Minnesota Fringe Festival: 2010 was a record breaker

The dust has begun to clear from the 2010 Minnesota Fringe Festival, along with attendance figures that can only be described as robust. For starters, this was the first Fringe in which more than 50,000 tickets were sold (50,256, to be precise).

Overall, Fringe attendance rose 8.7 percent compared to last year, and overall revenue increased 12.9 percent. The Fringe also took in more than $355,000 during its 11-day run, and almost 17,000 Fringe buttons were issued (buttons were required to buy tickets for shows, but were a one-time purchase).

Here are the top fifteen box-office Fringe hits (measured in overall tickets sold):

1. The Damn Audition
2. Speech!
3. O(h)
4. The Princeton Seventh
5. A Nice Guy's Guide to Awkward Sex
6. Bite Me Twilight
7. See You Next Tuesday
8. Taiko BAM!
9. Ballad of the Pale Fisherman
10. The First Five Minutes Are Slow
11. Dracula's Castle
12. Skiing on Broken Glass
13. Zombie High School
14. Fruitcake Ten Commandments From the Psych Ward
15. Untold Lies

The Fringe is a unique ecosystem; I routinely talked to people in lines for shows who were obsessively going to dozens of productions during its duration, but there was often the sense that these folks aren'tt anywhere near as avid about theater during the rest of the year.

But that's part of the point. It's a festival, after all, full of one-hour shows that offer bite-sized glimpses into theater without any trace of formality, frequently celebrating their own ramshackle nature (or their on-the-fly brilliance, when all systems are go). The Fringe opens the gates to a sprawling gamut of experiences, and this year a record number of people accepted the invitation.

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