The 21st Atlantic Fringe Festival is over, and it went out with music, laughter and dancing at Zuppa’s Karaokalypse.
It was a marathon, but well worth it. I managed to take in all the shows, and I was truly blown away by how high the bar has been set. Here’s a brief run-down of what my final day consisted of:
Hit — the diegetic musical written by Rebecca Schneidereit. It was filled with catchy tunes (I especially liked White Dress/Black Veil) beautifully performed. While the story was slight, the cast chemistry was fun to watch.
Tanya Davis: Hello, change — Davis is a marvelous wordsmith, a talented musician, a deep thinker and a charming performer. When you put these things together, you have a show that entertains and inspires. She lays her soul bare as she explores her journey to self-acceptance and belonging. So powerful. So beautiful.
It’s Called a Sketch Show, Dummy! — The four funny guys from “Wealthy Bear Presents…” share that kind of off-kilter sense of humour that may well draw a cult following. Irreverent and ballsy, they put together a show of “silliness for sillinesses sake” that got lots of laughs.
Graft — Another show by George Dillon. While Saturday’s double bill of Dostoevsky’s Heaven and Berkoff’s Hell was my favourite Dillon show, this was another amazing performance. I noticed a lot of Halifax actors in the crowd who were also deeply appreciative of seeing this master at work.
Everything wrapped up with a musical retrospective by Zuppa Theatre that segued into an award ceremony/ karaoke party. Here’s a list of the award recipients:
Fringe Hit! Awards were given out to those with the best attendance.
FRINGE HIT! AWARD FOR HIGHEST ATTENDANCE OF THE FESTIVAL — Rainer Hersch’s Victor Borge
FRINGE HIT! HOT TICKET (Most Sold Out Show) — The Barnacle’s Tale
Fringe Hit! Of Danspace: Paradise Lost
Fringe Hit! Of The Living Room: Sirens: The Musical
Fringe Hit! Of Plutonium Playhouse: In the Valley
Fringe Hit! Of The Bus Stop Theatre: Whiteout
The jury, comprised of The Coast’s theatre critic Kate Watson (That's me!), blogger Amanda Campbell of The Way I See It Theatre Blog, and lawyer Kevin Kindred, made special note that there were 4 shows involving debauchery with puppets, and gave two special jury prizes accordingly:
Best Romantic Encounter With A Puppet - Jen Gallant, Visa Called This Morning
Best Sesame Street Dream Sequence Involving Puppets — Carlo Alban, Intringulis
They also bequeathed an award for “Fringiest Fringe Show” to The Barnacle’s Tale, a ten minute installation piece starring Ryan Doucette as an embittered barnacle stuck to the bottom of a capsized boat, staged in a film edit suite.
The awards presentation unfolded with a ridiculous twist. Instead of an acceptance speech, winners performed a karaoke number. Many award recipients brought down the house with lively musical performances. Afterward, the audience became the performers, taking over the karaoke stage until 2AM.
The big winner of the evening was Paradise Lost from Montreal, inspired by Milton's epic 17th century poem. Star Paul van Dyck accepted the award for Outstanding Show of the Fringe with a smashing karaoke rendition of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive."
And the winners are:
OUTSTANDING SHOW OF THE FRINGE
Paradise Lost (Montreal)
OUTSTANDING DRAMA SHOW
Steal Away Home (Halifax)
OUTSTANDING COMEDY SHOW
Doctor Brown Becaves (Los Angeles, USA)
George Dillon for Against the Odds (Berlin, Germany)
Ensemble Cast of A Question of Sex (Halifax)
Matt Gorman, How Do You Feel (Toronto)
Samantha Wilson, In the Valley (Halifax)
OUTSTANDING MUSICAL PERFORMANCE
The Ensemble Cast of Edges (Halifax)
The Atlantic Fringe offered 35 shows this year; 18 from Halifax and 17 touring from across Canada, Europe and the USA.
Perhaps the evening’s best reward came when festival organizer Thom Fitzgerald announced that 2011 Fringe artists will go home with $43,685 in box office—a stunning 108% increase over last year. “We are so happy to see explosive growth in our audience,” said Fitzgerald, "Everyone wins this year."