FRINGE ATTENDANCE: Opening day attendance was 3,782 people, second only to last year's first day record of 4,148. Thursday, in heat that reached 42C with the Humidex, hardy fringers turned out in force: 6,798 attended indoor shows, up 1,149 over last year. "In the first two days we were up 783 tickets," said the festivals executive producer Chuck McEwen Friday.
McEwen says it's hard to take a measure of the festival in the first few days "until everybody has had their first show and people know which are the hot shows." So far there have been 10 sell-outs compared to three in 2011. The heat shouldn't affect show attendance as all venues are air conditioned. "But it does affect the outdoor show attendance from noon to six when it's hottest."
AQUA BOOKS VENUE KERFUFFLE: It was another case of premature location for Aqua Books. Venue 20, the new Aqua Books location at 123 Princess, was shut down after five shows by a city inspector for lacking a proper occupancy permit. That's the same problem the new store location had as a jazz venue a few weeks ago.
One of the displaced shows -- More Power to Your Knitting, Nell -- played at The King's Head Thursday at 5 p.m., but the three evening shows had to be cancelled.
Fringe organizers scrambled to find a replacement venue and came up with an old one in The Conservatory, main floor of the Crocus Building, 211 Bannatyne. "We can't make up lost shows because people are already skedded to the end, but we're hoping fringers will come out and really support these six shows." said McEwen.
The new venue was up and running Friday at 1:30 p.m. The change also affects performances of '33, a kabarett, The Complete History of the Moustache, Ne Me Quitte Pas and Brel: The Impossible Concert, Shelby Bond, The Poor Man's Guide To Being Rich and The Witch.
"We worked hard and down to the wire and we did the best we could but for the purposes of the city it wasn't quite enough," said Aqua Books owner Kelly Hughes, who recently moved his business from Garry Street. "It was kind of a paperwork thing. We had all our fire and life safety in, and all had been tested and inspections along the way working with the city and an architect trying to get the occupancy permit. We just ran out of time. We had to do something and we said the 'show had to go on.'"
How was this different from the jazz festival venue that didn't work? "Basically it was the same thing -- but we were a lot more ready this time."
BROADWAY BOUND: Thomas Toles, who's co-directing Orphans with Kevin Ramberran says the show is going to be mounted on Broadway with Alec Baldwin playing the Chicago gangster kidnapped by two dead end kids. And, after they finish their run here in Winnipeg, the Winnipeg cast is going to contact the Broadway producers to see if their services might be needed. Hey, it's worth a shot because they know the lines. By the way, the talented Thomas has creative lineage. He's the son of University of Manitoba film professor George Toles and author Melissa Steele.
FRINGING BONUS: You can bring in your ticket stub from any fringe show and receive $2 off admission to the Winnipeg Art Gallery exhibitions, including the creepy Fairy Tales, Monsters, and the Genetic Imagination.