The opening weekend of the 2014 Minnesota Fringe Festival saw steady attendance overall, and an increase in the average numbers for each performance.
There were a total of 17,700 tickets sold over the first four days of the festival. That's steady from 2013, when 80 more tickets were sold. There were fewer total performances this year, which means the average per show was about 51.
See also: Fringe days 2-4
The crowds were certainly out at many of the venues over the weekend, with sold-out performances for site-specific shows (Crime and Punishment and Into the Unreal City), ones with intriguing titles (Top Gun: The Musical), and popular returns (The Finkles Theater Show!!).
The Fringe has attracted about 50,000 ticket holders in recent years, and looks to be on schedule to do the same in 2014.
There were so many shows over the weekend that it will take a couple more days to get caught up. Here are reactions to a pair I saw Saturday.
The local troupe -- who produced the best show in last year's festival, Lolita -- didn't get into the Fringe this year until a couple of weeks ago. Instead of a remount of one of their past hits, the players decided to go for some improv. Here's the concept: At the beginning of the show, a ping-pong ball with a number between 1 and 169 is drawn. That number corresponds to one of the shows in the festival. Using just the title, a short description, and a photograph, Four Humors (and a special guest) present their interpretation of what the show is about.
Their subject Saturday afternoon? Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner. While an actual cast member of the show watched from the packed house, Four Humors and guest Mike Fotis built a very strange and very funny long-form improvisation that included the Salt Lake City Olympics, a figure skater gunned down during his final routine, and a few spare mentions of chicken along the way.
Occasional drizzle Saturday evening didn't stop this enchanting street musical, as a hardy group followed a couple through the streets of the West Bank as they experienced various moments in their relationship. There were three versions of each character, taken from different time frames. So we could watch the youngest duo hanging out in front of the old Viking Bar, while the middle and older versions of themselves looked on.
Nothing monumental happened, except that we understood a pair of everyday people a lot better, got to hear some beguiling songs (and joined them on kazoo for one tune), and got a nice walk on a Saturday night. By the end, even the sun was starting to peek out from behind the clouds.
The Minnesota Fringe Festival runs through Sunday. Visit online for more information.