Fringe Fanatics

Director Dave Ortolano has high hopes for this year's Boulder International Fringe Festival. By way of a glorious coming together of fate and talent, he says, it's turning out to be showplace for fest favorites of the past, and that's a very good thing. "This year, we have about six or seven acts returning who've been here before and always sell out shows," Ortolano notes, and that's more than any fringe fest can ask for. Brisk ticket sales are fanned by word of mouth at the grab-bag performance festival, and it takes some stage presence to get people talking.

Some of those returning acts include Chicagoan Kelsey Huff (This Show Might Be Terrible) and Gemma Wilcox (The Magical Mystery Detour), both known known for their one-woman shows, and storyteller/political commentator Mark Whitney of San Diego (Rightful Masters), who's been compared to everyone from Lewis Black to Mark Twain. But part of the fun of the fringe is that you don't always know what you're going to get, and it never hurts to take a chance on someone crazy enough to get up on a stage and tell all about their sex addiction (David Kleinberg's The Voice) or take part in a musical death match (High Fiction's The Battle of the Bands). And there's more: New additions to the fest this year include the Fringe Central Beer Garden at Folsom Street Coffee, 1795 Folsom Street in Boulder, where daily roundtables will take place from 1 to 2 p.m., along with the usual drinking and carousing. Workshops are also on the festival slate, and the BIG TIME Daily late-night talk show will return, featuring the aforementioned Huff as host, at 10 p.m. every evening back at Fringe Central.

The Fringe Festival kicks off tonight with the annual All You Can Artist Buffet and Opening Night Celebration, also hosted by the charming Huff, at Lazy Dog Lounge, 1346 Pearl Street, Boulder. The party (admission, $5) will be highlighted by one-minute show previews by fringe performers, and then it's out of the gate; for more information, tickets and a complete schedule of events -- at various Boulder venues through August 26 -- go to
Aug. 15-26, 2012