It’s just a day or so until the 38th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival swings open its doors. It’s the region’s biggest performing arts festival and, for most of us, it's less than a 45-minute drive to Old Strathcona.
“We recognize and value all performing arts and we are committed to listening and learning,” said Murray Utas, artistic director of the Fringe Festival. He was speaking at last Thursday's Fringe media launch held at the ATB Financial Arts Barns. In his typical high-energy and unrestrained style, Utas was promoting the festival's theme, Where the Wild Things Are, wearing a scruffy headpiece with horns that brought to mind a bison.
As tickets went on sale last Thursday, a lineup of Fringers snaked around the barns waiting to snap up limited passes. However there is no need to fear missing out.
“We have brought in 1,600 artists in 258 shows at 50 different venues,” added Utas.
There are countless shows: comedies, farces, tragedies, horrors, circus acts, drag stars, strip shows, dance icons, and tons of improvised and stand-up comedy.
The shows are unjuried with no restrictions and what you see is what you get.
The media launch featured everything from jukebox musicals, Trump mocking Newfoundlanders, a tango-dancing couple and cross-cultural tragedies to flights of opera, easy hookups, broad toilet laughs and a dinosaur world to name a few.
A complete list of shows is available online at fringetheatre.ca. Alternatively Fringe guides are available at Indigo, Chapters and Coles for $10.
Most tickets run $10 to $13 and can be purchased at fringetheatre.ca or by phone at 780-409-1910, or in person at ATB Financial Arts Barns box office at 10330 84 Ave.
St. Albert and Morinville artists consistently present diverse and lively productions. This year more than 60 artists are represented in 36 shows. Take a chance and check out their visions.
• One show that represents St. Albert in numbers is a reprise of Notre Dame of Paris – The Musical, an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s tragic story of an alluring gypsy girl, a hunchback bell ringer and a doomed archdeacon. With a cast and crew of 11, this dramatic re-enactment features Julien Constantin, Maria Kolasis-Harrigan, Meghan Dunlop, Nicky Lumley, Genève Rousseau, as well as Christine, Jonathan, Ruby and Mamie Davage.
• Neil LeGrandeur, former professional programming presenter with Arden Theatre, is back in the limelight with Accidental Humour’s wonderfully wacky The Flying Detective.
• A cast of six, including St. Albert’s Sean Bedard and Josh Languedoc, whip out their improvised sketch comedy in Drinking At The Movies.
• St. Albert Children’s Theatre (SACT) alumna Desiree Leverenz delves into a hush-hush world directing The Green Line, a contemplation of how memories are made or erased. Taking place in Beirut, two women fall in love during war and two men meet in the underground queer scene.
• Former St. Albert residents playright Julien Stamer and director Sheldan Ishaq partner to helm Princess Bear, a comedy about a King who must marry a daughter to a prince or risk an invasion. St. Albert Dinner Theatre stalwart Brett Hammerlindl stars.
• Completely serious about theatre, playwright-director Hayley Moorhouse stickhandles Suspension, an absurdist comedy about what it means to bear witness as time stands still.
• Straight from New York, former St. Albert soprano Melanie Gall lands a new show – Ingenue: Deanna Durbin, Judy Garland and Golden Age of Hollywood.
• Once again Josh Languedoc hits the trail with The Trip, an improv where audiences call the shots.
• Former St. Albert resident Judy Stelck voices Hope Soup, a radio drama involving a pimp and a nanny. It comes complete with talk, music, silence and live sound effects.
• Director Olivia Latta, who has a long record directing Fringe shows, tackles The 3AM Subtext, a tale of two men who swap ghost stories and eventually, past traumas.
• Morinville actor Geordie Cheeseman sits through an hour of toilet humour in The Anal Stage. His character receives a shock when his mother’s ghost appears to him in the bathroom.
• Luc Tellier, one of SACT’s success stories, stars in A Momentary Lapse, a comedic chronicle of two jinxed individuals heading toward crime.
