A cathartic cleansing

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, January 8, 2011

Josh Larson will bring his one-man show, “The Tragedy of Icarus” to Frank W. Bridges next weekend. The performance tells the story of his brother who died tragically in 2007. — Photo submitted

Some people prefer coming to terms with the death of a loved one in the privacy of their own thoughts, but Josh Larson has chosen to go through the process on stage instead.

Larson will be performing a one-man show at Riverland’s Frank W. Bridges Theatre that pays tribute to his brother who died tragically in 2007. The show is a musical and was written by Larson.

“There’s a lot of songs too … and they’re interspersed with different monologues from different characters that help me tell the story of my brother’s passing and coming to terms with it,” he said.

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Larson, who is originally from Austin but now lives in the Twin Cities, received his Associate of Arts degree at Riverland Community College and has performed in several productions under the direction of Riverland Theatre program director Jerry Girton.

“The first show I ever did was with Jerry,” Larson said. “It’s kind of full circle here, coming back and doing this.”

The show, titled “The Tragedy of Icarus,” not only pays tribute to Larson’s brother, but it also looks deeper at his life rather than focusing on his death. It also features the musical style he enjoyed, with influence from artists like the Beatles and Bob Dylan, and even a bit of country influence.

“What I like about this show is it really fuses a lot of things together that I love, which is live theater and the kind of music I like,” Larson said. “There’s even a character based on Bob Dylan. These are the musical bonds I had with my brother.”

Larson said the show is meant to give insight into how his brother lived, not how he died. However, he touches on the death in a characterization of his brother by acting out how he may have reacted to his own death.

“What I’ve set it us as is kind of in the form of a classic Greek tragedy,” he said. “And I try to talk about what (my brother) did while he was alive.”

The January performances of “The Tragedy of Icarus” are not the first Larson has done. He took the show to the Fringe Festival in Minneapolis last year and drew a decent-sized crowd.

“It went really well,” he said. “I got a lot of people from Austin to come just by sending out postcards and e-blasts. My wife helped immensely with (getting people to attend).”

Since then, Larson has added some content to the production, mostly in the form of music. The new portions will debut when he performs at Riverland.

Larson isn’t necessarily concerned with how the new pieces will go over, though. He’s more focused on accurately conveying his brother’s life and memory. Although the one-man show has been an emotional piece to write and perform, Larson said it has been a cathartic, inspiring experience.

“It’s almost hard to say I’m inspired by (his death) because I wish he was still here, but I think just by reflecting on him and his death, this came out of me,” Larson said.