The 31st annual Toronto Fringe broke box office records.
The 12-day festival, which wrapped up on Sunday, July 14, sold $40,000 more in tickets than last years edition. It sold 68,000 tickets, up from last years 66,300.
Among the hits was Boy Falls From The Sky: Jake Epstein Live At Supermarket, which was featured on NOWs cover, got a 5N review and sold-out its run before opening day. Other buzzed-about shows included Death Ray Cabaret, Night Feed, The Huns and two Filipinx-themed shows, Through The Bamboo and Tita Jokes. All received critics picks ratings from NOW.
Speaking of reviews, NOWs mid-fest list of picks (and a shorter list of shows to avoid) generated lots of discussion about whether to tell people not to see shows, something we do at other major festivals.
Accessibility was top of mind at this Fringe ticket purchases came with a note asking if buyers had special needs, and a call-out before each show asked if people needed more time to enter a theatre.
The use of the two Streetcar Crowsnest spaces brought the Fringe to the east end, but because there werent many other venues in the area, travelling there was a destination. If its used next year, perhaps more venues both regular and site-specific could be added in the neighbourhood, increasing spontaneous, walk-by interest and purchases.
Another oddity of this Fringe was the incongruity between a shows scope and its venue. Both Dandelion and Jay & Eytan seemed overwhelmed in the large Randolph Theatre.
If there was a theme that ran through many of the 151 shows, it was mental illness and depression. It emerged in shows as diverse as Boy Falls From The Sky and Destiny, USA to Night Feed, Didnt Hurt, Emotional Labour, The Break-Up Diet and The Weight Of It All.
Reviews of these shows and others can be found in our Fringe directory. Shows chosen for Best Of Fringe (July 19 to 28) can be found here.
Heres NOWs annual list of the best of the fest.
OUTSTANDING NEW PLAYS OR MUSICALS (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)
After The Beep Boy Falls From The Sky: Jake Epstein Live At Supermarket The Break-Up Diet Destiny, USA Didnt Hurt Drama 101, A New Musical Emotional Labour Horseface The Huns Night Feed Old-ish Three Men On A Bike Til Death: The Six Wives Of Henry VIII The Weight Of It All
Boy Falls From The Sky Death Ray Cabaret Destiny, USA Drama 101 Horseface The Huns Night Feed Old-ish Tita Jokes The Weight Of It All
Eric Andrews (Audience Of One) Jordan Armstrong and Kevin Matviw (Death Ray Cabaret) Laura Bailey (Clitoria: A Sex-Positive Superhero!) Gillian Bartolucci (The Weight Of It All) Madeleine Brown (News Play) Brittany Cope (Checkpoint 300) Trevor Copp (Searching For Marceau) Alex Dallas (Horseface) Jake Epstein (Boy Falls From The Sky) Charlotte Moore (Spend Your Kids Inheritance) Cathy Schenkelberg (Squeeze My Cans) Sara and Alene Shanazarian (Allegra & Serena Present: Twinsations) Tracey Erin Smith (The Big House) Tara Travis (Til Death)
Be Kind, Rewind The December Man Drama 101 Mayhem At Miskatonic Night Feed Through The Bamboo Three Men On A Bike Tita Jokes Woke N Broke
Boy Falls From The Sky (Robert McQueen) Death Ray Cabaret (Shari Hollett) Drama 101 (Steven Gallagher) The Huns (Marie Farsi) Three Men On A Bike (Sue Miner) Til Death (Ryan Gladstone) The Weight Of It All (Carly Heffernan)