Best Theater Festival (2011)

Phoenix Fringe Festival

We love that this alternative-theater festival spotlights the kind of awesome small-budget gems you'd find showing at a Greenwich Village playhouse, which is welcome relief from the recycled Neil Simon snoozers and jukebox musicals Phoenix is known for inviting. This year's event was also rife with Arizona premières, including Steven Fales' Confessions of a Mormon Boy (originally directed by Tony Award-winner Jack Hofsiss), which follows a drug-addicted, excommunicated Mormon dad as he attempts to get his shit together, and The Fall of June Bloom, written and performed in part by an Australian woman battling dementia. The fact that the latter show was rehearsed entirely via Skype is an indication of just how cutting-edge the festival is. Toss in a play about four people finding themselves during the apocalypse and Van Rockwell's Oppressed, which chronicled a breakup from the dude's point of view, and you have a series of short plays that kicks the habit of sitting through The Sound of Music one more bloody time.


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