Organizers of the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival (Wednesday, September 12 – Saturday, September 22) announced the seventh annual festival’s entire lineup and invited Rochester to “Join the PARTY” at their BIG REVEAL press conference this morning. For the first time, Rochester’s Fringe will span 11 days, up from 10 for the past five years, and it will open on a Wednesday evening.

One of the top U.S. fringe festivals and now the largest multi-genre arts festival in New York State as well, the 2018 Rochester Fringe will offer more than 500 performances and events again this year – more than 150 of which are free of charge – in 30+ venues in downtown Rochester.

Among the free events will be Fringe’s annual, giant, outdoor, spectacle performances at Friday & Saturday on the Fringe, September 14 & 15. Last year’s U.S. debut of French street theatre company Plasticiens Volants’ indescribable BIG BANG show drew more than 20,000 attendees to Parcel 5. This year, Parcel 5 will once again host an incredible, interactive experience making its North American debut: Massaoke.

What started in a London basement in 2011 has exploded into a global phenomenon. Massaoke is a live band that plays the best-loved “hairbrush” anthems (i.e. the ones you sing into your hairbrush) from the 60’s to today while the crowd sings along, guided by big-screen lyrics. There’s no dreaded karaoke spotlight – just a euphoric celebration in which everyone sings and dances their hearts out in a communal experience that sells out at the Edinburgh and Adelaide (Australia) Fringes, the Glastonbury Festival, and many more. Massaoke is currently touring the major U.K. festival circuit.

“Part of our mission is to bring exciting, different, renowned outdoor experiences to Rochester, and we think Massaoke is exactly that,” explains Fringe Producer Erica Fee. “We're expecting Parcel 5 to feel like one last, great, summer party!"

Other Fringe headline acts include one of the world’s top comedians, Eddie Izzard, performing his Believe Me show for one night only in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre on Friday, September 21 at 7 p.m. (announced last month).

The Cristal Palace Speigeltent will reappear at One Fringe Place (corner of Gibbs and Main Streets) along with a new, world-premiere Cirque du Fringe created and hosted once again by Las Vegas duo, Matt Morgan and Heidi Brucker Morgan. This year’s Cirque du Fringe: SideShow is a fascinating blend of curiosities and feats of human performance inspired by the golden age of American circus, mixed the couple’s signature comedic shenanigans. It features thrilling performances by world-renowned acts, including: hair-hang aerialist Samantha Pitard, cyr wheel performer Yasu Yoshikawa, and Bindlestiff Family Cirkus co-founder Keith Nelson. Live music is provided by Sxip Shirey, a NYC musician and composer known for working with found objects and computer-modified instruments.

In the adjacent Spiegelgarden, Fringe favs Pedestrian Drive-In (free big-screen films using Silent Disco headphones), Dashboard Dramas (rotating plays in parked cars), and the Immersive Igloo (sound and light experience inside a giant, glowing igloo) return. NEW this year: an actual backyard attached to Abby DeVuyst and Kerry Young’s Bushwhacked tent show that creates five, new, interactive Bushwhacked Backyard events. Rotating nightly will be: Bushwhacked Backyard BONFIRE (improvised firepit comedy), Bushwhacked Backyard BBQ (improvised cook-out comedy), Bushwacked Backyard BATHTUB (improvised hot-tub comedy), Bushwhacked Backyard BURIAL (improvised, comedic wake), and Bushwhacked Backyard BETROTHAL (improvised but legal wedding or vow renewal and reception comedy. Couples may apply at

Late-night in the Spiegeltent on weekend #1: Other People’s Shows, a crowd-pleasing comedy that features Rochester’s Unleashed! Improv’s on-the-spot interpretations of other productions based on their Fringe Guide descriptions, plus wacky contests and other shenanigans.

For weekend #2, Fringe imports Shotspeare, a raucous adaptation of the Bard’s Romeo and Juliet that’s equal parts classical theatre and drinking game. With the tagline, “We Put the Lit in Literature,” Shotspeare has been a smash hit in New York City, Las Vegas, and the Adelaide Fringe.

