Fringe faves: Where to see some of the most popular returning acts at the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Festival

Winnipeg Fringe fans know that keeping an eye out for the talent behind past hits is often a way to find some of the best of the fest. Here are a few past hit-makers, and where you'll find them at the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival.

Josephine Baker to God (as a Scottish drag queen): here’s where you’ll find 15 of the festival’s biggest acts

Mike Delamont returns to the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Festival with God Is a Scottish Drag Queen VI. (Mike Delamont)

There's no such thing as a sure thing at a fringe theatre festival.

But regular festival-goers know that keeping an eye out for the talent behind past hits is often a way to find some of the best of the fest.

Here are a few past hit-makers, and where you'll find them at the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival, which kicks off Wednesday and offers up 178 shows in 31 venues.

Melanie Gall

Best known for: Combining story and music in hits like Piaf and Brel.

See her in: Ingenue: Deanna Durbin, Judy Garland and the Golden Age of Hollywood, which tells the story of Durbin, a Winnipeg-born 1930s movie star. Gall is also bringing back her popular kids' show, Opera Mouse.

Melanie Gall performs Ingenue: Deanna Durbin, Judy Garland and the Golden Age of Hollywood at the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Festival. (Submitted by Melanie Gall Presents)

Martin Dockery

Best known for: Rapid-fire delivery and incredible stories in solo shows like Wanderlust.

See him in: The remount of his hit Bursting Into Flames. Here's an excerpt from our 2011 five-star review of the monologue, which suggests that even Heaven may not be so heavenly:

It's an intriguing enough story, but it's Dockery's incendiary storytelling style that places Bursting... among the best of the fest. His main mode is furiously fast and turned up to 11 on the energy dial — which makes his smart writing all the more funny. But he also picks the right moments to drop to a slow, husky whisper that makes you want to lean in and absorb every word.

Martin Dockery absolutely burns down the house with Bursting Into Flames.

(Reviewed at the 2011 London Fringe Festival)

Dockery and his partner, Vanessa Quesnelle, are also back in their trippy two-hander Moonlight After Midnight, which had its first full run at the 2014 Winnipeg Fringe and has since toured to festivals around the world.

Martin Dockery and Vanessa Quesnelle perform Moonlight After Midnight at the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe. You can also see Dockery in his solo show Bursting Into Flames. (Will O'Hare)

Gearshifting Performance Works

Best known for: Being one of the most popular and enduring dance groups at the Winnipeg Fringe.

See them in: Schemas, 1-5, the latest from acclaimed choreographer Jolene Bailie — a dance show that explores relationships and patterns of behaviour.

Jolene Bailie's dance company Gearshifting Performance Works presents Schemas, 1-5 at the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Festival. (Leif Norman)

TJ Dawe

Best known for: Masterful storytelling and regularly being described as a "Fringe god."

See him in: Operatic Panic Attack, his new solo show. He also directs Rodney Decroo in Didn't Hurt and co-wrote Six Chick Flicks… with Sex Ed creator Kerry Ipema.

TJ Dawe's new show Operatic Panic Attack will be part of the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Festival. (Diane Smithers)

Tymisha Harris

Best known for: The smash hit Josephine, which brought the music and life of Josephine Baker to the stage.

See her in: Josephine, back for a third consecutive Winnipeg Fringe run, as well as in Tymisha Harris: La Baker, which promises more from Josephine Baker's songbook.

Erik de Waal

Best known for: Charming tales for kids and harrowing stories for grown-ups.

See him in: Erik de Waal's Trolls, Bullies & Rock Stars or a Kerfuffle in a Doodlesack, which promises to delve into "the stories lurking behind the … scandals on our feeds." Bad news for kids, though — he won't be performing his popular African Folk Tales this year

Erik de Waal returns to the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe with his show Trolls, Bullies & Rock Stars or A Kerfuffle in a Doodlesack. (Erik de Waal)

Frances Koncan

Best known for: Being one of Manitoba's most acclaimed young playwrights, with plays like 2016's Rintoul Award-winning zahgidiwin/love.

