More than 100 ticketed shows? Additional venues outside Loch Haven Park? An expansion of Visual Fringe?
Yes, it's a huge year for the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, known affectionately as "The Fringe." Its 22nd edition is the biggest yet. But don't worry: We're here to tell you what's new and give you a brush-up on how to make the most of the 14-day festival.
The Fringe opens Wednesday with a preview of visiting national and international acts. It ends Tuesday, May 28, with a comedy wrap-up show. In between, there will be a whole lotta theater, music, comedy, magic, acrobatics and even hypnosis.
You're likely to catch Frank and Fran Hilgenberg behind the bar or serving food at Theatre Downtown, the Fringe Festival's new Gold venue. Part of Orlando's arts scene for years, the theater will be a full-fledged part of the Fringe for the first time.
"The Fringe has gotten better and better over the years," Frank Hilgenberg says. "We're thrilled."
The second new venue is called The Venue. For the Fringe, its assigned color is Black. It's owned by dancer, and frequent Fringe participant, Blue. (We know, it's color confusion. Try to keep up.)
Both venues have bars, and Hilgenberg plans to have food available.
"We'll have some light bites if people need a snack," he says.
A lottery determines who presents the shows at Fringe, and ironically, Hilgenberg's theater company was not picked. He's a good sport, though, and says he's happy to host other groups: "Overall, it's a good thing."
His only concern is that as soon as the festival ends, he has only 10 days to prepare to open his own show, Tennessee Williams' "Tiger Tail."
"Immediately, we'll start building sets," he says. "We have a tight turnaround, but it's going to be worth it."
Pedicab-company owner Luke McHenry knows the Fringe. Now, he's part of it.
"I'm superexcited to be participating in any capacity," he says. "Growing up in Orlando, it's part of the culture."
The six cabs from his company, Rydes, will shuttle theatergoers from Loch Haven Park to the outlying venues. There won't be a fee; he's counting on gratuities.
"The more generous, the better," he adds, laughing, "but we're just thrilled to be part of it all."
Riding in the oversized human-powered tricycles could be great for people-watching.
"I hope people see it as a mini-show," McHenry says. "People won't necessarily need the rides; they want rides. It's part of the fun."