Fringe bids farewell to most highly successful year.

The popular food and beer tent at Loch Haven Park, which was open for the entire run of Fringe, was closed up and quiet by Monday night. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

ORLANDO — The beer tent on the front lawn of Loch Haven Park was still standing on Monday evening, but there was absolutely no sign of life underneath it.
It wasn’t the after effect of the heavy rains and winds that pelted Orlando throughout the day, courtesy of Tropical Storm Beryl and the downpours that it brought to the Sunshine State. By Monday, the two-week long event known as Fringe has ceased to offer any outdoor activities.
Just the same, the 21st annual Orlando International Fringe Theater Festival, which kicked off on Wednesday, May 16 and ended on Monday, had quite a bit to celebrate on its final day, as the Lowndes Shakespeare Theatre hosted the Patron’s Picks encore performances.
Even if the food, alcohol and entertainment venues that had been housed under the food tent for the two-week-long event had packed up and moved on throughout the day on Monday, leaving behind just a vacant white tent by nightfall, there were still those nine Patron’s Picks — or shows that did the best box office receipts in their respective theater venues throughout the Fringe’s run this year.
This year’s Fringe featured 90 shows altogether.
And the significance of the Patron’s Picks in 2012 is the fact that the Fringe achieved some records this year — all of them very good news for the organizers of this annual event.
”We had 60 sold-out shows, more than we ever had before,” said George Wallace, the general manager of Fringe.
Even the final day turned out to be great for the box office, he noted, with patrons still packing into the parking lot of the Lowndes Shakespeare Theatre for their last chance to catch those nine plays.
”We had a strong start this morning, and we sold out all but two shows today,” Wallace said.
It was also very good news for the artists who took part in Fringe, he noted.
To make money, the Fringe rents out the theatrical space at Lowndes and at the Orlando Repertory Theatre to the artists who bring their shows to the festival. The Fringe organizers then charge $8 pins that the patrons need to purchase to get into any of the shows.
The artists are free to charge whatever they want for admission to their respective productions — usually at prices that range from $7 to $11, with special discounts being offered at some shows. The money generated from every ticket that gets sold is given back to the artists, and as Wallace noted, breaking box office records means more money in their pockets when the festival is over.
”We’ll return a quarter of a million dollars to the artists this year,” he said. ”Last year, we returned $163,000.”
With the beer tent closed on Monday, all the action shifted to the Lowndes Shakespeare Theatre, which hosted the Patron’s Picks. Each venue has a Patron’s Pick — the show that sells the most tickets and is scheduled for an encore performance.
This year, the nine Patron’s Picks were ”Little Shop of Horrors,” ”Blue & Tod: Too Drunk to Fringe,” ”Joan Crawford’s House Party,” ”Fosgate, Ferret Loan Officer,” ”Celebrity Squares,” ”The Worst Show in the Fringe,” ”Redlight: The Bad Girls of Broadway,” ”Cannibal! The Musical,” and ”My Exploding Family.”
Freeline Media reviewed both ”Blue & Tod” and ”Fosgate” this year, along with several other shows not selected as Patron’s Picks.
After the final encore performance ended at 9:30 p.m. Monday, patrons still had the opportunity for a final taste of Fringe. At 10 p.m., there was the ”Fringe Happy Endings Show,” with hosts Didi Panache and Lady Winifred, backed by an All-Star band, for an original Talk Show to wrap-up the 2012 Fringe.
It featured interviews with newsmakers from this year’s festival, a Fringe Abridged spoof, and a video recap of the entire event.
The Fringe organizers are also inviting everyone who attended this year — even for a single show — to participate in a 10-15 minute survey about Fringe. The purpose of the survey is to ask patrons about the festival and to give the organizers some feedback on how it went. The survey link is http://bit.ly/KeBAYP, which users can link to or copy and paste in a new browser.

Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.

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