It was sweltering outdoors, but the Fringe of Toronto made sure it was just as hot inside the theatres. This year's Fringe stayed about the same size as last year, 150 or so shows, but the addition of a new home for the festival and the revival of some venues from the early years created a theatrical core along Bathurst Street.
The 22nd annual fest, which closed Sunday (July 11), sold nearly 55,000 tickets, with a box office of over $390,000, all of which goes to the participating artists.
Things weren't lively at the start, when a number of factors affected attendance: potential audiences taking an extended Canada Day weekend, Pride festivities, and the residual effect of the G20, which might have stopped some 905ers from coming downtown.
The Fringe's new home base at the Randolph Centre for the Arts on Bathurst south of Bloor brought back the Bathurst Street Theatre and the Annex Theatre as Fringe venues (the latter happily now air-conditioned) and inaugurated the Solo Room at the Randolph Centre.
The changes included a westerly move of the ever-popular Fringe Club to the parking lot at Honest Ed's, complete with an inflatable wading pool for soaking those hot feet on blistering days. The pool was SRO, literally, when the temperature was 30+.
The addition of the Randolph Centre venues made Bathurst and adjacent areas the focus of the Fringe, running from the two Tarragon spaces at the north end of the festival to the pair of Factory spaces at the south.
A good call.
Another emerging venue for Fringe shows is Bread and Circus in Kensington Market, which last year was the first home of My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding. This year a quartet of shows, all good sellers, took over the space: Act Now!, Kissing Swinburne, Love Is A Poverty You Can Sell and The Silent City, several of which are going on to be presented in the two Best Of The Fringe programs. (See Scenes at nowtoronto.com/stage).
Mark Huisman puckers up in Kissing Swinburne.
Here's NOW's list of Fringe highlights.
Outstanding New Plays
Fairy Tale Ending; Maude-Lynne Sells Out!; Short Story Long; Sia
Double Double; Kissing Swinburne; Lucky 9; Maude-Lynne Sells Out!; Morro And Jasp Gone Wild; Short Story Long; [ sic ]; This Is About The Push; The Waves...First Tide
Outstanding Productions For Young Audiences
The Cat Of Kensington; Fairy Tale Ending; Jack Frost
Matt Bois (Bosco And Jones); Greg Dunham (The Last Buffalo); Jennifer Gillespie (Wanted, If Not Wed); Sarah Murphy-Dyson (The Naked Ballerina); d'bi.young (Word! Sound! Powah!: A Biomyth Monodrama)
The Carnegie Hall Show; Craplicker; Die Roten Punkte - KUNST ROCK; Double Double; Fairy Tale Ending; Kissing Swinburne; Maude-Lynne Sells Out!; Morro And Jasp Gone Wild; Oy! Just Beat It!; Pick Of The Fringe!; Poison The Well; [ sic ]; Short Story Long; Sia; This Is About The Push; The Waves...First Tide
Ashlie Corcoran (Short Story Long); Maya Rabinovitch (Double Double); Mary Francis Moore (Craplicker); Wes Berger (The Naked Ballerina); Kelly Straughan (This Is About The Push)