SPECIAL REPORT: 2012 New York International Fringe Festival Preview
Ashley Wren Collins, James Fluhr, Jake Holmes, Mo Rocca, Elizabeth Claire Taylor, and Ellen Warkentine discuss their participation in FringeNYC.
Summer in New York City wouldn’t be complete without the New York International Fringe Festival– also known as FringeNYC — which is returning for a 16th year, running August 10-26. Billed as the largest multi-arts festival in North America, this year’s programming features close to 200 shows in 20 venues in Lower Manhattan.
Among the hottest tickets this year is Tail! Spin!, which has already sold out its entire run at the festival. This world premiere from Mario Correa takes a look at recent sex scandals that brought down politicians Mark Sanford, Anthony Wiener, Mark Foley, and Larry Craig through a mash-up of interviews, secret e-mails, texts, and tweets.
Comedian and CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Mo Rocca, known for his satiric wit, seems like ideal casting for the project. Explaining what drew him to the show, Rocca states, “For years I’ve tried to create my own sex scandal, but I’m just not cut out for it. I’ll have to settle for pretending to be in one.”
Rocca and his fellow castmates (which include Rachel Dratch, Sean Dugan, Dan Hodapp, and Nate Smith) play multiple roles — from the politicians themselves, to their paramours and members of the media. The actor’s favorite part to play is Today show host Matt Lauer. “He’s simply the best,” says Rocca. “Just playing him might help my interviewing skills. We work for different networks — so this isn’t sucking up.”
Another show inspired by real life is Our Lady, a solo performance by James Fluhr. The piece involves a suicidal gay teen, and has its roots firmly entrenched in Fluhr’s own life — particularly an incident in which his father saw him in drag. However, the writer/performer states, “I would never want the audience to sit through my autobiography; I want them to experience my imagination that has been affected by aspects of my life.”
To that end, he has created his title character as a kind of savior figure…with sequins. “Our Lady believes it only gets better if you fight for it,” says Fluhr, echoing the nationwide anti-bullying campaign that reaches out to LGBTQ youth. “Her character even affects me while I’m performing the show,” he continues. “She reminds me of my worth as a person and my right to live.”