Once More with Feeling

You swore you'd never watch a hemophiliac raise the spirit of a dead cat again. And then the Fringe Festival returned.

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 Toehead'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 leading musical-theater company 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." --Dylan Hicks

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.



Bucket Brigade
Rick and Andy Ausland

"For some reason, whenever I bang on a bucket, people go crazy," Andy Ausland says.

Later, Andy and his brother Rick will head downtown to bang on five-gallon paint buckets outside the Metrodome. As part of their street performance, the brothers play a few nights a week for roaming downtown crowds high on hook-up hopes and Twins wins. And unlike the poor dude wailing on a sax who might get a stroll-by nod or sympathetic smile, entire crowds gather around the two brothers on most nights to watch them beat on upside-down buckets. "There's gotta be a release when the tension builds," Rick says, "and there's nothing like beating on a bucket to relieve tension."

The brothers view their performance as a means of injecting a peaceful groove into downtown's rowdy get-your-drink-on atmosphere. Without some spiritual bucketing, after all, downtown could burst from the heavy saturation of girls stumbling around in three-tiered minis and catcalling triple-titled entrepreneur/club promoter/ open-shirted dudes. "But those are the people who need it the most," Andy offers.

Despite their desire to spread the love through a beat, the Auslands have been hassled by some passersby unwilling to embrace the one-love vibe. One time, a burly dude on a motorcycle yelled for the brothers to stop playing because, as they surmise, he likes to work in silence when he macks on girls. He told them to get a real job, to get off their butts and work with steel for $12 an hour. "I'm like, I don't really work with steel," Rick says. "I bang on buckets, man."

The Auslands also have been tap dancing since childhood, and incorporate their street music with tap as part of their 10 Foot Five performance group. The brothers, along with an ensemble of musicians and dancers, will be performing Buckets and Tap Shoes at Brave New Workshop as part of the Fringe Festival. Their work has also allowed them to tap all over the world, including Finland and Ecuador, where they performed at midnight during an all-night rave party with pyrotechnics.

The brothers contend that their style of dance is closer to the communicative, African-American roots of tap than to the painted-on-smile stuff out of Hollywood or glitzy musicals. But just because the Auslands' style has a street edge, it shouldn't be mistaken for Aw, Stomp! You Got Served! Bring on Da Noise, Sucka! For them, it's more about serving up the love. "It's fun to make noise with five-gallon paint buckets and watch an entire room dancing and clapping," Rick says. "Life is a beautiful thing." Dude, you just got served. --Molly Priesmeyer

Buckets and Tap Shoes
Brave New Workshop, Aug. 7, 2:30 p.m.; Aug. 9, 10:00 p.m.; Aug. 10, 8:30 p.m.; Aug. 12, 7:00 p.m.; Aug. 14, 7:00 p.m.


With the Greatest of Unease
Risa Cohen Helps Craft an Airborne Fairy Tale

From plummeting angels in Milton's Paradise Lost to thrill-seeking bungee jumpers, bodies hurtling through space mesmerize us groundlings. Perhaps it's the frisson of danger mingled with the illusion of free fall that has made aerialists the rock stars of circus.

Today, however, many aerial artists are stretching beyond the ta-da of big top culture into the realm of contemporary dance. Witness the growing number of aerial dance troupes from Vermont to Argentina, encompassing everything from Cirque du Soleil's lavish spectacles to choreographer Elizabeth Streb's gutsy amalgam of dance and extreme sports. Locally, several dance makers are taking to the air with the most serious of intentions.

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