What Not to Miss at Fringe: Learn More About Five of the Festival's Hottest Shows!

News   What Not to Miss at Fringe: Learn More About Five of the Festival's Hottest Shows!
 
The New York International Fringe Festival officially opened Aug. 14 and includes 200 shows and 1,100 performances. With comedies, dramas, musicals, improv, children's programming, solo shows and more, there's sure to be something for everyone. Playbill.com sat down with some of the artists working on this year's festival to ask about their Fringe experiences, what not to miss and why the festival is important to them.

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Popesical: A Papal Musical

Popesical: A Papal Musical is a new musical with a book, music, and lyrics by Adam Overett. The show is described as "The Pope is dead. The Cardinals gather in the Sistine Chapel to choose a new Pope. No one has ever seen what happens – until now. The backbiting. The sacrilege. The hilarious song-and-dance." Popesical is presented by Tilted Windmills Theatricals.

What do you think audiences will like about the show?
David Perlman (performer): The show is hilarious, first of all. The cast is amazing. It's so funny. You will be laughing the whole time. And at the same time, it will get you right in the gut. It’s heart-warming. It's a beautiful, gorgeous story of love.

Danette Holden
Danette Holden

What do you think sets your show apart from every other show at Fringe?
Danette Holden (performer): This show is so well written and so relevant to today's climate of religion. It's so right in the pocket of what the world is, religiously speaking. We're all different, and this sort of shines a light on that. It's also incredibly important and touching.
Jason Veasey (performer): And I'm biased, but the cast is sick. [Laughs.] Do you have any fun memories from the rehearsal process?
Holden: When you can't breathe in the room because it's so funny, and you turn away because there's a scene happening and you're disrupting it.

What are your hopes for the future of Popesical?
Holden: Straight to Broadway!
Perlman: This is only the beginning for Popesical.

Popesical is performing Aug. 20 at 7 PM, Aug. 22 at 7 PM, Aug. 27 at 2 PM, Aug. 28 at 3 PM, and Aug. 29 at 9:45 PM at Venue #9: Theatre 80.

EverScape

EverScape is a new play, written by Allan Maule. The show is described as "An online world of epic fantasy battles helps four gamers escape their bleak realities. But when EverScape offers them a chance to win jobs as game developers, lines get crossed between what's more real: the game or their lives?"

What do you think sets your show apart from every other show at Fringe?
Ivy Croteau (performer): We're definitely the most movement heavy.
Meg Mark (performer): And definitely the most badass [laugh].
Croteau: I think it's unique to have theatre addressing something like video games. I think especially for millennials, but also for anyone who knows a millennial. I think it's great to see theatre doing that.
Ashley Gunsteens (director): It's very relevant to people within the video game community, but it hasn’t been addressed outside of that niche.
Ariel Cruz (performer): I think it has a big message that's kind of hidden. You're just watching these fight scenes happen, but it deals with addiction and escapism in a more approachable way. I think if we talked about something really heavy and intense, it would be harder for audiences to relate.

Ashley Gunsteens
Ashley Gunsteens

Do you have any fun memories from the rehearsal process?
Sean Dube (performer): It's so fun to work on, you can't help but laugh.
Croteau: We had to learn to laugh at our mistakes pretty quickly.

What do you want audiences to take away from the show?
Dube: I want our audiences to challenge the element of escapism, and live in the moment.
Mark: I want people to let go of fear in order to escape the things that are holding them back.
Croteau: I want people to have the courage to work hard for what they want in life, and to go after their dreams instead of putting them off.

What are your hopes for the future of EverScape?
Gunsteens: It's a show that's meant to be in New York. It's got a little bit of something for everyone. It can only get bigger and better. EverScape is performing  Aug. 23 at 2:45 PM, Aug. 26 at 9 PM, Aug. 28 at 9 PM, and Aug. 29 at 6:15 PM at Venue #5: The Celebration of Whimsy.

Divine/Intervention

Divine/Intervention is a new play written by E. Dale Smith, with an original concept by "RuPaul's Drag Race" contestant Mimi ImFurst. The show is described as "Glenn Milstead skyrocketed to stardom as drag queen Divine in John Waters' cult films. Alone, on the night of his untimely death, the quiet man behind the mascara struggles with his inner demons and his larger-than-life creation, Divine." Divine/Intervention is presented by sbgProductions and Faux Real Entertainment.

What do you think sets your show apart from every other show at Fringe?
Bobby Goodrich (performer): There's two actors who play one person.
Braden Chapman (director): In the play we have two actors who play Divine – one in drag, one out of drag – and they move simultaneously, split down the middle. It's the first time this convention has ever been done onstage. Drag is the perfect vehicle and metaphor to talk about the idea of duality within ourselves – public self vs. private self, male vs. female, ego vs. true self. Drag gets to really heighten that as this fabulous metaphor, and what better character than Divine?
Ryan Walter (performer): Not only that, but this is the first play ever written about Divine. This is the first that ever really examines what it is to be a drag queen. No other production has ever attempted something like that. I think it's unique, not just among Fringe, but among theatre in general.
Chapman: You see these plays about drag queens, and they're light and they're fluffy and entertaining, but they never examine the moment in a drag queen's life when she's literally sitting in the mirror and covering up her own face and putting a new face on. Drag is nitty-gritty.

