Manitoba

Anything can happen — again: 12 must-see returning hits at the Winnipeg Fringe

A quick glance through the Fringe program reveals that of the nearly 190 shows at this year's theatre festival, at least two dozen have hit the Winnipeg Fringe before. Here are some of the best of those.

If you missed them the 1st time, here are a dozen shows returning to the Fringe

Nancy Kenny's Roller Derby Saved My Soul is among the must-see shows returning to the Winnipeg Fringe Festival for an encore performance this year. (Richard Gilmore/Broken Turtle Productions)

"Anything can happen, and we let it" is the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival slogan this year. That includes letting producing companies remount hits from the past — which can be a good thing if you missed any of them the first time around.

A quick glance through the Fringe program reveals that of the nearly 190 shows at this year's theatre festival, at least two dozen have hit the Winnipeg Fringe before. Here are some of the best of those (listed by title and performing company):

African Folktales with Erik de Waal (Calabash Kidz): This show varies year to year in that master storyteller Erik de Waal changes up the tales. But his talent for engaging with young audiences never wavers. See our past reviews of African Folktales here and here. (And grown-ups can also look for de Waal in his solo show The Prehistory of Moses P).

Other great returning picks for kids include the charming and thoughtful local musical Blink's Garden and Melanie Gall's delightful Jazz Cat.

Keir Cutler's Shakespeare Crackpot is 'a cunning exploration of what it really means to think for yourself.' (Doctor Keir Co. )

Shakespeare Crackpot (Doctor Keir Co.): This show from Montreal raconteur Keir Cutler might have got a bit lost in the shuffle last year in an out-of-the-way venue. So it's back this year, offering up what our reviewer called "a cunning exploration of what it really means to think for yourself."

Roller Derby Saved My Soul (Broken Turtle Productions): Nancy Kenny's show about empowerment through roller derby was a 2014 Fringe hit which our reviewer called "whip-smart." It's back for another spin this year. (She's also in a new two-hander this year, Your Princess is in Another Castle).

Executing Justice (The Placeholder Show): Local comedian Bill Pats showed his dramatic side with this poignant show that imagines the return of the death penalty to Canada. It deservedly took home the Rintoul Award for best new Manitoba play at the 2014 Fringe.

Weaksauce (Sam S. Mullins): Sam Mullins's 2013 performance of this show was "so appealing that when the lights went up I was surprised to see I was still dressed — I was sure he had charmed the pants right off of me," our reviewer said. He's a terrific storyteller and this coming-of-age tale is a winner.

Marc A. Moir's Padre X is the powerful tale of Second World War chaplain John Weir Foote. (Looking Glass Productions)

Padre X (Looking Glass Productions): Local writer/actor Marc A. Moir's show is actually making its third Winnipeg Fringe appearance — but if you missed it before, make sure to take in this powerful tale of Second World War chaplain John Weir Foote, both for Moir's gently captivating performance and the show's sharp writing.

Wanderlust (Martin Dockery): New York's Martin Dockery has become a favourite at the Winnipeg Fringe, and that all started back in 2009 with Wanderlust — Dockery's resonant auto-biographical tale of his sojourn in West Africa, delivered in his inimitable manic style.

Hockey Night at the Puck & Pickle Pub (Ryan Gladstone): Back in 2013, our reviewer saw an early performance of this show after it got just a few days' rehearsal, but still had high praise for it. So after a few years, the "delightfully witty writing" and "frenetic headlong dive of commitment" from Jon Paterson and Ryan Gladstone should shine more this time around.

Jon Patterson and Ryan Gladstone shoot and score with 'delightfully witty writing' and their 'frenetic headlong dive of commitment' in Hockey Night at the Puck & Pickle Pub. (Ryan Gladstone)

Blindside (Stéphanie Morin-Robert): Last year, our reviewer called this coming-of-age story "the kind of weird summer charmer the Fringe was made for." If you missed it then, look for it this year (and you can also see Stéphanie Morin-Robert in her new two-hander, The Merkin Sisters).

Forget Me Not — The Alzheimer's Whodunnit (Rob Gee): Another Fringe fave, Rob Gee returns with this show our reviewer described in 2013 as "part social commentary, part black comedy, and part Clue," as well as "funny — and heartbreaking — as hell."

Mike Delamont: Mama's Boy (Mike Delamont): The God Is a Scottish Drag Queen star is back with a new comedy this year (Mike Delamont: The Devil). But he's also remounting this more personal and dramatic piece, which got a too-short three-show run at last year's festival. Reviewer Lara Rae called it "painfully raw," a "spectacular evening of theatre" and a "magnificent work" that you'll need Kleenex for.

Die Roten Punkte return to the Winnipeg Fringe in 2017 with Eurosmash! (Christine Fiedler/Salvador Dinosaur)

Otto & Astrid — Eurosmash! (Salvador Dinosaur): After last year's absence from the Fringe, Die Roten Punkte — the funniest fake-German sibling rock band you'll ever see — return with this hit from the 2014 Fringe. Take our reviewer's word for it: "All you really need to know is this: they're hilarious."

Other returning Fringe shows this year include:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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