The highest grossing Next Stage Theatre Festival ever wrapped up yesterday with an all-time box office record of $90,000. This is up from the festival’s previous box office record in 2012 of $78,000. And best of all: the Toronto Fringe will return over $63,000 of that revenue to Next Stage artists – directly supporting the future of independent theatre and theatre-making in Canada.
The heated McAuslan beer tent was a lively scene every night of the festival, full of patrons gushing over shows and sipping hot toddies, or mingling with artists, Fringe staff and volunteers. Overall, patrons and critics were impressed by how even the programming was, with many people commenting that it was the best all-round selection of shows the festival has seen yet.
The mandate of the Next Stage Theatre Festival is to give Fringe artists a chance to take their work to the next level – and the 10 shows in the festival did just that. Well known Fringe companies like Nobody’s Business Theatre (Scheherazade) and Praxis Theatre (Rifles) took their work to the next level, offering critical favourites and receiving rave reviews across the board. There were also breakout hits from artists new to the theatre community, such as the cast of Jack Your Body, who played to packed houses consistently.
It was a great year for musicals at Next Stage. The audience favourite for the festival was Killer Business – The Musical, grossing the highest ticket sales in the mainspace theatre. And with its star-studded cast, A Misfortune had the most buzz in the festival, with waiting lists for their sold out shows almost every night.
The Toronto Fringe will be back in July for the 26th annual Toronto Fringe Festival from July 2 – 13, 2014. The Next Stage jury will be out in full force during the summer Fringe, searching for 10 companies or artists ready to take their work to the Next Stage in 2015.