ORLANDO – Once the music started playing, that was a signal – and a speedily well-enforced one – for the artist to halt, and make way for the next performer.
If not, a woman clad only in a bikini, and marked with artistic renderings on various parts of her body, would politely escort them off stage.
In other words, welcome to Orlando Fringe.
“This is one of my favorite events,” said George Wallace, the general manager of the 23rd Annual Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, which officially kicked off on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater.
The Fringe box office opened at 5 p.m., and began selling the Fringe buttons that patrons need to get into the long list of shows that are a part of this year’s festival, as well as the tickets to those individual shows.
And following a ribbon cutting ceremony with Mayor Buddy Dyer, Fringe began the artistic endeavors with a tradition: Fringe Preview.
There were 34 different performances at the preview, as each artist was given just two minutes to give audiences a sample of what their Fringe show was like. At the end of those two minutes, music would play, and the artist would vacate the stage to make room for the next one.
“It’s the first show, and it officially kicks off Fringe,” Wallace said.
The 90-minute preview started at 6:30, and would end in time for patrons to head out into the theaters to catch the other shows that were scheduled for opening night, starting at 8:30.
Michael Marinaccio, the executive director of Orlando Fringe, noted that one of the shows in the festival this year, the dance-burlesque-performance art favorite “Varietease” by creator Blue Star, had accomplished a happy feat.
“Today, 10 minutes before we opened, a show on Saturday night had already sold out,” Marinachio said.
Fringe Preview included a sneak peek at a long list of shows, with typically Fringie titles like “Sperm Wars,” “Sharknami: The Musical,” “Spitting In The Face of The Devil,” “My Brooklyn Hamlet – A Meshugenah True Story,” “Donating Sperm to My Sister’s Wife,” “VGL 5’4 Top,” and “A Brief History of Beer.”
Marinaccio emceed the event with artist Chase Padgett, whose show “All The New Nashville Hurricane” is also part of this year’s Fringe.
Each artist had just two minutes to do their stuff, then wave goodbye.
“The artists get a strict two minutes to get it done,” Marinaccio said at the start of Fringe Preview.
Typically of the performances was artist Sherri d. Sutton, whose Pee My Pants Production is producing “Taking Out the White Trash,” which she billed as spilling the Dirty South’s dark secrets.
“I don’t have a puppet or a big mask that is Fringie, but I do have this little show called ‘Taking Out the White Trash,’ “ she said. “You know you’re a redneck if you’ve ever shot someone. You know you’re white trash if you’ve ever shot a member of your family.”
Orlando Fringe, the oldest Fringe festival in the United States, continues through the Memorial Day weekend, with shows performed daily. Fringe buttons are $9, and individual ticket prices vary.
“As soon as this show is over,” Marinaccio added, “go out and buy tickets.”
Click on the Orlando Fringe website for a complete list of shows and ticket information.
Contact Freeline Media at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..