Next Thursday, June 11th, marks the beginning of the Hollywood Fringe Festival here in Los Angeles, and with it comes a flurry of one-of-a-kind, creative musical productions. The festival is a haven for the underground, emerging arts scene, and if you want a chance to catch the next Mindy Kaling or Bradley Cooper before they get big (both actors are alums of the fest’s New York City counterpart), you’ll want to make sure to see as many of the 275 performances as you can.

To help you narrow that list down to a more manageable number, check out my list of the top five musicals (all of which are self-produced!) to see at this year’s festival!

5) AnnabellaTickets

A lonely puppeteer is brought back to life by a reclusive witch and a malicious harlot in this dark musical set in medieval Italy. Sam Johnides and Tony Gonzalez, the classically trained creative team behind this musical, use their impressive talents to create a magically evocative world while focusing on the emotion and story. With Carol Vaness, a trained New York Met Opera star, set to direct this haunting romance, Annabella will certainly be a moving performance not to be missed.


4) Assistants: The MusicalTickets

Having been an assistant to a Devil Wears Prada-esque producer for four years, this musical appeals to me on a deeply spiritual level. Its creators, Bryan Blaskie and Manny Hagopian, are musical writing veterans, Blaskie creating last year’s Fringe show Victorian Courting & Zombies and Hagopian bringing to life Tonya Harding: The Musical at Upright Citizens Brigade this past year. The life of a Hollywood assistant is filled with unbelievably ridiculous experiences and provides a shocking look behind the entertainment business’ glamorous façade, revealing a culture of power, greed, and gossip. If that world isn’t the perfect playground for a lively musical with heartfelt songs, what is?


3) The Count of Monte Cristo: The MusicalTickets

Writer Kelly D’Angelo spent a decade adapting this timeless tale of love, loss, and revenge into a musical filled with powerful political motifs. Its dramatic score was written by Berklee graduate Matt Dahan, whose original music from the film How Sweet It Is was shortlisted for the 2013 Oscars. Set in 19th century France and with authentic costumes to match, The Count of Monte Cristo: The Musical promises to be a sweeping epic worthy of its source literature, brought to life with equal passion and conviction.


2) King of Kong: A Musical ParodyTickets

Inspired by the cult documentary King of Kong, this acclaimed two person musical comedy won “Best Overall Musical” at the 2014 New York Fringe Festival. This playful performance follows two men on their quest to hold the Donkey Kong classic video game high score and features songs like “A Fistful Of Quarters Is A Fistful Of Dreams.” Its creators have an impressive comedic resume as well: Amber Ruffin currently writes for Late Night With Seth Meyers and is a veteran of the esteemed Boom Chicago and Second City, while Lauren Van Kurin is a graduate of several top improv schools, including Annoyance, iO West, and Sacred Fools.


1) TimeheartTickets

After being blown away by Robot Teammate and The Accidental Party’s musical improv performance, I couldn’t wait to see what these comedic masterminds would create for the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Leave it up to this delightfully quirky powerhouse of improvisers to create a one-of-a-kind ’70s sci-fi time travel space opera. Given that their improvised shows are filled with unforgettable music and exuberant performances, I can only imagine what this illustrious group can create with months of preparation. With a live backing band comprising members of one of my favorite local folk-rock bands, Town in the City, Timeheart sits atop my list of must-see musicals at this year’s festival.


For more information:

The Hollywood Fringe Festival official website