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Highlights from the Fringe

December 30th, 2015

Highlights from Rochester's Fringe festival. [PHOTO: jasonwilder.org / wilderstreet.tumblr.com]
By Joanne Brokaw

Temperatures are falling and the Fringe Fest is a distant memory. Well, technically it’s only a few days in the past, but given the rapid change in temperature it feels like a season ago.

This was the fourth year for the First Niagara Fringe Festival, but it was the first time I’d ever attended. I love Rochester and I love going downtown. But to be honest, I generally avoid events where there are lots of people or the potential for traffic congestion. Since I had a press pass, though, I decided to take full advantage of it, and for 10 days I immersed myself in the fun.

And I do mean fun. Here are a few of the highlights from my week at the Fringe…

Highlights from Rochester's Fringe festival. [PHOTO: Joanne Brokaw]
1) Funny stuff. Because I’ve been doing improv for the last year, I focused a lot of my time seeing improv and comedy shows. There’s no way I could take them all in or tell you about everything I saw, but what I did see made me laugh my head off. Thank You Kiss sketch comedy, Unleashed! Improv, and Left For Dead improv rank high on the list of highlights for this week.

Hats off also to Kerry Young and Abby DeVuyst for their creative Hot Tub: The Musical, which I got to watch from the sidelines. They also did the Dashboard Dramas and Bushwacked, which had people talking (and laughing).

Highlights from Rochester's Fringe festival. [PHOTO: Joanne Brokaw]
And let’s face it: Fringe would not have been the same without the naughty burlesque and comedy show, Princess Wendy’s Late Night Tease Room. I’d tell you more, but what happens in the Spiegeltent stays in the Spiegeltent.

Don't miss the cast of Cabinet of Wonders at the First Niagara Fringe Festival. [PHOTO: Provided]
2) Magical stuff. The Cabinet of Wonders was the daily headliner at the Spiegeltent. It was a spellbinding and sassy mix of acrobats, aerial dancing, comedy, and music. I saw it twice, and snuck in to watch the second half again while I was killing time between events. If you didn’t see this one, you definitely missed out.

Highlights from Rochester's Fringe festival. [PHOTO: Joanne Brokaw]
3) Mind bending stuff. If you had a chance to do the Remote Rochester event you know what I mean. This pedestrian art journey took groups of 50 people at a time, all wearing headphones, on a walk through the city, as a synthetic voice promoted everyone to consider life, death, nature, artificiality, technology. We walked down familiar streets and in the hidden areas of deserted buildings. You can read my review of Remote Rochester here, but suffice it to say it was worth the price of admission.

Highlights from Rochester's Fringe festival. [PHOTO: Gretchen Ginn Woodworth]
And the Silent Disco? What a weird and wild way to dance the night away! They say 600 of us were in the Spiegeltent and garden on the night I went, with two DJs playing music and smoke and lights creating the moods – except the music was playing only in our headphones. Take off the headphones, and you could have a normal conversation. It was actually a great way to dance but also hang out with friends. No need to shout over music, and if you didn’t like what one DJ was playing, you could just switch channels.

Highlights from Rochester's Fringe festival. [PHOTO: Joanne Brokaw]
4) Historic stuff. Driving through downtown you miss the details that I was fortunate enough to see while walking. I sat in the Spiegelgarden and gazed up on the gorgeous Eastman Theater, viewing it in the bright daylight, as dusk, and in the night, lit with lights as the moon shone down. It was beautiful, and I tried to imagine what the city was like when the theater opened in 1922.

Highlights from Rochester's Fringe festival. [PHOTO: Joanne Brokaw]
I also met artist Scott Grove. In addition to my myriad talents, he does restoration on historic buildings, and he took me up the outside of the Powers Building where he was working. And then he took our RocSubway fearless leader Mike up in the bucket, and he chronicled the story beautifully here.

I was reminded again that we live in a gorgeous city, filled with unique and beautiful things that we miss when we’re driving around. It’s important to take some time to explore Rochester on foot. In fact, the River Romance external link is taking place this coming weekend. Take advantage of the chance to tour the old aqueducts and go on a walking tour of the city.

Highlights from Rochester's Fringe festival. [PHOTO: Joanne Brokaw]
5) Yummy stuff. I’ve seen food trucks. I’ve even eaten from a food truck. But having several of them rotating through the Spiegelgarden and on Gibbs street allowed me to try lots of different foods over the week. I had a grilled cheese with spiced apples and cheddar; a yummy burrito (and I rarely eat Mexican food); some awesome deep-fried cheese and sweet corn bites; a gorgeous chicken and cranberry wrap … all were unique and delicious. Now I understand the appeal of the food truck rodeo. (Yes, it takes me a while to catch onto things.)

It was a great week covering the Fringe and reporting back to readers. I blogged daily on my personal blog external link and did a few posts at RocSubway, so check both out if you want to know more about Fringe events or see more photos. For me? I had a great time making meeting new people and making memories, and I’m already looking forward to next year.

• • •

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 30th, 2015 at 2:43 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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