I've said it before and I'll say it again: The Toronto Fringe Festival is basically the second coming of Christmas for performers.
It's an amazing opportunity to see lots of shows, visit with friends, hang out in the Fringe tent, frolic in the sunshine and enjoy the arts and general merriment for 10 days. This year is slightly bittersweet as it's the last year that the Fringe tent will be in the Honest Ed's alley (since Honest Ed's is set to close and be turned into condos...)
I've had many good memories in the Fringe tent over the years! It always takes at least 30 minutes to an hour to leave because anytime you try, you wind up running into 10,000 people you know and it's just a fun place to socialize and chat with people who you don't always get to see. I live nearby, so I end up in the tent many nights after seeing shows just to have that fun social time. Even though I'm not performing in a show this year, it's still such a blast and something I really look forward to every summer.
The Fringe officially starts today and I've already got a handful of shows picked out to get this ball rolling! With 160 shows, it can be tough to start making choices about which to prioritize. Since shows can also sell out quickly, it's also great if you can set your schedule, and pick up advance tickets for anything that you're desperate to see.
There's lots of great lists floating around (including ones from Derrick Chua and Steve Fisher at Post City whose opinions I value) But here are some things I'm getting started with this weekend / grabbing my advance tickets for!
Dance Animal - Knowing a friend in the cast and watching Dance Raccoon do a monologue at a recent event has me completely sold. Comedy + dance + animals = absurd hilarity.
#MannequinGirl: the musical - I really enjoyed writer Elize Blue Musselwhite's fringe musical last year and the premise of becoming an internet sensation after being hit with a mannequin in the street speaks to the social media lover in me. Alyssa Minchillo is a heck of a talent and I think it should be really cute!
SexT - The conservative parents of Ontario have been livid over the province's new sex ed curriculum and from my perspective it's all been pretty ridiculous to watch unfold. This show has been developed with a bunch of teens and I love that they're bringing sex, consent, sexting and relationships, front and centre from their perspective.
The Pirate Queen of the Stars - I met Megan (who is in the show as well as producing it) years and years ago on an internet message board (true story) and we finally met last year in Toronto during Fringe. It's been amazing to watch her grow over the years as a human and as an artist, so I'm ultra excited for this show! I've been hearing bits and pieces of some of the songs over the last few weeks which has piqued my interest and I'm really looking forward to seeing it all come together. They've assembled an incredible cast of hilarious powerhouse performers and it's billed a sci-fi musical comedy - COME ON.
Other shows I'm looking forward to: Life After (I was part of a reading of this a few years ago and can't wait to see how far it's come. Britta Johnson is such a talent), Bright Lights (top notch cast + Kat Sandler = Fringe magic), Romeo and Juliet Chainsaw Massacre (so much happening and lots of great folks involved), The Fence (Johnson, Johnston and Wilde are incredible and I adored Summerland last year), Wasteland (Sex T-Rex is always awesome), Blind to Happiness (coming highly recommended!) and Echoes (again another great team with a new musical)
I'm sure there will be other shows that come and go onto my list as word of mouth starts to spread - which is half the fun. I can't wait!
If you'd like to follow along with my adventures, I'll be tweeting up a storm (@ashleydtl) and probably adding some snaps to my story (ashleydtl) likely with shenanigans from the tent!
If you're in Toronto over the next 10 days, I highly suggest you grab a program or download the app and support some amazing theatre! All ticket sales go back to the artists involved and be sure to take a moment to tip the Fringe.
What are you looking forward to this Fringe?