Musicker’s Balalaika (reviews)

Audience Reviews from the 2006 Minnesota Fringe Festival
for The Musicker’s Balalaika

“Not to Be Missed!” by M B: Yes, ok, 50th and France is not exactly the center of the action… But put on some good driving tunes and (avoiding 35W) shoot down Portland Ave to catch this one– I admit, I’m biased: I love historical fiction. And I’ve long had an interest in World War II. And I love live music soulfully played. And I’m a sucker for good storytelling. This show combined all these in a riveting journey into the life of an engaging character: a Russian Gypsy / musician’s soul in the afterlife. The acting is heartfelt, and I was quite impressed that he could carry off telling the story, simultaneously looping tracks and creating a veritable orchestra with layered harmonies of strangely-shaped Russian instruments, clarinet, and a guitar. I thought the music really deepened the story’s dimension, and was quite moved by the performance. (Posted on Aug. 7)

“A First Rate Show” by M S: This is a powerful and moving show that I highly recommend. I was absolutely stunned with Jeremy’s artistry. The stories he tells are tough ones and he handles it beautifully, interweaving music which he creates live with a number of different instruments and then manipulates electronically. You will not see anything else like this show. And the 50th and France area is easy to get to and has lots of free parking. (Posted on Aug. 7)

“An Interesting Tale, With Exotic Sounds…..” by Anthony Sandusky: I’ve been following the Musicker’s Misadventures from the beginning, but even if you haven’t, this show will surely captivate you! This tale takes a fictional character on a unique journey, through true historical events, giving the audience insight into the mind-set of someone so different from ourselves, yet you can’t help but feel connected to the emotions he puts forth. Rounded out with some wonderfully exotic music, this is an amazing feat for one man to pull off, live on stage! (Posted on Aug. 9)

“REAL MAGIC!” by Jeff Nordin: A magical history tour with multiple channels and emotions. Music, gypsies, arch villains, a cast of millions and Real Magic! A rare perspective well performed! (Posted on Aug. 10)

“don’t miss this one or future performances!” by michael murphy: Exceptional work by this young artist. A superb blend of story telling, musical performance, and techno wizardry. I think his work might have been better showcased in a location closer to other performances so it could have been enjoyed by a larger audience out for a night of “Fringe” performance hopping. Congratulations on a remarkable 1 hour masterpiece. (Posted on Aug. 13)

“Fascinating stage work.” by Matthew Everett. A “loop station” (a recording device which can instantly play back live music in loops) enabled the performer to overlay musical passages from different instruments in between segments of his story, which then created a soundtrack for when he would launch into the next part of the tale. Just as the music was a series of complex echoes, so too were the shadows on the wall, and the multiple lives of the central character. Here, he relives his life as a Russian gypsy caught up in the battles of World War II. Compelling stuff.

“Interesting, but a little rough.” by Maura Youngman: An interesting concept as a man recounts his life and times as a Russian during WWII. The script is well thought out, the acting heartfelt. The transitions as the performer switches between “actor” and “musician” were somewhat rough, however. Probably nothing a few performances can’t straighten out. Recommended for anyone with specific interest in the time period. (Posted on Aug. 4)

“An Engaging Story” by Tim Voss: J. Roth’s story of a Rom making his way through WW 2 in Russia and Poleland was masterfully told. The siege of Stalingrad was especially gripping. The story alone is worth a higher rating, but I found the music distracting. Too, the story covers a bit too much ground for an hour and the ending seemed a bit weak. All that said, this is a performance worth seeing. (Posted on Aug. 4