See her in: Trendsettlers: Episode IV, which Koncan says will be her last play — and which explores themes of gender identity, with inspiration from the classic Oregon Trail video game.

Playwright Frances Koncan, left, and Maegan Yallowega perform Trendsettlers: Episode IV at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. (Callie Lugosi)

Mike Delamont

Best known for: Playing God — literally.

See him in: God Is a Scottish Drag Queen VI, the latest (and, Delamont says, possibly last) instalment in his immensely popular series of solo shows. He'll also appear in the remount of War of 1812, which was a big hit when it returned to the Fringe last year, and directs the musical Carey-OK!: Timeless Timely Tunes.

Delamont says God Is a Scottish Drag Queen VI may be the last in the series. (Derek Ford Photography)

Sydney Hayduk

Best known for: Weird and delightful hits like Bizarro Obscure.

See her in: Jellyfish Are Immortal Returns, a new follow-up to last year's charming and thoughtful Jellyfish Are Immortal.

Sydney Hayduk performs Jellyfish Are Immortal Returns at the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Festival. (Submitted by Peachy Keen Productions)

Chase Padgett

Best known for: Fringe mega-hits 6 Guitars and Nashville Hurricane.

See him in: Chase Padgett: Heart Attacks & Other Blessings, a new show that sees him keep his spectacular guitar work, but strip away the characters to focus on his own stories.

Chase Padgett: Heart Attacks and Other Blessings runs at the Prairie Theatre Exchange's mainstage as part of the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Festival. (Submitted by Chase Padgett)

Tim Motley

Best known for: Genuinely amazing mentalism in a gumshoe package.

See him in: Crazy For Dick Tricks: A Dirk Darrow Investigation, which has him reviving his noir detective in a show that promises more breezy laughs and his incredible mental magic.

Mentalist Tim Motley returns with a new Dirk Darrow show. (Tim Motley/Facebook)

Outside Joke

Best known for: Delivering hilarity through musical improv.

See them in: Outside Joke: The Improvised Musical, which brings the acclaimed local improvisers back to the Fringe this year. Local improv fans should also watch for the return of the immensely popular DnD Improv Show, now in its 12th edition, and ImproVision, back for an impressive 20th festival (with the brilliantly titled ImproVision: Meow Chicka Meow Meow).

Outside Joke bring their improvised musical comedy to the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe. (Outside Joke/Facebook)

Keir Cutler

Best known for: His Teaching Shakespeare series.

See him in: Magnificence, a personal storytelling show that sees him explore the life of his mother — an award-winning author, a publisher and the first female mayor of Westmount, Que.

Keir Cutler's new show Magnificence draws its inspiration from his mother's memoir. (Submitted by Keir Cutler)

Stéphanie Morin-Robert

Best known for: Weirdness with The Merkin Sisters and her solo charmer Blindside.

See her in: Eye Candy, which explores pregnancy and motherhood — and features her real-life baby on stage with her. She also co-created Ink with her real-life partner Alastair Knowles, half of the very popular duo James & Jamesy (who return with 2 For Tea, making its fourth appearance at the Winnipeg Fringe).

In Eye Candy, Stéphanie Morin-Robert shares the stage with her 15-month-old baby as she recounts the story of her 56-hour labour. (Stéphanie Morin-Robert)

Jem Rolls

Best known for: Rapid-fire performance poetry and whip-smart biographies.

See him in: The Walk in the Snow, a new biographical piece about Lise Meitner, a groundbreaking physicist who is, Rolls says, "chiefly famous for NOT getting the Nobel Prize."

Jem Rolls returns to the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe with The Walk in the Snow. (Jem Rolls)

The 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival runs at venues around the city from July 17-28.


Joff Schmidt

Copy editor

Joff Schmidt is a copy editor for CBC Manitoba. He joined CBC in 2004, working first as a radio producer with Definitely Not the Opera. From 2005 to 2020, he was also CBC Manitoba's theatre critic on radio and online.


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