Fringe Fest marks 10 years with record lineup (and zombies)

The Hamilton Fringe Festival offers 47 productions at 10 different venues over 11 days. 300 performances will be featured from July 18 to 28.

Homegrown performance arts festival runs from July 18 to 28

Bridezilla VS The Apocalypse, a zombie-inspired romantic comedy, will be featured at Hamilton Fringe Festival. The homegrown performance arts festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a record number of shows from July 18 to July 28. (Kristi Boulton)

Hamilton's summer performance arts festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a "very large" cake and an even more ambitious lineup of shows.

The Hamilton Fringe Festival has almost doubled its programming effort from last year, offering 47 productions at 10 different venues over 11 days. From July 18 to 28, more than 300 performances will be featured.

For the opening gala on July 18 at the Baltimore House, the festival crew is preparing a cake big enough to be shared by 60 to 100 people, said Denyse Terry, the festival's publicist.

"We're just hoping that people will be inspired to come out and watch the shows. Once you see one, you'll probably want to see another," she said, adding that all the shows have a maximum price of $10.

The homegrown festival was kickstarted in 2003 by a group of local artists with a mandate to give voice to Hamilton stories and showcase emerging artists.

This year's lineup features genres ranging from musicals and dance to comedies and magic shows.

Community theatre features local artists

Although Hamilton's Fringe is much smaller than its Toronto counterpart, which has run for a quarter century and features international artists, Terry said the festival provides a sense of community for both performers and audience.

"Some of our shows go on to bigger and larger venues with more audience. It's a real chance to catch them," she said.

Aaron Middlemiss, a Hamilton-based playwright, agrees that his hometown theatre festival offers plenty of collegiality and camaraderie.

After working with the Fringe team in Ottawa, Montreal and London, he is coming back to the city with his new show "Bridezilla VS The Apocalypse."

"For me and the director and staff, this is our little love story to Hamilton," he said.

Middlemiss described his show as a tongue-twisting "zom-rom-com", or zombie-inspired romantic comedy.

"It's taking all the best things about a romantic comedy and mashing in half a dozen zombies trying to ruin it for our heroine," he explained.

Middlemiss recalled making his debut at Hamilton's Fringe five years ago as a stage manger working in a "tight and small" space.

The festival has come a long way since its inception a decade ago, he said. "This year feels like it's one of the first years it's going be something big and something spectacular."

The map below displays the various locations of the Hamilton Fringe Festival. Click on each pin to find out what's playing there.