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This article was published 31/7/2019 (815 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The 2019 edition of the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival wrapped Sunday with an overall drop in attendance numbers compared to previous fests. This year, ticketed attendance came in at 98,673, compared to 103,251 in 2018 and more than 105,000 in 2016, the highest Winnipeg fringe attendance yet.
Not counting the free outdoor performances, the festival had 178 shows in 30 venues over its 12-day run. Sold-out performances numbered 209 out of 1,511 total indoor performances.
Outdoor attendance totalled between 60,000 and 70,000, with close to 5,000 in Kids Fringe attendance.
The drop came despite consistently good weather; some rain fell, but no day was rained out.
Festival executive director Chuck McEwen attributed the drop to fewer returning five-star-rated shows, such as Josephine.
In previous festivals, "there could be between 25 to 30 five-star returning shows," McEwen said.
That number dropped to a handful this year, he said. In addition, he said, some hit shows, such as I Lost on Jeopardy at the 90-seat Cinematheque (Venue 7) were limited due to the comparative smallness of the venues, and could have beefed up the attendance numbers if they had played in larger venues.
The festival ran into some problems, with the Red River College and Pantages Theatre venues being unavailable this year.
The fringe compensated with the addition of three new venues, including two utilizing the Portage Place Cinemas. Next year, McEwen said, those venues might not be available as the mall at Portage Place is scheduled to come under new ownership.
At the conclusion of the fest, the Manitoba Association of Playwrights presented the 2019 Harry S. Rintoul Memorial Award for best new Manitoban play to The Cause, by Connor Joseph, Cuinn Joseph and Jacob Herd.
The 2020 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival will run from July 15-26.
In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.