We've updated our annual A-to-Z (all right, W) guide to getting the most out of the festival. Check out show details, festival policies and venue maps at orlandofringe.org, where you can also buy tickets, and keep an eye on Orlando Weekly's show reviews at orlandoweekly.com/fringe2017.
Look for the official Orlando Fringe app on the Apple and Android stores, or log into orlandofringe.org on your mobile browser. Either way, you can search the show schedule and purchase tickets that can be stored and scanned straight from your digital wallet, with no need to print on dead trees.
Bars and restaurants
Food stalls on the Fringe Lawn include everything from carnival-style fast food to high-end treats, along with the ubiquitous beer tent and a full liquor bar. Beer and wine can also be bought in OMA, Orlando Shakes' rear courtyard and the Black Venue (aka the Venue on Virginia Drive). There are also ample opportunities to stop for a drink or a bite to eat along Orange and Mills avenues and Virginia Drive.
Go first, because there's no re-entry if you leave a show. The ones in Shakes and the Rep are the best; avoid the portables on the lawn unless you are desperate.
There are three (Shakes, Rep, and at the Venue on Virginia) where you can buy tickets in person, or you can buy tickets online. Tickets cost up to $12, and no matter where you purchase you'll pay a $1.25 service fee per seat.
The $10 button is a one-time purchase that funds Fringe's operations – ticket sales (minus the service fee) go directly to the shows themselves. Buttons can be purchased with cash only at any venue, or by credit card (with service fee) at a festival box office. Without a button and a ticket, no one over the age of 12 will be admitted to any show, so don't lose it.
Bring it. The on-site ATM tacks on fees and gets cleaned out fast on weekends.
It's always free to hang out on the lawn, where there's food, drink and local bands playing throughout the festival.
Loch Haven is notoriously awful for cellular coverage (level of badness depends on your carrier). Instead of counting on your phone, pick up one of the printed Fringe guides available throughout the festival, just to be safe.
Join Club Fringe with a minimum donation of $250 and you can access an exclusive air-conditioned lounge inside OMA, featuring a private bar.
Fringe's discounted 10-packs of tickets again sold out before the Festival, but some shows offer $2 off to students, seniors, military and/or theme park employees. The only catch is that you must buy your tickets in person at a box office to get the savings.
Between the Shakes and the Rep lies a broad grassy swath where you'll find the beer and wine tent, Stonewall's full liquor bar, food vendors, an ATM, a Poetry Vending Machine and a seething mass of theatrical humanity. The beer tent opens weekdays at 6 p.m. and at noon on weekends, and closes at 1:30 a.m. nightly. Fringe food vendors are open weekdays from 5 p.m. until 1:30 a.m. and weekends from 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.
Help! What should I see?
Use Orlando Weekly's reviews to plan your viewing – our critics are risking life and limb to see as many shows as possible. Find our reviews at orlandoweekly.com/fringe2017 starting Sunday, May 14. (Yes. Mother's Day. See how much we care about you?)
The hippest kids in town attend Kids Fringe, which has relocated near the Orlando Fire Museum and regained former producer Genevieve Bernard. On both weekends, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. is packed with free entertainment – puppetry, concerts, hands-on art activities – that parents (and possibly even non-parents as well) will enjoy too.
Even if you've paid for a ticket, once the doors close, you're not getting in. Arrive at least 30 minutes before showtime and leave plenty of time to park and walk to the venue; it may be on the opposite end of the complex.
The free outdoor stage, which is booked by promoter Jessica Pawli and sponsored by WPRK, offers lots of live local music. Don't miss the return of Beth McKee's Swamp Sistas La La on May 20, and Southern Fried Sunday May 28 with Michelle Shocked and many more. (Learn more about this year's music offerings on page 17.)
Limited as always, with the Rep and Shakes lots sure to be filled to capacity at all times. Florida Hospital's garage is free on Friday nights and Saturdays ($4 maximum at other times), and Magruder Eye Institute and Florida Urology Associates (weekends only) are open for Fringe Patrons; see the map on Fringe's website or in the printed guide for details.
Follow the festival at facebook.com/orlandofringefestival, on Instagram (@orlandofringe), and on Twitter (@OrlandoFringe) for late-breaking announcements and info.
For the third straight year Orlando Fringe invited festival-winning one-act shows from local high school drama troupes to perform at the Orlando REP on May 27 and 28. In addition to performing, the teen thespians get to take free workshops, and compete for scholarships and the Patron's Pick award. Teen shows cost just $5 each, and all proceeds support the schools' theater programs.
Each venue at the Fringe has a color-coded name. Orange, Yellow, Pink, Brown, Blue, Red and Purple are all inside Orlando Shakes; Green, Silver, and the Teen Showcase are at the Orlando Rep; Gold is at OMA; and White is in the Junior Achievement Center. Black is at the Venue on Virginia Drive, and BYOV shows are held at Breakthrough Theatre, St. Matthew's Tavern, Savoy, and additional nearby locations. Make sure you leave enough time between shows if your venues are far apart (if you're not sure, check the map).
Fringe's art market is hosted in the hallways of Orlando Shakes, with additional works in OMA and the Rep. All buyers will be inducted into the Red Dot Club and memorialized with a photograph on the membership wall.
Don't forget: hat, sunscreen, umbrella. It will be hot and it will rain. But who cares? You'll be prepared.