"Get the VIP experience for only $5." No, that’s not the Kansas City Fringe Festival’s slogan, but maybe it should be.
Saturday night, I arrived at the Buffalo Room -- one of the event’s 16 venues -- and paid less than the price of happy hour sangria for a signature Fringe button. This button grants me access to theater, music, art galleries and late-night parties until the fete’s close on July 30. Each show costs $10, but you need the $5 button to get in.
But one girl can only do and see so much, even when fortified by Westport Flea Market’s curly fries (What? It’s right next to the Buffalo Room… no comment on if I was almost late to the first show). So, here’s what I saw -- so far. Meanwhile, if you’re getting your Fringe on, tweet me your raves, reviews and recs.
For the sassy, mildly panicked millennial: “Ready or Not”
Wednesday, July 26 - Friday, July 29 @ The Buffalo Room
Ever walked into a family reunion or Thanksgiving gathering only to be pestered about your love life or career? Ever heard the infamous, “I’d really like to be a grandparent someday, you know?” This relatable musical will have you cringing and sighing alongside young couple Amber (Kelsea McLean) and Justin (Colin Sandall) as they navigate a first pregnancy and a whirlwind of unsolicited advice.
For the old soul: “Write to Me”
Fri., July 28 - Sat., July 29 @ The Writer’s Place
Have you saved any old letters? I’m pretty sure I have some embarrassing, gel pen-scrawled notes I wouldn’t dare share. Actress Stephanie Roberts is braver, melding excerpts from her faded letters with impromptu requests for audience participation and live cello music from UMKC Conservatory student Alex Williams. The result is a touching, unexpected tribute to connection and strong college friendships.
For those used to sharing TMI: “The Taming of the Poo”
Tues., July 25 - Sat., July 29 @ H&R Block City Stage
Brie Henderson has made a name for herself in KC theater by saying what no one else will. This time, others have joined in: Henderson put out a call for humorously humiliating poop stories. She and her cast give voice to these anecdotes, while shedding a light on often stigmatized illnesses. You’ll likely crack up laughing, and walk away with a newfound appreciation for the poop emoji.
For the hipster: “Arc of Joan”
Thurs., July 27 - Sat., July 29 @ Musical Theatre Heritage
The story of Joan of Arc, told through the lens of reality TV? Sounds just weird enough for even seasoned showgoers. Powerful, acoustic music performances definitely stand out as the highlight of this rock opera. Bonus: writer Jen Appell stays behind after the final bow for an intimate Q&A session.
If you go
The 13th annual festival continues through July 30 at various venues. Attendees must purchase a $5 Fringe button. Tickets to each event are an additional $10. Visit kcfringe.org or call 816-359-9195.