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Fringe Fest 2013 Reviews: "Alice in Wonderland," Roisin Dubh, Silent Disco 

I like to think that I am, at the very least, somewhat thematic. I've been playing the video game "Kingdom Hearts" the past few weeks (it features a slew of Disney characters and settings), watched the original Disney animated version of "Alice in Wonderland" earlier this week, and in that same line of thought, decided that checking out "Alice in Wonderland" at RAPA was a fitting way to kick off Fringe this weekend.

The show comes courtesy of Nazareth College's new BFA in Acting program. Twelve different students took on all 27 roles in the play, which hits upon fairly familiar territory across the Alice mythos. Nearly everyone in the ensemble needed to project just a little more, especially Alice (played by Meghan Palmer), who carried the bulk of the heavy line lifting here. Just a little more oomph goes a long way. But the play was cute, quirky, and as enjoyable as one would expect from a trip through Wonderland, even if the ending was quite abrupt (It just kind of...ended). Still, it would make a good treat for the younger (or young at heart) playgoers out there.

(“Alice in Wonderland” also takes place Saturday 9/28 7 p.m. at RAPA’s East End Theatre. Tickets cost $10.)

I'm a sucker for Irish music, and up next was Roisin Dubh, a student group from East Rochester's school district playing at Eastman School of Music's Kilbourn Hall. Though you probably wouldn't have know this was a group of middle- and high-school-aged students playing out traditional Irish reels, with dancing, accordions, fiddles, and whistles all included. There's a reason the group has gained high accolades, including being featured on NPR. This is really a gem in our own backyard, and it was cool to see the group pull in guests from the greater Rochester Irish music community, as well as the fact that some of the musical parts were arranged and written by students. There's talent here, that's for sure.

My school didn't have anything like this (insert back-in-my-day cry here), and it really was great not only listening to the group, but seeing students involved musically in something that is part of a larger tradition and isn't required as part of a regular curriculum. As a fellow band geek, trust me, you never know where music will take you. Keep it up. I've also decided that I'm going to make my imaginary daughter take River Dance lessons. Maybe violin, too. Because I'm the dad, that's why!

Last on the docket was the Silent Disco, which meant I finally got to visit the much-hyped Spiegeltent that has become the focal point for Fringe this year. It's a beautiful venue, and it's great to see Fringe garner a much-needed center attraction for the duration of the festival.

But, on to the disco. The idea of a Silent Disco is really neat, even if it feels somewhat silly at first. Instead of your typical ear-splitting dance party, everyone in the tent had a pair of headphones. You could control your own volume (though I wish they went a little louder) and pick between two live DJ sets. Take the headphones off and you can carry on a conservation with the rest of your group. It solved a lot of problems about the traditional club experience (saving my hearing being one of them), and it also gave you two different sets from which you could switch back and forth.

The one problem it could lead to is a somewhat more awkward dancing experience, since everybody isn't on the same page musically. I was a little nervous that would be what the event might turn into, but fear not: as more and more people filled in the tent and started dancing, the party took right off with it. Needless to say, I'll be back to check it out again next weekend when I'm off the clock and off the wagon.

(Silent Disco repeats Friday 9/27 and Saturday 9/28 10 p.m.-midnight at the Spiegeltent. Tickets cost $5-$7. )

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