Minnesota Fringe Fest offers 130+ shows. Here are some solid bets.

Xena and Gabrielle Smash the Patriarchy

Xena and Gabrielle Smash the Patriarchy Courtesy of Minnesota Fringe Festival

Standing in line for a show at the Minnesota Fringe Festival, you might find yourself sandwiched between a proud grandparent and an out-of-town artist wearing a clown nose, or between a curious student and a button-festooned fest vet. The Fringe can reward curiosity, but it can also punish you for it; that’s part of the fun. There’s no substitute for listening to buzz and following your heart, but here are some shows to get you started at this year’s Fringe.

Talk about wish fulfillment: The dream duo of Ariel Leaf and Nissa Nordland Morgan are starring in Xena and Gabrielle Smash the Patriarchy. While you’re wearing your midriff-baring armor, you can go see Tom Reed in the “sensual satire” of his latest one-man franchise spoof, Game of Toms.

The Winding Sheet Outfit produced one of last year’s most raved-about shows, the dark and ambitious musical Blood Nocturne. This year, they’re back with You Are Cordially Invited to the Life and Death of Edward Lear. Sheep Theater, another can’t-miss company, promises intentionally awkward laughs with A Cult Classic, about what you do when doomsday fails to arrive.

Colleen Somerville and other artists, including the hilarious actor Lauren Anderson and co-writer Shanan Custer, are behind SIZE, “a love letter to every body” that follows last year’s pointed parody Not Fair, My Lady! A stable of stars like Custer, Addie Phelps, Kelsey Cramer, and Allison Witham join reliable mischief-maker Josh Carson for the romp Mad as Nell, or How to Lose a Bly in Ten Days.

Writer/composer Keith Hovis just saw his Jefferson Township Sparkling Junior Talent Pageant make the jump from Fringe to Park Square; his latest is Edith Gets High, a 420-friendly video-game adventure that gives a new meaning to “high score.” Another company known for fun Fringe musicals takes a different tack, as South Asian Arts & Theater House (formerly known as Bollywood Dance Scene) leaves hijinks behind for an hour of community storytelling with My Kahaani.

It’s raining cats and dogs in new shows from, respectively, Couple Fight co-creator Anna Weggel and the aptly named Off-Leash Area. Weggel helms Cat Confidential: The Secret Lives of the Mothers of Lions, while Off-Leash Area’s Jennifer Ilse co-stars with Lily the Doberman in Paws ’n Effect. (The latter show is part of the Family Fringe, an overlapping juried festival that now conveniently shares ticketing with the non-juried Fringe Festival.)

It wouldn’t be Fringe without a little experimentation... and as experiments go, you’re in safe hands with ambitious artist Emily Michaels King, whose one-woman Magic Girl is a multimedia exploration of personal history and an “ode to Rainbow Brite.” Fringers always love roaming around the West Bank, and this year everyone’s going to want to try Playable Artworks’ Second Skin, “an audio-driven interactive adventure for one.”

We’ll be adventuring along with you; watch for capsule reviews after the Fringe begins.


Minnesota Fringe Festival
August 1-11;