Hy on the Fringe: Your Personal Guide to the
2016 New York International Fringe Festival
This Reviews Page Was Most Recently Updated: October 7th 2016
FringeNYC 2016 Show Reviews
By far the finest and funniest FringeNYC 2016 solo show I've seen is breathtakingly talented sketch comic/actress/writer/singer Dominique Salerno's The Box Show
I assign all shows seen one to four stars, using the following rating system:
**** = Transcendently Great
*** = Solid & Worth Seeing
** = Unless Your Relatives Are in the Cast, Think Twice
* = "I Wanted to Kill Myself"
This page provides reviews of select FringeNYC 2016 shows I've seen from beginning to end. Because of time constraints I won't be able to review most FringeNYC shows, but hopefully what follows will give you a sense of what I'm considering when rating & ranking any show.
You can learn more about any show by clicking the photo to the right of its review and the link below its title. You can also read the official description of the show, see when and where it's playing at the festival, and order tickets by clicking here.
Please keep in mind these reviews have to be written in a hurry. If you spot any factual errors, please don't hesitate to let me know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm always happy to make corrections and updates.
The following are the FringeNYC 2016 shows I've reviewed to date:
One of the joys of FringeNYC is discovering extraordinary talent. And I couldn't have been more joyful when experiencing Dominique Salerno's solo production The Box Show.
Demonstrating brilliantly that structure helps rather than hinders creative freedom, Salerno performs her entire show in a box. Within those confines, she invents dozens of characters who fit that construct either physically or metaphorically, ranging from a postage stamp to an baby about to be born to Greeks hiding in the Trojan horse.
In lesser hands, this might be just a great sketch show. But beyond being a highly skilled comic (which is a huge deal in itself); Salerno is a masterful playwright and theatrical actress—and even a powerhouse singer! Salerno employs her breathtaking array of skills to take her audience on a roller coaster ride of emotions as delightful and satisfying as virtually any show currently playing in NYC.
The Box Show has already sold out its initial run, but a Fringe Fave performance has added for Sunday 8/28; and The Box Show is also among the 14 FringeNYC productions selected for the Encore Series, playing on Thursday October 20th at 7:00 pm and Saturday October 22nd at 7:00 pm. Grab these tickets before they're gone too.
Salerno is virtually certain to be a star; and this is the finest show of any kind I saw at FringeNYC 2016.
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Pucker Up and Blow is a brilliantly funny exploration of power dynamics in show business—and my pick for finest play of the festival.
Penned with exceptional comedic skill by screenwriter Daniel Reitz, and starring delightfully nuanced actor Will Dagger (above), who I expect has a stellar career ahead of him, this show is virtually ready for a commercial run as is.
As long as you're not offended by political incorrectness—such as Dagger's character being gay-raped, hilariously, in a play-within-a-play—this is a must see.
Pucker Up and Blow is among the 14 FringeNYC shows enjoying an extended run in the Encore Series, performing at the West Village's The Soho Playhouse Mainstage on Sunday 9/11 at 7:00 pm, Friday 9/16 at 9:00 pm, Saturday 9/17 at 7:00 pm, Sunday 10/16 at 5:00 pm, and Monday 10/17 at 8:00 pm. To learn more and/or purchase tickets, please click here.
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In all honesty, I'm not a fan of solo bio-musical shows. The chances of a non-celebrity doing justice to a superstar singer are tiny. I came to this show mostly because it happened to fit a slot in my Fringe schedule.
I was therefore blown away when Randy Noojin came on stage and effectively resurrected Pete Seeger. Not only is Noojin a dynamite folk singer who performs around a dozen Seeger classics, he's written a brilliant script that perfectly captures the spirit, personality, and passions of Pete Seeger.
There are thousands of creative decisions that go into a show. In virtually each case, Noojin has somehow managed to make the perfect choice. The result is not only the finest musical of the festival, but a stellar production ready for a commercial run as is.
If you'd enjoy time-traveling to the 1950s and 1960s under the gentle yet powerful guidance of a masterful writer/actor/singer, Seeger awaits you.
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This inventive, magical three-person musical/dance fable springboards off the children’s classic The Little Prince to create new adventures for The Navigator that are nearly as moving as the original tale.
This show would be worth seeing for the dance alone (from choreographer & director by Olivia Treviño) or the script alone (written by Ezra LeBank). That it excels in both areas is a rare feat...as are the delightful performances of Ezra LeBank, Taylor Casas, and Cynthia Price.
If you love The Little Prince or acrobatic dance—or simply want to be reminded what it means to be human—don't miss this.
Flight is among the 14 FringeNYC shows enjoying an extended run in the Encore Series, playing in September at the Barrow Street Theatre on Saturday 9/24 at 3:00 pm, Sunday 9/25 at 3:00 pm, Tuesday 9/27 at 7:00 pm, Thursday 9/29 at 7:30 pm, and Friday 9/30 at 7:30 pm. To learn more and/or purchase tickets, please click here.
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I attended The Further Adventures Of... simply because I love SF/fantasy, and the title and poster (above) made me expect an homage to old-time genre TV shows. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much in terms of script, characters, or acting. All I wanted was to be reminded of the special delight low-budget but imagination-rich mass media gave me during my childhood.
What this production actually provided was a great deal more. Kathleen Warnock has written a rich, layered script that begins by recreating the innocent wonders of childhood, but then pushes past surface appearances to explore the stars of those TV shows living closeted lives...by pretending to be straight on camera when, to those paying attention, they're clearly gay.
The story is brought to life by Tim Burke and Mark Finley, who are deliciously believable as the on-camera TV stars, yet also deliver nuanced, poignant performances as the actors in their private lives.
That said, the driving force of the play is actress Jamie Heinlein, who is mesmerizing as she takes us from her being a little girl hooked on her favorite daily show about Atlantis to an adult lesbian writer determined to get on record what was really happening for seven seasons behind the scenes. Heinlein is so luminous in this production that the love and compassion she radiates become its greatest special effect, forcing the audience to feel as deeply about the people she's researching as her character does.
And so while I came for no more than a bit of nerdy nostalgia, I was rewarded with my favorite dramatic play and dramatic cast of the festival.
I highly recommend The Further Adventures Of... Whether its producers mount it at Comic Con or as an off-Broadway show for LGBTQ theatre lovers—or both—it deserves a life that extends well beyond the Fringe.
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