Toronto Fringe Announces its Largest Festival Line-Up Ever

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Last night at a community ribbon-cutting ceremony, the Toronto Fringe Festival announced its largest show line-up in its 29-year history. In addition to the announcement of expanded programming at the brand new Fringe Club at Scadding Court, the size and scope of this festival cements Toronto Fringe's place as a major player in the Canadian arts ecology. Selling over 76,000 tickets each year (that's more tickets than most theatres in Toronto), Toronto Fringe's ability to pull new patrons into the community is unparalleled. Many "Fringers" devote time to the festival each summer, seeing as many as 50 plays in the 12 days.

Toronto Fringe continues to be the feeder-system for the performing arts sector in Canada. Because the Fringe is built upon principles of inclusivity and accessibility, with all shows in the festival being drawn by lottery as opposed to a jury of industry insiders, the Fringe is an equal playing field where wacky, innovative and original ideas can find an audience. We've seen the skyrocketing success of Toronto Fringe artists this year, with Irene Sankoff and David Hein of Come From Away receiving seven Tony Nominations and becoming the darlings of Broadway. Sankoff and Hein got their first big break at Toronto Fringe in 2009, launching their cult-hit show My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding when no one else would give them a chance. That show, picked up by Mirvish, became their ticket to success, with Come From Away following hot on its heels.

Another Fringe artist heading to off-Broadway this summer is Ins Choi. His "little show that could," Kim's Convenience, was being turned down by theatre after theatre until he got a spot in the 2011 Fringe. He was right to keep fighting for this work he believed in - Fringe audiences flocked to the show and it remains one of the best-selling Toronto Fringe shows of all time. That success led directly to a run at Soulpepper, which led to a hit Canadian Screen Award-winning CBC show, and now the show is off to New York this summer, part of Soulpepper's first NYC tour.

So the question is: in a year where Toronto Fringe artists have hit the big time, who will be the next big thing?

You can browse all 160 shows in the festival on our brand-new website, launched yesterday, or read on for some of our highlights.

This year, Toronto Fringe's line-up is packed with returning fan-favourites, brand new indie collectives and senior artists taking a break from routine to try something new. We've got True North Mixtape, from Edge of Sky and Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts. This show brings together experienced artists like director Ann Merriam (Blood Ties: The Musical, Summerland) as well as students from Wexford and an ensemble from the inaugural year of Teen Fringe - Fringe's performing arts bootcamp for teens. This show will explore an all-Canadian set list, remixed and re-purposed by this diverse cast of students and professionals. It tackles issues of home, identity, diversity and inclusivity.

We've also got acclaimed TV director Warren P. Sonoda (Trailer Park Boys, This Hour Has 22 Minutes) debuting a play called Hands Down that's he's creating with his partner, Jen Pogue, who drew him to theatre. "I told him we should enter the Fringe and see what happened," said Pogue, who is to produce and act in their upcoming show. "Absolutely not, was his response. So I entered us anyways!" Sonoda says, "I have no problem directing a multi-million dollar movie or episode of TV, but writing and directing a play? I'm terrified. The Toronto Fringe is the scariest thing I've had to do professionally. But I'm thrilled to be a part of this iconic, profoundly essential theatre festival."

Looking for something a bit wacky? Don't Miss Graham Clark's Not Here, by CBC Producer (The Debaters) and 4-time Canadian Comedy Award-winner Graham Clark. What started as an off-hand remark about the costs about putting on a Fringe show in a far-flung city has morphed into a full-blown show. With technology at our disposal, does a person even have to be there to put on a show?

Looking for the next big thing? The Confidential Project by Toronto-based artist Marion Abbott has exploded to over 16 cities across North America and has cast actors from all levels of experience in over 1,000 roles - and keeps on growing, with it's next stop in Toronto. How does it work? Some of the bravest actors in Toronto will perform a musical, having met each other only 1 hour before. The audience shows up with no knowledge of the show they are about to see. Abbott's only rule? Don't stop. No matter what.

What else to look for in the 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival

Blurbs provided by the companies.

Tried & True Fringe Veterans Return Again

About Time, The Templeton Philharmonic

Venue: Tarragon Theatre Mainspace

Synchronize your watches. Award winning sketch comedy duo The Templeton Philharmonic ("Best Duo", LA Comedy Festival) will take you on a darkly comedic odyssey through the ages.

More info.

A Peter N' Chris-tmas Carol, Peter N' Chris

Venue: Tarragon Theatre Mainspace

3x Canadian Comedy Award winning Peter N' Chris (Just for Laughs) present a send up of the classic Dickens' tale. 5-STARS. "Hilarious" -CBC "Comedy legends" - G&M

More info.

