by Kirby LindsayMyron Sizer, who performs the role of Uh Clem Pig, most accurately summed up the latest show by the Fremont Players, with music by the Fremont Philharmonic (a.k.a. “Fremont Phil”), when he stated, “it’s all original, original, original.” While the base material originates from the fairy tales of Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs, the finished show presents a seriously reworked script. Kiki Hood, of the Fremont Phil, wrote all original music for the show, except for the “Piggy Rap Music,” a truly original piece written by Fred Hawkinson.
Performed in British Panto, an exaggerated form of theater, the performers cross-gender roles, the audience participates, and double entendres fly in this entirely comedic outing. The result is Red Riding Hood & the 3 Little Pigs, on stage at Hale’s Palladium (4301 Leary Way NW) on Saturdays and Sundays until January 2nd.
When Fremont Players Play
According to Sizer and Cedar Mielnik, the entire cast reworked the script. “We pretty much created it through improv in rehearsals,” Sizer explained. The Players, in a joint effort, develop the story, jokes, and original characters. Also, this being British Panto, they deliberately create opportunities where audience members can talk back to characters, answer questions and warn when bad guys get up to their nefarious practices.
Mielnik joined the cast shortly before the opening show, to fill-in for Dan Goodman, as Mayor Smallberries. Mielnik learned this pivotal role in a few days. “Luckily,” he admitted, “I had seen the show,” and sat in on rehearsals, although he did admit to a natural talent and genetic predisposition (he comes from a family of entertainers) for improv and learning lines.
Mielnik would like to act professionally, as would Kristin Broms who also shares a role – that of Binkie Pig, with Dora Lanier. Although Broms admitted, “this is probably it.” Broms started with the Fremont Players as a stage hand, and has worked her way into acting – as did Sizer. He originally met members of the Fremont Players through Cirque de Flambé, and “worked my way up from the chorus,” he explained.
When Fremont Phil Harmonizes
At work, just as hard, alongside the stage sit members of Fremont Phil. They perform original works written specifically for this show – sometimes written just before the show went on. Band leader and composer Kiki Hood admitted that Granny’s number, “My What Big,” was charted on Monday, underwent a key change on Wednesday, all before their opening on Saturday, December 4th.
During early rehearsals, Hood explained, an outline of the show develops, with “points we absolutely must hit,” she explained. Based on that outline, and the identified characters, Hood starts to write music. She writes some lyrics, but prefers to let the cast to write the majority, to avoid putting words in their mouths. When they write the lyrics, though, she may tweak them to match the music.
According to Hood, the last minute changes work because, “we’re all good readers in the band.” However, the tuba player, salamandir, admitted that, “I used to read like nobody’s business,” but a brain injury left him unable to transpose pieces on the fly. Yet, he still managed to get the pieces transposed in time for the show.
The Fremont Phil always delivers creative music, and a great sense of fun. “There are things that would be cleaner,” Hood admitted, if the band practiced together more, “but the world gets in the way.” As salamandir explained, “We need to develop a core of people that will always show up,” for rehearsals, but they do quite well with what they have.
Between the Fremont Phil and the Fremont Players, they show offers riotous entertainment unlike the traditional passive experience. The story, and the characters, engages adults and children – although often in different ways. Give it a try this holiday season by stopping by Hale’s Palladium, (advance tickets to Red Riding Hood & The 3 Pigs can be purchased on Brown Paper for only $12 for adults, $6 for seniors and children) and be ready to laugh!
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.