By Jeff Ritter
The 2018 St. Louis Fringe Festival kicked off with a roar at the .ZACK Theatre for the premiere of the local headliner show “The Gringo.” The music, lyrics and book are by Colin Healy, who also conducts the house band and plays piano—clearly a man of many talents.
The show revolves around The Gringo (Riley Dunn), aka Ishmael, aka a white dude in a predominantly non-white area in Miami. The story explores his privilege as his life intersects with internet fame, mixed race relationships and police brutality.
The cast is super-strong, featuring Alicia Reve Like, Gheremi Clay, Evann De-Bose, and Omega Jones with prominent and powerful vocal performances. They’re all excellent actors but if you haven’t heard them sing you are missing out.
Robert Crenshaw, Janine Norman, Samantha Madison, Brittany Losh, Carly Niehaus, David Zimmerman, Tim Kaniecki, William Humphrey, Gabby McNabb, and Kevin Corpuz uniformly provide high energy via Christopher Page-Sanders’ intense choreography.
Tielere Cheatem provides some exceptional artwork that is displayed—and occasionally destroyed—on stage.
The .ZACK space can be a challenging place to perform, with large pillars occasionally obstructing views and acoustics that probably reduce even veteran sound engineers to tears. There were times on opening night where the band drowned out the vocals and ensemble choruses were indistinct, but the messages still came across even if the words were not quite clear. This talented team, both on stage and off, will no doubt be fine-tuning a little each night, so this fine performance should only get better as the Fringe festival marches along.
For more information, please visit FlyNorthMusic.com/gringoprogram and stlfringe.com
“The Gringo,” as the local headlining act, was presented for five performances Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 16-19.
Photos by Robert Crowe