For its 16th year, the New York Fringe Festival will be presenting 187 shows from August 10 to August 26th in 20 theaters in Lower Manhattan. It seems a daunting taks to pick what shows to see, but somehow some 75,000 people do so every summer. Over the years, for a pittance, they have gotten a first look at shows that went on to a wider audience — most often cited are the Broadway hit Urinetown, Matt & Ben, Dog Sees God, and the current Off-Broadway hit Silence! The Musical — and seen performers before they became stars.
The Fringe press preview offered a glimpse into nine of this year’s shows. Below are video excerpts.
“The Hills Are Alive” , from Melodion Theatre, is an obvious spoof of “The Sound of Music,” though it describes itself as a dark comedy that “follows a prominent Austrian family crossing the Alps into Switzerland…by foot…with seven children…and no supplies. Turns out singing can’t solve every problem after all! Will they survive? And where is that yodeling coming from?”
Tail!Spin! is already sold out, but cast member Seth Dugan (familiar to theatergoers for “Next Fall” and TV viewers for Uma Thurman’s agent in “Smash”) presented the kind of apology familiar in the recent spate of political scandals, which is what Tail! Spin! is about — a verbatim recreation of the scandals of “Larry ‘wide-stance’ Craig, Mark ‘underage-page’ Foley, Anthony ‘twitpic’ Weiner, and Mark ‘Appalachian-Trail’ Sanford.”
Lee Meriwether in The Women in Spoon River: Their Voices from the Hill. The video includes my brief interview with the actress, who was Miss America of 1955, Betty in “Barnaby Jones,” the original Catwoman of Batman. What does she think of the new Batman?
In “Linda Means to Wait” writer and performer Linda Kuriloff is a teacher in a Bronx high school who becomes a South African storyteller, playing 20 characters.
My 44-second interview (during an elevator ride) with Chris Lowell, best-known as “Piz” in the TV series “Veronica Mars,” “Dell” in both “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice,” and as Stuart, Skeeter’s boyfriend, in “The Help” — and a performer in a Fringe show this summer, “I Heart Revolution.”