The Orlando Fringe Festival was born on our city’s downtown streets in 1992, in the era before we started overdosing on cable TV and the Web, when Twitter was a sound your parakeet made, and Facebook might as well have been the title of a thoughtful Fringe one-man show.
But the festival is hardly a relic. In a world dominated by repackaging and repetition, the country’s longest-running Fringe fest remains an edgy, uncensored original—12 days of artistic expression in which performers offer works that are at various times naughty, moving, shocking, hilarious, vulgar, wholesome, raucous, ponderous, mind-bending, tepid, serious, appalling and, yes, even magnificent.
That’s life, after all, no?
In 2004, the Orlando Fringe moved from the mishmash of downtown storefront venues to Loch Haven Park, where performers from all over the world can do their acting, dancing, juggling and more on the 11 stages of the Orlando Repertory Company and the Lowndes Shakespeare Festival.
But most things haven’t changed: Artistic freedom and content is unrestrained, which is why you’ll see everything from mild to wild. The performance titles are still great fun—did you check out “The Screw You Revue: Up Your Wazoo’’ last year? There’s still a beer tent, a great place for word-of-mouth on the best shows. And skeptical parents need not worry about covering youthful eyes: The weekend Kids’ Fringe remains a staple, with theatrical performances, arts and crafts, and other activities geared toward the younger set.
This year, 75 groups will churn out more than 500 performances, ranging from storytellers who spin ghostly yarns to a dance troupe that incorporates 1980s TV shows into its routine. So check out the schedule online, open your mind, and get thee to a Fringe venue.
Shows run May 19-30. 5 p.m.-midnight weekdays, 10 a.m.-midnight weekends. Tickets range from free to $10, with onetime purchase of $8 Fringe button required. Kid’s Fringe, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends, free. 812 E. Rollins St. orlandofringe.org
Cosmic to the Max
MAY 5 Peter Max’s deftly distinctive art style became a symbol of the ’60s, with his cosmic—some would say psychedelic—images featuring subjects that ranged from Lady Liberty to U.S. presidents. Wentworth Gallery is hosting a reception for the pop-culture icon, at which he will display his classics as well as new works—including an image of singing star Taylor Swift. 6-9 p.m. Wentworth Gallery, The Mall at Millenia, 4200 Conroy Road, 407-903-9055. Free.
MAY 15 After 28 years, Bon Jovi is still going strong and will bring its Live 2011 Tour to Orlando. The iconic rock band first burst onto the charts in the ’80s and has outlasted that decade’s other hair bands: In fact, Bon Jovi was named Billboard’s top touring act of 2010. Frontman Jon Bon Jovi and guitarist Richie Sambora have contributed some of the music world’s most memorable songs and rock ballads, including “Livin’ on a Prayer’’ and “Never Say Goodbye.’’ Concertgoers can count on hearing those favorites, as well as new songs like “What Do You Got’’ and “No Apologies.’’ 7:30 p.m. $55-$135 plus handling fees. Amway Center, 400 W. Church St. 407-440-7900 or 800-745-3000. amwaycenter.com or ticketmaster.com
Snap! to It
MAY 4-8 If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the Snap! Orlando photography festival will certainly need a scribe. Photography enthusiasts, collectors, and local and emerging artists will have the chance to mingle with some 50 national and international photographers—including Jerry Uelsmann and Maggie Taylor—at various venues. Centered around the theme, “Perception & Reality,” this year’s exhibitions are expected to be vividly entertaining yet hauntingly provocative. There will be a big public opening with performance artists on Friday; a trendy New York/Paris-style fashion show on Saturday; and a Mother’s Day celebration on Sunday with professional portraits for Mom and a special workshop for kids by guest artist Kathy Eldon, whose traveling exhibit was inspired by the death of her son, Dan Eldon, a reporter killed on assignment in Somalia in 1992. $20-$60. GAI Building, 618 E. South St., and other venues. Schedules, times and tickets available at snaporlando.com
Through May 22
Embark on a fantastical journey as Orlando Repertory Theatre presents James and the Giant Peach. orlandorep.com
Pack a picnic and some chairs and listen to Cole Porter tunes at Broadway Romance at the Springs. orlandophil.org
Virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell comes to the Carr. orlandophil.org
May 20-June 12
Get your fill of Jedi knights, stormtroopers and Wookies at Star Wars Weekends. disneyworld.com/
Even a recent skiing accident can’t keep “Handy Man’’ James Taylor from his appointed rounds. orlandovenues.net