New York Post
Fringe in low places
By BARBARA HOFFMAN
August 12, 2010
How does a drama about the massacre in Mumbai and â€œHip Hop High: The Musicalâ€ sell out without ad campaigns or a single premiere?
When they play the Fringe, folks.
The 14th annual New York International Fringe Festival kicks off tomorrow with 197 shows â€” a few of which have already commanded enough word-of-mouth to make them instant hits.
â€œItâ€™s the only show from India this year, and they reached out to the Indian community, which really responded,â€ says Fringe artistic director Elana K. Holy of that hot ticket, â€œA Personal War: Stories of the Mumbai Terror Attacks.â€
As far as â€œHip Hop Highâ€ is concerned, she credits its cast of energetic teenagers, â€œtweeting and Facebooking,â€ with getting the word out.
With tweets or without, thereâ€™s always the hope of another â€œUrinetown,â€ the only Fringe show so far to make it all the way to Broadway.
This yearâ€™s fest, running through Aug. 29, offers the usual: a sprinkling of Shakespeare (a streamlined â€œAs You Like It,â€ the teen-friendly â€œHamlettesâ€); oodles of camp (â€œFriends of Dorothy: An Oz Cabaretâ€) and titles that might have come from Max Bialystock himself â€” take â€œJew Wishâ€ and â€œInvader? I Hardly Know Her!â€ Please.
New this year: posh digs for Fringe Central, where you can buy tix and see trailers (1 E. Eighth St., off Fifth Avenue, across the street from Otto), plus a show-finding app you can download for free from iTunes.
With $15 tickets and all the free A/C you can soak up, itâ€™s worth a gamble. Here are a few of the more promising contenders:
* Bruce Vilanch, whoâ€™s written for the Oscars, the Tonys and the Emmys, is no quitter. Heâ€™s retooled his 1978 flop musical â€œPlatinum,â€ about a comeback-hungry Hollywood climber named Lila Halliday, and cast it with Broadway stalwarts Liz Larsen (â€œHairsprayâ€) and Sarah Litzsinger (â€œBeauty and the Beastâ€).
* A real Hollywood cutieâ€™s the centerpiece of â€œJust in Time: The Judy Holliday Story.â€ Billed as â€œa fast-paced romp through the life of the Original Dumb Blonde,â€ itâ€™s full of songs and the starry crew Holliday hung with: Orson Welles, Katharine Hepburn and Jimmy Durante among them.
* Ah, Michelle Dessler: â€œ24â€ diehards still mourn her passing. So itâ€™s nice to discover the woman who played her, Reiko Aylesworth, in â€œLost and Found,â€ one of the festâ€™s few dramas, this one about a copâ€™s dysfunctional family. Another familiar face: Geraldine Librandi, who played Patty Leotardo in â€œThe Sopranos.â€
* Cinephiles should turn out in force for â€œBurning in China,â€ directed as it is by Caleb Deschanel, the cinematographer better known these days as the dad of Zooey and Emily Deschanel. Gary Mooreâ€™s show is about an American professor in China who follows his students into that pre-Twitter showdown at Tiananmen Square.
Can the Fringe be serious? This year, it just might.
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