7 Fringe Alumni That Moved On Beyond the Festival

7 Fringe Alumni That Moved On Beyond the Festival

By Doug Strassler

August 9, 2012


"Matt and Ben"
This year’s New York International Fringe Festival boasts roughly 200 shows, all of which are hoping that the festival might be the beginning of a longer life onstage. And their aspirations are not unwarranted. Quite a few FringeNYC graduates have gone on to achieve further success, both on the New York stage and around the country, not to mention launching the careers of some very talented artists.

Here are a few Fringe alumni that have gone on to bigger things!


“21 Dog Years”
Long before achieving infamy with “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” monologist Mike Daisey achieved fame with “21 Dog Years.”  By now it feels like a period piece. Daisey, an Amazon.com employee, reflects on the turn-of-the-last-century tech boom and bust. Daisey’s show was more than just a rant or a cautionary tale. It was fast-paced comic exploration of just how easy it is for the idea of easy money to seduce even the sanest, savviest of money holders. And while Daisey’s storytelling accountability has recently been called into question, there is no doubt that this show gave birth to a passionately prolific career that includes such shows as “The Ugly American,” “How Theater Failed America,” and “The Last Cargo Cult.” 


“Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical”
While based on the famed pornographic movie, this musical adaptation does not contain any onstage nudity or simulated sex. Instead, librettist Susan L. Schwartz and composer Andrew Sherman (with additional music and lyrics from Jonathan Callicutt) focused on the movie’s central premise: high schooler Debbie and her friends’ goal to become cheerleaders for the Dallas Cowboys. After its Fringe run, the show played the Jane Street Theater with future Tony nominee Sherie Rene Scott playing Debbie, with additional versions touring not only the United States but Australia as well. This show also likely inspired the less successful Off-Broadway show “The Deep Throat Sex Scandal.”


(Photo by Joan Marcus)

“Urinetown”

This little comedy that could – ostensibly about a city whose lengthy drought has allowed corporate monoliths to overrule the very private practice of bathroom use – had something for everyone. There’s color commentary on such hot-button topics as capitalism and the law, knowing send-ups of Broadway musical tropes, insider in-jokes about such works as Marc Blitzstein’s “The Cradle Will Rock,” and fun characters, including Tony nominee Spencer Kayden’s Hope Cladwell. No wonder it made it all the way to the Broadway stage! The show ran for nearly 1,000 performances and earned 10 Tony nominations, winning two, and made a star out of Hunter Foster. (This show hit Broadway the same year his sister Sutton Foster won the Tony for “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” which also beat “Urinetown” for the best musical award.)


“Matt and Ben”
College friends Mindy Kaling and Brenda Withers wrote and starred in this humorous look at Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, in which the actors dragged it up to play the male stars, respectively. Written at a nadir in both of the men’s careers, “Matt and Ben” posited that the two friends couldn’t have possibly written their Oscar-winning screenplay  for “Good Will Hunting.” Instead, it literally fell out of the sky and into their laps. The comedy was named one of Time magazine’s "Top Ten Theatrical Events of The Year.” And Kaling? After spending eight years as a writer and star of “The Office,” she’s about to embark on her own TV series, “The Mindy Project,” which premieres this fall on Fox.


“Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead”
“Dog Sees God,” penned by Bert V. Royal, is an unauthorized parody of Charles Schultz’s “Peanuts” in which all characters have gone to seed in their teen years. Drug abuse, eating disorders, teen violence, and suicide run rampant throughout the show. You might not even recognize some of the characters. Charlie Brown is now CB, mourning his dead dog and falling for Beethoven (a surrogate for Schroeder), an outcast since revealing sexual abuse by his father. Meanwhile, CB’s Sister (Sally) has gone goth and Van (Linus) has become a pothead. You’d also be surprised by some of the actors who have played this show in its various incarnations in New York, Los Angeles, and London, following its 2004 Fringe run. Actors such as Alison Pill, John Gallagher, Jr., Logan Marshall Green, Anna Paquin, America Ferrera, Ian Somerhalder, and Eliza Dushku have appeared in the show.


(Photo by Carol Rosegg)

“Triassic Parq the Musical”

“Triassic Parq,” a 2010 Best Musical winner at FringeNYC, just recently concluded an Off-Broadway run at the Soho Playhouse. With a cast that included Lindsay Nicole Chambers, Brandon Espinoza, Wade McCollum, Claire Neumann, Lee Seymour, Shelley Thomas, and Alex Wyse, “Triassic” follows a group of cloned dinosaurs questioning such philosophical topics as sexual preference, gender identity, morality, and faith in hilarious fashion. Authors Marshall Pailet, Bryce Norbitz, and Stephen Wargo even managed to throw in a tribute to that most ubiquitous of narrators, Morgan Freeman. Expect to see more of this frothy and occasionally filthy musical in the future.


“Silence! The Musical”
Hannibal Lecter appears to be the gift that keeps on giving! In 2005, Jon and Al Kaplan debuted a comedic musical version of the 1991 Oscar-sweeping thriller that put serial killing and cannibalism in vogue. With song titles including “Are You About a Size 14?”, “Quid Pro Quo,” and “Put the F---ing Lotion in the Basket,” the Kaplans’ show rewards faithful fans of the source material, while also standing on its own hilarious feet. After playing  the East Village’s Theatre 80 last year, “Silence!” moved to an open run at PS 122. Lecter portrayers include Brent Barrett and David Garrison, while Jenn Harris has stayed with Clarice M. Starling since taking on the role back in 2005. Meanwhile, Christopher Gattelli, the show’s choreographer and director, just won a Tony this year for choreographing “Newsies.”




