The Preview for the 20th Annual Orlando International Fringe Theater Festival was held at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater. Fringe is twelve days of art, music, dance and theatrical madness. Fringe begins May 18th through May 30th. I decided to sit in the mezzanine which was at the very back row right in front of the sound and lighting booth. I figured the green light issuing from the booth would give me enough light to sketch in and that theory worked out. There were 30 acts listed in the program so there is no way I can give you a taste from all of them. Each act had a thumbs up, a thumbs down and an F you hand gesture to rate the acts. Things got off to a great start when the "Downtowners" hobbled on to the stage. This singing and dancing group were all aged 70 to 95 and their rendition of "Stayin' Alive" took on a whole new meaning. The audience loved them.
The festivities were hosted by Beth Marshall and Michael Wanzie. The smallest and Fringiest venue last year took place in a closet and Jeff Ferree will once again feature puppets in this cramped walk-in theater. In the preview if any act ran over three minutes, they would be interrupted by the Fringe Cheerleaders who would shout out Gimme an "F", gimme an "R" until the audience spelled out and shouted Fringe! This kept the show moving at a fast clip. Kevin Thornton's film where he tried to explain and justify his show "I love you (we're f@#ked)" was hilarious.
I was disappointed when it was announced that "Dog Powered Robot" could not perform at the preview. Instead a show titled "Squatters" took to the stage. They set up a small cardboard shanty town and started an insipid act about hunting for Easter Eggs. They were then rudely interrupted by Dog Powered Robot sending Easter eggs flying and cardboard boxes tumbling. The audience didn't know what hit them. It was a fun evening where anything could happen, and usually did. Fringe is fast approaching like a freight train with no breaks. Order tickets for your favorite shows now or you might be left in the irreverent dust.