For all the years I’ve lived in Orlando, and specifically in downtown Orlando, I’ve never been to the Orlando Fringe Festival. I always have heard good things, and know plenty of people that attend every year but just never got myself out there. This year I finally pulled the trigger and experienced the festivities.
We are big SAK Comedy Lab fans and heard about their show, Jekyll n’ Hyde: A Rap Musical, and pre-bought tickets. Which was a good thing, because it was a sold out performance. Arriving to the festival was very easy. Our show was at 6:15 on Friday night, so we got to the grounds around 5:15 and were able to find a free parking spot right next to the venue. We were fortunate in finding this spot because there are not many. They do have plenty of paid spots that are a little bit of a walk. There are plenty of signs to direct you to where you need to go, but even if you do get lost, it isn’t hard to find a staff volunteer to direct you to the right place. I found all of the help to be very friendly.
Once we got on property we bought our festival buttons (cash only where we were). These guys are $9 a piece and you need them in order to see any show…..but before you think what an insane deal that is….$9 to see any show at the Fringe……you still have to buy individual tickets to a specific show (there are some ticket free shows…but not many). Prices for shows ranged from $3-$11. All shows seemed to range from 30min up to 90min, but I’d say a majority are 60 min.
After buying our buttons, we headed to the beer tent. While holding my cash I realized I was the only one, everyone else was holding drink tickets. Naturally we had walked by the drink ticket stand on our way to the bar. Drink tickets are very affordable, they are $5 per ticket. The selection of beer is pretty nice, they had Bud Light, Magic Hat, RedHook, WoodChuck Cider, and 2 other micro brew beers which are all 16oz cans.
We waited for our show and did some good people watching. Fringe definitely brings out people of all kinds, young to old, wacky to weird, which is what makes it special. Plenty of Fringe performers were walking around handing out flyers and talking about their shows. It gave you a chance to really talk to them one on one, which I thought was a nice touch. While in line I noticed a small amount of concession goods inside a side gift shop. You would have never seen it unless you were standing right next to it or someone pointed it out. It was a good find, because it was super affordable; chips and popcorn were a $1, king size candy bars were $2, and fresh baked cookies were $3.
Our door opened about 10 minutes prior to our show time. For a popular, sold out show we were still in a relatively small theatre that seated no more than 200 people. Make sure to use the bathroom before hand because once the show starts, if you leave during, you will not be let back in.
Our show was very entertaining. The cast were people we were all familiar with from prior performances at SAK. It was a funny take on the old Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story but still had a very deep tone to it. The crowd was engaged but very respectful…no screaming children to be found. We didn’t stick around to much after the show, but you could have easily made an entire night there. The show list is on going and very broad.
Overall, we had a very enjoyable time at the festival. Price wise, it is a tad steep for a one show viewing, but you can tell that is not how Fringe is intended. You can easily do 2-3 shows in a night and go back 2-3 times and feel like you really got your money worth. Drinks are affordable, food trucks are available, the shows are fun, and you’re supporting the arts. I don’t know why it took me this long to go, but I’ll definitely be back, and will Fringe a little more next time.