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5 best bets for the 2016 Chicago Fringe Festival

Written by
Kris Vire
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The seventh annual Chicago Fringe Festival opens tonight at various venues in Jefferson Park. With 47 different performances on offer, all chosen by lottery rather than curated by a jury, it can be tough to gauge what’s what, but I've pored over the show descriptions to make some educated guesses about five shows you should see if you're feeling fringe-y.

The Curse on Mordrake House There be monsters in this original horror play, described by Chicago’s Barebones Theater Company as “Clive Barker meets William Shakespeare.” The Gift Theatre. Sept 2 at 10pm; Sept 3 at 5:30pm; Sept 4 at 10pm; Sept 5 at 5:30pm; Sept 9 at 7pm.

The Filthy Habit This short opera by Chicago composer Peter Hilliard and librettist Matt Boresi concerns a newlywed couple’s struggle to quit smoking after New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg enacts a ban. Congregational Church of Jefferson Park. Sept 3 at 7pm; Sept 5 at 2:30pm; Sept 9 at 8:30pm.

40 Minutes to Howard It's strangers on a (Red Line) train as two commuters find unexpected bonds in this one-act by Creg Sclavi, produced by Spartan Theatre Company. Jefferson Playhouse. Sept 1 at 10pm; Sept 4 at 8:30pm; Sept 8, 9, 11 at 7pm.

For the Love of Pie It’s 1983, and TV food-show host is desperate to win over her new producers with pie in this solo piece from Toronto performer Melissa Paulson. Windy City Music Theatre. Sept 2 at 8:30pm; Sept 3 at 5:30pm; Sept 4 at 1pm; Sept 5 at 4pm; Sept 8 at 8:30pm; Sept 10 at 10pm; Sept 11 at 7pm.

Songs from My Closet A cabaret collection of pretty, witty and gay tunes by Chicago composer Larry Todd Cousineau, this revue features performances by the capable likes of Christin Boulette, Ashlee Hardgrave, George Keating, Nathan Mittleman and Cousineau himself. Congregational Church of Jefferson Park. Sept 2 at 10pm; Sept 10 at 2:30pm; Sept 11 at 7pm.

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