Hy on the Fringe: Your Personal Guide to the
2015 New York International Fringe Festival
This FringeNYC Site Most Recently Updated: October 18th 2015
69 shows rated & ranked, 20 shows reviewed, 66 shows selling out
For FringeNYC Encore Series information, please click here and here.
Coverage of the 19th Annual FringeNYC
Running August 14th-30th
Introduction to FringeNYC 2015
The Submarine Show, Popesical: A Papal Musical Comedy, and Beware The Chupacabra!
From relatively humble beginnings, the New York International Fringe Festival has grown to become a major force in New York theatre...and an absolutely wonderful event for anyone who loves vibrant live shows.
The largest multi-arts festival in North America, this 19th annual FringeNYC offers 185 productions running from August 14th through August 30th. The festival's shows play in 18 Lower Manhattan venues —including such historic East & West Village theatres as Theatre 80 St. Marks, The Soho Playhouse, and The Lynn Redgrave Theater—totaling over 1,000 performances. And they'll attract more than 75,000 people, making the Fringe the fifth largest event in NYC (after the New York International Auto Show, Tribeca Film Festival, New York City Marathon, and New York Comic Con).
The types of shows at FringeNYC run the gamut, including theatrical comedy, theatrical drama, musical, opera, sketch, improv, dance, solo, puppetry, clowning, performance art, and children's. Adding to the diversity are productions from 21 states, plus Japan, South Africa, Israel, Austria, Australia, England, and Canada.
A scene from Seattle-based UMO Ensemble's Fail Better: Beckett Moves UMO; please note venue change
Why get excited about FringeNYC? Because unlike so many commercial productions tailored to inoffensively appeal to mass audiences, Fringe shows tend to be quirky, individual, and passionate. Thanks to the efforts of Producing Artistic Director Elena K. Holy, and the wonderful Fringe staffers and volunteers, the festival virtually shimmers with fresh artistic approaches, a wide range of voices and styles, high energy, and delightful surprises.
Jaron Hollander & Slater Penney in a scene from The Submarine Show
While Fringe productions are both low-budget and inexpensive to see ($18 per ticket—and even less if you buy in bulk), the best of them are as fine and memorable as the priciest play. And they're likely to take you to places that no show in midtown ever will. (This was epitomized by a teen visiting the Fringe years ago who told wealthy parents trying to lure her uptown, "But I don't want to see a show on Broadway. I want to see something cool.")
1920s Mexico holds mythic dangers in the operatic musical Beware The Chupacabra!
There's also more to the Fringe experience than what's being offered on stage. The festival gives you the opportunity to enjoy the people it attracts—which includes some of the most enthusiastic theatre-goers in New York. Talk to people standing in line, chat with the venue directors and volunteers, engage with the hundreds of artists handing out postcards to plug their shows—and try to be open to everyone. You may well make some lifelong friends.
The KineticArchitecture Dance Theatre Company., which is performing Diaghilesque
Of course, the untamed nature of Fringe shows means they're not for every taste...and in some cases, not for any taste. One of the most exciting aspects of the Fringe is that it positively encourages productions to take huge risks—which inevitably results in some jaw-dropping failures.
A memorable example is a late-night Fringe play I attended with a composer and an actress back in 2003. Although the show lasted only an hour, it felt like days...and as soon as we left the theatre, the actress muttered her opinion dazedly in one succinct phrase: "I wanted to kill myself." She repeated this assessment—"I wanted to kill myself"—over and over for the next two blocks, until we finally managed to calm her down. And this production wasn't even the worst at that year's festival...I personally witnessed three others even more mind-wrecking.
On some level, there's a perverse thrill in seeing a show so bad that you can't believe your eyes. But more to the point, falling prey to one of these dark beasts makes you more fully appreciate the productions that are truly great—that accept the Fringe's challenge to take huge risks with brilliance and actually succeed beyond all expectations.
Genius improvisors Rebecca Vigil & Evan Kaufman interview a couple from the audience and then make up
a complete musical about their love story with so much skill and wit it will take your breath away in Your Love, Our Musical
It's the latter that make the festival most worthwhile. And there's a real joy to seeking out these treasures, finding them...and thoroughly enjoying them.
Starting August 14th, the hunt is on...
Scene from puppet musical The Morningtime of Now
I've developed a habit of catching lots of FringeNYC shows—75 in 2002, 77 in 2003, 66 in 2004, 58 in 2005, 65 in 2006, 66 in 2007, 71 in 2008, 76 in 2009, 72 in 2010, 56 in 2011, 68 in 2012, 50 in 2013, and 70 in 2014. FringeNYC is hard to resist...especially considering it gets better every year.
Police detective turned stand-up comic Mark DeMayo tells funny & fascinating tales about his two decades on the force
in one-man show The Broccoli Murder, the DiCaprio Dance, and Other Stories From My 20 Years as an NYC Cop,
Please visit this site daily once the festival begins, as I'll be rating and ranking every show I see (and reviewing as many as I can manage), providing you with an at-a-glance guide to what's worth catching and what you might consider avoiding.
Poster for comedy writer Gary Apple's musical fantasy Hell Is For Real
Of course, there are a number of other sources of reviews besides this website. For example, you can find smart (albeit limited) coverage of FringeNYC via The New York Times, which can be read online at nytimes.com.
And reviewing most FringeNYC shows is Time Out New York, NYC's invaluable guide to—well, pretty much everything.To read TONY's coverage, please click here.
The only downside is that other publications use a small army of writers to cover the shows. That can make it hard to get a fix on the tastes of any one reviewer and figure out whether they jibe with your own.
If you read what follows, though, you'll quickly get a sense of my tastes, which is likely to help you in judging my comments about any particular show. (For example, if you discover that you love everything I dislike and can't stand everything I recommend, that still means I'll be providing you with helpful guidance—simply believe the opposite of everything I say...)
Sebastian Boswell III will aim to astound you with his mental powers at This Side of the Impossible;
Jay Malsky is likely to make you laugh hard and often in his cabaret sketch/musical Elaine Stritch: Still Here
Links to all the sections of this FringeNYC 2015 site appear at both the top and bottom of each of its pages.
I hope you find the site useful and that you thoroughly enjoy the festival. I also hope to have the pleasure of bumping into you at some point during these shows so you can tell me which ones you like most.
Pointing you to the best—and suffering the worst so you don't have to—
Book Service: BookProposal.net
Script lay Service: HyOnYourScript.com
One of a dozen musical sketches from The Magic Jukebox
P.S. Special thanks to Krystle Russo, who designed the front and back of the postcard I'm using for this year's festival; and to FringeNYC photographers extraordinaire George Rand and Dixie Sheridan, who will be supplying photos of FringeNYC productions throughout the festival. So far this year I've used George's photos for my reviews of Kill Sister, Kill! A Musical and Under: A New Musical.
FringeNYC photographer George Rand posing with Charles Manson from Hell is For Real
Return to top
Other Cool Places to Visit
Hy on Theatre Discounts Hy's Comedy Club Discounts
Best New York Comedy Become a HyReviews.com Insider
Hy's Previous FringeNYC Coverage
FringeNYC 2013 FringeNYC 2012 FringeNYC 2011 FringeNYC 2010
FringeNYC 2009 FringeNYC 2008 FringeNYC 2007 FringeNYC 2006 FringeNYC 2005
Copyright © 2015 Hy Bender