About Minnesota Fringe

There is one big thing that makes Fringe different from any other event in town: All the shows you'll see at Fringe were selected randomly by lottery.

Yep. That's right. Each year the lineup is crafted by placing numbered ping-pong balls into a bingo cage and drawing them out, one by one. From stage veterans to people who are brand new to theater, Minnesota Fringe is a forum for anyone with a story to tell. We also provide the necessary support to make producing a show as easy as possible, regardless of where you land on the artistic spectrum.

Anyone (yes, anyone) can apply to have a show in the festival. If you'd like to have a show in our next festival, applications will go live in November here on our website. Sign up for our newsletter to receive a reminder as well as information about other theater events happening around town.

The mission of the Minnesota Fringe is to promote creative freedom and diversity of artistic expression by linking adventurous artists with adventurous audiences. Thank you for joining in this adventure!

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Shows start and end on time at Fringe. With hundreds of performances and dozens of shows in just 11 days, we have to run a tight schedule to avoid descending into chaos. Performances are no more than 60 minutes long with a half hour between each show.

On weekdays shows begin at 5:30pm, 7pm, 8:30pm and 10pm. On weekends there are additional shows at 1pm, 2:30pm and 4pm.

Late seating: There is NO LATE SEATING at Minnesota Fringe. In addition to keeping our schedule, late seating is a safety issue for artists and audiences.

Safety for artists: Some of our theaters require that patrons walk across parts of the stage to reach the seating area, and many of our production companies’ stage work encompasses entrances and exits from the house.

Safety for audiences: Entering a darkened theater, possibly for the first time, and trying to find open seats puts patrons and volunteers at unnecessary risk.

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Fringe Central

Fringe Central, sponsored by Surly Brewing and hosted by a local establishment, serves as the late-night watering hole for artists, staff, volunteers and audience members alike. Come in after a day full of shows to grab a beer and some bar food. Talk about what you loved and what you didn’t. Meet the artists behind the scenes and actors on the stage. Find out what you should see tomorrow or dream up your own idea for next year. You never know what will happen during Fringe, but dropping by Fringe Central gives you a serious head start.

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What to Wear

Shorts and a t-shirt. Seriously. Also, a pair of comfy shoes will serve you well in case you have to wait in line. Most Fringe shows take place indoors in air-conditioned venues, so having a layer to throw on in case you get chilly is also advisable.

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Choosing a Show

With hundreds of performances and dozens of shows, it's scandalous to see just one. But how to choose the perfect lineup?

Search by genre: You can filter for genres when trying to decide what to see.

Talk to people: It only sounds scary. Just look for the folks in lanyards. Lanyards are worn by Fringe artists and there are at least a thousand of them dying to tell you about their show.

Read and write reviews: See what audiences are raving about on our audience review page, then return the favor and let others know what you thought.

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Get Involved

Fringe isn't just a festival - it's a community, and it couldn't exist without people like you.

Create: Applications for the 2018 festival will are live on this website. Fringe is open to everyone, shows are selected by lottery, and you don't even need to have a show ready when you apply.

Volunteer: Our volunteers are near and dear to our hearts and make our festival go, so we shower them with lots of love and complimentary seats! Sign up for a shift now!

Socialize: Join us any night of the festival at our official hangout, Fringe Central sponsored by Surly Brewing and hosted by a local establishment, for a beer, a burger and maybe even some late-night shenanigans.

Support: Help us create Minnesota's Summer Theater Crawl by donating to or sponsoring our annual festival. Gifts of any size make a large contribution to our ability to meet our mission.

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Box Office Info

Pass, Reservations, and Tickets, Oh My!

In 2018, Fringe will still offer passes but is also re-introducing single tickets options to see shows. We are re-tooling our Box Office policies to reflect our changes. Please check back for more information in the spring.

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Live From New York, He's A Prom Date!

