Thursday, August 15, 2013

Minnesota Fringe Festival 2013 Wrap-up

2013 was my third year at the Minnesota Fringe Festival. In 2011 I saw 10 shows, followed by 16 last year, and 25 this year. This was my first year with a "Gold Pass," which means that I could see as many shows as I wanted - for free! I attended both Fringe-For-Alls (a sampler in which 30 shows present a 3-minute preview) and read through the list of 176 shows to narrow down the list to those I wanted to see (based either on the preview or the people involved, or sometimes the subject matter). I came up with a must-see list of 28 shows. I was able to fit 25 of those into my 8-day schedule (I had conflicts on 2 of the 11 days of the fest, and wanted to give myself a day off). And since I am not a spontaneous person, I stuck to that schedule (I almost stayed for a 10 pm performance of Clocked until I remembered that's past my bedtime).

And I had a marvelous time. As a Minnesota super-theater-goer, I know that we have an abundance of talent in this town, but it's never more apparent than at the Fringe Fest. I saw a huge variety of shows - musicals, plays, comedies, dramas, stand-up, spoken word, dance, clowning, improv - and almost all 25 were enjoyable. Several of them I absolutely loved, and many I liked immensely. But mostly I was once again impressed at the level and depth of talent and creativity we are lucky enough to have in this local theater community.

In summary, it was a whirlwind 25 shows in 8 days, but it was amazing and well worth the sleep lost and vacation hours spent. From my vantage point, the fest was once again extremely well-organized and impeccably run, thanks to the Fringe employees and many volunteers. And the lines, traffic, and parking were not even that bad. I love the Fringe Fest, and I can't wait until next year!

Here are just a few of the shows that I loved the most. You can read what I thought about all 25 by clicking the link at the bottom of the post.

  • Expiration Date: a one-woman show about a young woman facing a diagnosis of terminal cancer, featuring one of the best performances I saw in the Fringe - Candy Simmons, who also wrote the piece.
  • Four Humors' Lolita: A Three Man Show: a clever, hilarious, well-written, and well-performed adaptation of the infamous movie/book. It's obvious a lot of thought went into this wonderfully ridiculous show.
  • Hello Stranger: the best original music I heard at the Fringe (by local musician/composer Blake Thomas), a charming host, and a delightful experience of human relationships.
  • Shelly Bachberg Presents: How Helen Keller and Anne Frank Freed the Slaves: The Musical: a fantastic cast of local musical theater actors, smartly written political satire, great original songs, and fabulous costumes.
  • Teenage Misery: The Horror Musical: a fun and clever new musical that mashed the stories of CarrieMiserySweeney Todd, and Bye Bye Birdie, featuring a young cast chock full of raw talent.
  • The Unknown Matters: a quiet and lovely musical about two friends exploring the grand ideas of the universe while navigating earthly matters like friendship and snacks.
  • These Old Shoes: an aesthetically and emotionally beautiful tale of love lost and found, in Transatlantic Love Affair's trademark physical theater style.
  • They Called Her Captain: the one show I saw that is begging to be extended into a full-length play, because the material about a woman who becomes a captain in the army in WWII is so rich. Bonus - it's a true story, and the woman and many other characters are portrayed by her real-life daughter.