The 2008 Cincinnati Fringe Festival is history, after 12 days of theater, dance and music performances. Featuring 37 different shows (every one was reviewed by CityBeat on this blog), the festival offered 170 performance opportunities.
In this fifth year, the Fringe set new records and really felt like it hit its stride. Audience attendance was up 12 percent from 2007, to nearly 6,500 people watching shows; the sale of passes admitting purchasers to multiple shows saw a 44 percent increase this year. Eric Vosmeier, producing director of the Fringe, says, "The 2008 Festival proves that we're still growing."
This year's festival offered the best balance of high-quality shows in Cincinnati Fringe history. I attended three shows on the final evening (June 7) — Mortem Capiendum, Anna the Slut and the (Almost) Chosen One and Oatmeal and a Cigarette — each of which had full houses, and the latter two were standing-room-only by show time. I witnessed about half of the 37 productions (and had to hustle to see that many); I edited all of CityBeat's reviews, which included eight "Critic's Picks." Virtually every production had partisans, and there was considerably commentary from readers on this blog.
The Fringe also awards recognition for favorite shows. Based on a poll of critics the "Critics' Pick of the Fringe Award" was handed to Oatmeal and a Cigarette, a work by Bad Dog! Productions from Ithaca, N.Y. The "Producers' Pick" went to Mortem Capiendum by Four Humors Theatre from Minneapolis. The "Audience Pick" was awarded to Don't Make Me Pull This Show Over: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Parenting, a song cycle with lots of local talent, staged by director Richard Hess (his fourth consecutive year of having a show picked as one of the Festival's best) with Terry LaBolt music directing 18 tunes by the team of Richard Oberacker and Robert Taylor. (The show will be more fully staged at Ensemble Theatre in April 2009.)
It should be noted that the latter category had very close voting: Announcing the winners from the stage at Know Theatre on Saturday evening, Vosmeier noted that Body Language: A Radical Truth, created locally by Stacy Sims and a team of young women, came close to being the audience favorite. The Fringe organizers also announced a special recognition for The Dance: The History of American Minstrelsy by Inthacut, Inc. from Los Angeles.
Two films shown during the "Visual Fringe" were also cited: The "Producer's Flick of the Fringe" was The Job by Flaming Frog of Los Angeles; the "Audience Flick" was The Emulsion by Cider Mill Productions from Cincinnati.
I have just one question: How soon is the next Fringe Festival? (Be patient: It's back in June 2009.)
— Rick Pender