DRAG BRUNCH Debuts at Fringe
Organizers of the 2019 KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival (Tuesday, September 10 - Saturday, September 21) announce the debut of Drag Brunch in the glamorous Crystal Palace Spiegeltent on Sunday, September 15 for two seatings (12:15 p.m. and 2:45 p.m.) Tickets are $38 and now on sale at rochesterfringe.com.
In a special music and comedy show created especially for Fringe, RuPaul's Drag Race contestants Mrs. Kasha Davis and Darienne Lake will join Keke Velasquez Lord and Wednesday Westwood - each a living legend in her own right - to serve up the glamour and the camp. Rochester's Edibles Restaurant & Bar will serve up a delicious menu of treats, from Baked French Toast to Chicken Caesar Wraps. And, of course, the bar will be stocked and ready to pour Mimosas, Bloody Marys, and more.
"We're very excited about this Fringe first," says Festival Producer Erica Fee, adding that organizers expect both seatings to sell out quickly.
Speaking of sell-outs, journalists should begin requesting complimentary media tickets to shows they plan to review as soon as possible. Two popular shows - Dashboard Dramas and Drive-In Dramas - are already entirely sold-out. Additionally, because Fringe is organized in a completely different way than other regional festivals, all ticket requests must go through an approval process that can take up to 72 hours. Fringe Media Passes will be distributed after Labor Day (please contact Sally Cohen if you need to be added to the list) but do not provide seating - just photo and video shooting for the first few minutes of any show from a designated area. Media comp tickets are for reviewers only (one per show per person) and may be requested here: https://tinyurl.com/rocfringepresstix.
However, more than 150 of the 570+ performances and events at the 2019 Fringe are free - no tickets required. Those include Friday and Saturday on the Fringe (September 13 &14), featuring the return of French street theatre company Plasticiens Volants (pronunciation here), which will turn downtown into a giant aquarium with another U.S. premiere: Pearl: Secrets of the Sea. Using their giant inflatable puppets, Plasticiens Volants' two, 8 p.m. performances will begin with a 15-minute promenade, as sea creatures - including a 60-foot whale - "swim" down Chestnut and Main Streets. Then, at Parcel 5, a dramatic story involving a gigantic sea serpent, an enormous octopus, and a precious pearl will unfold for audiences of all ages. DJ ha-Meen will entertain before and after the show.
Also free: Fringe Finale Weekend (September 20 & 21), featuring the return of the U.K.'s MASSAOKE, which made its U.S. debut at last year's Friday & Saturday on the Fringe. This year, the sing-along sensation will perform its signature rock-anthem show, MixTape, on Friday, Sept. 20, and its Massaoke: Night at the Musicals show - the North American premiere - on Saturday, Sept. 21, the final night of Fringe. Both free performances will take place on a new stage on Chestnut Street, with both Chestnut and East Avenue closed to traffic.
The Spiegelgarden, a pop-up, outdoor lounge at One Fringe Place (corner of East Main and Gibbs Streets), is the place to meet up with friends. In addition to the Theatre Bar, food trucks, box office, etc., it also features free KIDS DAY activities (Saturday, Sept. 21). Pedestrian Drive-In - free, nightly big-screen movies using Silent Disco headphones - returns, kicking off with a special showing of RBG, the Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary. Other films include The Favourite, Avengers: Endgame, BlacKkKlansman, The Big Sick, Grease, Bridesmaids, and Won't You Be My Neighbor, as well as the annual ImageOut: The Rochester LGBT Film & Video Festival offering (My Big Gay Italian Wedding) and ASL Film Night's Hear What I'm Saying: The Deaf Entertainers Documentary. A new partnership with Rochester's Puerto Rican Festival will kick off Hispanic Heritage Month on Friday, Sept. 15 with the film Residente, themed food trucks, and more.
Other free Fringe favorites - including the exciting, all-styles dance battle featuring teams from all over the Northeast called Fringe Street Beat (Saturday, Sept. 21) and Gospel Sunday (the best of the Rochester gospel scene in Kilbourn Hall on Sunday, Sept. 15) - will also return.
All venue-curated performances and events at The Little, RIT City Art Space, and Java's are also free as well as family-friendly.
Turning to ticketed events, Fringe's 2019 comedy headliner is award-winning comedian, actor, director and author Mike Birbiglia in An Evening with Mike Birbiglia in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre on Friday, September 20 at 7:30 p.m. (previously announced on June 4). "Birbigs"' credits include Broadway (The New One, for which he just won the 2019 Drama Desk Award for "Outstanding Solo Performer"), Netflix (My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, Thank God for Jokes), and films (Sleepwalk with Me, Don't Think Twice). As an actor, Mike has appeared on Inside Amy Schumer, HBO's Girls and Broad City, Netflix's Orange is the New Black, and Showtime's Billions, as well as in the films Trainwreck, The Fault in Our Stars and Popstar. Mike's book, Sleepwalk with Me and Other Painfully True Stories was a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor. In 2017, he was honored with the Kurt Vonnegut Award for humor.
Fringe will also present The Memory Palace Live at Kilbourn Hall on Thursday and Friday, Sept. 19 & 21. The Memory Palace is a monthly, Peabody-nominated podcast by Nate DiMeo, whose transporting works bring fascinating nuggets of history to life. Recently an artist-in-residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, DiMeo will present an unforgettable evening of stories, music and pictures - including a new tale drawn from Rochester's own history. He'll also create another specially commissioned podcast surrounding an event of local lore at High Falls, to which attendees can listen in its exact location via wireless headphones on-site every 30 minutes: the free The Memory Palace On-Site Listening Experience at High Falls.
