The Orlando Fringe Festival has been held for 22 years now and I have never been before. Just another event in Orlando I had yet to discover. But now that I have, I definitely plan to return. Come to find out, the Orlando Fringe is the longest running Fringe Festival in the US.
More than 20 years ago, I visited the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. I loved it. Plays, performances, comedy acts, you name it, they had it, and lots and lots of it. (So, why did I not attend the Orlando Fringe Festival in all this time? I’ll never know!)
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival started in 1947 when a group of performers, who were not part of the official Edinburgh International Festival, decided to put on their own performances in empty store fronts, basements, anywhere they could find space. They were staged “on the Fringe” and the idea was a huge success, now making the Edinburgh Fringe Festival the largest festival in the world.
The 14-day festival in Orlando, like in Scotland, offers all types of performances for all types of ages, and all of it uncensored. So, keep that in mind when choosing shows. They do have ratings on each. In the beginning, the festival took place in empty storefronts, but now it takes place in lovely Loch Haven Park, utilizing the Shakespeare Center and other buildings.
Since this was my first year going to the Fringe, I chose two performances to see out of the hundreds offered. Like in Edinburgh, you kind of have to make your choices based on limited descriptions of each. (In Scotland, I made my choices based on titles, some of which had nothing to do with the actual content of the show.) I was, however, able to find more info about each online.
Jett Backpack and the Battle at the End of the Universe:
The Earth has been kidnapped and it’s up to dashing Jett Backpack and his crew to save the day! This comedy sci-fi play had fun costumes and props and over the top B-movie acting that made it quite entertaining. I also liked the references to Star Trek and Star Wars, including the pre-show audio of William Shatner singing David Bowie’s “Major Tom,” an all-time classic.
The Mud Flappers Variety Hour:
They billed themselves as “an entire hour of music, comedy and vaudevillian antics, combining music and sketch comedy into a spectacular never before seen on stage or screen.” Okay. Why not give it a go? I watched their music video online and really liked their sound and I wasn’t disappointed by the music. Plus, I liked the fact that they were a local band from Lake Mary, Florida. The variety part, short films and sketches, were not as great, but some of them were clever and amusing. And there was some unexpected full frontal male nudity. One of the lead singers came out wearing only shoes, socks, a bow tie and his banjo, and strummed a song about liking to sing in the nude. And the banjo revealed more than it concealed. This is why they rate the shows. They really are uncensored.
Ticket prices ranged from free to about $11.00, all of it going to the performers. (The Fringe itself makes money from selling mandatory Fringe buttons to each patron.)
I wonder what next year’s Fringe will offer. I’m anxious to find out and will definitely check out more performances.
Dates of Visit: May 2013
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