Shows to Watch at the 2019 Toronto Fringe Festival

Started in 1989 in response to the worldwide Fringe movement, the TORONTO FRINGE was founded by a cluster of local indie artists from the “fringes” of the performing arts community.

In its 31st year, TORONTO FRINGE continues to grow and thrive with one of the most notable line-ups to date, featuring some of Toronto’s top artists – Jake Epstein, Nina Lee Aquino, Sarah Garton Stanley, Michael Ross Albert, Jeff Lillico, Kevin Wong, Steven Gallagher, Tracy Erin Smith and more.

For the first time, Toronto Fringe will venture to the East End with 16 shows presented at main venue Streetcar Crowsnest. The TORONTO FRINGE takes place July 3 – July 14, 2019 with 151 shows at 46 venues presented across the city, and all venues are fully accessible.

In addition to this excellent line-up, the TORONTO FRINGE continues to celebrate its success with its free for all pop-up patio, POSTSCRIPT in the hockey rink at 275 Bathurst St (Dundas and Bathurst). The patio is for everyone – a lounge, an artistic hub, a community space, a full-service bar, and delicious food. POSTSCRIPT is open July 3 to 14 from noon until 2am each evening, (and 4am on Saturdays) and will feature a free for all schedule of music, art installations, and surprise guests.

The TORONTO FRINGE is getting even more savvy and technical this season, with its first ever podcast, presented by CBC’s PlayME Podcast hosts Laura Mullin and Chris Tolley, which will take guests from venue to venue, and reveal wonderful anecdotes about the Festival’s 31-year history.

The TORONTO FRINGE will again feature KIDSFEST, with 7 shows for young audiences all at the George Ignatieff Theatre. Right next door to the theatre, kids and their families can play at the KIDSFEST CLUB, a free outdoor clubhouse with creative play stations, workshops, a bouncy castle, and more.

THE TORONTO FRINGE LINEUP HIGHLIGHTS:

Legendary Canadian actor Jake Epstein will be presenting Boy Falls From The Sky: Jake Epstein Live at Supermarket, about the ups and downs of pursuing a successful career on Broadway; Factory Theatre Artistic Director Nina Lee Aquino, winner of the Margo Bindhardt and Rita Davies Award for Cultural Leadership, directs a play for young audiences called Through the Bamboo; solo performer Tracy Erin Smith and Associate Artistic Director of English Theatre at the National Art Centre Sarah Garton Stanley present The Big House, Tracy’s most personal show to date; and the popular comedy troupe Tita Collective presents Tita Jokes, a spice girls comedy with a Filipina twist.

See outstanding new musicals by leading artists, including the site-specific audio/musical play Scadding, by renowned Toronto theatre company Common Boots Theatre, created by John Gzowski, Jennifer Brewin, and Alex Bulmer; the original love story Unraveled by Andrew Seok, and starring award-winning actor Jeff Lillico; a story of illness, grief and resilience, Every Silver Lining, directed by Jennifer Stewart, and composition and lyrics by Allison Wither; the award-winning comedy High School High, directed by Al Connors, and produced by Toasted Theatre; an examination of mental health and anxiety in adults, The Huns, by Dora nominated musical theatre writer Michael Ross Albert, and directed by the Associate Artistic Director of Crow’s Theatre, Marie Farsi; and last but not least, Drama 101, by Fringe veterans Steven Gallagher, and Kevin Wong, a true to life story told by young artists aged 13 – 19.

Enjoy powerful productions created and performed by women, based on current topics, including The Weight of it All, a new play about the lack of understanding or focus on women’s reproductive health, created by Gillian Bartolucci, and directed by Carly Heffernan; Clotheswap, made up of an entire female cast and crew, celebrating women through fact, fantasy and fabric, featuring Amanda Barker, Dale Boyer, and Ashley Comeau; Emotional Labour, a show for outspoken women and non-binary people who are exhausted by interactions with the men in their lives, created by Luis Fernandes, and Jess Beaulieu; and a feminist adaptation of James Joyce’s Ulysses, Molly Bloom, produced by Fourth Gorgon Theatre.

