Why I Love The Orlando Fringe Festival


My first experience with the Orlando Fringe Festival came exactly one decade ago. My best friend Vijai’s sister, the insanely talented Aradhana Tiwari, was directing It’s A Wonderful Life, produced by First Baptist of Orlando. (Coincidentally, I remember an anecdote told by Beth Marshall where someone was apparently uneasy about the Fringe wrap up party taking place at the Parliament House. Beth replied to them, “Come on, even the First Baptist crew attended last year!”)

My friend John Bateman also was involved with a show that year. He wrote, directed, and starred in Horror Over Drinks, a clever show about a high school reunion between Freddy Krueger, Jason, Pinhead, and Carrie. But what I most remember from Fringe 2005 is the theme song: a parody of U2’s Vertigo. It still plays in my head to this day!

I loved the whole vibe at Fringe, so much so that I had to be involved. A few short months later I applied to bring a show to the next year’s Fringe. I don’t think I really understood at the time what I was getting into, having never produced or directed a play before.  I’ve always been the kind of person to jump into things without thinking much. I just remember sitting at Chili’s with my mom a few weeks before applications went online and telling her about it. Being the supportive mother she is, she was all in.

That first year I chose to direct a one-act version of one of my favorite stories – Flowers For Algernon. I fell in love with it in middle school. It’s such a bittersweet story. A man who gets his dream for one fleeting moment, then reverts back to his former self. It’s a fun show to direct as well because Charlie goes through such a transformation. I had no idea what I was doing but we did it, and it was a fun time. Rehearsals in my living room, going to yard sales to buy props, going to the Salvation Army to find costumes… We were in the Red Venue, a small, 60-seat theater. From what I remember the audience turnout was slow in the beginning, but the last 2 shows packed out… And I was hooked! 🙂

The next year opted to do a comedy – Harvey. It was another show that meant a lot to me. I was in it in high school, and I just love how Elwood P. Dowd viewed the world. His kindness touched me, especially at the end of the show when he tenderly comforts his sister Veta, the very woman who wanted to commit him to an asylum. The challenging thing about that one (well, one of the challenging things!) was cutting it down a 1-act version. It was also a big cast – probably too big for our venue (brown, 100 seats) but it was loads of fun. I look back on that show with fond memories.

The next year I planned on doing another comedy – Larry Shue’s The Nerd – but I didn’t fare well in the lottery (a fate I’m sure all Fringe artists must face at some point). I got the outdoor venue. I didn’t feel like I could properly do The Nerd in that space so I teamed up with a friend and we did a show called Snapshot. It was a bunch of short pieces written by different playwrights, all inspired by the same photo. Being at the outdoor stage was an interesting experience. I’m glad I did it, but it was a different feel than previous years. And while the show was interesting, I didn’t really connect with it.

After that year, I took a break from Fringe. Sadly, I didn’t even make it out to the festival that much. I’m not even sure why… Life just speeds through and I can’t believe it’s been 7 years since I’ve last participated!

And now, Summit is bringing The Prodigal Musical, a show Marco Randazzo and I co-wrote, to Fringe. I’m no longer in the director’s seat and that’s a good thing… Darling Heldt and Lauren Lanker are rocking it! (seriously, these ladies are so talented!) The Fringe staff has been amazing and so helpful to us. And once again I am so excited about Fringe! Yes, I’m so excited about sharing our story; a story Jesus told about a father’s never ending love. But I am PUMPED about hearing other people’s stories as well. To me, that’s what the Fringe Experience is all about! So here are some of the many shows I’ll be checking out at Fringe:

The 11 O’Clock Number – An improvised musical!

Say Hello to Vincent Van Gogh – This one looks interesting!

Jaws: The Movie: The Musical – A musical about the making of a musical? Yes!!! 🙂

Nick Paul: Impossible Feats of Magic – One of a few magic shows at Fringe. I love Magic!

Poe – Glad to see Theatre Downtown back!

Clink – This looks hilarious! I love Brandon Roberts!

Through The Eyes of The Homeless – I love what this group is doing.

The “Dinner and a Show” Show – Don’t know much about this one but looks intriguing.

Robyn Da Hood- a rap musical – Another rap show by SAK!

HOODIES – An important show produced by two friends, Beth Marshall & James Brendlinger.

Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – From my alma mater!

I’ll post more as Fringe gets underway! And of course, I’d love it if you came to see The Prodigal Musical. Some info:


Thursday, May 14th | 6:45 p.m.
Sunday, May 17th | 2:15 p.m.
Thursday, May 21st | 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 23rd | 12:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 24th | 2:15 p.m



You will need an official “Fringe Button” to get into the festival. Buttons cost $9 and can be purchased at Summit Church, online, or the festival. Children 12 years old and under do not need a button!  All ticket sales go to the artists, so the proceeds from your one-time button purchase go to the festival.

So you got your button… Now you need your ticket to the show! Tickets are $6.40 ($5 + $1.40 processing fee) and can be purchased online HERE or at any of the ticket booths at the festival.  Get them in advance to ensure you have a seat.

The Festival takes place in Loch Haven Park. (Know where the Science Center is? Then you know where Loch Haven Park is!) Our show will be performed in the Silver Venue, located inside The Orlando Repertory Theatre at 1001 East Princeton Street Orlando, Florida 32803

I’m at Fringe… Now where do I park my car?! Free parking at Loch Haven is available, but limited. Additional off-site parking is within walking distance on Mills and Princeton.

All shows at Fringe start on time, and there is no late entry (seriously… even if you’re a minute late, they’ll shut the doors!). Please arrive 45 minutes early to allow time to park, purchase tickets, and get in line to grab a good seat!

Make sure that kids have used the restroom before the show because there are no re-entries back into the theatre if you have to leave mid-show.  They’re strict about that!  Our show runs 55 minutes without an intermission and is fast-moving…so I trust it can keep the kids’ attention!
Happy Fringing!!!

Author: Michael Murray

I like steak. I like bacon. And I want to follow Jesus the best I can.

3 thoughts on “Why I Love The Orlando Fringe Festival”

  1. I adore this story and you. I totally remember meeting you and saying that about PH. In fact, the deal I made with Charles Thomas was that if The First Baptist Church came out to PH for the awards party, I would come out to the church the following Sunday. I held up on my end of the bargain as well. (And I remember seeing you that day! I wish y’all so much success with your show. I look forward to seeing it and you at FRINGE. I’m so glad HOODIES made your list. Also, if you get a chance, please come and see Cosmolyrical in the BLACK VENUE as well. (It’s a Christian based show-fyi)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are too kind in your praise, Michael Murray! It has been such an honor to be a part of the Creative Team for The Prodigal Musical – – you and Marco have written a work that is so RICH, it’s every director’s dream. Thanks for sharing your love of Fringe with us. I’m so excited to be an artist for the first time after being an audience member at Fringe Festivals around the world for many years. Whoop whoop! Also, great show list here. Many of these are on my MUST – SEE list, as well!


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