KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival organizers announced the seventh annual festival lineup spanning 11 days on Sept. 12-22, up from 10 for the past five years.
The 2018 Rochester Fringe will offer more than 500 performances and events — more than 150 of which are free of charge — in 30-plus venues in downtown Rochester.
Among the free events is Fringe’s annual outdoor performances at “Friday and Saturday on the Fringe” on Sept. 14-15. Last year’s U.S. debut of French street theater company Plasticiens Volants’ “Big Bang” drew more than 20,000 attendees to Parcel 5. This year, Parcel 5 will host an interactive experience by Massaoke in its North American debut.
What started in a London basement in 2011 is now a global phenomenon. Massaoke is a live band that plays “hairbrush” anthems from the ‘60s to today while the crowd sings along, guided by big-screen lyrics.
“Part of our mission is to bring exciting, different, renowned outdoor experiences to Rochester, and we think Massaoke is exactly that,” said Erica Fee, Fringe producer. “We’re expecting Parcel 5 to feel like one last, great, summer party.”
Other Fringe headline acts include comedian Eddie Izzard performing his “Believe Me” show at 7 p.m. on Sept. 21 in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.
The Cristal Palace Speigeltent will reappear at One Fringe Place on the corner of Gibbs and Main streets, along with a new Cirque du Fringe created and hosted by Las Vegas duo Matt Morgan and Heidi Brucker Morgan. This year’s “Cirque du Fringe: SideShow” is a blend of curiosities and feats of human performance inspired by the golden age of American circus. It features performances by hair-hang aerialist Samantha Pitard, cyr wheel performer Yasu Yoshikawa and Bindlestiff Family Cirkus co-founder Keith Nelson. Live music is provided by Sxip Shirey, a New York City musician and composer known for working with found objects and computer-modified instruments.
Pedestrian Drive-In, Dashboard Dramas and the Immersive Igloo will return in the adjacent Spiegelgarden. New shows this year include a backyard attached to Abby DeVuyst and Kerry Young’s “Bushwhacked” tent show that creates five “Bushwhacked Backyard” events: “Bonfire,” “BBQ,” “Bathtub,” “Burial” and “Betrothal,” an improvised, but legal, wedding or vow renewal and reception. Couples can apply online.
Late night in the Spiegeltent on the first weekend features “Other People’s Shows,” a comedy with Rochester’s Unleashed! Improv’s on-the-spot interpretations of other productions based on their Fringe guide descriptions. Weekend two includes “Shotspeare,” an adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet” that’s equal parts classical theater and drinking game.
Silent Disco returns for late-late night fun in the Spiegeltent. Dayside features the return of Afternoon Tea and Disco Kids.
Gospel Sunday, a free event featuring Rochester gospel music artists hosted by the Rev. Rickey Harvey, returns for its sixth year at Kilbourn Hall on Sept. 16.
The second weekend of Fringe, Sept. 21-22, offers free entertainment on Gibbs Street, including more than a dozen bands, and the third annual Fringe Street Beat. This hip-hop and all-styles dance battle attracts crews from all over the northeast to compete for a $1,500 prize. Teams can sign up online. Kids Day on Sept. 22 includes chalk art, Disco Kids, a Cirque du Fringe matinee and pumpkin painting.
ArtAwake, University of Rochester’s annual student-run art and music festival, joins Fringe this year on Sept. 22 and takes over the former Changing Scene restaurant on the top floor of the First Federal Plaza. All ages can enjoy hundreds of artworks and live music for free from noon to midnight.
Majority of Fringe productions, performances and events are booked by Fringe venues themselves from applications submitted to them by artists in April. This year’s venues are The Avyarium in Village Gate, Blackfriars Theatre, Central Library, Eastman School of Music, First Federal Plaza, Garth Fagan Dance Studio, Geva Theatre Center, Java’s Cafe, The Little, Lyric Theatre, Memorial Art Gallery, MuCCC, RIT City Space, School of the Arts, Village Gate and Writers & Books. The Fringe itself adds Gibbs Street, Gibbs St. Main Stage, Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, Parcel 5, the Speigeltent and the Spiegelgarden. Genres are comedy, dance, kids’ fringe, multidisciplinary, music, spoken word, theater and visual art and film.
Additional shows include “The Elemental Guardians: A Superhero Cirque Story” on Sept. 15 and Sept. 22 at School of the Arts, “Encore” on Sept. 15-16 at Geva Theatre Center, “Fielder’s Choice” on Sept. 15-17 at School of the Arts, “50 Shades of Gay” on Sept. 19-22 at Writers & Books and “The Painter” on Sept. 22 at School of the Arts.
Tickets for all shows are on sale now. Visit for information.