The First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival -- well, now known as the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival -- ended its record-setting fifth year on September 24, and our staff has just about recovered from the arts overload. The 10-day festival had around 67,000 attendees this year, and sold out 115 shows -- from theater, dance, and music to site-specific dramas. The 2017 Rochester Fringe Festival is set to return September 14-23, 2017.
The beauty of the Fringe, though, is its impact on Rochester's arts community, which can be felt throughout the year. The Fringe offers a jumping off point for many: It's a space for experimentation, welcoming of audience feedback, and a way to flesh out a program that could make its way into the world again.
City's writers saw a lot of great performances during this year's festival, but we had a few favorites that we believe has potential for life outside of the Fringe. Is there something you'd like to see again? Leave a comment below.
Immediately after I saw "The Eulogy," I wanted to see it again, if only to collect a few more details from Michael Burgos's amazingly clever and mobile performance. Burgos started with a bizarre take on the idea of a traditional funeral eulogy and spun it into a crazy 45-minute fantasia of voices, movements, music, and split-second changes. It was one of the most fascinatingly detailed performances I have ever seen, and in the small performing space of Writers & Books, one of the most engaging. I'll take anything Burgos decides to perform.
For more on "The Eulogy," check out theeulogyplay.com.
-- BY DAVID RAYMOND
"Murder Night: Don't Fear the Re-Purge" and Fringe Street Beat
I'd love to see a return of "Murder Night: Don't Fear the Re-Purge," a satirical, acoustic rock opera written, composed, and directed by Rochester native Bryan Smith, and inspired by the "Purge" horror films. The Fringe production was fairly bare-bones, but I'd love to see a mounting of the show that goes over-the-top with it, matching the absurd excesses of the source material. Maybe someone should introduce Smith to the team behind 2015's gleefully gory "ShakesBLOOD." Now that seems like it'd be a match made in Heaven (or Hell).
Even though rain forced the Fringe Street Beat event indoors (it was originally scheduled to take place at Parcel 5), audiences still packed into the Spiegeltent for this "all-styles dance battle." Based on its massive success, I'd think it's fairly likely Fringe Street Beat will be making a return appearance next year, but it's worth emphasizing that the competition was an absolute blast to watch: fun, vibrant, and unlike anything else the Fringe had to offer.
To keep up with "Murder Night," check out its Facebook page: facebook.com/repurge.
-- BY ADAM LUBITOW
"What if Everyone Wrote the Same Song"
The concept behind "What if Everyone Wrote the Same Song" is positively brilliant. Graduating to two nights at this year's Fringe, it's clear there is a demand and attraction to the extent that I think there's room for this kind of show throughout the year. And instead of assigning a shared theme in advance, why not catch the songwriters off-guard and give them only a brief period to prepare ahead of time? Or perhaps they could spin a wheel that would determine what genre they play in. Lind of like stump the band. The possibilities are bottomless.
-- BY FRANK DE BLASE
The enthralling performance of Run Boy Run Productions' "Underground Episodes" at TheatreROCS made me want to book a road trip just to see the Philadelphia-based group perform again. The show blends slam poetry and seriously powerful acting, each player bringing to life the stories and concerns of various characters who come and go from the setting of a subway car. Running the gamut from a raving homeless girl, to a couple dreading the discussion of a secret, a terrified student who has just been expelled, and a young woman patiently walking down memory lane with her elderly mother, the pieces are devastating at times and heartening at others.
Follow the group at facebook.com/runboyrunprod.
-- BY REBECCA RAFFERTY
The late night performances of WallByrd Theatre Co.'s "Dracula" were only (heavily) staged readings, but even that was compelling enough to warrant an encore. The Lyric Theatre's aesthetic is the perfect backdrop for Bram Stoker's eerie tale, and WallByrd's artistic director, Virginia Monte, would surely dream up a stunning set for a full production. The cast, which hails from Syracuse, New York City, and Rochester, and includes equity actors, is already quite familiar with the script. (Half the work is done!) Hopefully, WallByrd and playwright Alec Barbour can find a way to fund a fully mounted "Dracula."
For those who want to know more, visit wallbyrd.com.
-- BY LEAH STACY