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Friday, June 20, 2008

Bush Show Proud of R-rated Fun

Bush BurlesqueThe Palace Theater has a reputation for showing visitors to Alaska the “true experience” of Fairbanks’ history and culture, but the local venue is reaching beyond the Golden Heart of its tourist show and right out into the Bush.

The Bush Show, which opens tonight at 10 p.m. and will run every Friday and Saturday night throughout the summer season, is a show for the locals, director Ben Coffroth said, and one he described with adjectives such as risque, R-rated, and outrageously humorous.

“It is definitely full of adult humor. It’s kind of an adult twist on classic fairy tales, with some sexualized humor,” Coffroth said of the show.

Promising there is no nudity, Coffroth and Palace Theater producer Melinda Mattson said the show is more fun than scandal.

“There is an eighth-grade innocence to it, but there is a lot of sexual humor. It is all about the humor of sexual relationships,” Mattson said.

Featuring a number of local talents, the show was birthed largely due to the “remarkable people that came together,” Mattson said. The cast includes Caitlin Wilkey, who Mattson called “a quadruple threat” in terms of stage talent thanks to her singing, acting, dancing and natural comedic talent; Brandon Michael, also “a wonderful singer and actor;” Mattson, who has been on the Fairbanks acting scene for a few years; and others.

A similar show, also featuring the parodied attributes of burlesque entertainment, ran for a number of years at The Palace Theatre, in the days when the venue was still a bar. The show became stale, Mattson recalled, and those involved went their own ways. A new approach, new talent and an alcohol-free environment made theater gurus believe this was the time for a revival.

“It was kind of serendipitous the way it all came together. This just seemed like the right time, and these are the right people,” Mattson said.

An important element of that serendipity is the choreography work from Carey Seward, who was involved in a shorter-running burlesque show last year.

Coffroth caught Mattson’s eye over time, having worked in the local arts scene for a number of years. A Fairbanks native currently studying theater and performing arts at the University of Fairbanks, Coffroth has directed a number of shows that Mattson felt revealed his talent. While he hasn’t worked much with musical numbers before, Mattson was sure he was the right guy for the Bush Show.

“His discernment and creativity, and he’s so kind, I just thought, ‘This is the guy,’” she said.

Unlike The Golden Heart Revue that offers a comedic look at “characters” from Fairbanks’ past, The Bush Show tells a more impromptu story that includes some inside jokes that will hold more meaning for locals, Coffroth said. While audiences not familiar with Fairbanks will not be totally lost — there is still plenty of broad-based humor — Fairbanksans will surely get more bang for their buck, he said. The Bush Show has a lot of music, a lot of fun, and, while there is a script, it acts as more of a “loose guideline,” Coffroth said.

“The actors definitely have some room to adjust, depending on the moment and the crowd. It should be a lot of fun,” he said. “They can just take it and roll with it.”

Tickets for the hour-long show are $15, and the show will run at 10 p.m. every Friday and Saturday night. “There will still be plenty of time to go out after the show, and it will definitely get you in the mood to be rowdy,” Coffroth said.
Photo by Eric Engman

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