By Side by Side
Created by Peter Simmons and Jen Maren

Playing at U of M Rarig Center Xperimental


Historical content, Solo show, First-time Minnesota Fringe Festival producer, Actors' Equity participants


Warnings: Adult language.

Did you love your prom? Hate it? Did your mom put you on the Sally Jessy Rapheal show because you didn't have a date to your prom? Well, Jen Maren's mom did. Join her as she tells of that fateful time.

The creators say this show is appropriate for ages 16+


Fri, 8/4 @ 10:00pm


Sun, 8/6 @ 4:00pm


Tue, 8/8 @ 8:30pm


Fri, 8/11 @ 5:30pm


Sun, 8/13 @ 7:00pm

* Reservations not required, but a Day Pass is. Find out more below.

Ticket Options

Day Passes are $16 on weekdays; $22 on weekends. Day Passes serve as entry to any show in the festival on a given day. Optional reservations to guarantee a seat for a particular performance are available by clicking the "reserve" button above. Day Passes can be purchased in advance with a reservation or at any venue box office during the festival.

Weekdays 1pm-3pm and Weekends 11am-1pm we'll also open an Alternative Box Office at Fringe Central so you can grab a Day Pass and skip the lines at the venue before the show.

Day Passes for kids 12 and under are available at any box office during the festival just $5 every day.

A 2017 Fringe button isn't required for entry, but it does get you access! Wearing it not only identifies you as a part of a fabulous Fringe community, it also entitles you to special deals at local bars and restaurants and access to reduced ticket prices at various theaters throughout the year. Get your 2017 Fringe button for only $4 at any Fringe preview event or Fringe venue during the festival.

Read the reviews

Loved it!

by Jen Lynn on August 13, 2017
This user has reviewed 5 shows

I wasn't originally planning on seeing this show, but so glad I did. Crazy funny story. Loved the variety in the delivery of it! Very entertaining .

Very Funny and Sentimental

by Jennifer Cummings on August 13, 2017
This user has reviewed 1 show

Wonderful show - great use of music, multi-media and storytelling. I laughed from start to finish. Great job!


by Dawn Schuette-McKinnon on August 13, 2017
This user has reviewed 1 show

Sharp, engaging, creative and funny characters, warm, poignant and touching. Also moving, and I recommend for mothers and daughters to see together!

One woman tour de force!

by Jeffrey Kessel on August 12, 2017
This user has reviewed 6 shows

Frequent laughs in this: not giggles but belly laughs! Great use of pictures, video & a few props. The performance moved fast. She did s great job conveying the conflicted angst of teenage years.


by Mariellen Jacobson on August 12, 2017
This user has reviewed 38 shows

You’ll laugh so hard you’ll cry. (Or cry so hard you’ll laugh!) Teen embarrassment on a national level, and then some! What a hilarious set of stories, bravely and charmingly told and sung by the victim herself. Be sure to reserve your spot - it will certainly sell out!

Standing ovation

by Cristine Patlan on August 12, 2017
This user has reviewed 5 shows

We laughed out loud, the story is unbelievable. We shed tears, very touching. Add to your list of shows to see.

Evocative & Entertaining

by A. Gray on August 11, 2017
This user has reviewed 1 show

Simply outstanding! One of those rare shows that evokes a variety of emotions. Live From NY... had me laughing, crying and cringing. Fantastically written and performed. Both humorous and touching. Beautiful singing, too! Mean girl doing stand up? Try (un)pretty boy doing Rex Reed.

Hilarious, brave and cathartic! Go see!!

by Dane Stauffer on August 9, 2017
This user has reviewed 2 shows

It takes guts to put such a cringe worthy experience out for public consumption once again. It takes someone talented and versatile and funny like Jen Maren to pull it off. Go see this show. It's quite a true tale!

