SHOOTING FOR THE STARS: A whopping 9,039 tickets were sold for 135 shows Friday, putting the festival on track to reach its ambitious 25th-anniversary goal of 100,000 indoor attendance. Last year's first Friday turnout was 7,190, so that's a 1,849 jump over the same day last year. There were also 16 sellouts Friday, up from nine in 2011.
STRETCHMARKS: Two 40-something women laughed so hard at the Stretchmarks show about moms having sex, they literally fell out of their front-row seats. What cracked them up? Said standup comedian Heather Witherden (pictured): "I commented on the judge scandal in Winnipeg, saying "Women who drive minivans don't (have sex) with strangers until after they're divorced, in Jamaica on holiday or are applying to be a judge." That's when the ladies hit the floor.
THE SHOW MUST GO ON: Connie Manfredi, 23, one of four actors in The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, fell and broke her ankle rollerskating at a friend's birthday party a few days before the festival started last week. She performed in a cast for two days, and then had an operation Friday morning to put in four screws and a plate. She was back on stage acting that night. "It just hurts," says Manfredi, who's been on Tylenol 3's for a week, so as not to disappoint the cast -- and herself. "The doctor wasn't crazy about my being onstage that night, but I did it anyway. We re-blocked the action of the show so I can do it on crutches and sitting down, for the most part."
TACKY OR TIMELY: Resonator Theatrical, who are presenting Revolver 101, referenced the tragic movie theatre shooting rampage in Colorado on the fringe's website: "With news of shootings in Colorado, there's not a more timely and real-world based play at the 2012 Winnipeg Fringe Festival. It's not touching or heart-warming -- but it sure as hell will make you think and keep you talking for days." The troupe's play is about a massacre at a school at which a negotiator is trying to work with the perpetrator. Somebody whipped the comment over to Twitter and people reacted with angry tweets such as, "Response is opportunistic, not thoughtful," and positive responses such as: "Theatre is about relevant commentary on society . . . If they (actors) are not saying anything to get excited about, why bother?" The group has since apologized on Facebook for unintentionally offending people.
HOT HOT HOT: One fringe-related event most people are unaware of is the Slut Slam competition quietly held the Tuesday night before the Winnipeg fest begins at the Mondragon Coffee House. This year the theme was Hot Mess, in which the audience heard about tawdry sexual escapades. Contestants came prepared to get up onstage and tell a five-minute, embarrassing true story. But, first the judges had to expose their own vulnerabilities by telling one on themselves. Very revealing -- and fair! This year's winner was Rae Eskritt, who blew everybody away with a Lolita story from her past. Co-host was comedian and former phone sex operator Cameryn Moore of this year's fringe offering Power Play. Judges were all fringe performers: Vancouver actor Brent Hirose from Lost and Left Behind, Australian comedian Jon Bennett (Pretending Things are a Cock) , New York actress Melanie Gall (More Power To Your Knitting, Nell!) and Brooklyn's Martin Dockery (The Holy Land Experience).