by Terrance Mc Arthur
Check out all of KRL’s Rogue Festival coverage in our Arts & Entertainment section including several Rogue Performer Preview articles and watch for Rogue Festival reviews starting this weekend!
The Rogue is here! Tra-la, tra-la!
Lots to see! Tra-la, tra-la!
See the shows! Tra-la, tra-la!
For a small fee! Tra-la, tra-la!
Yes, folks, it’s time for Fresno’s Rogue Festival, ten days of music, dance, confessional stories, and cheerful insanity…and it’s cheap, too (Show tickets are $5 and $10, plus a $3 festival-funding wristband). Thursday night was the kickoff event, the Rogue Teaser. Thirty solo performers and groups gave two-minute previews to a large and rowdy crowd, like a commercial break on a cable channel, with Blake Jones and Jonathan Hogan as the jovial hosts.
Based on the Teaser snippets and what I’ve seen before—and my personal favorites—here is a biased list of shows you might want to see:
Gemma Wilcox has amazed Rogue audiences for more than five years with her solo shows where she plays multiple character including animals and inanimate objects. She has changed her plans and will present a world premiere the second weekend of the festival. Her teaser involved a pile of yarn as a metaphor for the places in the world that influenced her show.
Melanie Gall, who has channeled Edith Piaf and made fascinating theatre out of World War I songs about knitting, is back with a tribute to a famed performer of the past, Sophie Tucker. Gall is a terrific singer, and her shows are always worth seeing. The ribald jokes may seem familiar—Bette Midler borrowed them for her concerts.
Sentimental Journey is a tuneful collection of songs by the Andrews Sisters, and you know “Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy” will be on the playlist. Hula School ranges across the Pacific with dances, graceful to athletic, presented by a lovely corps of performers.
Mysterium is a magical evening of ghostly-themed illusions, and the demonstration teaser of a torn thread restored amazed the crowd. The Excursions is folk-reggae-electric rock, four-wheel-drive music that doesn’t need to stay on the roads. Two for the Road, a spin-off of Pipe on the Hob, is folk and country with strong musicianship. Lark: Mad for Trad takes to the Celtic road with power and enthusiasm, strings and winds. Boxcar Figaro has Victor DesRoches’ originals, witty philosophizing, and traditional songs (brush up on the chorus of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”).
This year, there seems to be a battle of “titles we will not print.” D*** Fine Magic is two magicians trying to out-prestidigitate each other. B***s*** Is My Native Language has the ever-offensive (and I mean that in the nicest way) Jaguar Bennett demonstrating how advertising is designed to suck you in and bleed you dry. The prize for Most Outrageous Title has to go to Joshua Taylor in Awkward Conversations With Animals I’ve [Had Carnal Knowledge of] (I couldn’t even write that with blackouts).
The most unique idea at the Rogue is Fringe Factor: Rogue Edition, a game show pitting local performers against acts from out-of-town in tests of trivia, music, drawing, and more; each show is different.Rich & Famous pairs clowning with satire of society’s obsession with people who are famous for being famous. Howard Petrick brings labor history to life with V. R. Dunne. David Kleinberg was a war correspondent in Vietnam; he tells all in Hey, Hey, LBJ!
One of my favorite monologists, Les Kurkendaal endures Terror on the High Seas, ten days on an Alaska cruise with his boyfriend’s family. Shenatra puts Old Blue Eyes and Dean Martin in Purgatory…in women’s bodies, brought two you by the creators of last year’s Fabulous Haydell Sisters.
Travels in space and time include Apocalypse Songs (a musical tour of alternate universes) and Barnacle: A Salty Love Story (undersea romance in a Waterworld of 2046). The Ananka Belly Dancers present Unsolved Mysteries: why not?
A few more beyond-the usual shows:
• In the Blue of the Evening
• HEART in the HOOD (he has had to cancel his shows for the first weekend-check out his showtimes for the second weekend here: roguefestival.ticketleap.com/heartinthehood)
• One Song
• Roaring Accordion
• Songs of Our Life & imes
• Play It Like Virgil
• Breakneck Hamlet
May the Rogue be with you. Boldly go where no audience has gone before. The shows are out there.