Chuck McEwan (CBC)
Laydeeeees and gennelmen. Step right up. The greatest (Fringe) show on earth (or at least in Winnipeg) is about to begin!
Well, in four weeks or so, anyway. But the 24th edition of the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival - which has a "circus" marketing theme this year - had its official launch this morning, courtesy of Ringmaster (and Executive Producer) Chuck McEwen and friends.
This year will see 150 productions (down slightly from last year's 155, but still putting Winnipeg near the top of the Fringe heap in sheer number of shows) presented over 12 days, from July 13 - 24.
The Fringe basics are the same as previous years - most venues are located in the Exchange District, within walking distance of Old Market Square. The "far flung" venues of MTYP at the Forks and the Gas Station Theatre are back, along with a show at the Ellice Café and Theatre, which will probably continue to cause griping among fans who remember when everything was within a few square blocks. But last year's expansion of the Fringe site into Albert and Arthur Streets - which will be closed off for the festival - will continue.
Most of the "new" news revolves around ticketing options - Fringe passes (like the 10-show "Frequent Fringer" pass) can now be used to purchase advance tickets at the box office until July 12 (although you can use only 50% of the pass to buy advance tickets - you still have to use the other half for at-the-door tickets). There will also be daily "two tickets for $10" deals. And in a move aimed at getting some of the people working downtown to Fringe, there will be free noon-hour shows presented at the Old Market Square stage.
For serious Fringers, advance tickets are on sale as of today at the Fringe website. And the official Fringe program is available now at the MTC box office, and will be on sale as of Friday at Liquor Marts, Safeway stores, and McNally Robinson.
And in other Fringe news...
Three Fringes, five days, sixteen shows, and one theatre reviewer.
That's my plan for the next week or so. In our ongoing effort to provide the most thorough and timely Fringe coverage under the big top, I'm off to three of the out-of-town Fringe festivals, already in progress, to see some of the shows that'll be at the Winnipeg Fringe come July.
Normally, I make this excursion to Toronto in July. But thanks to a scheduling overlap between Toronto and Winnipeg this year (Toronto pushed their festival back a week this year - booo!), most touring companies are choosing to do either the Toronto or Winnipeg festival - but not both.
So instead, I'm doing a whirlwind tour of three smaller eastern festivals - the Ottawa Fringe, the Montreal Fringe, and the London (as in Ontario) Fringe.
And of course, our own CBC Manitoba Fringe site will be launching soon, and that's where you'll find reviews of all 150 shows of the festival by the end of the opening weekend (July 17).
CBC Theatre Reviewer