<i>Divine/Intervention</i> deals with the last night in the life of legendary drag diva Divine
Divine/Intervention deals with the last night in the life of legendary drag diva Divine

What do you want audiences to take away from the show?
Goodrich: The humanity that gets lost in the rush of a persona. At the end of the day we all close our eyes and go to sleep, and there's a distinct humanity that ties us all together and this play almost exploits that. And to be able to leave a theatre and learn more about an actual person and feel so intimately close to them is something really amazing to share.
Walter: What I like a lot about this play, and what I like about our culture, is that drag is very rapidly becoming a respected art form, and I think this play really highlights the fact that this is a full art form. It's not just for fun.
Chapman: An icon like Divine, star of 13 films, who toured the country, and did Off-Broadway…not a lot of people know about him in a very human way. You're going to come to this play and learn something about a person that you love, and leave loving them even more.
Goodrich: He was the first drag superstar. Divine was doing it before any of this existed. No other drag queen was doing what she was doing. She was the great-grandmother of the drag revolution.

What do you love about Fringe?
Goodrich: It's so refreshing, in a world where theatre has become so commercialized, that there is still a huge group of artists out there creating theatre because of love and passion and art, and it's so great to be a part of that.

Divine/Intervention is performing Aug. 24 at 7:30 PM, Aug. 28 at 4:45 PM and Aug. 29 at 3 PM at Venue #13: Lynn Redgrave Theatre at Culture Project.

The Report

The Report is a new play written by Martin Casella, based on the novel by Jessica Francis Kane. The show is described as "1943. The deadliest civilian tragedy of WWII happened in a London tube station. The British government lied to its people. Now one man must make sense of it all. A haunting, unknown true story." The Report is presented by Barry Goralnick, Sarahbeth Grossman, and Craig Zehms in Association with Cutting Hedge Productions.

What do you think sets your show apart from every other show at Fringe?
Martin Casella (playwright):
There are a lot of shows this year that are about history. Our show is about an incident in London that happened during World War II that the English government tried to cover up. People were saying to us, 'Why are we interested in that now?', but stuff like that is still happening all over the world. Despite being set in the past it's extremely political and very contemporary in terms of what's going on.

What do you want audiences to take away from the show?
Casella: I fell in love with the book because I was somewhere and someone was very ill, and they ended up dying while we were waiting for an ambulance. I went through a period where I thought that it was my fault. When I got to the hospital I was like, 'I did everything I was supposed to,' [and] the doctor said, 'It's not your fault.' In the play this terrible thing happens and no one knows why or how it happens until a magistrate comes in to do an investigation, and all the people of the town and the government want is someone to blame. What he begins to find out is that there were many things that went wrong that night, and they can't blame it on anyone. We live in a society where you're supposed to get over things and move on, and sometimes life is so complicated that that's difficult. I want people to take away that unbelievable drive that we all have to blame someone.

The Report is performing Aug. 24 at 4:30 PM, Aug. 27 at 4:15 PM, and Aug. 28 at 9 PM at Venue #13: Lynn Redgrave Theatre at Culture Project.

Single Room Occupancy

Single Room Occupancy is a new musical with music and a book by Ben Rauch and lyrics by Gaby Gold, Ben Rauch, Winston Rauch and Rory Scholl. The show is described as "A single guy's comedic singer/songwriter dream is challenged by the distractions of social media, relationships and his fear of performing beyond the confines of his tiny apartment. A story for anyone whose biggest obstacle is themselves." Single Room Occupancy is presented by BR Productions.

What do you think sets your show apart from every other show in Fringe?
Ben Rauch (music, book, performer):
It's the first show I know of to ever include live musical improv. The audience gives us a suggestion and we make up a song on the spot. We have a great sound designer, Joshua Reed, who's amazing and we have a great amazing sound system and a full band, and crazy actor singer comedian dancers. It's legitimate pop rock music. It's got humor in it.

Ben Rauch
Ben Rauch

How has the rehearsal process been?
Rauch: It's been a dream. I have an amazing cast and an amazing director, Joey Murray. It started out as a comedy album. Seeing this music come to life and seeing how the show develops…every day has been a dream. I've done a lot of research on Tinder, it's a whole new culture of yes, no, yes, no. I was on Tinder – I'm not on it anymore. It monopolized my life. I had an awful date once where this girl was like, 'My friend and I are seeing how many people we can date in a summer,' and I was like, 'Thank you for wasting my time.' [laugh]

What do you want audiences to take away from the show?
Rauch: We can use humor to get over our demons. We can use humor to get past our blocks. I think we can all relate to that.

Do you have any fun memories from the rehearsal process?
Rauch: This is the first time I'm on the other side of producing and seeing how that works, and how I can be of service to other performers. I got a lot of inspiration from my sister, Melissa ("The Big Bang Theory"), and her voice is in it as well. What are your hopes for the future of Single Room Occupancy?
Rauch: I would love to bring it to Broadway or Off-Broadway. I think it's very well-suited for that. The album I've been working on is mixed by Warren Reicher – there's going to be an album of me singing and then a cast album as well.

Single Room Occupancy is performing Aug. 21 at 2:15 PM, and Aug. 27 at midnight at Venue #13: Lynn Redgrave Theatre at Culture Project.

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There are 200 unique shows at the 2015 New York International Fringe Festival. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit FringeNYC.org.

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