The KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival keeps growing. The 2017 Fringebroke its previous records, attracting more than 78,000 people — a 15 percent increase from the year before. And audiences packed Parcel 5 both nights of “Friday & Saturday on the Fringe” to see the US debut of French company Plasticiens Volants perform its “BIG BANG” show.
The Rochester Fringe is now expanding to 11 days. Fringe organizers held its Big Reveal press conference on Tuesday at Eastman’s Hatch Recital Hall to announce the 2018 event’s full lineup, including more than 500 performances. The 7th annual Rochester Fringe Festival (the second with KeyBank as its title sponsor) takes place Wednesday, September 12, through Saturday, September 22, at venues in and around downtown Rochester.
The Fringe in June announced this year’s comedy headliner: English comedian, actor, and author Eddie Izzard will headline Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre on Friday, September 21, presenting his “Eddie Izzard: Believe Me” show.
At Tuesday’s Big Reveal organizers announced that this year’s “Friday & Saturday on the Fringe” spectacle will be enormous sing-a-longs with the London-based band Massaoke (literally massive karaoke) making its North American debut. Playing live hit music from the 1960’s through today, the audience joins along en masse to sing karaoke guided by lyrics on a big screen.
More than 150 shows during this year’s Fringe will be free, including a weekend of festival-curated entertainment on Gibbs Street, September 21 and September 22. This second weekend of Fringe includes more than a dozen bands and the third annual Fringe Street Beat. (Teams can now sign up for the hip-hop and all-style dance battle to compete for a $1,500 prize. Head to rochesterfringe.com to learn more.)
The Cristal Palace Spiegeltent and surrounding Spiegelgarden will again be set up at the corner of Gibbs and East Main, with Matt and Heidi Morgan — in their third Rochester Fringe appearance — premiering a new show. The daily show, “Cirque Du Fringe: Sideshow,” is inspired by the Golden Age of American circus and bears a vintage vibe.
The first weekend’s late-night, Spiegeltent show will be “Other People’s Shows,” a comedy featuring Rochester’s Unleashed! Improv’s interpretations of other Fringe productions based on their descriptions. The second weekend features “Shotspeare,” a rowdy adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet” that’s also a drinking game.
Silent Disco — which has sold out for six years running — is back at 11 p.m. on both Fridays and Saturdays. And Disco Kids returns on Saturday, September 22, as part of a Kids’ Day that will also include chalk art, a Cirque du Fringe matinee, and pumpkin-painting. The popular, free Gospel Sunday event, hosted by Reverend Rickey Harvey, also returns this year to Kilbourn Hall on Sunday, September 16.