‘Best of the Fringe’

August 30, 2004.By Anna Pratt, Skyway News.

For those of you who missed them the first time around, Theater Latte Da’s “Knock!” and Rick and Andy Ausland’s “Buckets & Tap Shoes” are being remounted in this first post-festival highlighter, “The Best of the Fringe.” The pair was singled out for a critical and audience favoritism favorites from over 175 Minnesota Fringe Festival shows.

Guthrie Theater regular Jim Lichtscheidl strikes a universal nerve with “Knock!” – a powerful and quirky memoir of his life as a 12-year-old. It’s 1974, and this is the life of Toehead, a boy/“young man” cramped into a house wherein privacy is continually shattered by others’ premature entry. While sometimes Toehead, or little Jimmy, is the star of well-received impromptu kitchen/living room performances, his bossy older sister – who amuses herself by obligatory “big sibling” tirades – is always quick to “put him in his place.”

Lichtscheidl narrates his revealing anecdotes of pre-acne days with the unique synthesis of straight storytelling, athletic dance and carnival music in his so-called “storieography.” Along with co-stars Lisa Spreeman, Ken Rosen and Eriq Nelson, he perfectly encapsulates the awkward yet playful world of pre-pubescence. Delight in the comic likes of buckteeth, thick glasses, crayons and adolescent imagination – Lichtsheidl does.

Rick and Andy Ausland’s “Buckets & Tap Shoes” is the percussive medley of a Minneapolis street corner. With tap dance, musical accompaniment and drums, the Auslands beat out the tempo of pedestrian life.

Similar to “Stomp,” these brothers find melodies in found objects such as 5-gallon paint buckets. They mouth noises and even utilize the clatter of audience participation. The duo seamlessly blends classical musicianship with inventive instrumentation as they harmonize drums, guitar, and bass with everyday artifacts for an industrial brand of rhythm and blues.

Wednesday-Sunday thru Sept. 5, call for times, Loring Playhouse, 1633 Hennepin Ave. S. $25. 604-4466.

Best of the Fringe

August 25, 2004.By Gyros Papadopoulos, Pulse of the Twin Cities.

LORING PLAYHOUSE The two best-selling Fringe shows, “Knock!” and “Buckets & Tap Shoes,” have been booked some double-header encore appearances at the Loring Playhouse. If you missed them the first time around, Theatre Latte Da’s “Knock!” is what the Star Tribune calls “a sparkling, unique and inventive theatrical creation” about a 12-year-old boy on the cusp of puberty, loved by his parents and tormented by his older sister. The other show, Rick and Any Ausland’s “Buckets and Tap Shoes” is a high-energy groovefest of rhythm, tap dance, music, and percussion. Find out why these performances touched so many theater-goers. Through Sept. 5. Wed.-Sat. 8 p.m.; Sun. 7 p.m. $25. 1633 Hennepin Ave., Mpls. 612-604-4466. 

Shut Your Pie Hole, Beav! Jim Lichtenscheidl Debuts His Silent Sitcom

August 11, 2004.By Dylan Hicks, City Pages.

Jim Lichtscheidl, whose surname was once privately called “very difficult to spell” by the present writer, is a very funny guy. Loose-limbed and in command of a troop of smartly exaggerated facial expressions, Lichtsceidl, is the kind of actor who can make you laugh before he even opens his trap, which, as we will see, bodes well for his show at this year’s Fringe. He recently earned yuks as the police sergeant in The Pirates of Penzance at the Guthrie Theater, where he has frequently worked since 1998. He also excelled earlier this year in Ten Thousand Thing’s mirthful reading of Kevin Kling’s At Your Service. You may also have seen him over the years at Park Square, Theatre in the Round, or at Brave New Workshop, where he first started to get noticed. (None of the above is meant to suggest that Lichtscheidl is strictly a comedic actor—his turn as Tuzenbach in the Guthrie’s Three Sisters was low-key and pensive, while his take on Lear’s fool in a Ten Thousand Things production was both ridiculous and trenchant.)

At this year’s Fringe, Lichtscheidl stars in a work of his own creation, Knock!, a family comedy centered on Toehead, a 12-year-old boy beloved by his parents and harassed by his older sister. The character is not entirely unlike a younger version of the show’s yellow-haired lead, who grew up in Lino Lakes with four older sisters, one of whom, Lisa Spreeman, is playing Toe-head’s older sister in Knock!

Lichtscheidl is a self-described TV baby, and he calls the show a “theatrical sitcom.” “In my mind,” he says over lunch at Cafe Barbette, “I see it as a TV show, but I always want to have a live audience.” The hour-long show is broken into two episodes: “The Family Pyramid” (the pilot episode, as it were) and “The Love Note,” in which Toehead gets his first billet-doux. Unlike TV sitcoms, though, Knock contains no dialogue, and conveys its plots through movement, pantomime, and music by Herb Alpert, exotica composer Esquivel, and others. Knock!’s debut is being presented by Theater Latté Da, whose artistic director Peter Rothstein is co-directing the show with Lichtscheidl. Rothstein was out of town for some of the rehearsal period, however, so Lichtscheidl has been honing his craft through his usual method of religiously watching rehearsal videos. “When people find out how much I watch myself on video, they say, ‘Oh, you’re so vain.’ But actually I find watching myself to be excruciating. So it’s not about vanity, it’s about exacting the science of physical comedy.”

Knock! Loring Playhouse, Aug. 8, 8:30 p.m.; Aug. 10, 5:30 p.m.; Aug. 12, 8:30 p.m.; Aug. 13, 5:30 p.m.; Aug. 15, 2:30 p.m.