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2018 KC Fringe Festival Wraps With 'Best Of' Shows Spotlighting Kansas City Talent

Melanie Rodriguez
Students of the Kansas City Aerial Arts and VidaDance perform at the Bolender Center as part of the 2018 Kansas City Fringe Festival.

The 2018 KC Fringe Festival's final performance lineup included a Greek myth, Cirque du Soleil homage, and a "Rugrats"-inspired story of loss of innocence — all of which were created by local artists.  

The 14th annual, 10-day celebration of visual and performing arts ended on Sunday with repeat performances of the best-selling shows at each of the festival's 14 venues.

Organizers said an estimated 7,000 people attended this year's festival.

At The Arts Asylum, “After Persephone: A Musical” was one of several shows by Kansas City natives that made it into the final day of Best Ofs.

Playwright Donna Zeigenhorn penned the script and local composer Marcy Smalley composed the music to the play, which reimagines the story of Persephone and Hades. This was Zeigenhorn's second year participating in the lineup (her play “Bingo on the Boulevard” also ran at the Fringe Festival two years ago), which she said makes her feel connected to the Kansas City arts community.

“You're really there doing the show because you love it and you're having fun,” Zeigenhorn said. “If you're lucky enough to get the Best Of Venue like we did, it's just sort of like the icing on the cake.”  

Kansas City-based artists make up 90 percent of the festival’s creators, according to Fringe Festival volunteer Joshua Judy.

“A lot of the Kansas City artists have an advantage because it's their backyard,” he said. 

The best-selling show of the festival was at the Bolender Center, where “The Greatest Show At Fringe” sold 1,500 tickets between opening night on July 20 and closing night on Sunday. A ballet-circus hybrid by the Kansas City Aerial Artists and VidaDance, it was an impressive showcase of performance students’ choreography and acrobatics.

Credit Greg Thonen
Left to right: actors Roan Ricker, Brandis Outlaw and Ay Vi Bui starred in playwright Prisca Jebet Kendagor's "Adulting: A Parody." The show was part of the 2018 Fringe Festival's Best Of lineup.

At the Unicorn Theatre, playwright Prisca Jebet Kendagor used the hashtag “#RIPChildhood” to promote her play “Adulting: A Parody.” This was her third year participating in the Kansas City Fringe Festival and her first time making it into the Best Of lineup.

“It's all about word of mouth and putting yourself out there," Kendagor said. "Word of mouth is a big deal because we're such a community-based group.”

Other Kansas City shows that made it into the final Fringe lineup included the play "And God Did Shake the Pear: Shakespeare for Everyday Living” at Just Off Broadway by Scott Cox, and the live magic show "Powers of Darkness," performed by C.K. Carey at the Squeezebox Theatre.

Courtney Bierman is a KCUR intern. Follow her on Twitter @courtbierman.

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