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August 31, 2015

Fringe Festival shows we can't wait to see

The Arts FringeArts
Gunnar Purgatory Neal Santos/Gunnar Montana

Gunnar Montana returns to Fringe Festival with his choreographed performance piece, "Purgatory."

Fringe Festival, the 17-day extravaganza of local theater and contemporary performance, explodes into Philadelphia once again Thursday, Sept. 3. The hundreds of shows, concerts and performances Fringe Arts curates for the festival make up a list of work as creative and interesting as it is overwhelming. 

From greeting familiar faces (looking at you, Martha Graham Cracker) to meeting new ones (like the "Digital Neighborhood" online projects) there's just so much to do at Fringe this year. To help festival-goers decide which performances to experience, PhillyVoice has sifted through the offerings and selected the ones we're most excited for. Read on to see which performances we chose, then leave us a comment with your festival picks.


Prepare to be amazed at all the things the human body can do. 

Body of Water

Body of Water

Photo courtesy of Fringe Arts.

Modern dance company Antonia & Artists will explore what would happen if human bodies moved like water in this special performance. Led by choreographer Antonia Z. Brown, the group will challenge viewers' expectations of how bodies move by liquifying, in a sense, their interactions. For the uninitiated, "Body of Water" would be an intriguing introduction to modern dance.  

September 5, 6, 11 & 12
8 p.m. | $18
CEC Meeting House Theatre
3500 Lancaster Ave.

Soul Project

soul project

Photo courtesy Fringe Arts.

Internationally renown experimental choreographer David Zambrano has created a spellbinding show, having his dancers perform solos to live recordings of soul artists like Aretha Franklin and James Brown. The "center stage" will move throughout the show to wherever the next soloist wishes and the audience is welcome to roam around the dancers.

Friday, September 18 and Saturday, September 19
8 p.m. | $15-30 (Friday is Sold Out)
Christchurch Neighborhood House
20 N. American St.

Red Tutu

Red Tutu

Photo courtesy of Fringe Arts. 

Former and wannabe "bunheads" will appreciate the athleticism and artistry that goes into The Rock School For Dance Education's "Red Tutu." The Rock School has produced legions of professional dancers that have gone on to star in award-winning documentaries and choreography for Beyonce. Check out their current students then, when they inevitably become world-renown, you can say you knew them when.

Saturday, September 19
2 p.m. | $10
The Rock School for Dance Education
1101 S. Broad St.


All-ages shows that everyone can enjoy. 

FAMILY: Portraits and Stories

Take an active role in the Fringe Festival by joining an interactive art-making space with printmaker and mixed media artist Linda Dubin Garfield. You'll tell your story through a mixed media project (art materials will be supplied) and hopefully spark some fun discussions along the way. 

Sundays September 6 & 13
Noon-2 p.m. | Free admission
The Book Trader
7 North 2nd St.

Give Me a Hand!

Give me a Hand

Photo courtesy of Fringe Arts. 

Scenic artist and puppeteer Laurencio Carlos Ruiz has created an interactive experience for Fringe where audience members young and old can get on stage and try their hand at puppeteering. It's both a puppet show and a lesson in the art all at once.

Friday, September 11 and Saturday, September 12
Shows at 6 p.m. & 7 p.m. | Free admission
Casa Monarca
1448 South 17th St.

The Light Princess

The Foocy theater team is presenting this fractured fairytale as a work in progress. It's an adaptation of the George MacDonald tale by the same name, in which a girl has been cursed with the loss of gravity. To break the spell she has to shed a tear. Alex Bechtel (a 2015 Barrymore Award nominee for Original Music) has written songs for the show. 

Friday, September 11 through Sunday, September 13
Showtimes vary | $10
Lantern Theater
923 Ludlow St.


These quirky, out-of-the-box performances symbolize what Fringe is all about.



Photo courtesy of Fringe Arts.

Washington, D.C., conceptual artist Brian Feldman wants to wash your dishes for you. No, really. He will come to your home, hand-wash your dishes and then cold read you the monologue of your choosing. Only 25 performances are available, so grab a spot now. Then make a really sticky casserole or something.

Thursday, September 3 through Saturday, September 12
Showtimes vary | $20 per performance
Your home (Within half a mile of any SEPTA subway or Indego station)

Pope Up

We really can't get enough of the Pope's visit, can we? In honor of the occasion, artists of Philadelphia Sculptors have set out to interpret the Pope in their own way. The resulting works are sure to surprise and maybe delight viewers as the artists take on the difficult subject of religion. 

September 5, 6, 12, 13 & 19
Noon-5 p.m. | Free admission
Globe Dye Works
4500 Worth St.

Sherry Truck

Artist Ann Liv Young is bringing her interactive Sherry Truck ("a mobile boutique, a cafe, a therapy office and a flexible performance platform") to La Peg for Fringe. "Sherapy" sessions, mani-pedis and pink lattes will abound in this experiential performance. 

Sunday, September 13
Time & price to be determined
La Peg at FringeArts
140 N. Columbus Blvd.


