The Winnipeg Fringe Festival Expands Musical Offerings

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When you think of an internationally-respected theatre festival, you don’t necessarily think of catching some of the finest local music. But the Winnipeg Fringe Festival continues its tradition of presenting some of Manitoba’s most exciting artists on its popular outdoor stage at Old Market Square this year, offering a wide variety of different musical styles.

With 23 performers ranging from rockers Joe Karma, Kim Wright and Freeman to the Abu Simbel Middle Eastern Dance to multi-national world musicians Burnt to Marcel Soulodre’s Johnny Cash tribute, this year’s outdoor stage promises a little something for everything searching for a great night of free music.

This year’s festival has expanded to 12 days, making it the longest Fringe in North America. In 2002, the Festival broke all previous records with over $62,000 people purchasing tickets for indoor shows, an 8% increase from the previous year. In 2002, 74,450 people took in the entertainment at the MTS Speedorama Outdoor Stage at Old Market Square.

Presenting live theatre in an informal, accessible and inexpensive environment, the Fringe strives to break down traditional boundaries between audience and artist, encouraging open dialogue between theatre-goers and theatre-creators. Audiences are invited to experience the work of seasoned veterans alongside that of emerging artists.

One of 2003’s most anticipated performances is the cult favourite Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which blends provocative theatre with solid rock, for those who like music in their plays. An off-Broadway that was made into a popular 2001 movie, the plot follows an “internationally-ignored” East German glam rock singer whose botched sex change operation lends itself the “angry inch” part of the title. Former Tequila Mockingbird frontman Matthew Tapscott dons Hedwig’s outrageous wig while VaGiants vocalist Joanne Rodriguez slaps on a beard to play bandmate Yitzhak, joined by singer/songwriter Shawn Bergen, and members of Joe Karma and The Fabulous Kildonans. Fans from as far away as England have flown in for this rare opportunity to see the performance in all its glory, staged at the Royal Albert Arms to give an even more authentic rock atmosphere. To date, the nightly performances of Hedwig have all played to capacity crowds.

For more information on the Fringe Festival, please visit www.mtc.mb.ca/fringe/. For more information Hedwig and the Angry Inch, please visit gethedwinnipeg.com.

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