TORONTO FRINGE also features a slew of powerful comedies, including Moving On, set in a one-bedroom Toronto apartment moments before the 2018 Cannabis Act by Elmar Maripuu, and directed by Helly Chester; Carpe Into My DMs, a post-apocalyptic sketch comedy revue, directed by Second City Alumnus, and multiple award winner, Alastair Forbes; Fringe veterans Aaron Jan and Madeleine Brown present News Play, the story of a small town newspaper in the modern age of fake news; and the musical comedy Death Ray Cabaret, by Fringe veterans and Dora Award nominees Jordan Armstrong and Kevin Matviw.

THE SWEET CANADIAN MUSICAL:

BE KIND REWIND
COMPANY / CREATOR: EDGE OF THE SKY
VENUE: RANDOLPH THEATRE
Judy Blume meets High Fidelity in this funny, heart-warming coming-of-age story.

BOY FALLS FROM THE SKY: JAKE EPSTEIN LIVE AT SUPERMARKET
COMPANY / CREATOR: PAST FUTURE PRODUCTIONS
VENUE: SUPERMARKET
He’s been “that guy from Degrassi”, then starred on Broadway in Beautiful and as Spider-Man. Now through funny and revealing stories and songs, he shares the rejection, stage fright and heartbreak behind a seemingly successful career.

CLITORIA: A SEX-POSITIVE SUPERHERO!
COMPANY / CREATOR: LAURA BAILEY MUSIC
VENUE: THEATRE PASSE MURAILLE MAINSPACE
A sexually-repressed high school science teacher accidentally turns herself into a sex-positive Vixen of Kink through a science experiment gone wrong. As the Ontario sex-ed curriculum is scrapped, Clitoria’s transformation wreaks havoc on her square life and her square fiancé.

DRAMA 101, A NEW MUSICAL
COMPANY / CREATOR: BRAVO ACADEMY FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
VENUE: ROBERT GILL THEATRE
You gotta start somewhere. When the students of Roselawn High School gather to reminisce about their favourite drama teacher, secrets are revealed, old rivalries resurface, and love blossoms.

EVERY SILVER LINING
COMPANY / CREATOR: SILVER LINING PRODUCTIONS
VENUE: AL GREEN THEATRE
An original, dramatic, coming-of age musical about illness and the perseverance of life; juxtaposing the joyful naiveté of youth, and the crushing discovery of mortality.

HIGH SCHOOL HIGH
COMPANY / CREATOR: ALLI HARRIS
VENUE: FACTORY THEATRE STUDIO
From the team who brought you Lauren and Amanda Do It at 2019’s Next Stage Theatre Festival comes a solo-musical-comedy about how much high school freakin’ SUCKS, MAN.

UNRAVELLED – A NEW MUSICAL
COMPANY / CREATOR: CHAOS & LIGHT
VENUE: GRACE TORONTO CHURCH
“Romeo & Juliet,” “Orpheus & Eurydice,” and “The Gift of The Magi” are brought together in this new musical by Andrew Seok – writer of the 2016 Fringe hit, “ECHOES.”

COMEDY CRAZE:

THE BALLAD OF FRANK ALLEN
COMPANY / CREATOR: WEEPING SPOON PRODUCTIONS
VENUE: VALDIMIR INSTITUTE
Weeping Spoon Productions From the bizarre mind of Aussie Fringe-favourite Shane Adamczak (Zack Adams) and Al Lafrance (I Think I’m Dead) comes an award-winning sci-fi buddy-comedy about a tiny man who lives in another man’s beard.

CARPE INTO MY DMS


COMPANY / CREATOR: WE ARE SPORTS
VENUE: AL GREEN THEATRE
In a post-apocalyptic world, only a few millennials-and their smartphones survive.

