The shows will take over more than 430 venue spaces (up from 376 in 2015).
Even the State Library of South Australia is getting in on the action, hosting what’s expected to be one of the Fringe’s hottest tickets.
The California Crooners Club with Hugh Sheridan features the Adelaide-born, LA-based Packed to the Rafters star singing jazz classics as well as swing versions of chart hits by Justin Timberlake, Sia and Sam Smith.
“We’re asking Adelaide to go pink for Fringe and to light up pink for Fringe. We want to paint the town pink so I thought, ‘Well, I’ll start with my hair’.”
Croall’s hair colour isn’t the only outrageous thing about the Fringe.
Just when you thought it couldn’t become a bigger beast, it’s announced that the next Adelaide Fringe (February 12 – March 14) will feature a record 1100-plus events.
The largest number of events are devoted to comedy (305), followed by music (228), theatre (151), cabaret (112) and art and design exhibitions (111).
With her hot-pink hair, Adelaide Fringe director Heather Croall is right on brand.
“I’m leading by example,” says Croall with a laugh.
The rest of the program is a mix of circus and physical theatre, dance, film and digital events, kids’ entertainment and special events. Two new genres, magic and interactive events, are also making their debut.
Where will they fit it all in?
Sheridan’s father Denis, a swing singer from way back, will return to Adelaide to perform at a laneway bar called the Lotus Lounge.
Other Fringe musical highlights include shows from reunited American rockers Sleater-Kinney, Colin Hay, Kate Ceberano, The Black Sorrows, iOTA and Kate Miller-Heidke.
Adelaide Fringe ambassador Julian Clary is bringing the world premiere of his show, The Joy of Mincing, to Adelaide’s Royalty Theatre on February 17 and 18.
In his role as ambassador, Clary is encouraging visitors to take a chance on an unknown show or artist (many of whom take to the streets or roam around the Garden of Unearthly Delights to spruik their own shows before the curtain goes up).
“My motto – in life and at the Fringe – is to take some risks,” he said.
“I’m all for sticking a pin in the program and going to see something random and obscure.”
Among the not-so-obscure comedians on the Fringe roster for 2016 are Dave Hughes, Judith Lucy, Danny Bhoy, Wil Anderson and Hannah Gadsby.
Croall has also listened to the people of Adelaide who wanted to see the return of something like the lighting spectacular that was such a hit in the 2008 Adelaide Festival (Northern Lights ended up being extended for an extra two weeks and was eventually seen by an estimated 300,000 people).
Cue Fringe Illuminations – massive architectural projections that will transform seven North Terrace cultural institutions – the Art Gallery of South Australia, the South Australian Museum and the like – into canvases of light for the Fringe’s first fortnight (February 12-28).
“We want to bring back the promenade along the boulevard,” says Croall. “North Terrace is probably one of the most beautiful cultural boulevards in the world.”
Other Fringe highlights include Canada’s Cirque Alfonse, which is presenting a show called Barbu Electro Trad Cabaret.
“They are one of the most exciting circus groups in the world at the moment,” says Croall. Another circus show, Perhaps There is Hope Yet, shines a light on climate change.
Croall, who has a background in digital technology and documentaries, is also excited to debut the Digital Playground at the State Library of SA.
Australian and international artists have created works designed to be experienced with virtual-reality headsets and the Google Cube (a six-sided moving image).
Adelaide Fringe started in 1960 as a light-hearted, boundary-pushing alternative to the more serious Adelaide Festival, which debuted that year with a program featuring symphony orchestras, a medley of Shakespeare scenes, opera, drama, quartets and the like – with many of them imported from overseas.
Unbridled free for all at Fringe Adelaide 2016
Local artists wanted a platform and so the open-access Fringe was born. No curator vets the Fringe performances.
“We create a brilliant platform and everyone can jump onto that platform,” says Croall. “We create the vibrancy and atmosphere that wraps the festival. You buy a ticket and take the ride.”
Plenty have done just that. Right from the start, there was something about the subversive, naughty, freewheeling nature of the Fringe that appealed to a wide cross-section of people.