New York’s SoHo Playhouse will host its 12th Fringe Encore Series in September and October but it will be the first to include acts selected from the Adelaide Fringe.
Well-known Irish Australian comedian Jimeoin will perform the first of his five shows on the opening night of the series on September 5. Adelaide’s Fafi D’Alour and the Delinquents will also have five shows in the series, from September 29 to October 7.
Fiona Smith, 21, writes, produces and stars as Fafi D’Alour in the contemporary cabaret that includes ballet, burlesque, a soul jazz singer and aerialists.
The four-woman show enjoyed success at the Perth and Adelaide Fringes this year and will play at the Melbourne Fringe in mid-September before heading to New York. It is currently running a Pozible crowdfunding campaign to help pay for the trip.
The New York opportunity came about when Smith met SoHo Playhouse artistic director Darren Lee Cole at the Adelaide Fringe in February.
Cole was among 178 delegates in town as part of the Fringe’s Honeypot program, which aims to forge relationships between artists and presenters, programmers and producers of festivals and venues from around the world.
Smith also went to the United States last year to train and to scope out the possibility of organising her own shows.
“The trip to the United States last year blew my mind – I’ve been dancing since I was four years old and I’d never seen anything like what I saw in the US. It was so inspirational,” she says.
“Within a couple of days of Darren seeing the (Adelaide Fringe) show he said, ‘I want to take you to New York’.”
Smith, who takes great inspiration from the Bob Fosse jazz style of dancing made famous by the musical Chicago, moved from Brighton, England, to South Australia with her family eight years ago.
Acts recruited from the Brighton Fringe Festival in her old hometown will also perform in the Off Broadway series, together with artists from the Edinburgh, Hollywood and Winnipeg fringes.
“I want people in other places to see what Adelaide has got,” Smith says.
“Everyone knows about Edinburgh when you talk Fringe but I think a lot of people in the US really don’t know about Adelaide, including a lot of the brokers and directors.”
Fafi D’Alour and the Delinquents were among 108 Adelaide Fringe acts to be signed up by Honeypot delegates at the Adelaide Fringe this year.
The New York Fringe is taking a hiatus this year after celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2016. However, organisers this month announced plans for the revamped event to be held in October 2018.
Cole has just flown back to New York from Edinburgh – his fifth Fringe Festival of the year – and says the average quality of the shows and the talent he saw in Adelaide was equal to or better than any other 2017 Fringe.
He says early ticket sales and the potential to fill the void left by the New York Fringe this year has his Fringe Encore Series on track for its most successful season yet.
“I’m hugely optimistic about how the Adelaide Fringe acts will be received,” Cole says.
“New York is about as far away as you can get but I think a New York audience will naturally gravitate towards the Adelaide acts.”
Cole says he chose Fafi D’Alour and the Delinquents for their talent, Smith’s determination to have her own show, and because he thought it would be well received in the United States.
“Her cabaret is a very sophisticated cabaret – not only is this a great show but it’s a style of cabaret that is re-emerging in New York so I thought it would be very well suited,” he said.
“It’s a show that also fills a niche – I like to fill the series with some comedy, primarily theatre and some cabaret and physical performances.”
Cole and his colleagues will choose an overall excellence winner of the Encore Series, which will go on to perform a season at the SoHo Playhouse’s sister theatre in Costa Rica.
Andrew Spence is a journalist with The Lead.