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by Joe Hanrahan
August 2017
St Louis Fringe Festival

Photos: Todd Davis

The St. Louis Fringe Festival, now under the direction of Matthew Kerns after the glorious reign of Em Piro, made a turn in the right direction when they decided to invite some Headliner and Featured groups to the 2017 event.  Matthew invited Midnight (along with invited to the Five-Fifths ((T)RUMPLESTILTSKIN) and Strauss Park Alive (TITLE AND DEED) one-night events, early in the year, giving us time to devise and create a show.

After licensing two very Fringe-worthy but pricey scripts for the 2016 & 2015 Fringe Festivals, we came to our senses and realized what Fringe should be about is the creative expression of the artists, here and now.
So I started on a script - a Hollywood-based idea set in a talent agent's office - but quickly veered off when the Beatles "Everest" underground phenomenon popped into my head.  ("Everest" is a late night, sitting around stoned activity where you take the Beatles first few solo albums, pick out your favorite songs and put them together to make up Everest, the NEXT Beatles album AFTER Abbey Road.  You can find out more about this poking around on the internet, including album cover designs and different track selections.)

Once the script was underway, the next challenge was casting.  I've always thought certain icons of our time - JFK, Marilyn and a few more - could just not be portrayed very well by any actor, no matter how good or appropriate looking or how talented.  They were larger than life, and known too well to us.  
The Beatles were the same.  So we cast women - late 20's, brunettes - to portray the Fab Four.  We strived to try to imitate certain physical features of the boys.  And since each of these actresses were very talented (and committed to this project), I think we pulled it off.

We added a revisionist Yoko, and what I called an "Abbott and Costello Meets The Beatles" team - Gus, the time traveller who wants to keep the band together, and Colleen Backer as both the Genii who sends Gus back to London and Brenda Diamond, his 1970 Beatles-insider who get him to the guys.

The show was a joy for me, as I was able to wallow in Beatles music and trivia of the whole process (aided by the timely premiere of The Beatles Channel on satellite radio), and performances were, I think, a joy for all.  Lots of great audience reaction and comments on the show, and at the end of The Festival, a Fringe LifeTime Achievement Award for yours truly.  I did find that curious - Lifetime Achievement for Fringe?  Lifetime Achievement for something that should be new, now, cutting edge?  
A splendid time was had by all.



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