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Fringe File #1: Editor-in-Chief’s Short List

Good Friday with Dillinger, presented by LookBack Productions.

Yesterday afternoon, the Minnesota Fringe Festival officially launched its 2016 Fringe Festival website. Almost immediately, social media began filling with theatergoers’ protests about not being able to see all the shows that they wanted.

The Fever, presented by Patrick O'Brien.
The Fever, presented by Patrick O’Brien.

The Minnesota Fringe Festival has long been the Twin Cities’ great buffet of theatre, offering an extraordinary variety and volume of staged entertainment. Want plays and musicals on obscure and familiar topics? Check! Have a thing for Bollywood dancing? Check! Want to try your hand at seeing opera? Check! Wondering whether to give standup comedy or improv one more try? Check that, too!

This year’s Fringe Fest runs Thursday, August 4 through Sunday, August 14, 2016 at a variety of venues stretching across Minneapolis, from Uptown to Northeast.

How big is the Minnesota Fringe Festival? 169 shows with 880 productions. 12 core locations. 4 site-specific venues. 1 Fringe Central (that’s the bar Republic – still the best place to get tips on what to see, even in this age of social media). Last year, 50,338 tickets were sold, earning the Festival organizers and participating artists some $411,714 in revenue. Going to Fringe is one of the most economical ways to consume large amounts of theatre, especially for working actors and musicians who are unable to take off time normally from their own shows. A fair portion of the audience takes an annual vacation from work to see as many shows as possible. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to see every single show, but many people give it their best shot, and take in dozens of performances before the frenetic week and a half comes to a close.

Trying to guess the “best” shows to see at this point is just that – mostly guessing, hopefully educated – but that never stops a newspaper. Here are some of the shows that I’m most excited about seeing, their producing companies, and a brief why:

Game of Thrones: The Musical, presented by Really Spicy Opera. Pictured (left to right): Tulsi Lagaataar, Basil Considine, Vasiliy Postoyannaya.
Game of Thrones: The Musical, presented by Really Spicy Opera. Pictured (left to right): Tulsi Lagaataar, Basil Considine, Vasiliy Postoyannaya.
  • All Night Check: Beautiful Young Ladies to Perform for You (The Wandering Uterus Project)
    • What’s a wandering uterus? Only one of the most stupid and pervasive medical ideas dreamed up by men. What is this play? Something else entirely.
  • Game of Thrones: The Musical (Really Spicy Opera)
    • Season Six ended with a huge bang and teased us with what GoT would look like as an Elizabethan farce. As a musical by one of my favorite companies? Sign me up!
  • Good Friday with Dillinger (Lookback Productions)
    • The frankly gorgeous show image brims with detail. This bodes well for this play directed by Shalee Coleman and written by Tim Mahoney. Bring on the Prohibition!
  • Orpheus and Eurydice (Garden of Song Opera)
    • The last couple years of Fringe have been enriched by some bonafide opera being injected into the mix. This time around, it’s Baroque: Christoph Willibald Gluck’s classic 18th-century opera. Why should you care? It’s only one of the most famous and influential operas of the century. And performed by an all-female opera company.
  • The Fever (Patrick O’Brien)
    • Patrick O’Brien’s performance in last year’s Under the Lintel was one of the highlights of last year’s Fringe – a hilarious solo show. Now he’s back with a political parody by Wallace Shawn (Vizzini in The Princess Bride, Grand Nagus Zek in Star Trek: DS9, and the voice of Rex in Toy Story).
  • The Last Red Shirt (Expensive Wino Productions)
    • Star Trek. Red shirts dying. What more does a nerd want?
Betsie Feldkamp as Eurydice and Sara Fanucchi as Orpheus in Garden of Song Opera's production of Orpheus and Eurydice.
Betsie Feldkamp as Eurydice and Sara Fanucchi as Orpheus in Garden of Song Opera’s production of Orpheus and Eurydice.
John Gregory in The Last Red Shirt, presented by Expensive Wino Productions.
John Gregory in The Last Red Shirt, presented by Expensive Wino Productions.
Angie Sweigart-Gallagher in All Night Check: Beautiful Young Ladies to Perform for You, presented by The Wandering Uterus Project.
Angie Sweigart-Gallagher in All Night Check: Beautiful Young Ladies to Perform for You, presented by The Wandering Uterus Project.
Hanne Appelbaum

Hanne Appelbaum is the Editor of the Twin Cities Arts Reader. She was born in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and moved to the Twin Cities to take up a career as a classroom paraprofessional. She is the mother of three children, an enthusiastic educator, and a passionate fan of dance in all of its forms. She enjoys ice skating, Game of Thrones (books over HBO, but who’s counting), and restaurant dives.

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