New in the Spiegeltent this year will be the fifth world-premiere comedy/variety show created especially for Fringe by Las Vegas masterminds, Matt and Heidi Morgan. Sure to be another smash hit, Cirque du Fringe: D'illusion stars illusionist Rod Raven - hilariously portrayed by Matt himself - and his eccentric assistant Heidi, along with a jaw-dropping cast of top international cirque artists. The Morgans will also bring a brand-new Shotspeare show for late-night entertainment to the Spiegeltent, this time a bawdy remake of Macbeth that will put the "lit" in "literature."
Another late-night, Speigeltent sell-out, Silent Disco, returns for four weekend performances, along with its equally popular, daytime edition: Disco Kids.
In the Spiegelgarden, a brand-new, interactive show by the same barmy ladies responsible for last year's Bushwhacked Backyard will debut: Bushwhacked British Bake Off, along with its sister show: Bushwhacked Boozy British Bake Off. Kerry Young and Abby DeVuyst promise the ultimate in improvised, comedic baking battles - with or without adult beverages.
A new Fringe partnership with Gateways Music Festival has resulted in A Celebration of the Life of Paul J. Burgett Through Music at Eastman School's Hatch Recital Hall on Saturday, September 14 at 3:30 p.m. Burgett was a beloved board member of both organizations, and a driving force in the success of these and so many other wonderful community initiatives. Through sounds, words and visuals, this performance will feature some of the music Paul loved most - from classical to jazz - played by the Gateways Brass Collective.
Also new to Fringe this year: the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra's 2019-20 season opener, Scheherazade .2, is part of the Fringe. This exciting, specially created program features four, adventurous, living composers, as well as world-renowned violinist Leila Josefowicz soloing on John Adams' dramatic title piece that was written especially for her.
"We are - above all - a true community festival run by a Rochester non-profit with local board, staff and support, and each year, we work hard to engage more and more of the community we serve," adds Rochester Fringe Festival Board Chairperson Justin L. Vigdor.
The vast majority of Fringe performances and events are booked by the venues themselves from applications received from shows during the submission process earlier this year (March 1-April 15). Fringe welcomes two new venues this year: Nox (Village Gate) and Joseph Avenue Arts & Culture Alliance. As the Alliance's site (the historic Congregation B'Nai Israel synagogue) is still being renovated, the organization will use two other neighborhood spaces: Avenue D Rec Center Gymnasium and Lincoln Library Community Room. The Fringe's other independent venues are: The Avyarium, Blackfriars Theatre, Eastman School of Music, Garth Fagan Dance, George Eastman Museum, Geva Theatre Center, Java's, Central Library of Rochester, The Little, The Lyric Theatre, Multi-use Community Cultural Center (MuCCC), RIT City Art Space, RMSC's Strasenburgh Planetarium, School of the Arts, and Writers & Books. Additional site-specific venues this year are: High Falls, Memorial Art Gallery, Merriman Street (between Atlantic & University), Rochester Dance Theatre, UUU Art Collective, and Village Gate.
Information and tickets for all shows are now available via rochesterfringe.com. The printed Fringe Guide and app will be available in late July or early August.
From its five-day debut in 2012, the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival has become one of the fastest-growing and most-attended fringe festivals in the U.S and the largest multi-genre arts festival in New York State. Renowned among the world's 200+ fringe festivals for its large-scale, outdoor, free-to-the-public performances - including the U.S. premieres of Canada's Circus Orange (2014), France's Plasticiens Volants (2017), and the UK's Massaoke (2018) - Rochester's Fringe was also the first fringe festival in North America to feature a Spiegeltent, which is now an annual attraction. From comedy to theatre, from music to dance, from visual art and film to spoken word, and from children's entertainment to multi-disciplinary collaborations, the festival's diversity also extends to venues that span the gamut from parked cars to grand theatres.
Rochester Fringe Festival connects and empowers artists, audiences, venues, educational institutions, and the community to celebrate, explore, and inspire creativity via an annual, multi-genre arts festival. The not-for-profit, 501(c)3 corporation was pioneered by several of Rochester's esteemed cultural institutions including Geva Theatre Center, the George Eastman House and Garth Fagan Dance; up-and-coming arts groups like PUSH Physical Theatre and Method Machine; and higher-education partners such as the University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology. The organization's overarching mission is to make arts readily accessible to audiences, as well as to provide a platform for artists to share their ideas and develop their skills, while stimulating downtown Rochester both culturally and economically.
Rochester Fringe Festival is made possible with support from New York State through Market NY/Empire State Development under the Regional Economic Development Council initiative. Other 2019 Fringe sponsors include: KeyBank; I Love New York; New York State Council on the Arts; University of Rochester; RIT; Rochester Area Community Foundation; Waldron Rise Foundation; City of Rochester; Ames Amzalak Memorial Trust; National Endowment for the Arts; Imagine Monroe; Estate of Marianne L. Rohack; Richard U. & Elaine P. Wilson Foundation; Daisy Marquis Jones Foundation; Nocon & Associates; Konar Properties; SUNY Geneseo; Ronald Fielding; Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation; Hyatt Regency Rochester; The Pike Company; Louis S. & Molly B. Wolk Foundation; Big Slide Creative; 13WHAM TV; CITY Newspaper, D&C Digital; Broccolo Tree & Lawncare; McCarthy Tents & Events; Nazareth College; The College at Brockport; St. John Fisher College; The Rubens Family Foundation; Genesee Beer; Wegmans; Fred & Floy Willmott Foundation; Gouvernet Arts Fund at the Rochester Area Community Foundation; Visit Rochester; Wilson Foundation; ESL Charitable Foundation; Hamilton A/V; Scott Miller; House of Guitars; City Blue; Yelp!; WXXI; KidsOutandAbout.com; Midtown Athletic Club; Mary Cariola Children's Center; Canandaigua National Bank; and the YMCA of Greater Rochester. Also supported by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.