I stopped in at The Little to check out RIT's Photo House, a grouping of photos displayed on the
walls of the theater's 2-5 lobby. Ranging widely in style, genre, and talent,
the showcase is a window into what current students are working on, presented
to the shifting audience of moviegoers.
our culture of reality TV shows and instant gratification, we've grown
accustomed to the novelty of becoming a fly on the wall in someone's life
anytime we flip to the right channel. Though we know by now reality TV isn't
raw and unrehearsed, it still feels that way -- and humans can't resist the
chance to watch one another in a vulnerable state.
My third day at the Rochester Fringe Festival was a wet and
wild one; throughout the course of my time at the festival, rain, chlorinated
water, and blood poured down on me at one point or another. My first stop was
an afternoon performance of "Hot Tub: The Musical."
"Think of this show as a series of dreams over the course of
the night," the audience was instructed before the mesmerizing, multi-sensory
performance of "Sure-Minded Uncertainties" at the TheatreROCS Stage on Sunday. Presented by CaveDogs (cavedogs.org),
the show featured large-scale shadow projections layered with video imagery and
an engaging original soundtrack.
Performed by RAPA Family Theatre, "James and the Giant
Peach: The Musical" comes from Tony-nominated composing team BenjPasek and Justin Paul ("A
Christmas Story: The Musical"). An adaptation of the beloved Roald Dahl book,
the musical combines aspects of Dahl's book and the
1996 film, adding in a plethora of new songs (it should be noted, these aren't
the same Randy Newman compositions featured in the film) and condensing the story
for younger audiences.
My Saturday night at the Rochester Fringe Festival was full
of death, running the gamut of age. I was moved and impressed by "Percentage," presented by RAPA at the
School of the Arts' Black Box Theatre.
There are many beautiful things that happen during the Rochester
Fringe Festival, but one of my favorite parts is the heightened vulnerability
that emerges in the theater community. Theater is already a vulnerable art form, but with every
show there are budgets to consider, boards who must approve show runs, and difficult
casting decisions to be made.
PUSH Physical Theatre, the creation of Rochester-based
husband and wife team Darren and Heather Stevenson, bills itself as "physical
theater," but it is really so much more. Darren's spot-on humor is imbued with
philosophical depth and the pieces the company performed at the Rochester
Fringe Festival on Saturday moved the audience from hilarity to awe.
I spent the second night of the Rochester Fringe Festival taking
in two shows staged back-to-back at MuCCC. "Twain's Amazing Tales," put on by
James Landers and Classics Theater of Rochester, featured dramatic readings of
excerpts from "Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven,"
which I have not read, and "What Stumped the Bluejays,"
which was part of Landers' Fringe offering last year.
Garth Fagan Dance performed in its Chestnut Street studio on
Friday night as part of the Rochester Fringe Festival, showcasing Fagan's
latest work and premiering Norwood Pennewell's fifth
piece for the company. Watching the Rochester-based, internationally-acclaimed
company dance in the same place its members rehearse, create, and sweat
intensifies and personalizes the performance.
Brooklyn-based aerial dance troupe Grounded Aerial premiered a new work Friday night as part of the Rochester Fringe Festival's big Friday on the Fringe event. Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Manhattan Square was packed with people craning their necks to watch the dancers leap, flip, and glide off the side of the 21-story One HSBC Plaza building.
As the crowds thinned after Grounded Aerial's sky-high
theatrics on the side of One HSBC Plaza Friday night, a woman in a bright red
shirt stood outside the nearby Xerox building yelling, "Free show here right
now!" It turned out her hawking strategy was a good one: I was there because I
planned to be, but many others filled the seats inside the auditorium because
they were searching for a next step in their Friday Fringe journey -- and "free"
is always a bonus.
I saw the very entertaining "Cabinet of Wonders"
in the packed Spiegeltent last night, which included
everything there's to like about the circus, without the animal cruelty. The
show began with the subtlest of clowns -- a wiggly goofball who worked the audience
with priceless facial expressions -- performing some tricks while the
husband-and-wife hosting team, Matt and Heidi Morgan, worked the audience with witty banter.
Stay with me; Remote Rochester might take a minute to
explain. The -- what should we call it?
My 2015 Rochester Fringe experience began with sequins, high
heels, and wigs a-plenty when I took in RAPA's production of "La Cage Aux Folles" (helpful pronunciation tip: it sounds like "La Cahhge ah Fall") on the School of the Arts' Allen Main
Stage. Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein's
Tony Award-winning musical is based on Jean Poiret's
original 1973 play.
Shakespeare's plays are timeless, and you just can't have a
theater-heavy festival without Will's work. Fringe is featuring no fewer than six
shows based on the Bard's plays.
The 2015 First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival runs Thursday, September 17, through Saturday, September 26, and City Newspaper will be out EVERY NIGHT of the festival, covering multiple shows. Check in first thing each morning for photos and reviews of the previous night's entertainment, listed below by date.
Get to know Adam, Daniel, Frank, Jake, Leah, and Rebecca