These familiar faces return with new performances.

Gunnar Montana: Purgatory

Gunnar Purgatory

Photo courtesy of Gunnar Montana

Last year, he took us to the Resurrection Room; this year, he takes us to Purgatory. The choreographed and prop-heavy performance will delve into what Purgatory means outside of Sunday mass: dead-end jobs, failed relationships and pain. Montana's work is known to be inspiringly unsettling, and this year's production looks to be no different. 

September 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18, & 19
Showtimes vary | $25-35
The Latvian Society
531 N. Seventh St.

REV Theatre: They Only Come Out at Night: A Graveyard Cabaret

Graveyard Cabaret

Photo courtesy of FringeArts.

A consistent favorite (and top ticket-seller), REV Theatre Company's Graveyard Cabaret rises for its fourth year of graveyard frivolity. Head to the cemetery for drinks and a cabaret setlist that spooks and stirs the soul. Tip: Bring a beach towel.

September 11, 12, 18 & 19
7:30 p.m. | $25
Laurel Hill Cemetery
3822 Ridge Ave.

Pig Iron Theatre Company: Swamp is On

Dr. Dog Pig Iron Swamp is On

Photo courtesy of FringeArts.

Pig Iron Theatre Company has long been a staple of the Fringe Festival. This year, Pig Iron Psychedelic Signals Auxiliary partners with band Dr. Dog Pop Detachment to present a "performance-experiment," lo-fi listening experience that takes listeners back to the psychedelic pop of the '60s. Dr. Dog brings the concert; Pig Iron brings the narrative. It's part concert, part theater, part musical, part who-knows-what. Finding out that "what" is the fun.

September 9, 10, 11 & 12
8 p.m. | $30
Union Transfer
1026 Spring Garden St.


Music and musicals with a twist.

Alzheimer's: The Musical

Put away those tissues: This isn't a "Still Alice" kind of production. Actors International Theatre, which employs actors with a wide range of disabilities, puts forward a musical dramedy that demonstrates the challenges -- and, yes, the hilarities -- of living with Alzheimer's. The production, featuring the musical talents of Mark Pasquini, doubles as a fundraiser for stuttering- and Alzheimer's-supportive organizations.

September 13, 14 & 20
Showtimes vary | $20
Skinner Studio at Plays & Players Theatre
1714 Delancey Place, Third Floor

Andy: A Popera


Photo courtesy of FringeArts.

The age of Andy Warhol gets an operatic makeover in this world-premiere performance that delves into the cultural impact of the pop icon. Opera Philadelphia's partnership with Bearded Ladies Cabaret promises to be as strange as Warhol himself, using props like soup cans and a "randy banana." For: lovers of loud noises, nudity, foul language and, obviously, Andy Warhol. 

September 10, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19 & 20
8 p.m. | $30-40
Opera in the City
1526 N. American St. 

Growing Into My Beard

Bay Bryan

Photo courtesy of FringeArts.

Singer-songwriter and out-and-proud ginger Bay Bryan tells this coming-of-age story through song, improv and drag. It's comedy for both the queer and the queer at heart. Bay's taking an venue route for his performances: Join him for either his tour de Gayborhood at William Way Community Center or Tabu Bar & Sports Lounge, or track him down at Philly AIDS Thrift or 954 Dance Movement Collection. 

September 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17 & 18
Showtimes vary | $15
954 Dance Movement Collective
Locations vary


For the shallow-pocketed performance-goer. Plus, remember that student IDs nab you a discount for most shows.

The Empty Air and Anima

Rittenhouse Square

Rittenhouse Square. (Thom Carroll / PhillyVoice)

Part of Fringe's digital experience collection, this one's ideal for the cash- and time-strapped who still crave an experiential performance. Stroll through Rittenhouse Square or Race Street Pier at any time for a "sound walk," experienced through an app on your smartphone. The compositions, courtesy of The Mural and the Mint, are location-sensitive. 

September 3-19
Anytime | Donations encouraged
Rittenhouse Square and Race Street Pier

Puppetdelphia Fringe Slam


Photo courtesy of FringeArts.

Not just an inexpensive Fringe experience, but a cheap way to spend a Friday. This late-night, adults-only performance promises 75 minutes of all the wacky skits and obscene jokes you'd expect from an R-rated puppet show. It's also promising master puppeteers from Philly, New York and "beyond."  

Friday, September 11
10:30 p.m. | $10
Plays & Players Theatre
1714 Delancey Place



Photo courtesy of FringeArts.

Butter & Serve is serving up a brutal takedown of modern reality shows that play on -- exploit, even -- female caricatures. An ensemble of eight actors will recreate "The Bachelor" in a slaughterhouse in this hour-long "dark comedy." The setting is meant to allow the comedy's actors to -- symbolically, of course -- get to the guts of guilty-pleasure TV, digging out all of its stereotypes and melodrama for deeper meaning.

September 3, 4 and 5
7:30 p.m. | Free
Mascher Space Cooperative
155 Cecil B. Moore Ave.