ORLANDO, Fla. – The longest-running Fringe Theatre Festival in the U.S. isn’t giving away its title any time soon.
Orlando Fringe is back for its 31st year with fan favorites and up-and-comers alike, putting out about 120 shows and events. During the event, which runs from May 17-30, audiences from around the world will gather at the many stages surrounding the hub of it all: Loch Haven Park.
For 14 days, performers and patrons will revel in an outpouring of arts — from plays and musicals to puppet and drag shows — for a festival Producing Artistic Director Lindsay Taylor calls life-changing.
“As someone who genuinely started her arts career 10 years ago by seeing a Fringe show, I can truly attest to the fact that it can totally change your life. Like, I would never have thought that I’d be producing artistic director of this festival without any arts experience. It gives artists a chance to grow, it gives you a chance to expand your skillset,” Taylor said.
It’s a world where risks will be rewarded and performers are encouraged to step out of their comfort zones, playing the roles of producers, writers and techs.
“You’re welcome here. You’ll find a place here. You’ll find people you want to work with that think the same way you do and there’s always a place for you here,” Taylor said.
This year, the team behind Fringe is ushering in that electric energy with the new, the old and the bold. From shuttles to ASL accessible shows to a brand-new beer crafted by Ivanhoe Brewing Company, Fringe is continuing to reach new heights.
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“I think it’s leveled up. I think it’s become more polished. But now the artists who are applying are really trying to take their shows to the next level. So the quality has definitely gone up over the last, you know, 10, 15, 20 years. And I think just on our end too, like, you’re focusing more on those attention to details, you’re pushing boundaries,” Taylor said.
Chantel Eubanks, a volunteer who’s since graduated to become the festival’s marketing manager, said it’s a great event that represents a part of the community visitors may not always get to see.
“I just noticed, like, how people can quickly become like friends waiting in lines, hanging out at the Beer Tent,” Eubanks said. “Orlando already brings like so many people because they come visit theme parks. They come just as tourists but this gives them another aspect to come to Orlando.”
Find more information about the venues, shows and tickets for this year’s festival below.
The hub for artists and audiences attending this year’s festival will be situated at Loch Haven Park, where those attending can enjoy the free outdoor stage, food and drink vendors and Fringe’s famous Beer & Booze tent. Different venues splinter out from this meeting point, playing host to the performers and patrons who come from all over the world to enjoy this festival.
The blue, orange, pink, brown and yellow venues, alongside the “Play What You Can” outdoor stage are housed in the Lowndes Shakespeare Center; the purple and teal venues are in the Renaissance Theatre; the gold venue and Club Fringe Lounge are at the Orlando Museum of Art; the green and silver venues are at the Orlando Repertory Theatre, and Kids Fringe (taking place May 21-22 and May 28-29) is in the Orlando Garden Club.
Off-campus, Bring Your Own Venue (BYOV) partners will also be offering beer, wine, liquor and restrooms for festival patrons. These locations outside the main festival area include The Abbey, Stardust Lounge and Savoy Orlando.
There are also artist-chosen venues, which will be listed on individual show programs. In the past, these site-specific locations have been as weird, wacky and imaginative as the shows themselves, whether based in a cargo van, at a swimming pool or in a public restroom.
This year, shuttles will be offered for those needing transportation to venues located outside the main festival area on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. For more information on everything from parking to shuttles to venues, visit this page.
There’s a show for everyone at the Orlando Fringe Festival, according to Taylor and Eubanks. With about 120 to choose from, and featuring players from seven different countries, there’s no shortage of art to consume.
Diehard Fringe fans will recognize a few familiar faces, including Mike Delamont, bringing back ”God Is A Scottish Drag Queen,” Chase Padgett, premiering ”Lucky Break” after successful runs with “6 Guitars” and “Nashville Hurricane,” and Michael Wanzie, serving up a sequel to the popular “Wanzie with a Z.”
“You can either laugh, you can cry, you can smile. It’s very different, like, emotions coming to the Fringe... and I think that there is like a show for everyone to see no matter how they are in the arts community,” Eubanks said.
From flashlight cabarets to Spanish language shows, Taylor said it’s hard to pick a favorite.
“I think there’s an opportunity for our audiences to connect with the artists more than they would like a traveling larger Broadway show. There’s so many times where you’ll see a show that really resonates with you and you walk outside and the artist is standing right there. And you know, you get that opportunity to tell them what their material, what their show meant to meant to you. And I think you don’t get that everywhere. But you do get that here,” Taylor said.
Improvisers and Orlando Fringe Festival enthusiasts have at least one thing in common: They know you need to find the button.
In addition to buying a ticket, those interested in seeing any ticketed Fringe shows are required to buy a $10 button, a one-time purchase used to gain access to any of the festival’s shows this year.
The Fringe button can be picked up at the festival box office, information table or BYOV location and all proceeds are used to keep the festival running.
Ticket prices for the shows range from free to $15 and go directly to the performing artists.
“There’s levels of participation and cost to each different department of our festival,” said Taylor, emphasizing how the 14-day event can be enjoyed with any budget. “It’s truly something where you can enjoy different parts of it with a budget.”
Some shows sell out fast, so it’s always recommended to buy your tickets ahead of time. Those interested can purchase tickets both in person and online.
For more information on tickets, visit the Orlando Fringe Festival website.