ORLANDO – The Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival kicks off at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 16 at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, and runs through May 29. This year the nearly three-week long festival will feature the largest line-up of shows in its history.
It wouldn’t be Fringe without a healthy dose of solo performances, by artists who do comedy, magic, song and dance, even dramatic dialogues. Mark Toland has a one-man show he’s bringing to Fringe, and the title — “Mark Toland, Mind Reader” — hints at what to expect.
Toland is an award-winning mind reader based out of Chicago who has appeared on NBC, Fox, WGN, Disney, and the TEDx stage. More recently, he was named the “Top Booked Mind Reader in the U.S. & Canada” for his work as a private event entertainer for Fortune 500 Companies.
As Mark noted, this show will be a “fast-paced, interactive experience full of mind-boggling mysteries of the mind.” He plans to select audience members at random, using his skills to reveal birthdays, memories, and personal thoughts — personal information, he admits, that he couldn’t possibly know in advance.
In between, Mark will talk about his love for performing live and his quest for happiness, and he even plans to present his audience with a “mysterious final gift,” he notes.
Mark’s show won an “Audience Choice” award at the 2017 FRIGID Festival in New York City, and he’s been called “Mind Blowing!” by The Chicago Tribune, while WGN TV added, “He must be the devil!”
“I’m thrilled to bring my new show to Orlando and be a part of such an incredible festival,” Mark said. “I make my living as a corporate entertainer, but the theater is where I feel most at home.”
Freeline Media decided to find out more about what Mark will be doing at Fringe.
Freeline Media: You say you’re an expert mind reader. Okay, what do you think my first question is!
Mark Toland: Your first question will be “What do you think my first question is?” (That was cheating, though, since you sent it to me!)
FM: Hey, you’re good! So how did you get involved in mind-reading to begin with?
Mark: I was interested in magic, psychology, and theater at a young age. As I got older I was trying to find a way to make what I was doing more artistic, so I started doing mind reading shows, which seemed like a natural combination of all of my interests. I truly love being able to make people happy and add a little bit of mystery into their day.
FM: I’ve seen audience interactive magic shows at Fringe, and they’ve been a huge hit. I can imagine audience interactive mind reading can be a great deal of fun, too.
Mark: The level of interaction in my show means it’s different every single night. I never know what people are going to say or do, so it keeps me on my toes and allows every audience to know they’re experiencing something that will never happen again.
FM: One-man (or woman) shows are hugely popular at Fringe. What do you think are the challenges, and rewards, of doing solo shows?
Mark: I love doing a solo show. The biggest challenge is being able to hold an audience’s attention all on my own. My approach is to combine mind reading with storytelling. I’m not only sharing my audience’s thoughts but my own as well.
FM: Finally, what’s next for you after the Orlando Fringe.
Mark: I’m actually taking my show all over North America this summer. I’m calling it “The Mystery Tour.” I’m doing a total of six Fringe festivals this year, including FRIGID New York, Orlando, London (Ontario), Portland (Maine), San Diego, and Chicago. FRIGID already happened in February and I was lucky enough to win an “Audience Choice Award” and get a “Best Of” festival pick. I’m hoping everyone in Orlando likes the show as much as New York did!
“Mark Toland, Mind Reader” will be performed in the Purple Venue on the following dates:
* Friday, May 19 at 8:45 p.m.
* Saturday, May 20 at 10 p.m.
* Sunday, May 21 at 4 p.m.
* Tuesday, May 23 at 7:30 p.m.
* Thursday, May 25 at 7 p.m.
* Saturday, May 27 at 5:45 p.m.
* Sunday, May 28 at 12:45 p.m.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..