7 Fringe Alumni That Moved On Beyond the Festival

By Doug Strassler

August 9, 2012


"Matt and Ben"
This year’s New York International Fringe Festival boasts roughly 200 shows, all of which are hoping that the festival might be the beginning of a longer life onstage. And their aspirations are not unwarranted. Quite a few FringeNYC graduates have gone on to achieve further success, both on the New York stage and around the country, not to mention launching the careers of some very talented artists.

Here are a few Fringe alumni that have gone on to bigger things!


“21 Dog Years”
Long before achieving infamy with “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” monologist Mike Daisey achieved fame with “21 Dog Years.”  By now it feels like a period piece. Daisey, an Amazon.com employee, reflects on the turn-of-the-last-century tech boom and bust. Daisey’s show was more than just a rant or a cautionary tale. It was fast-paced comic exploration of just how easy it is for the idea of easy money to seduce even the sanest, savviest of money holders. And while Daisey’s storytelling accountability has recently been called into question, there is no doubt that this show gave birth to a passionately prolific career that includes such shows as “The Ugly American,” “How Theater Failed America,” and “The Last Cargo Cult.” 


“Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical”
While based on the famed pornographic movie, this musical adaptation does not contain any onstage nudity or simulated sex. Instead, librettist Susan L. Schwartz and composer Andrew Sherman (with additional music and lyrics from Jonathan Callicutt) focused on the movie’s central premise: high schooler Debbie and her friends’ goal to become cheerleaders for the Dallas Cowboys. After its Fringe run, the show played the Jane Street Theater with future Tony nominee Sherie Rene Scott playing Debbie, with additional versions touring not only the United States but Australia as well. This show also likely inspired the less successful Off-Broadway show “The Deep Throat Sex Scandal.”


(Photo by Joan Marcus)

“Urinetown”

This little comedy that could – ostensibly about a city whose lengthy drought has allowed corporate monoliths to overrule the very private practice of bathroom use – had something for everyone. There’s color commentary on such hot-button topics as capitalism and the law, knowing send-ups of Broadway musical tropes, insider in-jokes about such works as Marc Blitzstein’s “The Cradle Will Rock,” and fun characters, including Tony nominee Spencer Kayden’s Hope Cladwell. No wonder it made it all the way to the Broadway stage! The show ran for nearly 1,000 performances and earned 10 Tony nominations, winning two, and made a star out of Hunter Foster. (This show hit Broadway the same year his sister Sutton Foster won the Tony for “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” which also beat “Urinetown” for the best musical award.)


“Matt and Ben”
College friends Mindy Kaling and Brenda Withers wrote and starred in this humorous look at Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, in which the actors dragged it up to play the male stars, respectively. Written at a nadir in both of the men’s careers, “Matt and Ben” posited that the two friends couldn’t have possibly written their Oscar-winning screenplay  for “Good Will Hunting.” Instead, it literally fell out of the sky and into their laps. The comedy was named one of Time magazine’s "Top Ten Theatrical Events of The Year.” And Kaling? After spending eight years as a writer and star of “The Office,” she’s about to embark on her own TV series, “The Mindy Project,” which premieres this fall on Fox.


“Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead”
“Dog Sees God,” penned by Bert V. Royal, is an unauthorized parody of Charles Schultz’s “Peanuts” in which all characters have gone to seed in their teen years. Drug abuse, eating disorders, teen violence, and suicide run rampant throughout the show. You might not even recognize some of the characters. Charlie Brown is now CB, mourning his dead dog and falling for Beethoven (a surrogate for Schroeder), an outcast since revealing sexual abuse by his father. Meanwhile, CB’s Sister (Sally) has gone goth and Van (Linus) has become a pothead. You’d also be surprised by some of the actors who have played this show in its various incarnations in New York, Los Angeles, and London, following its 2004 Fringe run. Actors such as Alison Pill, John Gallagher, Jr., Logan Marshall Green, Anna Paquin, America Ferrera, Ian Somerhalder, and Eliza Dushku have appeared in the show.


(Photo by Carol Rosegg)

“Triassic Parq the Musical”

“Triassic Parq,” a 2010 Best Musical winner at FringeNYC, just recently concluded an Off-Broadway run at the Soho Playhouse. With a cast that included Lindsay Nicole Chambers, Brandon Espinoza, Wade McCollum, Claire Neumann, Lee Seymour, Shelley Thomas, and Alex Wyse, “Triassic” follows a group of cloned dinosaurs questioning such philosophical topics as sexual preference, gender identity, morality, and faith in hilarious fashion. Authors Marshall Pailet, Bryce Norbitz, and Stephen Wargo even managed to throw in a tribute to that most ubiquitous of narrators, Morgan Freeman. Expect to see more of this frothy and occasionally filthy musical in the future.


“Silence! The Musical”
Hannibal Lecter appears to be the gift that keeps on giving! In 2005, Jon and Al Kaplan debuted a comedic musical version of the 1991 Oscar-sweeping thriller that put serial killing and cannibalism in vogue. With song titles including “Are You About a Size 14?”, “Quid Pro Quo,” and “Put the F---ing Lotion in the Basket,” the Kaplans’ show rewards faithful fans of the source material, while also standing on its own hilarious feet. After playing  the East Village’s Theatre 80 last year, “Silence!” moved to an open run at PS 122. Lecter portrayers include Brent Barrett and David Garrison, while Jenn Harris has stayed with Clarice M. Starling since taking on the role back in 2005. Meanwhile, Christopher Gattelli, the show’s choreographer and director, just won a Tony this year for choreographing “Newsies.”


 
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