The Fringe A to Z

An opinionated guide to the New York International Fringe Festival

Oingo Boingo

Before Danny Elfman became a soundtrack superstar (Batman, The Simpsons), he fronted this geeky '80s new wave band, whose oeuvre now forms the basis for the jukebox musical Only a Lad.


Rainy Days & Mondays (see "X").
photo: Chiun-Kai Shih
Rainy Days & Mondays (see "X").

New York's finest get a coming-out shout-out in the real-life confessional Blue Balls: In & Out of Uniform With the NYPD.


To celebrate their 10th anniversary as well as the Fringe's, the 24 Hour Company will revive for the first time 25 of their favorite shows—all of them originally written, rehearsed, and performed in 24 hours. Among the playwrights revisited in 24 Is 10: The Best of the 24 Hour Plays are Warren Leight, David Lindsay-Abaire, Teresa Rebeck, Will Eno, and Jeff Whitty.


The ironic subtitle of choice (The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Romantic Comedy; Henry Kissinger: A Romantic Comedy).


One is definitely not the loneliest number at Fringe. Almost three dozen monologues compete for the limelight, including Mike's Incredible Indian Adventure, Mike Schlitt's experiences directing a 40-city tour of They're Playing Our Song in India; Fornicationally Challenged, Judi Lee Brandwein's dating-scene confidential; Will Bligh's self-explanatory A One-Man Hamlet; and Christine Simpson's autobiographical twist on '80s nostalgia Take On Me (adoption, addiction, and a-ha).


Available now at FringeCentral (27 Mercer Street, 212-279-4488) or online at


The high-water mark for Fringe success, this musical satire made a splash at the '99 festival and went on to become an Obie- and Tony-winning hit. (See also "Tough Act to Follow.")


Historically, the Fringe's tragic flaw. A spokesperson assured us all 21 indoor venues this year are air-conditioned (a far cry from 1997, when only three of the 20 were). But it's still a toss-up whether the Freon will hold up to full houses, theatrical lighting, 16-hour days, and record-breaking temperatures.


Two shows find bargain-basement inspiration in the world's largest retailer–corporate villain. Walmartopia the Musical! is set in a not-too-distant future, when the big-box giant has taken over the universe. "Yes," the press release warns, "the musical features the singing head of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton." Walton faces another David-Goliath matchup in The Saints of Festus, whose drunken, Bible-thumping quilting bee is hell-bent on the store's destruction.


One of the many controlled substances bound to make a cameo appearance in Rainy Days & Mondays , a comic drama about gay circuit parties. Just one note, though: It's the wrong title for a show set in the '90s.


Bad feng shui. According to The Yellow Wallpaper's producers, "This dark and disturbing reinvention of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's haunting story explores a woman's descent into madness and the creepy yellow wallpaper that drove her there." We don't know whether to call a psychiatrist or an interior decorator.


Remember those stories last year about the gay penguins at a German zoo? We forgot about them the minute the controversy died down, but now they're the protagonists of a comedy called The Penguin Tango. No animals were harmed in this production, only non-Equity actors.

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