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2014 Rochester Fringe Festival Preview

Headliners, Jay Pharoah interview, Critics Picks

Fringe explosion!

In just three years, the First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival has grown to be one of the largest multi-arts festivals in New York State. During its debut in 2012, the festival drew more than 32,000 attendees across 5 days, prompting a needed expansion for the next year. The 2013 Fringe grew to 360 performances, 28 venues, and 10 days, and brought in more than 50,000 people for dancing on buildings, gospel choirs, drag queens, kids shows, theater, stand-up comedy, music, visual arts, and any other kind of performance you can imagine — and a few that no one would have expected. Rochester enthusiastically embraced its fringe side.

This year, the Rochester Fringe Festival will feature more than 380 shows, taking place Thursday, September 18, through Saturday, September 27, across 28 venues in and around downtown Rochester.

The festival is put on by a nonprofit corporation spearheaded by some of the area's key cultural institutions, including Geva Theatre Center, the George Eastman House, Garth Fagan Dance, and Eastman School of Music, among others. What makes Fringe stand out from other arts festivals is that participating venues curate their own shows. Acts applied earlier this year and the various theaters, galleries, cafes, and other venues picked the shows that fit them best.

Tickets for Fringe shows vary per venue, typically ranging between $6 and $16 (and headlining acts typically have higher ticket prices). Still, there are dozens of completely free spectacles, including Circus Orange, one of this year's headliners. Tickets for individual shows are available online at rochesterfringe.com, by phone at 371-5017 (please note: the phone number printed in the Official Fringe Guide is incorrect), and in person at each venue starting an hour before show time.

Fringe Fanatic Passes, which grant admission to all Fringe shows (except performances in the Spiegeltent), cost $190 and can be purchased online, by phone, or at the Spiegeltent box office.

For a full schedule of the festival, a list of venues, maps, and other information, see the official Fringe Festival Guide, included in this issue or visit Rochesterfringe.com.

City Newspaper will offer extensive coverage of the 2014 Rochester Fringe Festival. Look for daily blogs during the run of the festival, with photos, reviews, and our critics' picks for best of the fest. And make sure to pick up our Fringe Review in print in the September 24 issue.
--Jake Clapp

In This Guide...

  • 2014 Fringe Festival: Headliners

    Circus Orange Circus Orange's "Tricycle" act is a true smorgasbord of a performance.

  • 2014 Fringe Festival: Impersonator-in-chief

    Interview with Jay Pharoah
    Jay Pharoah Performing at the First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival Saturday, September 20 Spiegeltent, 406 East Main Street 9:30 p.m. & 11:30 p.m. | $48 | Rochesterfringe.com; Jaypharoah.com

  • 2014 Fringe Festival: Critic Picks

    City's arts and entertainment writers sound off on their most-anticipated shows at Fringe 2014