Best of Fringe Uptown! at the Toronto Centre for the Arts

This delightful juried festival invites the best performances of the Fringe Festival, uptown to the Toronto Centre for the Arts for bonus performances. In a single night you will be able to see two very different performances. Tickets are $15 and the full list of shows is available now at www.tocentre.com Tickets can be purchased through the Toronto Centre of the Arts website, and not through the Toronto Fringe Festival Box Office.

Here are the 11 shows that have been selected for the Best of Fringe:

ELLAmentary

From Review: Written and performed by Christine Aziz, this one-woman show is performed by a highly energetic, oddly mature “Ella Salmon” (nicknamed “Salmon-Ella” and other bacterial forms by meaner kids at school).

Touted as a “One Person Musical About Filling Out and Fitting In”, we follow Ella in what is to be her year – a year in which she achieves the popularity she has always coveted.

Hypnogogic Logic

From Review: There is no doubt about it, those Uncalled For boys sure know how to put on a fringe show. And a standing ovation at the end of tonight’s show proved just that.The thing that makes them stand out is that they are really smart. And not smart in a pompous way so that you walk out of their show thinking, ‘I don’t get it’. But smart in a way that makes you think about what they are saying and shake your head in a sort of, ‘how did they come up with that’ sort of way. This is why I liked this show so much – it was so damn clever. And funny too.

Kim’s Convenience

From Review: Jean Yoon’s performance as Mrs. Kim is heartbreaking and beautiful. Esther Jun plays the daughter with bounce and a light heart. Andre Sills plays several distinct roles in this play smartly and with thoughtfulness. Ins Choi, who plays the son, acts with honesty and idealism. This cast is talented, to say the least. The cultural and intergenerational dialogue helps showcase their unique approaches to acting.

Kim’s Convenience has been much praised about by theatregoers and critics alike. It was winner of the 2011 Toronto Fringe New Play Contest and is rumored to be a top Fringe contender for being picked up by Mirvish to run a full production

Living with Henry

From Review: Living With Henry is not about living with a roommate or living with a spouse. It’s about living with HIV. So if this issue has any personal impact on you, or you’re just affected by sad topics, pack your tissues.

It’s also a musical, in a very classic musical style. I personally find people breaking from dialogue into dramatic song very distancing so for me those numbers gave my eyes a chance to dry. My friend who was with me, who has excellent taste and does not find such things distracting, was more of a mess than I. So if you like dramatic musical theatre, bring even more tissues.

Love Virtually

From Review: Love, Virtually is a romantic comedy that explores the world of online dating and what it means to look for love and connection in the information age but it also explores the broader idea that we all create aspirational versions of ourselves in our online identities. Not only do we tend to exaggerate and bend the truth to make ourselves look better on sites like Plenty of Fish and OKCupid we also do the same on our Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.

The plot follows the dating misadventures of Lauren, a woman in her early 30s whose friends set her up on a series of dates with guys from online dating sites.

Mickey & Judy

From Review: Michael Hughes is a musical theatre performer, cabaret singer and lifelong devotee of Judy Garland. As a kid, Michael’s burgeoning obsession with musicals, Judy Garland and cross-dressing worried his parents to the point where they sent him to a psychiatrist.

Twenty years later, that psychiatrist wanted to talk to him again. Michael agreed on the condition that the psychiatrist would relinquish photocopies of all the charts from his childhood analyses to him. Those charts are incorporated into Mickey & Judy, a musical revue and “pseudo-memoir” of Hughes’ childhood.

Pitch Blond

From Review: Pitch Blond is exactly the kind of show I hope to see at the Fringe. It’s well-acted, well-written and such a stunning example of what indie theatre artists can do.

Laura Anne Harris wrote and stars in this one-woman show about 1950s screen actress Judy Holliday. Holliday was known for playing ditzy blondes, but in fact had a 172 I.Q. Her ability to play dumb came in handy when she was called to testify about her “possible Communist ties” during the McCarthy era. The production spends much of its time on this aspect of Holliday’s life, though we do get glimpses about her childhood too.

Remember Maggy?

From Review: Remember, Maggie? was a lot like real relationships: painful, funny, unresolved, disquieting and beautiful. In this performance, a sister learns that loving someone does not make them a good person, and that a blood connection does not a sister make.

The script was surprisingly funny for a play that is certainly no comedy. Alzheimer’s and drug addiction are usually no laughing matters, nor is total family breakdown. Despite the heavy subject matter, the punch-lines are laugh out loud funny (no other way to say it) and the comedic timing demonstrated by the four clearly experienced and gifted actresses was superb.

The Soaps!

From Review: What can be said about National Theatre of the World’s Toronto Fringe Fundraising show The Soaps that hasn’t already been said? Great characters + hilariously relatable premise + 8 of the wittiest people working in theatre, film and TV = either Pi or The Soaps. Either way the talent is infinite. This round is set in the theatre town of “Shawford” (sound familiar?) behind the scenes of the latest show which, of course, is fraught with drama, conflict and intrigue. The audience laughed from the first sentence until the lights went down at the Bathurst St Theatre.

Tiki Bikini Beach Paradise Party A-Go-Go

From Review: The Tiki Bikini Beach Paradise Party A-Go-Go!, directed by Allison Beula and playing at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace, is a homage to the beach party films of the 1960s. I mean, what better way to celebrate the final weeks of summer vacation but throwing a beach party? It won’t happen if The Big Tuna has his way! And how else do you solve a problem but with a surf-off?

I’d heard rumours around the festival that the show was excellent, and frankly they aren’t wrong. It’s is an absolute riot, a delightful, entertaining musical that will have you humming the songs hours after you leave the theatre.

Details:

Opens Jul 20 and runs to Aug 5, shows performed in rep, nightly at 7 and 9 pm, mats Jul 29-30 at 4 pm. See website for details. $15. Toronto Centre for the Arts, 5040 Yonge. tocentre.com