DANDELION
COMPANY / CREATOR: ALASTAIR KNOWLES
VENUE: RANDOLPH THEATRE
Jaw-dropping physicality, spot-on comedic timing, and live science experiments, Malkin dives into the boundless imagination of his 5-year old child.

DEATH RAY CABARET
COMPANY / CREATOR: DEATH RAY CABARET
VENUE: THE MONARCH TAVERN
Second City veterans Jordan Armstrong and Kevin Matviw are back from the Edinburgh Fringe with a quick-witted musical comedy show that explores everything from libraries to a graveyard bash.

THE HUNS
COMPANY / CREATOR: ONE FOUR ONE COLLECTIVE
VENUE: STREETCAR CROWSNEST GULOIEN THEATRE
The morning after a break-in at a tech company, a professional conference call devolves into a brutal showdown between three co-workers.

MIDDLE RAGED
COMPANY / CREATOR: GARY PEARSON
VENUE: ROBERT GILL THEATRE
Middle Raged is a hilarious sketch comedy, starring Geri Hall (22 Minutes, Second City), and Gary Pearson (MadTV, Sunnyside), that explores the ridiculous nature of life from 30 to 65, when the bloom is off the rose, but the thorns are sharper than ever.

ABOVE & BEYOND

COMPANY: JACKIETOL PRODUCTIONS
PLAYWRIGHT/CREATOR: JACLYN TOLEDANO

Offering a humorous look on office politics, this sketch style show follows BFF co-workers Jaime and Nicole as they try to survive their dead end sales job in the educational travel industry.

MOVING ON
COMPANY / CREATOR: STONE BAY PRODUCTIONS
VENUE: THEATRE PASSE MURAILLE MAINSPACE
Limes vanish, plants move, Kyle’s ex-girlfriend hides all over his apartment. Her brother’s traditional grow-op faces the challenge of legal cannabis.

NEWS PLAY
COMPANY / CREATOR: LAL MIRCH PRODUCTIONS
VENUE: ANNEX THEATRE
After botching a major publishing deal, two estranged children’s book writers return to their hometown to revitalize the local newspaper.

OLD FART
COMPANY / CREATOR: THEATRE PRAXIS
VENUE: FACTORY THEATRE MAINSPACE
Old Tom is a quirky Old Fart who takes you through the joys and challenges of living long, laughing hard and loving deeply. Stories, jokes, songs, tears and mostly laughs.

THREE MEN ON A BIKE
COMPANY / CREATOR: PEA GREEN THEATRE GROUP
VENUE: TARRAGON THEATRE MAINSPACE
From the company that brought you the award-winning Toronto Fringe smash hit Three Men in a Boat. Based upon the further writings of Victorian author Jerome K. Jerome.

Congratulations!


COMPANY: PHAT ARTIST
PLAYWRIGHT/CREATOR: COURTNEY GILMOUR

Comedian Courtney Gilmour presents her new, one-person show. A story of achievement, embarrassment, and self-worth told through the milestones of multiple limb amputee Courtney Gilmour.

PROUDLY FEMINIST:

AN ATLAS, A NECKTIE & OTHER CONCERNS
COMPANY / CREATOR: PERIOD. PRODUCTIONS
VENUE: TARRAGON THEATRE MAINSPACE
A peculiar escape room. Trapped inside, four 30-something friends with very different takes on the best life path: the sensible nine-to-fiver, the party fiend, the ambitious artiste and the gentle peacekeeper with a life-changing secret.

CLOTHESWAP
COMPANY / CREATOR: LADYBROS
VENUE: TEXTILE MUSEUM OF CANADA
An empty house, a dead grandmother, and too many clothes. This coproduction with The Textile Museum of Canada examines the seams of empathy among women, the high cost of fast fashion, and the stories our bodies tell.

ELBOW ROOM
COMPANY / CREATOR: GLORIA GRETHEL PRODUCTIONS
VENUE: ANNEX THEATRE
Saada, Nancy, and Kia are forced to holdup in a room with casting assistant Hanna, awaiting the start of a callback audition for the female lead in a Black action film.

