Overcoming bullies and becoming heroes, at FringeNYC

Reckoning…and reconciliation? Lee J. Kaplan’s “Bully” calls his tormenters into the ring.

Reckoning…and reconciliation? Lee J. Kaplan’s “Bully” calls his tormenters into the ring.

JR & HIGH shows tackle tall tales and tough topics 

BY SCOTT STIFFLER  |  Kids, tweens and teens have no excuse to stay glued to the TV during the final days of summer vacation. Why watch repeats, when North America’s largest multi-arts festival is about to bring some new tricks to the dog days of August? Two special FringeNYC programs — FringeJR and FringHIGH — will provide plenty of live theater, post-show Talk-Backs and exclusive meet-the-cast opportunities.

For the first time in the sprawling festival’s 17-year history, The Theater at the 14th Street Y (344 E. 14th St., btw. First & Second Aves.) will serve as the exclusive home to these three short FringeJR plays, designed for children ages 5-12:


Peter Pan and Stardust Dances: Enter a world of twilight magic, in which J.M. Barrie’s timeless characters (including Peter Pan and Tinkerbelle) meet free-spirited gypsies and floating dancers on circus globes. Sun., Aug. 11 at noon, Mon., Aug. 12 & Sat., Aug. 17 at 4:30pm, Wed., Aug. 14 at 5:45pm and Wed., Aug. 21 at 4pm.


Sarazad and the Monster-King: Pirates, robots and a cranky Monster-King are no match for Sarazad — as the shy nine-year-old girl uses her imagination to confront her fears (and the kids at school who bully her for being different). Fri., Aug. 9 at 5pm, Sat. Aug. 10 at 2:30pm, Wed., Aug. 14 at 4pm and Thurs., Aug. 22 at 5:45pm.


The Young Olympians and the Most Amazingly Awesome Adventure Ever: Mix the noble quest of “The Goonies” with the wacky hijinks of “Scooby-Doo” — and added lots of audience sing-along opportunities — and you’ve got this all-ages origin story from The Maryland Ensemble Theater. When the gods of Mt. Olympus suddenly develop amnesia, young Hercules, Perseus, Jason and Andromeda go on an epic adventure to find a cure. Along the way, they learn what it really means to be a hero. Mon., Aug. 19 & Wed., Aug. 21 at 5:30pm, Fri., Aug. 23 at 2pm, Sat., Aug. 24 at 3pm and Sun., Aug. 25 at noon.

Special $10 FringeJR tickets are available for purchase at the box office (15 minutes prior to curtain) or 24 in advance, at FringeCENTRAL (27 Second Ave., btw. First & Second Sts.). For more info, visit fringenyc.org. Meet the cast of all three shows, at Fort FringeJR (located at FringeCENTRAL). For Olympians: Sun., Aug. 8, at noon. For Sarazad: Fri., Aug. 9, at 4pm. For Peter Pan: Sun., Aug. 11, at 2:30pm. 

FringeHIGH is a collection of boundary-stretching plays (drawn from the general roster of FringeNYC shows) that will resonate with young adults. Topics include confronting school violence, claiming your own identity, challenging sexual labels and stereotypes and negotiating the twists and turns of love. Tickets ($15 in advance, $18 at the door) can be purchased online (fringenyc.com), by phone (866-468-7619) or in person at FringeCENTRAL. One performance of each FringeHIGH show will have a post-performance Talk-Back — your chance to discuss the show with members of the cast or creative team. Check out fringenyc.org for each show’s scheduled Talk-Back date.


Bully: Fresh from its run at the Capital Fringe Festival in DC, Lee J. Kaplan’s multi-character solo show takes its inspiration from his sixth-grade journal entries — and takes the notion of confronting your tormenters to a highly theatrical, appropriately metaphorical, extreme. In an effort to rise above the damage inflicted by those who subjected him to unrelenting attacks, Kaplan calls his past and present-day bullies into the boxing ring. Less a revenge fantasy than a journey to peace of mind and empowerment, “Bully” revisits the pivotal moments, and people, in Kaplan’s life — allowing him to find out what it takes to grow up and deal with the demons of the past.

Sat., Aug. 10 at 7:30pm, Sun., Aug. 11 at 6pm, Wed., Aug. 14 at 6pm (followed by a Talk-Back), Fri., Aug. 16 at 2:30pm, Sun., Aug. 18 at 1:45pm. At The Steve & Marie Sgouros Theatre (115 MacDougal St., btw. W. Third & Bleecker Sts.).


Two Gentlemen of Verona: A Swashbuckling Comedy: Queens-based director and choreographer Michael Hagins took the text from one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays, filled in some missing plot holes and then added swordfights, crazy chase scenes and random violence — while, he says, managing to keep the integrity of the language and the theme of love having the power to conquer all.

Sun., Aug. 11 at 5:30pm, Mon., Aug. 12 at 2pm, Thurs., Aug. 22 at 7pm and Sat., Aug. 24 at 2:15pm (that’s the Talk-Back performance). At CSV Flamboyan (107 Suffolk St., btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.).

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