by William Crum
The year was 2004 when the Fringe Festival started in the Kansas City area. Referred to by many as the new vaudeville, the Fringe Festival has gotten bigger and better every year.
This year it has 100 artists and groups in more than 422 performances in 18 venues from the Crossroads area to the University of Missouri at Kansas City. The performances range from dance to comedy and the visual arts.
The price for each event ranges from $10 to $15 and the tickets can be purchased at the venues 30 minutes before show time. Tickets for children 12 and under are $5 and are available at box office for shows that are rated family friendly.
One of the participants in the Fringe Festival is Heidi Van Middlesworth, who is known at the festival as Heidi Van. She is a 1996 graduate of Bishop Ward High School who now is the owner of the Fish Tank, a place where a new playwright can get a chance to show off his work.
Heidi started acting at a very young age; her mother was involved with the Theater League and they would have plays where children who are young get a chance to act.
“I really had fun doing these plays as a child,” she said. “As I got older my love for the theater has become a major part of my life. I really enjoy teaching acting to young people. This is how the Fish Tank came about,” Heidi said.
Another participant in this year’s festival is Wendy Wood, who performs with a group called Skin. She goes by the stage name of Emery. This is a Las Vegas-style ensemble that when you see it you think you’re right there in downtown Vegas, a group that Wayne Newton would have on stage with him. This performance is for adults.
Wendy lives here in Wyandotte County. Wendy is a graduate of Schlagle High School in Kansas City, Kan., and has relatives who live in Bonner Springs, Kan., and Edwardsville, Kan. Like Heidi, she started off at a very young age and both Heidi and Wendy are proud of their roots in Wyandotte County.
“Eventually I plan to move back to Wyandotte County and bring the Fish Tank along with me. Especially with the redevelopment of Minnesota Avenue,” Heidi said.
There are lots of residents from Wyandotte County who really enjoy the Fringe Festival and every year they try to attend various performances. Two people who enjoy the festival are State Sen. David Haley and State Rep. Pam Curtis. “I tried to attend as many of the performances I can even though I have a very busy schedule,” said Sen. David Haley.
“Eventually we want to go to the Wyandotte County area, but nothing for me yet. They have been talking to the Alcott Center but nothing is firm yet. As soon as we close this year you start getting ready for next year immediately,” said Cheryl Kimmi, the executive director.
The Fringe Festival started July 17 and runs through Sunday, July 27, at 20 places in Kansas City, Mo. For more information about the performances of the Kansas City Fringe Festival go to the website, www.kcfringe.org.