I am hours away from the launch of the 2013 Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival and for once in my life I have nothing to worry about. Yes, there is still plenty of work to do, errands to do, lines to run, and choreography to attempt with new equipment, but everything has been going smoothly (QUICK: everyone knock on wood RIGHT NOW!) It's been so smooth that I've started worrying about how smooth it is. Advance ticket sales are going better than I could have imagined - I've already made back my festival fee - and the roller derby support in town has been incredible. Not only have I received some great sponsorship/help from Bad Girlfriend Skates in Sherwood Park, but members of all three Edmonton roller derby leagues, yes even the junior girls, will be joining me tonight for the Fringe Parade, which starts tonight at 7:30 p.m. near the Kids' Fringe. I cannot wait to try out these shiny new outdoor wheels of mine on the fringe grounds!
But enough about me (sort of). You're here for one reason and one reason only, to find out what you should be seeing at this year's Fringe (or to find out if I put your show on my list). With over 200 productions, that is no simple task. In fact, this festival is so big, I've had to break down my list into a few parts. Part 2 will come out later on.
This list is not the be all and end all of fringe lists and it is based solely on personal preference, what I've seen, and what I've heard about. What you will not find here: musicals, dance and improv. There are some really great acts at this years festival in all three of those categories, but I'm not the one to tell you about them. And I can guarantee that there are some amazing shows that I just don't know about yet. Feel free to add your suggestions in the comment section at the end.
First up: the Ottawa Connection!
When they think "Amazing Fringe Show", I'm not quite sure "Ottawa" comes to mind for the fine folks of Edmonton, but this year they are in for a treat. All the way from our Nation's Capital, you've got 3 (THREE!) incredible fringe shows, all with their own strong pedigree.
Roller Derby Saved My Soul Of course, you simply must see my show first. Not just tooting my own horn here when I say this show has been loved by everyone who's seen it. It's fun, it's lighthearted, I spend half the performance on roller skates. It speaks to that awkward and shy little guy hiding in all of us.But don't just take my word for it.
Countries Shaped Like Stars It's rare for me to see a show more than once, but I've seen Countries Shaped Like Stars three times already, I own the soundtrack and I would definitely go and see it again. Read my impressions after the first time I saw it.
RiderGirl One that I have not seen but that has been taking the Fringe circuit (and Rider Nation) by storm. I'm told you don't have to be a football fan to enjoy this one. Can't wait!
Up Next: the stuff I missed in Ottawa
The Ottawa Fringe Festival is it's own incredible thing. Unfortunately, this year I was incredibly busy and didn't get to see nearly as many shows as I would have liked to. Fortunately, many of these fine fine folks are here in Edmonton as well. These are all productions that had incredible buzz & sold out houses, so you might want to get your tickets now.
Ask Aggie: The Advice Diva How much do I love Christine Lesiak? She is an incredibly funny woman with a quick wit that is sure to make this show quite the experience. From what I've been told, audience members write down questions they want the "Advice Diva" to answer. So think up some good questions and meet me at the show!
Be A Man I was so hoping to see this one in Ottawa, but an accident marked an early end to the run. Fortunately, everyone is ok and the show is here in Edmonton. The preview I saw was incredibly funny and I can't wait to see more.
The Pit Unless you've been living under a rock where no Fringe or anything wonderful ever enters your life, you know who Martin Dockery is. Now he doubles the amazing with the lovely Vanessa Quesnelle. This show completely sold out in Ottawa, so you better start camping out for tickets now.
The Show Must Go On I saw a preview of this show in Ottawa and I was immediately hooked by Jeff Leard's storytelling abilities and character work. I've been dying to see the full performance ever since. I also hear he just got a 5 star review from the Calgary Herald which is pretty darn impressive.
Monster Theatre was my first introduction to the Fringe life with the Canada Show way back in 2002 and I have adored them ever since. This year Edmonton gets not one, not two, but THREE Monster productions and you should catch them all.
Assassinating Thomson Caught this one in Ottawa, got the painting from the show and I would definitely go and see it again. Bruce Horak is an incredibly charming & personable performer who mixes stories/coincidences from his life as a legally blind artist and the mystery of Tom Thomson's death. Oh and he happens to paint a portrait of the audience while he does it. Bonus: this one is also happening in my venue - Venue 4 Academy at King Edward School.
Hockey Night at the Puck and Pickle Pub Honestly, if it wasn't a Monster Theatre show, the poster itself would have sold me on it. It also brings together two of my favorite people: Ryan Gladstone and Jon Paterson. Not to be missed.
Til Death: The Six Wives of Henry VIII Tara Travis wowed me when I first saw her in The Shakespeare Show. She's an absolute chameleon and this is one show that has been on the top of my list for a few years now. Another one that's been selling out all summer, so get your tickets ASAP.
Venue 4 - Academy at King Edward aka My Venue There are some great great shows happening in my venue. Along with Roller Derby Saved My Soul and Assassinating Thomson, I'm looking forward to the following:
Sex, Religion and Other Hang-ups James Gangel won last year's Canadian Comedy Award for Best Solo Show with this one and it is also directed by the fantastic Chris Gibbs. I've missed this show every time it played in Toronto so I was super excited to find it here.
Tap Me on the Shoulder Nerd girls unite!
Unpossible! Deep down, I'm still a dorky little kid who wants to believe in magic. Don't tell me how it's done, just make me believe. No pressure or anything.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this guide!