Magical Mystery Detour, Gemma Wicox

Venue: Tarragon Theatre Solo Room

19-TIME 'BEST-OF-FEST' WINNER returns to explore the unexpected twists & turns of life, love & being on the road. 23 CHARACTERS! "Run to see her... a bolt of pure energy!"- 5 STARS (Edmonton Journal)

More info.

James & Jamesy in the Dark, James & Jamesy

Venue: Al Green Theatre

16-time Best-of-Fest winners and Canadian Comedy Award winners delight. "Hilarious and fearless." (London Free Press, 5-STARS). "Maestros of theatre magic." (CBC, 5-STARS). "A wonder to behold."

More info.

Lipstique, Mix Mix Dance Collective (DANCE)

Venue: Randolph Theatre

Bright, bold and extravagant. We celebrate women and the feminine and the various essences they bring to the street dance styles. We ask ourselves what is the future of the feminine?

More info.

True North Mix Tape, Edge of Sky & TEEN FRINGE

Venue: Randolph Theatre

The artistic team that brought you Summerland and The Fence presents a tapestry of all Canadian material remixed, repurposed and reimagined to tackle issues of home, identity and inclusivity.

More info.

Graham Clark's Not Here, Graham Clark

Venue: Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace

Patron's Pick and Canadian Comedy Award-winner Graham Clark returns to the Toronto Fringe... or does he? Faced with the high cost of doing a show, his act will be appearing without him. Sound weird? It will be.

More info.

Interstellar Elder, SNAFU

Venue: Theatre Centre - Franco Boni Theatre

Meet Kitt, lone astronaut, age 96, protecting the last of humankind. From Creators of Kitt & Jane "FIERCE CREATIVE ENERGY-FUNNY & TOUCHINGLY SPONTANEOUS. 4.5 STARS" - Edmonton Journal

More info.

International Artists Grace Our Stages

Delirium, Martin Dockery, USA

Venue: Tarragon Theatre Mainspace

The ridiculous, true story of a search for meaning amidst love, loss, and Monarch Butterflies. "A deliriously good show." -Winnipeg Free Press. "Shout-it-from-the-rooftop acclaim!" -Fresno Bee. "A master storyteller (on a) powerful journey." -CBC

More info.

6 Quick Dick Tricks: A Dirk Darrow Investigation (MAGIC), AUSTRALIA

Venue: Randolph Theatre

8 Awards. 5 STARS -Edmonton Journal. ALL NEW mind-blowing magic collides with killer comedy in this hilarious film-noir epic.

More info.

Moonlight After Midnight, Martin Dockery & Vanessa Quesnelle, USA

Venue: Tarragon Theatre Mainspace

In this internationally acclaimed romantic mystery about love and loss, a man and woman meet under puzzling circumstances in a hotel room at midnight. "***** A must for theatre buffs." -Advertiser, Adelaide

More info.

The Door, Saye Theatre, IRAN

Venue: Theatre Centre - Franco Boni Theatre

"The Door" is the dilemma for two women who are set to leave their homeland for Canada. This show featured in the New York Fringe Festival.

More info.

Wild & Wacky - Because it's Fringe, After All!

Shakespeare's Ghostbusters, The Coincidence Men

Venue: Tarragon Theatre Mainspace

Whom Wilt Thou Call? Ghostbusters as if it were written by the bard...a staged reading of Shakespeare's version of the original movie. Alas poor Slimer, we knew him well...

More info.

The Diddlin' Bibbles: Live in Concert, The Diddlin' Bibbles

Venue: St. Vladimir Institute

A small-town singer-songwriter duo with big-city dreams. Can their marriage withstand the pressures of celebrity culture at the Toronto Fringe?

More info.

High Park Noir, Simply Twisted Productions

Venue: Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace

To save High Park from condo development, raccoon Detective Dick must get sober, resist Officer Pussy and overcome his dark past in this waggish tale for adults only!

More info.

Vasily Djokavich: Russia's #1 State Approved Comedian, Mike Delamont

Venue: Factory Theatre Mainspace

From the director of God Is A Scottish Drag Queen and Atomic Vaudeville's Morgan Cranny comes a hilarious, silly, and deadpan hour of comedy!

More info.

Emerging Innovators Not to Miss

Confidential Musical Theatre Project, The Confidential Project

Venue: Al Green Theatre

Some of the bravest actors in Toronto will perform a musical, having met each other only 1 hour before. The audience shows up with no knowledge of the show they are about to see.

