As I write this, each Fringe venue is preparing to raise the curtain on a special encore presentation of the top-selling show at that venue. That means that I'm off duty—at least, off onstage duty—since my Fringe show, Ivory Tower Burning, did gratifyingly well but didn't quite draw the crowds attracted by TROY! The Musical. With a full five-star average rating, Fringers found TROY! to be enormously fun.
Unfortunately I missed that show—and every other Fringe show except my own and Raw Sugar's amusing You Smell Like Whiskey and Bad Choices; with work backed up at multiple jobs after a pre-Fringe family vacation, I was just too strapped to go out and Fringe as much as I would have liked to. But you can't escape the Fringe buzz, and there was plenty to buzz about this year.
The big news of this year's Fringe was Transatlantic Love Affair's triumph with Ash Land. Isabel Nelson and her company had been quickly-rising stars in the 2010 and 2011 Fringe festivals, and audiences swooned over Ash Land, giving the show an upset victory over long-established Fringe favorite Joseph Scrimshaw (Nightmare Without Pants) and claiming the Rarig Thrust encore slot. Rumor has it that Transatlantic Love Affair will soon be presenting an expanded version of their 2011 Fringe show Red Resurrected at one of my favorite venues, so I'm excited for that.
What other shows earned buzz this Fringe season?
• Josh Carson's sci-fi/retro comedy Class of 98 brought down the house at the first Fringe-for-All and went on to win the audience pick at Theatre in the Round—edging out Tom Reed's seemingly unbeatable Hungry Games. The Daily Planet's Kate Hoff called Class of 98 "very funny" and a "can't miss."
• The big weeper of the the Fringe was apparently Fear Factor: Canine Edition, a one-man show by first-time Fringer John Grady. Kate called it "a touching and lovely show about man's best friend."
• Joe Dowling's William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet on the Moon, featuring Kate Mulgrew as Lady Capulet won point, set, and match for best P.R. photo, landing the cover of Vita.mn. All future Fringe producers, look and learn.
• The Love Show! wins my personal award for most assiduous in-person PR. It was impossible to escape the charming cards depicting Courtney McLean and her smiling bandmates, and was it my imagination, or was Courtney telling even more people than usual that she loves them? Audiences loved her, giving the show a five-star average review.
• Local comic songstress Mary Mack packed 'em in at HUGE for her Anti One-Woman Show: Shit Makes Flowers Grow. She sailed to the audience choice slot at that venue, though not everyone loved her—Matt Peiken, my predecessor as arts editor at the Daily Planet, posted a single-star review of Mack's "one-trick schtick."
• The success of Tamara Ober's Sin Eater might make you wonder why there isn't more contemporary dance in the Fringe; the answer, of course, is that few do it as well as Ober does. "OK," wrote Matthew Everett, "my mind is officially blown."
• Rebecca Kling riveted audiences at Patrick's Cabaret with Storms Beneath Her Skin, a monologue about the ins and outs of how she...well, became a she. The show averaged five stars from audience members, who couldn't find enough adjectives to praise the performance. "Funny, enjoyable, engaging, provocative, poignant, and highly intelligent," wrote one audience member.
What were your favorite shows? Comment below, or tweet your responses to @ArtsOrbit.
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