Fringe Festival 2012: 165 shows packed into 15 days

Actors reveal the challenges of double-casting, plus our critic's picks

At least for his double duty Max Wojtanowicz won't have to leave the West Bank. He's in a two-person piece, Fruit Fly: The Musical (with Sheena Janson) at the University of Minnesota's Rarig Arena stage, while the epically titled Joe Dowling's William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet on the Moon, featuring Kate Mulgrew as Lady Capulet will be down the road a bit at Theatre in the Round Players.

Like a lot of what happens at the Fringe Festival, Wojtanowicz's participation came about while he was waiting in line for a show. In his case, it was with Natalie Novacek, director of Peanut Butter Factory's Romeo and Juliet piece. "She mentioned the idea to me and that she was going to apply this year," he says.

Wojtanowicz was eager to sign on, especially as the long-in-gestation Fruit Fly seemed to be stalled because the pair hadn't found a composer. But then through work at a songwriting collaborative called Prosody, he met Michael Gruber.

Max Wojtanowicz (left) in Fruit Fly: The Musical and Joe Dowling's William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet on the Moon, featuring Kate Mulgrew as Lady Capulet. Les Kurkendaal in A One-Way Ticket to Crazy Town!, Men's Room Etiquette and Fringe Orphans.
Taylor Paino
Max Wojtanowicz (left) in Fruit Fly: The Musical and Joe Dowling's William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet on the Moon, featuring Kate Mulgrew as Lady Capulet. Les Kurkendaal in A One-Way Ticket to Crazy Town!, Men's Room Etiquette and Fringe Orphans.

"We totally clicked, and I loved his writing style, so I got coffee with him once our song was completed and asked if he had any interest in the [Fruit Fly] project," Wojtanowicz says. "So in an attempt to motivate us to write, I applied for the Fringe lottery too, knowing there was a chance both shows might get in the festival. Well, they both did."

Movement artist Kirsten Stephens's two shows are somewhat connected: She is in a solo show, iMime, There's an App for That, and the two-person Mime Without a Mask.

"Both are mime shows, but they will be quite different," she says, noting that her solo show is "much like a live-action cartoon," while the other mixes comedy and drama with different styles: "Absurd, mime with spoken text, and the more recognized Marceau-style mime, though still without whiteface and stripes."

Stephens and Dean Hatton had done shows at the festival in the past, but she also had her solo piece in mind for 2012. "I decided to put in applications for both, honestly figuring it was unlikely both would get in," she says. "And indeed, only the solo show got in when the lottery was drawn. The other show was about 48 on the wait list. Turns out enough people dropped out and we got in in early July. So I'm in two shows," she says.

Being able to adapt is a vital skill for an actor, and many can't resist the chance to work as much as possible in a high-profile event like Fringe. The opportunity proved too enticing for San Del, who had promised himself he'd never double up on Fringe again. But he's confident the experience this year will be a good one.

"It should be less stressful than last year," he says. "But we'll see." 

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