If you’re in Orlando next week, you picked a great time to be in town. Sure, it’s Memorial Day and the official kick-start to summer, so all the theme parks will be jumping for all they’re worth. But that’s not the really great thing I am talking about – head downtown and get to the Shakes and Rep Theater in Loch Haven Park for the 19th Annual Orlando Fringe Festival. This is the theatre and performing arts event of the year and, if you are a fan of live performance, cultural arts and especially alternative theater, it is not to be missed. Buy yourself a Fringe button (that’s your ticket into the festival itself), grab a guide to the dozens of shows (ticket prices ranging from free to $15 each) and start picking out the ones that look best to you. Orlando Weekly and The Orlando Sentinel both have guides and recommendations on their picks of the festival; you can also poke around online to see who is talking about what and why. Take your time – spend a day wandering, asking questions and being surprised by both the people-watching and the occasional impromptu street theater that tends to just start happening all around the festival. Spend a day or an evening, or a few of both – there are DOZENS of shows running all day, every day, and well into the night. The Fringe Festival offers entertainment for all ages, from children’s theater and puppet shows to some very risqué adult fare. You’ll find performances that run the range of emotions as well – some pure farce and some deeply affecting mood pieces that will haunt you for years to come. The Fringe is a testing ground for shows and performers that may go on to massive success in the months and years to follow, so who knows what you might discover? Perhaps you’ll be able to look back and say you saw it first at Fringe.
The Fringe Festival runs from May 20 to May 31, 2010 at THe Shakes and Rep Theatres, Loch Haven Park, Orlando, Florida. For more information, please visit http://orlandofringe.org/