• Morinville actress Elizabeth Turner scores a role in Best Foot Sideways, a fundraiser for Varscona Theatre. The team of lawyer-actors merge talents to play interns at a mysterious family run corporation.
• In Crescendo, director Kate Ryan and dynamic hometown actor Jenny McKillop explore the intriguing lives of women in a community choir.
• As part of the Die-Nasty: Live Improvised Soap Opera cast, writer-actor-director-film star Matt Alden unites a cast of 16 for some scorching, tongue-in-cheek humour.
• Former SACT music director Rachel Bowron joins a witty cast in Eugene Ionescu’s The Bald Soprano, an absurdist play about the purposelessness of talk.
• The one-woman show Eusha is back. Former St. Albert actor-playwright Elisa Benzer resurrects the former Fringe hit about a nurse that takes a very dark turn.
• Morinville actor Rory Turner nabbed a role in She’s Not Him and She’s Not Her, a zany play where lovers test each other’s fidelity.
• Love at first sight, romance and divorce fill the pages of The Last Five Years. Local boy Gab Gagnon stars as the hapless writer. Bellerose High alumnus Keat Machtemes, also a music arranger for Edmonton Pops Orchestra, tickles the keys as music director.
• Borrowing from his military experience, St. Albert playwright David Haas pens Where Heroes Lie, 75-minute show about a woman whose father died a hero’s death during the Second World War. She travels overseas to see his grave where she meets a soldier. St. Albert Dinner Theatre actors Anne-Marie Smyth and “Moose” Rob Beeston perform.
• Join singers Christina O’Dell and Hans Forbrich in Gianni Schicchi, a light-on-its-feet musical about how relatives conspire to change the will of a dead man after he leaves his money to a monastery.
• SACT alumnus turned playwright Dylan Rosychuk has written and stars in a new horror. Hack looks at two writers who head to a haunted cabin looking for inspiration and find more than they bargained for. Also starring is SACT star Madelaine Knight.
• Rory Turner gets a chance to showcase his musical theatre credentials in Redirect: A Cabaret, a showcase of familiar songs with an unusual twist.
• Former St. Albert resident Miriam Ayles dances up a storm in Swing Showcase, a full-throttle blend of swing, Charleston, Lindy hop, jitterbug, blues and more.
• Affairs of the heart burst wide open in the 70-minute comedy, You Are Happy, starring Madelaine Knight and Jenny McKillop.
• St. Albert Catholic High graduate and seasoned Fringe artist Jesse Harlton is cast in Don’t Talk to Strangers, a Monty Python-esque sketch comedy.
• Byron Martin, director of The 11 O’Clock Number: The Improvised Musical, ramps it up with cartoonish violence and adult content.
• Matt Alden has the honour of directing Kanucks Cantina, an improv comedy show featuring some of Edmonton’s brightest comics such as Donovan Workun, Tom Edwards, Vincent Forcier, Jeff Halaby and Jesse Gervais.
• Owen Bishop, a brilliant multi-faceted artist, tackles All You Need, a comedy/drama that pulls you down a rabbit hole to unravel the truth behind the death of Paul McCartney.
• Kandice Laurie, a director for St. Albert Dinner Theatre, is cast in Almost Maine, an almost mythical place where love blossoms, bruises take place and hearts mend.
• Soprano Christina O’Dell shows off her vocal chops in The Marvelous Wonderettes ’58, a retro revue with familiar '50s hits.
• Prowl through the streets of Whyte Ave. in Meat the Musical starring St. Albert performing artists Grace Bokenfohr, Sage Jepson, Conor Meadows and Keiran Murphy.
• Bellerose High actor/playwright Erin Hutchison writes The Big Bright, a mix of satire and fable. It follows three weird characters fighting to preserve their life.
• Music director Keat Machtemes takes on a second project in Imaginary Friend: A New Musical, a tale about a neglected daughter who turns to a make-believe friend for comfort.
• A flock of Morinville Community High School alumni join forces in Suite Surrender, a 1942 farce where two Hollywood divas end up in the same Royal Plaza Hotel suite by mistake.