EMOTIONAL LABOUR
COMPANY / CREATOR: CRIMSON WAVE PRODUCTIONS
VENUE: FACTORY THEATRE STUDIO
Women far too often have to carry the emotional load in their relationships with men. And it’s a load of exhausting, rage-inducing bullshit.

HERBEAVER
COMPANY / CREATOR: HERBEAVER
VENUE: FACTORY THEATRE STUDIO
Herbeaver is an all-female, sketch comedy troupe from Toronto, ON. In this show they indulge in mocking the world around them at every opportunity, using musical comedy, satire, and absolute idiocy; and they always keep it fast-paced,
feminist, and in your face.

IT GIRLS
COMPANY / CREATOR: EMILY RICHARDSON
VENUE: FACTORY THEATRE MAINSPACE
15 years after their dramatic split, the It Girls are reuniting for one night only! But can the band put their issues aside and just focus on the music? The answer is no. 100% no.

MOLLY BLOOM
COMPANY / CREATOR: FOURTH GORGON THEATRE
VENUE: HELEN GARDINER PHELAN PLAYHOUSE
“Genius.” “Bawdy.” “Nothing but praise.” Molly Bloom is an original adaptation of James Joyce’s Ulysses’ final chapter.

SARAH AND LUCY
COMPANY / CREATORS: RUNAWAY HOTEL KOLLECTIVE
VENUE: TARRAGON THEATRE EXTRASPACE
Inspired by the acclaimed series, these Trailer Park gals, Sarah and Lucy, come into the limelight and speak up for themselves. Yeah, that’s right, boys! We got something to say!

TITA JOKES
COMPANY / CREATOR: TITA COLLECTIVE
VENUE: TARRAGON THEATRE MAINSPACE
Meet the Spice Girls of Comedy with a Filipina Twist. They sing, they dance, and they’re going to make you snort your halo-halo through your nose in laughter.

THE WEIGHT OF IT ALL
COMPANY / CREATOR: HAGGARD B PRODUCTIONS
VENUE: THEATRE PASSE-MURAILLE BACKSPACE
Comedian Gillian Bartolucci balances the pressures of diet culture, fertility issues, and the ongoing struggle for self-acceptance through full bodied comedy, characters, truths, songs, dance and fibroids.

NOTABLE PICKS:

HEART OF MATTER
COMPANY / CREATOR: FROG IN HAND
VENUE: TRINITY-ST. PAUL’S UNITED CHURCH GYM
Heart of Matter is a dance meditation on memory and the special artifacts that spark recollection. It is dedicated to the objects we keep or forget. Choreographed by Colleen Snell.

OUVRE LE PORTE, FERME LE BOUCHE
COMPANY / CREATOR: FMV THEATRE CO
VENUE: FACTORY THEATRE STUDIO
A story of vulnerability and connection. Ouvre Le Porte, Ferme Le Bouche is a relatable exploration of the challenges of communication directed by Kevin Vidal (Come from Away, Second City Toronto) and Ashley Botting (CBC’s Because, News).

SCADDING
COMPANY / CREATOR: COMMON BOOTS THEATRE
VENUE: SCADDING COURT COMMUNITY CENTRE
Grab your headphones and favourite pair of shoes for this walkabout audio play. 5 mini-plays (produced with binaural recording, music and sound effects) bring to life the hidden, hilarious life of Scadding Court. This immersive audio play bursts open the box of radio drama.

THE BIG HOUSE
COMPANY / CREATOR: SOULO THEATRE
VENUE: FACTORY THEATRE MAINSPACE
When you’re a little kid and your Dad goes to jail, does a part of you go with? Fringe favourite Tracey Erin Smith
is back in her most personal show yet.

