This year, I am taking it easy. For the first time in about 12-13 years, I am not involved with any Fringe show in any way. This year, I am but a patron and I am excited to see what is coming my way at this year's Ottawa Fringe Festival.
The Fringe preview start tonight, so new things might catch my eye, but for the moment, as is my yearly wont, here is Nancy's Must-See List for the 2015 Ottawa Fringe Festival:
Usual disclaimer: These are my opinions only. If your show is not on here, it does not mean it isn't any good. Feel free to add your show and why we should see it to the comments below. Also, please don't hate me.
The Stuff I've Already Seen so I Probably Won't See it Again but you Should
Caught this one in Edmonton. Gemma Wilcox is an incredible shape-shifting performer. You may have seen her in The Honeymoon Period is Officially Over and Shadows in Bloom, two shows that have more awards and recognition than Meryl Streep has Oscar nominations.
Caught a working version in Winnipeg and then the whole thing in London. Colette Kendall is one of the fiercest women I know. The first time I saw this show, during an incredibly rough time I was having at the Winnipeg Fringe, I wrote about how much I admired her and her presence. I think this may be her first time in town, so show her some love, Ottawa!
Saw this one in Montreal last year. I loved it, even though Sam told me he was not happy with it. He then went and made major rewrites and proceeded to sell the shit out the rest of his Fringe Festival tour in every single city. My title for this section is now misleading as I will totally try and catch this one to see what changed. He also beat out Roller Derby Saved My Soul for a Canadian Comedy Award, so there's that.
Caught this one in Toronto. Tonya Jones Miller shares an incredibly personal and incredibly true story about her mother in Vietnam. Go see it and then spend the rest of the night in disbelief wondering if that really happened. Answer: Yes, it really did.
Caught this one in Toronto as well. Marting Dockery is an excellent story teller and this was one of the first pieces of fiction I saw him do. Once again, he blew me away in what quickly became my favourite of all his shows.
Another one I saw in London. Keith is both super charming and super magical. This is a great show, good for the whole family. Sidenote: If you hear me yelling "Burn the witch!" at the Fringe grounds, Keith is around.
The Stuff I Missed the First Time Around
I wanted to catch this one in Edmonton last year, but fell victim to burn out and bad timing. John Huston is a mainstay on the Fringe circuit and always impresses with his performances so I'm looking forward to this one.
Missed this one when I was in Toronto because it was selling out ALL THE TIME. While I wish the same for them here, could everyone wait until I have my ticket before you go? I really don't want to miss it again.
The Super Incredible People Who Are Doing Super Incredible Things
Margo MacDonald. That is all.
Oh wait, I did have something to add. Her promo photos for Shadows in 2010 were outstanding and she really outdid herself again this time around.
Even if I hadn't seen a workshop version of this piece at the Fresh Meat Festival. And even if it hadn't been charming as fuck. And even if it didn't include the wonderful Madeleine Hall who both worked for me that one time and blew me away with her acting skills during an event I saw at the Clocktower. And even if their posters and publicity materials were some of the best ones I've seen so far this year... I would be going to see this show because of one Kevin Reid. Let's be honest folks. If you are in anyway involved in theatre or Fringe, Kevin was right there, front and centre (quite often literally), supporting you and your work and then writing incredibly nice things about it. So get off your seat and go see a show by a man who not only discovered in his 40s that a life in the theatre is actually what makes him happy but turns out he's also really good at it too.
I will see this show based on the title alone.
Kate Smith is an incredible performer who created a really lovely Fringe show a few years ago that I still bring up to this day (and not just because she was naked in it that one time). Will Somers impresses me more and more each time I see him on stage. His piece with David Bennedict Brown at last year's Fresh Meat Festival was one of my absolute favourites. Add Cory Thibert, director of On the Fringe as a videographer to this project and you've got a killer team I'm looking forward to checking out at this year's festival.
Speaking of Cory Thibert, he's also directing his May Can brother from another mother Tony Adams, as well as Chelsea Young in a show at the Bronfman Amphitheatre. If that wasn't enough, correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that amphitheatre is outdoors. I love it when the traditional venue system is challenged!
Martin Dockery again teaming up with RibbitRePublic's Jon Paterson. Also known as that super talented guy I spent weeks travelling with in a van as we toured The Little Prince out west. Long time Ottawa Fringers might also remember him from his fantastic take on Daniel MacIvor's House. Brian Carroll will also tell you that he is one of the reasons every single show at the Ottawa Fringe Festival now gets a review. Go see this show and then talk to Brian. Seriously, talk to Brian, it's a good story.
First the title totally caught my eye. Second, the name Rachel Elie. She was here with JOE: The Perfect Man, a hilarious show that taught me that there are different types of clowns out there.
Jem Rolls is back! And I'm told this time it's with something different from any show he's done in the past. Guys, there's actually a poster! With a picture! I spent an entire summer with this man and I am genuinely surprised and absolutely delighted to see where this one goes.
I'd be remiss if I didn't include this one since I am billeting the actor. Jeff Leard's The Show Must Go On was one of my favorite shows on the Fringe; one that I thought about a lot as I did my own children's theatre tour. He's a fantastic performer and I'm hearing great things out of the London Fringe about this one.
From Daniel Tobias, one half of super mega group Die Roten Punkte. Every once in a while, you hear the other artists talk about a show they saw that absolutely everyone needs to see. This is that show.
Emily Pearlman is back with a solo show! It's been a long time since we've seen this. I fell in love with her alone on stage talking about her tapeworm so I'm incredibly excited to see what she has cooked up this time around.
Ok, I think I lied. I am involved with a show in some way. This show was originally part of the Youth Infringement Festival and I was a writing mentor for the group. Sock n Buskin picked it up as their Fringe show so it had to drop out of YIF. I am excited to see how everything turned out for these young playwrights and budding directors.
Wow, not including the other categories, that's already 10-12 shows that I absolutely need to see. And I haven't even mentioned the return of Sterling Lynch with Autoerotic, Rick Kaulbars promising me a bawdy good time with "Finished Girls" A Tale of Colonial Sex Trade, local Fringe favourite Richard Hemphill's Junior Sleuths, Tim Oberholzer's final Ottawa performance in Whose Aemilia?, Jayson MacDonald's Mars, and countless other shows that I'm sure I've either missed because I've been staring at the program too long or will pick up along the way. This isn't so much a list anymore as it is a rehashing of the program.
Well, there is a lot of ground to cover, so what are you waiting for? On your mark, get set, FRINGE!