This year’s second online edition of the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival is divided between a free program of shows being streamed on YouTube, and a selection of 17 longer shows featuring fringe stalwarts such as Brooklyn storyteller Martin Dockery (1 Easy Lie), Montreal’s Stéphanie Morin-Robert (who is performing her hit Blindside) and Keir Cutler (the Teaching Shakespeare star will reprise his five-star fringe show Lunatic Van Beethoven). Many in this latter group of shows request admission prices, or pay-what-you-can options, as opposed to the all-free scheduled program.

This year’s second online edition of the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival is divided between a free program of shows being streamed on YouTube, and a selection of 17 longer shows featuring fringe stalwarts such as Brooklyn storyteller Martin Dockery (1 Easy Lie), Montreal’s Stéphanie Morin-Robert (who is performing her hit Blindside) and Keir Cutler (the Teaching Shakespeare star will reprise his five-star fringe show Lunatic Van Beethoven). Many in this latter group of shows request admission prices, or pay-what-you-can options, as opposed to the all-free scheduled program.

Tuesday’s online fringe schedule

1 p.m. — An hour of kids shows featuring TiBert le Voyageur, clowns Maple and Sticky, and Jamie Olivero.

● 1 p.m. — An hour of kids shows featuring TiBert le Voyageur, clowns Maple and Sticky, and Jamie Olivero.

7 p.m.Bluets, presented by Bossy Flyer of Long Beach, Calif., is a physical theatre show from the folks that brought you past fringe shows Flight and Terms & Conditions; A Solo from the Pit, from Sweden’s Teater KEF, is a solo piece in which virtuoso trombonist Elias Faingersh tells his tale of leaving a coveted position at the Metropolitan Opera to find his muse.

7:30 p.m. — Poetry Slam Round 1, with Simon Miron, Leah Borchert, Heather Madill, Sheep on a Mission, Spired Theatre and Steve Locke.

8 p.m. — The War Comic, presented by standup comic Peter Zedlacher, tells a story of performing comedy to tough crowds in the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Egypt and the North Pole; Not One of Us, presented by Diane M. Barnes of San Rafael, Calif., is a monologue inspired by the murder of George Floyd, exploring the intersection of race, class, privilege and gender; Lil’ Skits is just what it says, quick sketches from the popular local sketch comedy team HUNKS.

9 p.m. — The JD Edwards Band performs in the fringe’s online equivalent of ending the night in the beer tent.

Winnipeg musical scribe Connor Wielgosz has two works available in the long-show category. He has become something of a fringe mainstay himself since 2013 when he and partner Devon Gillingham created and mounted a hit fringe show, Taxidermy: The Musical. Wielgosz’s own production of Less Miserable is a parody in which the relentlessly downbeat Les Miz has its frown turned upside down.

"The concept is: What if Les Miz was not sad," explains the 25-year-old Wielgosz. "The main character, Jean Valjean, is the only sad person in the whole universe and everybody else is overjoyed all the time.

"So Jean Valjean wants to find a way to become — ha, ha — less miserable," he says. "Basically it follows a lot of the same beats as Les Miz, but each beat is a new way for him to try to become less miserable, whether that’s raising a child or finding God. It’s a parody of the original story, but all the songs are original."

Connor Wielgosz is the author of two different plays at this year’s fringe fest, Fool’s Gold and Less Miserable.</p>

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Connor Wielgosz is the author of two different plays at this year’s fringe fest, Fool’s Gold and Less Miserable.

The second show, presented independently of the first, is titled Fool’s Gold, and is a production of the Greater Grand Forks Community Theater. That show resulted from Wielgosz’s time in Grand Forks, N.D., where he served as a writer-in-residence.

"I wrote Less Miserable as a part of the residency in February 2020, and when COVID hit, they didn’t have a season," he says. "They needed shows they could do for cheap or free.

"And of course, when I hear that, to me it sounds like a great opportunity to write a show and help them out," he says. "So I wrote Fool’s Gold for that reason, so they could put it up in their season."

Two would-be thieves rob a prop treasure chest from a pirate-themed dinner theatre in Fool’s Gold, produced by Greater Grand Forks Community Theatre.</p>

SUPPLIED

Two would-be thieves rob a prop treasure chest from a pirate-themed dinner theatre in Fool’s Gold, produced by Greater Grand Forks Community Theatre.

The premise of the show was partly inspired by Wielgosz’s experience in an MTYP production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance nearly a decade ago.

"The logline is that a couple of hicks decide to steal the prop treasure chest from a pirate-themed dinner theatre," he explains. "They find something else is in the chest and hilarity ensues."

The price to view Less Miserable is $25 at wfp.to/miserable. Fool’s Gold is $20 at wfp.to/foolsgold

 

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @FreepKing

Randall King

Randall King
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In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.

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