THE KNITTING PILGRIM
COMPANY / CREATOR: ERGO ARTS THEATRE
VENUE: BLOOR STREET UNITED CHURCH
THE KNITTING PILGRIM explores Kirk’s artistic and spiritual journey knitting Stitched Glass, 3 large tapestries, designed in the style of stained glass windows. What he thought would take 10 months to finish, took 15 years. Bring your own knitting to knit while you watch.

THROUGH THE BAMBOO
COMPANY / CREATOR: UWI COLLECTIVE
VENUE: FACTORY THEATRE MAINSPACE
Inspired by Philippine mythology, and directed by Nina Lee Aquino, THROUGH THE BAMBOO is an action-packed adventure about family, grieving and the value of storytelling.

2019 NEW PLAY CONTEST WINNER:

CHECKPOINT 300
COMPANY/ CREATOR: Tamaya Productions
VENUE: FACTORY THEATRE MAINSPACE
Inspired by true events. The first female soldier protecting the border, one relentless reporter looking for the truth. Two families living in ongoing conflict on different sides of the Checkpoint, one life changing incident, loved ones lost will haunt their choices forever. The New Play Contest is generously supported by the Aubrey and Marla Dan Charitable Foundation.

2019 24 HOUR PLAYWRITING CONTEST WINNER:

LET’S TALK
COMPANY / CREATOR: ILANA LUCAS
VENUE: THEATRE PASSE-MURAILLE MAINSPACE
It’s 2029, and Bell is removing the last payphone in Toronto. Annie can’t let that happen, because there’s a very important call she has to make. A love story. This show will be presented as a staged reading. The 24 Hour Playwriting Contest is generously supported by Centennial College – School of Communications, Media, Arts & Design.

2019 ADAMS PRIZE WINNER:

THE BREAK-UP DIET
COMPANY / CREATOR: ANGUS BLUE
VENUE: ROBERT GILL THEATRE
“That moment his eyes flitted to his cell phone on the desk beside me. And I knew.” Betrayal, lies, truth, online dating! Poor life choices punctuated with original alternative songs. The Adams Prize is generously supported by the Pat & Tony Adams Freedom Fund for the Arts.

POSTCRIPT (TORONTO FRINGE POP-UP PATIO) HIGHLIGHTS:

July 3 – OPENING NIGHT FESTIVITIES
Fringers don their costumes, hold their posters up high, and parade through Trinity Bellwoods Park to POSTSCRIPT to kick off the 31st festival! In addition, speeches by MPP Chris Glover and City Councillor Joe Cressy

July 3, 10, 14 – STORIES FROM THE FRINGE
Artists, staff, volunteers, friends, and more share their stories from Fringe’s past.

July 6 – THE MAIN INGREDIENT SILENT DISCO
Back by popular demand! Party until the early morning without annoying the neighbours. Grab a pair of free headphones and dance to DJ sets only you and your friends can hear.

July 3, 11 – SIGNATURE QUEEN COCKTAIL SERIES
Nickel9 Distillery brings their popular series of signature cocktails inspired by local drag queens to POSTSCRIPT.

July 9 – COMEDY NIGHT
A free night of stand-up comedy by some of Toronto’s funniest folks, featuring Hisham Kelati, Allie Pearse, Carol Zoccoli and headliner Arthur Simeon.

July 10 – NEXT GEN NIGHT
Discover some of Toronto’s newest writers and performers. Talented youth from The AMY Project and The Paprika Festival take over the POSTSCRIPT stage and perform their latest work – Generously supported by Neville Austin.

July 11 – FUCK SHIT UP CABARET
Hell no, you can’t erase us! Hosts Babia Majora and Fluffy Soufflé bring their cabaret to the patio, featuring a killer line-up of trans and non-binary performers.

July 12 – AWARDS NIGHT
Raise a glass to this year’s award winners, including Patron’s Picks, various Best of Fringe lists, Tosho Cutting Edge Award, Second City and Comedy Bar Award, David Seguin Memorial Award for Accessibility in the Arts, and many more.

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