There’s no guarantee you’ll actually be seeing a future Broadway success when you attend the New York City International Fringe Festival, which starts today. In fact, it’s highly unlikely that will happen. The Tony Award-nominated musical Urinetown, which transferred to Broadway in 2001, remains the festival’s only major Broadway success story. But the festival has been an incubator for a number of Off-Broadway musicals (the current hit Silence the Musical! was once a Fringe show) and it continues to be a proving ground for young talent.
Looking through the 200+ show listings at www.fringenyc.org, Broadway fans will find several shows designed to appeal to their tastes. The Hills Are Alive! is a parody of The Sound of Music, Hanafuda Denki offers a Japanese take on The Threepenny Opera, DOGS: A Biting Comedy presents a director’s attempt to create an Arab-Jewish musical version of Romeo & Juliet, Non-Equity The Musical charts the progress of struggling actors, and LOLPERA has “a libretto created entirely from captions of stupid cat pictures”.
Although this kind of silliness is par for the course when it comes to Fringe Festival musicals, there are more serious musicals in this year’s festival as well. Dark Hollow is an Appalachian take on Woyzeck, PANORAMANIA dramatizes the life of painter John Banvard, and Paper Plane tells a Great Depression-era adventure story.
The NYC International Fringe Festival runs through August 26. Buy your tickets at least 24 hours ahead of time and you’ll only pay $15, but it costs $18 at the door. If you really want to indulge in several Fringe shows (the more you see, the more likely you are to find that diamond in the rough), there is a 5-show pass for $70 or a 10-show pass for $120. If you really want to go nuts, get the $500 Lunatic Pass and devour every single show you can work into your schedule.
Broadway in Bryant Park, the annual summer series that features lunchtime performances from Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, has an exciting schedule this month that will feature current Broadway shows alongside upcoming ones. Held from 12:30pm to 1:30pm each Thursday through August 16, these free midday concerts are ideal for midtown workers and tourists who want to enjoy Bryant Park’s beautiful lawn while watching Broadway singers perform.
On August 2, long-running Broadway musical Mamma Mia! will be showcased, along with Off-Broadway hit Silence the Musical (a hilarious parody of The Silence of the Lambs), the British farce One Man, Two Guvnors, and the forthcoming bio-musical Chaplin.
August 9 will feature another long-running favorite, Chicago, along with the Off-Broadway revival of Rent (which is closing soon, so catch it now!), the new revival of Evita, and the upcoming Broadway musical Rebecca.
Silence! the Musical, the parody of The Silence of the Lambs that has become an Off-Off-Broadway hit downtown, has announced that it will be moving up to the theater district and into a newly renovated 199-seat theater space. Located at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue (across from scenic Port Authority), the Elektra Theatre boasts “plush stadium seats and the best sight lines of any theatre in New York City,” according to a press release.
Being on the highly-trafficked West 42nd Street and just a stone’s throw from the heart of Times Square could make the Elektra Theatre a prime spot for Off-Broadway shows since it is no more of a hike for tourists than the average Broadway theater. Admittedly that particular corner has a somewhat seedy vibe, but that might give it just the right edgy feel for a cult hit like Silence! That block houses other performance spaces (used for comedy shows, specialty shows, etc.), but has seldom been used for more traditional theatrical performances, so it will be interesting to see whether or not the Elektra can successfully establish itself as a legitimate theater.
Silence! the Musical will begin performances at the Elektra Theatre (673 Eighth Avenue) on Wednesday, July 18. Visit www.silencethemusical.com to find out more about the show.