Summer Sun Sets on 2003 New York International Fringe Festival Aug. 24

News   Summer Sun Sets on 2003 New York International Fringe Festival Aug. 24 Aug. 24 will bring the closing of 200 plus Off-Off-Broadway productions, as the 2003 New York International Fringe Festival draws to a close. The annual Fringe Awards will be presented at a 9 PM Sunday evening ceremony at Bowery Bar.
The Bell Witch (Janell O
The Bell Witch (Janell O Photo by Richard Termine

The festival that gave birth to Urinetown, Debbie Does Dallas and Matt & Ben began swamping downtown Manhattan with theatre fare on Aug. 8. This year's FringeNYC featured works from 10 countries and 15 states. For the first time, the summer event—which was once centered around the Lower East Side and East Village—added many West Village venues, resulting in a more sprawling event than in years past, when theatres were often located across the block or down the street from one another. (The Present Company Theatorium on Stanton Street, once Fringe headquarters, is no longer a venue.)

Another change from years previous was the demand for tickets. Despite sweltering temperatures and a citywide blackout that resulted in two nights of canceled shows, audiences flocked to the festival. Even the most obscure attractions reported audiences ranging from 70 to 100 percent capacity. Certain shows sold out before the run and had to add performances, and it was nearly impossible to gain access to hit productions.

It's a little too early to discern which shows will find commercial futures. However, Lost, the spooky operatic musical by composer Jessica Grace Wing and lyricist-librettist Kirk Wood Bromley, and one of the better reviewed offerings, will jump to the Connelly Theater after its Fringe run.

Other well-received attractions include Cats Talk Back, A mock theatre talk-back featuring five former cast members of Andrew Lloyd Webber's longest running show in Broadway history, Cats, and featuring New York Times arts scribe Jesse McKinley as himself; Pinafore!, Mark Savage's (Naked Boys Singing) re-envisioning of the famous Gilbert and Sullivan operetta; and Eliza Jane Schneider's comic one-person show Freedom of Speech. A spokesman said Poseidon! An Upside-Down Musical perhaps sold more tickets than any other Fringe show, and reported that both Freedom of Speech and How to Act Around Cops are talking to producers.

A complete list of remaining shows with times and venue information will be available on their website at www.FringeNYC.org. Tickets to the Fringe Festival are $15 and can be purchased in person at FringeCentral, located at Manhattan Theatre Source (177 MacDougal at Eighth Street). For more information, call (212) 279-4488.