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Las Vegas Fringe Festival highlights local theater

Some people enjoy living on the fringe.

“That’s where some the best theater happens,” said Las Vegas Little Theatre Vice President TJ Larsen .

It’s with that idea in mind that the Las Vegas Little Theatre, 3920 Schiff Drive, is presenting the second annual Vegas Fringe Festival, Thursday through Sunday and June 17-18.

The festival features 11 individual productions from local companies. Tickets are $12 per show.

The roster of shows includes productions such as “Blue Hour,” “The Wind in the Willows” and “Sing to Me through Open Windows.”

Larsen said he expects the shows to be very popular and the festival to continue growing.

“We already have more participation this year than we did last year, so I’d say we are heading in the right direction, ” he added.

According to Larsen, the original festival began in Scotland more than 60 years ago after a group of local theater companies couldn’t afford to participate in a mainstream festival. The groups got together to create a “fringe” festival for out-of-the-ordinary, independent and forward-thinking companies and works.

“They rented smaller theaters and worked to draw crowds away from the mainstream festival,” he said. “It worked. Before long, Fringe became overwhelmingly popular, and the commercial festival that wouldn’t accommodate the independents faded away.”

Larsen said versions of the festival have been popping up all over the world ever since.

“There are Fringe Festivals in Seattle, New York, Paris,” he said. “There are more and more all the time. We believe it’s time for Las Vegas to be counted among those involved.”

Larsen said many companies and theaters, including the one he represents, operate in the shadow of the larger-than-life Strip shows that showcase world- class talent.

“Nobody can deny that they are great,” he said. “But I think what gets lost in that is the value of community theater and local talent. There’s a lot of it here, and we want it to be showcased.”

Larsen said his goal for the festival is that it will eventually grow large and successful enough to become regional or even international.

“It’s time to draw attention to the talent that’s native to this city,” he said. “Not meaning you have to be from Nevada, but you live and work here. The goal is to present local talent to the world.”

Larsen said patrons who attend the festival can expect a wide variety of productions.

“There’s no theme,” he said. “I think people should expect to experience a range of emotions depending upon the production they experience.”

Las Vegas resident Jaxon Wilmer said he plans to attend the festival.

“I think our arts and theater community is vastly underrated, and I want to support it,” he said.

For more information, call 362-7996 or visit lvlt.org.

Contact Southwest and Spring Valley View reporter Amanda Donnelly at adonnelly@viewnews.com or 380-4535.

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