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Ten Must-See Shows at the New York International Fringe Festival

by Photo of Natalie Sacks

With 205 different productions, how will you ever decide what to see? We’re here to help.

Ten Must-See Shows at the New York International Fringe Festival

In this article…

The New York International Fringe Festival is a celebration of new theater in all its forms. Now in its 18th year, FringeNYC boasts 205 shows, performing for 16 days in 20 venues across Midtown Manhattan. We covered the history of the fringe festival here at CHARGED.fm already, but with the festivities beginning this Friday, we thought you might need some help picking the right shows to see.

Our absolute favorites will be showing up on the site as reviews throughout the festival, but we can't manage to see everything. So stay tuned for those reviews, and meanwhile, here are our ten must-see shows for you to check out now!

2014 - When We Were Idiots

Follow your tour guide Xavier the penguin around Manhattan, unchanged since 2014, when it disappeared under a massive mound of rubbish. Set in 2114, this comedy walking tour features historical gems, celebrating the future and yelling at strangers.

We're excited for this one both because it features Australian comedian Xavier Toby and because it's a great pick for people who tend to tune out during traditional theater performances. Traipse around New York following your favorite Aussie penguin for a performance that puts you in an active role and laugh your head off as you go.

Bedroom Secrets

Do you really know who you're sleeping with? Peek into the office of a psychotherapist and her patients dealing with today's sexual issues. 'Bedroom Secrets' stars Stephen Wallem (Nurse Jackie) and Ashlie Atkinson (Fat Pig).

For anyone who loves medical dramas, this psychological version is bound to be a blast. Atkinson will play the therapist, while Wallem plays all five patients, including men and women. Laugh and groan along with the characters in this adult comedy.

Circus Circus

Ever smoke or sell marijuana? Robert did and is now in prison for it, surrounded by killers, rapists and meth-head molesters. Now his life is a circus and the warden is the Ringmaster running the show!

Inspired by true events, Circus Circus provides a uniquely contemporary look at the state of American prisons. The play is not intended to be a political soapbox, but for anyone who wants to know more about the controversy surrounding prison reform, this dramedy is going to be an education and an entertaining evening all in one.

Coming: A Rock Musical of Biblical Proportions

Jesus returns as Josh, a youth with a heart of gold, who spreads his message of love by competing on American Icon. Damian, a glam/pop megastar, suffers a blow from God and seeks revenge through His son. The Glamageddon ensues.

This musical comedy is going to be hilarious. A tongue-in-cheek parody of both reality singing competitions and extreme evangelical Christianity, Coming stages the collision between fame, religion and sexuality as Josh is forced to decide between his faith and his conscience.

The HVAC Plays (Or, Adventures in Living Without Basic Necessities, Like Heat and Air Conditioning)

Six exasperated city-dwellers. Three crappy apartments. One absentee landlord. What happens when central air fails? Hot and cold collide and culminate in acts of desperation. Discover the temperature of the human condition in this world premiere.

This play stages a drama relevant to more New Yorkers than many would like to admit. Based on true experiences in Queens, NY, The HVAC Plays will make you laugh and cry all at once, and more than anything make you very very grateful for that little window A/C unit in the corner of your room.

I'll Say She Is

The historic and hysterical first revival ever of the Marx Brothers' 90-year-old first Broadway show, the only one of the team's stage vehicles never to have been filmed.

Two of the Marx Brothers' three Broadway musicals, The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers, were adapted for the screen. But their 1924 Broadway debut, I'll Say She Is, was never recorded, and has never before been revived. This hybrid book musical/revue about an heiress looking for thrills is directed by American Vaudeville Theater's Trav S.D., and should be almost as good as seeing the brothers themselves live on stage.


It’s WWII, and a Nisei, second-generation Japanese American soldier has to overcome bigotry displayed against him and his family by the very country he is fighting to protect. This legacy unfolds in a ballet of love, strength and honor.

The Fringe Festival isn't all about theater. This contemporary/ballet dance performance by Covenant Ballet Theatre of Brooklyn tells the story of the 100th Infantry Battalion, Separate, the segregated American military unit of Japanese American men fighting in WWII. The performances will have live music accompaniment, and the musical score will include songs written by composer/ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro and multi-platinum singer/songwriter Harold Payne.


Both startling and deeply moving, Samira received four stars from The Scotsman at the Edinburgh Festival. This rare and suspenseful, 60-minute, multi-media drama from Israel delivers a fascinating insight into the mind of a female terrorist.

Playwright and performer Anat Barzilay served in the Israeli army herself, but this story is about people, not politics. The play deals with women's low status in a society growing more fanatically religious by the day, and tries to answer the question of what drives people to become suicide bombers. A dark, fascinating drama.

Stone Cold Fox: The Best from 75 Years of SCF

Stone Cold Fox plays the hits as the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre's senior sketch team. Take a stroll down Memory Lane, cross Laughs Boulevard and get turned around near the Good Times Highway on-ramp. What kind of map is this?

Did you miss the Del Close Festival this summer? Or can you just not get enough of Upright Citizens Brigade? Either way, we have high expectations for this compilation of sketch comedy hits.

A Thousand Deaths

This production is adapted from the science-fiction short story by Jack London. On a remote island in the Pacific, a scientist discovers a cure for death itself. Now, he must test his discovery on one subject over and over and over again.

Doing sci-fi on stage is always a challenge, and we're excited to see how this one comes out. This movement-heavy piece from Core Creative Productions brings the classic London story to life in a new way.

And more...

Didn't see anything that appeals to you? There are literally hundreds of other options. Check out the master list on FringeNYC's website--you can sort by genre, date and time, theme, cultures represented and more. 

We kick off our Fringe reviews this weekend. Here's a sneak peek of what's coming your way: Taylor Swift, Sherlock Holmes and fan fiction cults. It's going to be great.

Want great tickets but hate paying fees? Check CHARGED.fm to find tickets for less and NO FEES!

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