The New Adventures of Calliope Jones & Captain Cool brings a bit of kid-friendly fun to the Memorial Hall Studio for this year’s Cincy Fringe. Chance Kilgour plays the hip, fast-talking and overconfident superhero Captain Cool, whose powers seem to include a moderate increase in fighting strength and an occasional ability to shape-shift.
His best friend and roommate, Callie (Calliope Jones, played by Ellyn Broderick) allows the Captain to live in her apartment rent-free while she works part-time at the downtown branch of the Cincinnati library. Unfortunately, the Captain’s supervillain enemies tend to show up while he’s hanging with her at work, which raises a ruckus and infuriates Callie’s boss, the nerdy neat freak Joe (Joe DiSalvo).
Callie’s fortunes go from glum to worse as she transitions from being employed and promotable, to being fired — and finally fighting a battle royale with her former manager, who has morphed into the reality-bending supervillain Average Joe.
Kilgour’s manic energy is on constant display, but it’s Broderick who frames and centers the show. Although Captain Cool comes out before the curtain to pump up the audience with pre-show banter, once the story gets going, it’s Callie’s commentary and emotional agility that keeps us engaged.
The band of super baddies also deserves a mention. Amanda Monyhan starts the show off as the plant-controlling Chlorophyllis, and Mike Galusick plays the burly, WWF-styled Baby Smasher. My favorite was Brandon Bentley’s hilarious Dread Astaire, an over-the-top showman in tux and tails who entraps the heroes in a deadly dance-off.
The whole affair, presented by Lucky Duck Productions, is pretty ramshackle, good-natured and squeaky clean. Captain Cool and Callie are buddies without a hint of a budding romance, and the lessons learned are definitely in line with Disney’s after-school programming. While the Captain and Calliope might not leap any tall buildings in a single bound, their show still manages to save the day.
The Cincinnati Fringe Festival runs through June 10. Find showtimes, tickets and more info here.