike any other. One at which his relationship with his mother is at the center. The show is at times hilarious, poignant, tragic, and sad. Yet ultimately it is an uplifting show. This uplift comes from the honesty that is at the heart of Wojcik’s story.
Wojcik and his back up band, deliver a great set of songs, interspersed with Wojcik’s account of that memorable day. Wojcik’s a naturally funny guy, and that humour shows up time and again in the show. The show comes with a language warning, but the language is essential to the character of the show. Mix Tapes From My Mom is must see Fringe.
X-Cues offers meals, which you can order and enjoy as you watch the show.
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