Fringe Festival 2021

Ashleigh Deskins / WXXI

Searching for spirituality in ‘Remnants’

Just a few moments into Friday’s KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival show “Remnants,” at Ellison Park, I became ashamed of my inferior spirituality.

The park, just off of Interstate 490 and Blossom Road, is home to the remnants of Rochester’s long-ago heritage. A replica of Fort Schuyler. And the spirituality of the Haudenosaunee people.

Ashleigh Deskins / WXXI

After five decades, Garth Fagan Dance continues to evolve. It must, if it is to survive. The pandemic has shaken all of the dance world down to the pointe technique of its toes.

Ashleigh Deskins / WXXI

What a bargain: For a mere $8, Rochester’s Unleashed! Improv offers a quick synopsis of any show at Rochester Fringe. Imagine! You only need to go to this one show — “Unleashed! Improv Presents: Other People’s Shows” — during the entire 12 days of the festival! This one! It’s all the exclamation points you need!


It’s not that Rachel McKibbens has an issue with a cappella. 

But “unlike other venues,” she says, “it would have been a risk for us to book the YellowJackets.”

As the 12-day KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival unfolds, the University of Rochester vocal group is the last thing that the usual unusual clientele of The Spirit Room would expect to find there. Not in the midst of all those skulls and voodoo tchotchkes and drag queens.

Ashleigh Deskins / WXXI

The glittering mirror ball overhead, a thumping disco version of “Let the Sunshine In,” and the promise of karaoke to come signaled that the “Cirque du Fringe: AfterParty” would be delivered with a hefty portion of not-so-well-aged cheese.

Tuesday’s opening night of the 10th annual KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival delivered what we’ve come to expect: sideshow shenanigans that ranged from the downright stupid to the astounding, presented by Las Vegas showman Matt Morgan.

Rochester Fringe Festival

The KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival opens Tuesday, with more than 425 live and virtual performances over the next 12 days. But after more than 18 months of COVID-19 caution, what will Rochester Fringe look like?

Will the pandemic blunt the rapid growth of this event, now in its 10th year?