The Orlando International Fringe Festival began May 18th. I got to Loch Haven Park around 5:30pm and the Green Lawn of Fabulousness was already crowded. Classic rock musician, John Lowbridge, was playing guitar on the outdoor stage. The large tented area was packed with people sampling food and drink. I rushed past the beer tent, but stopping to shake Mike Maples hand. He was offering red and white wine to help promote the show he is in called "Big Swinging Dick's Topless Bar and Drag Queen Farting." The title says it all.
Inside the Shakespeare Theater I bumped into Jeff Ferree who has the smallest venue at the festival, a walk-in closet where he is staging a puppet show. He says 13 people can squeeze in but it looks tight. I arranged to try and sketch his theater between performances. I doubt I could sketch with a standing room only crowd, I get claustrophobic. Then I ran into Pepe who was leaving a trail of white feathers from his flamboyant boa as he paraded back to the outdoor stage. There he took to the stage to announce to all the "mommys and poppys" that the ribbon cutting ceremony was about to begin. The Fringe cheerleaders held the ends of the purple ribbon. Beth Marshall, Matt McGrath and an assortment of board members were on hand. Patty Shehan made a proclamation announcing the beginning of the 20th annual Fringe Festival and with a quick snip the two halves of the ribbon fluttered to the ground.
After the ceremony most people went inside the Shakespeare Theater for the Fringe Gala Show in the Margeson Theater. John the guitarist started packing up his amplifier and the endless miles of electrical cords as he got ready to leave. We talked for a bit about music and art and then I packed my things to see if I could get another sketch inside the Shakes of the Gala show.