More info.

Wild/Walled, Half Second Echo (DANCE)

Venue: Al Green Theatre

A highly physical, honest and compelling contemporary dance performance utilizing the performance talents of the members of the vibrant and tenacious collective, Half Second Echo.

More info.

Rough Magic, Phillip Psutka

Venue: Randolph Theatre

From the creators of the 2016 Fringe hit 'WEIRD', this original play follows the innocent beginnings and volatile consequences of a relationship between Ariel, an airy sprite, and Caliban, a ground-dwelling mortal.

More info.

Established Artists Take on the Fringe

Hands Down, Warren P. Sonoda

Venue: Factory Theatre Mainspace

From the director of Trailer Park Boys, This Hour has 22 Minutes, & Odd Squad comes a new, twisted comedy about ambition, endurance, and finding out what really matters... after holding onto a car for 100 hours.

More info.

Seeking Refuge, Rick Jones (NEW MUSICAL WINNER)

Venue: Randolph Theatre

Paul O'Sullivan Prize winner. Two sisters struggle amid civil war, left homeless, their family dead. The only thing of value left is their mother's jewelry, enough to barter for passage to freedom - for one.

More info.

The Seat Next to the King, Steven Jackson (NEW PLAY WINNER)

Venue: Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace

WINNER, Fringe 2017 BEST NEW PLAY! 1964. Two men, one white one black, meet in a public washroom. Race. Sexuality. Intimate strangers at the right hands of the powerful.

More info.

Everything There is to Know, Aaron Jensen and Jim Warren

Venue: Randolph Theatre

Whimsical and delightfully dark, this original musical tells the story of a swashbuckling young girl, a family drama, and the end of the world.

More info.

Jay & Shilo's Sibling Revelry, Alisse Lee Goldenberg, Anthony Bastianon, Brett McCaig

Venue: George Ignatieff Theatre (KIDSFEST)

NARNIA meets THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA in this fun, musical romp about two siblings living in a magical theatre.

More info.

Site Specifics in Surprising Locations

Bendy Sign Tavern, Sex T-Rex

Venue: The Paddock Bar

Life is hard when you're a young puppet trying to make your way in the big city. Joan must overcome rude customers, Bachelorette Wolves and literally battle her deepest fears to achieve her dreams.

More info.

SCAT, Laugh Serious Theatre

Venue: Queen West Central Toronto Community Health Centre's Bathroom

Vandalism, activism, urination, defecation, bending gender, tearoom trade. Don't look through the crack.

More info.

The Clergy Project, SoulO Theatre

Venue: Narayever Synagogue

Three of Toronto's prominent religious leaders share their souls on stage. "The Clergy Project isn't just about their roles as priest, minister and rabbi - it's about their humanity." Best of Fringe * Critic's Pick

More info.

Maddie's Karaoke Birthday Party, Barbara Johnston, Suzy Wilde, Byron Laviolette

Venue: The Monarch Tavern

It's Maddie's 25th birthday but she's nowhere to be seen. Join Maddie's friends as they try to keep spirits high (and secrets hidden) in this hilarious and heart-warming karaoke party.

More info.

KidsFest for the Whole Family

Bad Dog Theatre Presents: Animated, Bad Dog Youth Academy

Venue: George Ignatieff Theatre

The objects you love, brought to life. Each show, our talented cast of adult and youth improvisers will create a brand-new adventure, inspired by an object suggested to us by the audience.

More info.


Nithy, Ace Detective, Matt Gorman and Arlin Dixon

Venue: George Igniatieff Theatre

Nithy loves writing mysteries, but solving them is another matter... especially when a family crisis sends her world into chaos.

More info.

FESTIVAL INFORMATION:

The Toronto Fringe runs July 5 to 16, 2017, with live performances at venues across Toronto. This year, the TORONTO FRINGE CLUB will be presented at a brand-new location, Scadding Court, in celebration of presenting four decades of live original theatre. Read release regarding the NEW Fringe Club here. This year's program features live theatre, music, dance, comedy, and more, all free of charge. To purchase tickets, or for more information visit the Toronto Fringe brand new website: fringetoronto.com

SCADDING COURT LOCATION:

Scadding Court is located on the south-east corner of Bathurst St./ Dundas St. West and across from the Toronto Western Hospital. Main entrance on Bathurst St.

GET IN TOUCH:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/torontofringe

Twitter: www.twitter.com/torontofringe

Website: www.fringetoronto.com



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