Recommended*** For those who love to see delightful and inspirational shows- short, some comic, some factual, but of great importance, something special, The Chicago Fringe Festival may be just what the doctor ordered. Now in its fourth year, the Chicago Fronge Festival features fifty performance groups ( selected by lottery) and the shows are comedies,dramas, dance pieces, musicals, performance art and some who have no actual classification, but are worth the rtip to Jefferson Park. Yes, this year, the festival has moved from Pilsen to the Northwest Side where five different venues are used to bring these works to audiences- all the shows are short- 45-60 minutes and run from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. ( on the weekend, even later).
Fringe Headquerters is Fischman Liquors and Tavern located at 4780 N. Milwaukee Avenue ( the heart of jeff Park) just south of the Blue Line station where you can also purchase tickets for all the performances, First you purchase a $5 button which is the only money that the ChicagoFringe keeps – all tickets sold revenues are those of the performers/artists, so the button is of great import. Tickets themselves are:
$10 singles show
$45- a five show pass
$80 10 Show Pass
Everything takes place in Jefferson Park-
Spilled Milk Stage is 5320 West Giddings
PB & J Stage is 5338 West Lawrence Avenue
Linch Box Office and Art Exhibit 5340 West Lawrence Avenue
Picnic Stage 5342 West Lawrence Avenue
Hold The Pickles Stage is at 5415 Higgins Rd
and The Gift Theatre is at 4802 N. Milwaukee Avenue- a true local theater, where I stayed to watch “Naked In Alaska” , Valerie Hager’s autobiographical story of her life as a stripper. Directed by Scott Wesley Slavin, this is a one woman show that covers many years of Hager’s life- a complex story about what a woman does in order to survive and rebuild her torn life. As a teen, Valerie was a druggie, and did all she could to have people like her, whatever the consequences. In this 60 minutes of magic, we watch her learn the ropes and become an exotic dancer working her way from Mexico to Alaska over a ten year period. In the show, she plays all the characters, dancing in different styles and using different voices to the tunes of the times and even does some amazing pole numbers, where she defies gravity. She also knows how to play an audience very well, in particular the males, but after all, for ten plus years, that was her life.
Once she becomes what she was meant to become, enjoying the thrills and the large amounts of money, the question arises. Can she ever return to a normal life, one that she never truly had before? In this examination of her life, we see that she comes to realize that no matter what paths you take, there are obstacles and truths to overcome, and she does! I only wish that this show were here for more performances. While the festival continues until the 8th of September, you can only catch “Naked In Alaska” Saturday, 8/31 at 5:30 p.m. and Monday, September 2nd at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and a button for $5.00
For more info on the festival, visit www.chicagofringe.org
To learn what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review-round-up and click at either ChicagoFringe or “Naked in Alaska”