Saturday, July 21, 2012

My 2012 Fringe Must-See List

2011 was my first year attending the Minnesota Fringe Festival, and I'm hooked. I was a little unprepared about how to pick shows and how everything works, but I found out that it's really well-run and organized. They make it quite easy to see a lot of great theater in a short time. I also learned that there's no secret to picking shows, just choose a few that look interesting and go for it, and try not to worry to much about the many that you'll miss. Here are a few shows I know I have to see in this year's Festival, beginning August 2 and running through August 12. (For a full list of performances see the Fringe website, where you can search by cast, company, or performance type.)

Answered Prayers 

A sequel to last year's Twisted Apples, one of my favorites of the festival, this piece by Nautilus Music-Theater is a musical adaptation of Sherwood Anderson's 1919 short-story cycle Winesburg, Ohio (which I've just begun reading).

Fruit Fly: The Musical

Sheena Janson (aka Audrey II, a spelling bee contestantetc.), Max Wojtanowicz (aka Cliff, the Tin Manetc.), and this: "Can a gay guy and a straight girl - a fruit fly - 'quit each other' to find true love? Find out in this brand-new musical filled with laughter, Sondheim references, and enough boxed wine to kill us all!" Need I say more?

The Hungry Games: Mocking the Mockingjay

I haven't seen or read The Hunger Games (yet), but I adore Tom Reed's solo-comedy-musical-spoof show (see last year's Disney Dethroned: Snowcahontas and the Tangled FrogBeast).

Joe Dowling's William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet on the Moon, Featuring Kate Mulgrew as Juliet 

Come on, how can you resist that title? Plus, I really loved The Peanut Butter Factory's production of Gruesome Playground Injuries earlier this year, so I'm excited to see what else they can do.


I want to see this musical adaption of the story of Rip Van Winkle for one reason: to find out what else talented young actor David Darrow (see Theater Latte Da's Beautiful Thing and Spring Awakening) has up his sleeve.

What else should I see? Please tell me, either in comments below or email, I hate the thought of missing something good! Now I just need to figure out the most efficient way to see all of the above, and any additional that catch my eye between now and August 2. I'll try to see several in the same location (the Cedar-Riverside area is great for that with seven theaters within easy walking distance), and fill in the holes in the schedule with whatever looks interesting in the area. Or maybe just plant myself at one location and see several shows in a row. 

If you've never attended the Fringe Festival before, here are a few tips. And if you have attended and you have some tips of your own - please share!
  • Buy a button and make sure you have it with you, it's required for entry to all shows.
  • If you're going to multiple shows, buy a punch pass, available in quantities of 5 or 10, or unlimited if you plan on seeing more than 20 shows (I wish!). It saves you $2 per show. Once you buy a pass, you can reserve a seat at any show for $1, or just show up and present your pass (see below).
  • If a show is particularly popular, or you really really want to see it, consider buying (or reserving a seat) in advance. You can also take your chances and just show up.
  • All shows are general admission, so get there early for best choice of seating.
  • Shows typically run just under an hour, with a half hour between shows.
  • Bring snacks, water, reading material, and sunscreen (you will be waiting in line, probably outside).
  • Keep an open mind - some of what you'll see is really weird. But that can be a good thing!

Happy Fringe-ing!