Fringe Fest Off to Great Start!

Those in charge have big expectations for this year's Fringe, which has yet to disappoint

ORGANIZERS of the 2010 Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival have high hopes for the 29th edition of the world-class, 11-day event. In fact, according to Julian Mayne, executive director of Fringe Theatre Adventures, this'll be the biggest season yet!

"I'm hoping we can break 100,000 this year," said Mayne. "Part of it is we have far more shows this year. It's pretty exciting. I think we should be able to do it."

Mayne is referring to the 10 additional venues this year, for a total of 39, which will house 1,200 performances of 230 plays by nearly 1,000 artists. Them are some big numbers, Winnipeg!

Last year 92,600 tickets were sold for the 2009 Fringe, a record itself, and if early sales are any indication, 2010 is looking to break it.

From last Tuesday (August 3) at noon to less than 24 hours later, all Frequent Fringer and Double Fringer passes (good for 10 and 20 shows, respectively) were snatched up, the fastest sell-out in the Fringe's 29-year history. In addition, more than 1,000 single-day tickets were sold during the same period.

"There seems to be a lot of people who want to come and see the festival," Mayne continued. "I'm really excited that the passes moved that quickly, and the single tickets seem to be moving similarly quite well."

The Edmonton Fringe is the oldest and largest festival of its kind in North America, and second only to Edinburgh worldwide. It regularly brings in about $10 million to the city, and draws upwards of 30,000 tourists annually.

I Heart Edmonton hit up the festivities on Day 1 (Thursday, August 12), launching into Tom Blazejewicz's compelling BYOV drama Fortress Mentality, which is staged at Planet ZE.

I returned to Old Strathcona for Saturday's showings of 4 (Detox Ultra Lounge), Eccentrically We Love (B Scene Studios) and To HELL With The RULES! (Cook County Saloon), all of which are worth seeing again...and again!

I had time for just one show on Day 4 (Sunday, August 15), an afternoon marred by Dianna Dollman's tedious cabaretesque pitch, Classically Trained, Practically Broke!

The Edmonton Fringe continues to run until Sunday, August 22.

You can check out my reviews of the five shows I've taken in so far by clicking any of the links below, courtesy of SEE magazine.*

-Fortress Mentality (Planet ZE)

-4 (Detox Ultra Lounge)

-Eccentrically We Love (B Scene Studios)

-To HELL With The RULES! (Cook County Saloon) (not available)

*SEE magazine and I Heart Edmonton are in no way affiliated, although I hope we can be friends!


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