WXXI AM News

Jeff Spevak

Jeff Spevak

Here’s what large-scale public events such as the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival tell us: The streets are not simply for cars.

Amanda Searle

The windows of the food trucks were battened down, and potted shrubs rolled across the Speigelgarden as torrents of rain whipped down Gibbs Street Friday at about 6:15 p.m. and through the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival. Day 10 of the 11-day event. The first day of bad weather. The 40-foot wide Immersive Igloo had been deflated as a precautionary measure, the bands were in hiding. But inside Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, Eddie Izzard was coming out to play.

Fred SanFilipo / for WXXI News

It took 4½ decades for Garth Fagan Dance to get around to writing a piece about Frederick Douglass. But the wait is nearly over.

The nationally recognized Rochester contemporary dance ensemble is airing a few sections of the new work on the iconic Rochester abolitionist at this year’s KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival. Along with right-hand man Norwood Pennewell’s new work in progress, “Distant Kin,” it’s clear that Garth Fagan Dance is not leaping on its laurels. 

Jeff Spevak

No historical figure or cultural celebrity is safe from the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival.

Not the living: Cher, Tina Turner, Celine Dion, Liza Minnelli and Leontyne Price. Not the dead:

William Shakespeare, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass, Josephine Baker, Oscar Wilde, Toulouse Lautrec, the drag queen Divine, the theologian and philosopher Teilhard de Charidin.

Jeff Spevak

On a day where millions of Americans were frantically Googling “Mario Kart,” Unleashed! Improv was reminding its audience on Day Seven of the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival that walking in on your parents while they’re having sex is comedy gold.

Jeff Spevak

These KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival shows are like chasing lightning bugs across a hillside. For most of the shows, you get one, two, maybe three looks at them. And that’s it. They’re gone.

Jeff Spevak

EstroFest claims to be “an equal-opportunity offender.” What does that mean? And what does it mean when the young, extraordinarily talented young woman who writes and stars in a one-person musical comedy, Mo-to-the-oncle, rolls out character after character that seem rooted in stereotypes?

Jeff Spevak

Rochester’s PUSH Physical Theatre has established itself as one of the foundation acts of the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival. It is essential viewing each year: What amazing stories will it tell, through the simple act of moving one’s body?

On Saturday, Day Four of the 11-day festival, PUSH took its audience to laughs, tears, and to the stars. True comedy carries with it elements of poignancy and sadness. And something grander than the joke.

Fred SanFilipo / Fred SanFilipo

It was the biggest gig in the short history of Massaoke, but the band’s expectations were low. Sure, it was the Glastonbury Festival. But the band was playing at 5 in the afternoon.

To its surprise, the show was packed. Except, “People were crying,” says drummer Mat Morrisroe. “They had been showing the Amy Winehouse documentary right before we played.”

Nevertheless, the band played on. And the crowd stayed. “We thought: This actually worked in front of a crowd of people,” keyboardist Mark Nilsson says.

Jeff Spevak / for WXXI News

Two days into the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival, and already we have a bold statement on these times. Words, and music, coming back to us from 150 years ago.

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