A total sellout for six years running, Silent Disco returns for late-late night fun in the Spiegeltent. Dayside: the return of 2017’s sold-out events, Afternoon Tea and Disco Kids.

Gospel Sunday, a free event featuring the some of the best Rochester gospel music artists hosted by Reverend Rickey Harvey, returns for its sixth, standing-room-only year at Kilbourn Hall on the Fringe’s only Sunday: September 16th.

The second weekend of Fringe (Friday and Saturday, Sept. 21 & 22) offers free entertainment on Gibbs Street, including more than a dozen bands, and the third annual Fringe Street Beat. This hugely entertaining hip-hop and all-styles dance battle attracts crews from all over the Northeast to compete for a $1,500 prize (teams may sign up at Fun for the whole family, it’s also part of Kids Day on Saturday, Sept. 22 – the final day of Fringe – which includes Chalk Art, Disco Kids, a Cirque du Fringe matinee, Pumpkin-Painting and more.

Also on the 22nd, ArtAwake – the University of Rochester’s annual student-run, art-and-music festival – joins Fringe this year and takes over the former Changing Scene restaurant on the top floor of the First Federal Plaza. All ages can enjoy hundreds of artworks and live music for free from noon to midnight.

The vast majority of Fringe productions, performances, and events are booked by Fringe venues themselves from applications submitted to them by artists in April. This year’s venues (including site-specific spaces) are: The Avyarium in Village Gate, Blackfriars Theatre, Central Library (3 spaces), Eastman School of Music (3 spaces), First Federal Plaza, Garth Fagan Dance Studio, Geva Theatre Center’s Fielding Stage, Java’s Café, The Little (3 spaces), Lyric Theatre (3 spaces), Memorial Art Gallery, MuCCC, RIT City Space (250 E. Main St. by the Liberty Pole), School of the Arts (5 spaces), Village Gate, and Writers & Books. The Fringe itself adds: Gibbs Street, Gibbs St. Main Stage, Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, Parcel 5, the Speigeltent, and the Spiegelgarden. Genres are: comedy, dance, kids’ fringe, multidisciplinary, music, spoken word, theatre, and visual art & film.

“The 2018 KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival will be bigger and better than ever,” says James Barger, KeyBank Rochester Market President. “This will be our second year as title sponsor and we are so proud to help support this unique celebration of art and culture in our city. We urge everyone to come downtown in September and Join the PARTY!”

Tickets for all shows go on sale at noon today at, along with a searchable (by venue, date, and genre) schedule and full descriptions. The Fringe app will be available later this week, and the printed Guide will be distributed in August.

Rochester Fringe Festival connects and empowers artists, audiences, venues, educational institutions, and the community to celebrate, explore, and inspire creativity via an annual, multi-genre performing arts festival. The not-for-profit, 501©(3) corporation was pioneered by several of Rochester’s esteemed cultural institutions including Geva Theatre Center, the George Eastman House and Garth Fagan Dance; up-and-coming arts groups like PUSH Physical Theatre and Method Machine; and higher-education partners such as the University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology. From its five-day debut in 2012 to its 10-days in 2017 that attracted more than 78,000 attendees, the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival has become one of the fastest-growing and most-attended fringe festivals in the U.S. More than a third of the Fringe’s 500 performances in 25+ downtown Rochester venues are free and were attended by 49,000 people last year. Renowned among the world’s 200+ fringe festivals for its large-scale, outdoor, free-to-the-public performances – including the U.S. premieres of France’s Plasticiens Volants and Canada’s Circus Orange – Rochester’s Fringe was also the first fringe festival in North America to feature a Spiegeltent, which is now an annual attraction. From comedy to theatre, from music to dance, from visual art and film to spoken word, and from children’s entertainment to multi-disciplinary collaborations, the festival’s diversity also extends to venues that span the gamut from parked cars to grand theatres. Fringe’s overarching mission is to make arts readily accessible to audiences, as well as to provide a platform for artists to share their ideas and develop their skills, while stimulating downtown Rochester both culturally and economically.

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