Get Thee to the Fringe!
Here are 10-must see shows. Snag your tickets. Now.
Eric Gutman stars in "From Broadway to Obscurity.''
PHOTOS, ILLUSTRATIONS COURTESY OF FRINGE FESTIVAL
We’re halfway through the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, which winds up May 30. Here are my Top 10 shows, all of which are likely to sell out. So if you’re interested, I suggest you get your tickets now, as in right now this very minute if not sooner. For information visit orlandofringe.org
- Edgar Allan, a darkly humorous musical about ghoulish tale teller Edgar Allan Poe as a haunted, manipulative, paranoid young boy, is my early vote as the most professionally rendered and— don't let this word scare you—literate production of the Orlando Fringe this year. The two-person show, by the Brooklyn-based Coldhart company, is reminiscent of a brilliant, mid-19th century Poe short story, The Cask of Amontillado, that does not end well for the companion of the creepy narrator. Poe was masterful about telling tales through a maniacal lens, and this production does a delightfully goose-bumpy and irresistibly boisterous job of adapting that strategy to the stage. You never thought you’d see Edgar Allan Poe being portrayed by an actress, did you? But then, you didn’t expect to see him turn up with a ukulele, either.
- Daddy Issues, Peter Aguero’s solid, straightforward, one-man show, not at all sentimental but just the real deal, told crisply and with the confidence of a son who managed to establish a detente with a hardbitten father—and make a man out of himself in the process.
- From Broadway to Obscurity is Eric Gutman’s highly polished, beautifully sung, show-biz-insider cabaret about being cast in both the touring and Broadway productions of Jersey Boys, then leaving the footlights behind.
- How I Learned to Hug What I now understand about Australian madman Jon Bennett, who has had several shows at the Fringe over the years, is that he is always on the fringe, on stage or off. He’s the crazy friend you can only take in small doses because otherwise you’d go crazy too. Bennett has two shows in the Orlando Fringe this year. If you see both you might go crazy. Plus the other is a work-in-progress. So see this one.
- Inescapable You have to have a taste for theater of the absurd for this one. But if you do, you will love the latest from ingenious Fringe regular Martin Dockery and Jon Paterson about two friends at a party who are locked into a mysteriously cyclical conversation for reasons unknown, but time will tell.
- Simpleton: The Legend of President Trump Gee, what are the chances somebody would come up with a Fringe show on this subject? If you haven't already heard enough Trump jokes to last you untill November and (shudder) beyond, it's an enjoyable musical spoof of the man whose hair is a poof.
- Rocket Man and Kaleidoscope Helps to be a sci-fi nerd but it’s not mandatory to enjoy this rendering, with ingenious sets and special effects, of two Ray Bradbury stories.
- No Tweed Too Tight: Another Grant Canyon Mystery I love the premise of this—like Donald Trump, ’70 tough-detective shows were made to be mocked—but Canadian funnyman Ryan Gladstone’s frenetic rendering of a drunken macho-man insurance fraud investigator carries the day whether or not you’re a sucker for the genre.
- Thomas Jefferson: My Master, My Slave, My Friend and 10) Thomas Jefferson: My Service to Our Country. Thomas Jefferson scholar and actor/playwright J. D. Sutton has two shows in the Fringe. One is about the inherently hypocritical “friendship” between Jefferson and his longtime slave. The other is a milder look at Jefferson, portraying him late in life as he muses about his career.