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Orlando Weekly and the Orlando Fringe grew up together 

Freaks and geeks

Orlando Weekly isn't the only cultural institution celebrating its silver anniversary this year. Our readers' repeat pick for Best Arts Event in our annual Best of Orlando poll, the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival – recently rebranded simply "the Orlando Fringe" – is turning 25 next year. To mark the dual milestones, we asked some key figures from the Orlando Fringe's past and present for their memories (good and bad, in reverse chronological order) of how the festival and the Weekly have matured side by side.

George Wallace

Current executive director; Fringe volunteer since 2003

I've had so many highs and lows the past decade, but there are a few that stand out. My favorite Fringe/Weekly memories always center around the Fringe issues. It's like Christmas morning when the Fringe edition comes out, from the cover to the stories, because Orlando Weekly always has a different take on things, and I appreciate that.

Accepting the Orlando Weekly "Best Of" awards are also high on my list, because Orlando Weekly knows how to put on a party – but I think Fringe throws a pretty great party, too! I am glad we have gotten to grow up together.

Michael Marinaccio

Current festival producer; Fringe artist since 1997

In 1999 I was in a show at the Fringe titled Electra at the Wiener Stand. After our final performance we went to the beer tent, where we met a bespectacled man who told us that he loved the show. We spoke with him for a while, with an openness that comes with decompressing after concluding a final performance and drinking lots of beer.

click to enlarge Impresario Michael Wanzie
  • Impresario Michael Wanzie

A few days later, I opened Orlando Weekly and read details of that conversation written by the man we had met, Steve Schneider. It was a love note to us that concluded with a Christmas wish that we all stay in Orlando where we were sorely needed. It weighed on me, and even though I moved away for a time, it helped me realize that my place was here in Orlando, and at the Fringe.

Beth Marshall

Former producing artistic director (2004-2011); Fringe volunteer and artist since 1998

In my early days as an artist with Fringe, I fondly remember that OW sponsored the Orlando Fringe and served as the festival's printed program. I was so grateful for this because at the time there was not enough money in the budget for Fringe to create its own program.

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As the former producing artistic director of Orlando Fringe and current indie theater producer/artist, I remain grateful that so much coverage in editorial, previews, reviews and advertising is out there in OW for Fringe and the arts groups within.

I don't know if this is credited as an OW thing exactly, but it does give Seth Kubersky the review clout to be on the Critic's Choice panel for Orlando Fringe's award ceremony, and while I appreciate the fun spirit and popularity value in the Best of Orlando Readers Poll or Audience Choice awards of any sorts (thank you for Fringe's annual Best of Orlando notice as well as my own personal awards), I love the value and expertise offered by Seth and his fellow critics Elizabeth Maupin and Matt Palm in both reviews and awards.

Chris Gibson
click to enlarge Producer Beth Marshall
  • Producer Beth Marshall

Former assistant producer (2001) and co-producer (2002-2004)

My worst Fringe memory was finding out that one of the downtown venues was flooding and that we needed to find a space and build a new one. We did it, but the terror of that day, the fear that our artists were in harm's way, still haunts me.

My best Fringe memory is in the beer tent, naturally. I believe it was the 2002 festival when Fringe central was at the History Center. We had brought the infamous Orlando cabaret duo Mark and Lorna to perform at the tent. It was quite a celebration. That night and those people, my heart will never forget.

My memory of Orlando Weekly is that it represented the art culture of the city for me. The immense support and respect that the Weekly gave the festival really validated us in the community's eyes and helped us to grow.

Terry Olson

Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival founder and first producer

The Weekly was always supportive of the Fringe, but in the third year of the Fringe, I think I had heard that a conservative religious radio station had been warning its listeners about the Fringe, while the Weekly ran a headline "Fringe a forum for Religious Right" because of a production of an anti-abortion-leaning play. That was the best and the worst – to have ALL sides of our community offended, but to have all sides of our community OFFENDED.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

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