1 person found this review helpful

You Can't Know It All At Once

by Bradley Johnson on August 9, 2017
This user has reviewed 56 shows

Picked this show because we had 2 teenage nieces Fringing with us. Thought it would be just okay and figured they would enjoy it. Well, they did! And I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed it! Jen Maren was wonderful! Sharing her prom (somewhat nightmarish) story in a very entertaining and comedic way. Isn't it wonderful how time can heal and we are able to laugh and share what once was unbearable?

1 person found this review helpful

Mean girl

by Stephen Edward on August 9, 2017
This user has reviewed 1 show

I kept looking at my watch, hoping this show would end. I saw this with friends and knew what it was about; they didn't like it either.
With the exception of the narrator, her mother and a couple of others spared, everyone else was portrayed as two-dimensional caricatures to mock. So, by the time the show finally reached the sentimental part, I didn't care; it was a mean girl doing stand-up.

1 person found this review helpful

Painfully and Hilariously True!

by Edwin Strout on August 9, 2017
This user has reviewed 24 shows

Go see this show! You will not be disappointed. All of this happened and she has the video tape to prove it! Wonderfully told by an excellent actor. Kudos also to the director.

1 person found this review helpful

Why I love the Fringe

by Sunny Sorenson on August 8, 2017
This user has reviewed 13 shows

These types of shows are what the Fringe is for. No where else can you see an actor and her one person show about a unique aspect of her childhood; this personal connection really emphasized the humor and poignancy.

Funny and full of heart , this production - to me - is why we need the Minnesota Fringe.

Bravo to all involved! You've earned it.

1 person found this review helpful

Prom and Mom

by Florence Brammer on August 8, 2017
This user has reviewed 41 shows

This was a charming blend of a real-life high school prom experience and some poignant observations about mother-daughter relationships. At times the anecdotal value of the prom material seemed to be stretched a little too thin, but film footage from the actual Sally Jesse Raphael TV show at the heart of the story helped keep the audience engaged.

See it.

by Kirk Johnson on August 8, 2017
This user has reviewed 2 shows

It is well done. She's got a lot of talent, and although I normally don't go for one person shows, she had an assist from the camera

Funny and Poignant

by Mary Grina on August 7, 2017
This user has reviewed 1 show

This was so funny. At times I couldn't stop laughing. I have two daughters about Jen's age and it just struck a funny cord. The song she san about her mother brought tears to my eyes.

Great performance

by Janis Emily Peabody on August 7, 2017
This user has reviewed 48 shows

I hate it when people give a show a bad review because it wasn't what they expected. READ THE DESCRIPTION! This show was well done, the acting funny and delightfully sentimental. The music touching and well performed. It touched me, and personally, I like that.

HIgh expectations greatly exceeded

by Allison Schumacher on August 7, 2017
This user has reviewed 1 show

File under "you can't make this stuff up." Maren delivers a ridiculous-but-true story from her life (with the help of a sparkling, insightful script by the talented Peter Simmons) bursting with humor both wry and silly, humility, embarrassment, gorgeous singing, hilarious characters, and a heart chock full of love for the main character: Maren's mom. You'll do a lot of stuff: laugh, cry, nod in recognition of profound realizations...but you will NOT regret going. A must-see.

2 people found this review helpful


by R Foss on August 7, 2017
This user has reviewed 1 show

Not sure what all the fuss is about. I liked her in Glensheen but this self-inflicted high school drama didn't work for me at all.

Sharing with showmanship

by David Trudeau on August 7, 2017
This user has reviewed 17 shows

I last saw Jen Maren in Glensheen as a cold hearted gold digging sociopath. Here she is as herself - a loveble teen angst queen in a fantastic true documentary of her own life. Touching.

Loved it!

by Donna Palmquist on August 6, 2017
This user has reviewed 1 show

We laughed. We cried. We shared in the humiliation. Insightful and well-performed.

You won't find another show like this

by Fourth Wall on August 6, 2017
This user has reviewed 24 shows

True life story of going on Sally Jessy Rapheal as a teenager. Wow. You may find yourself painfully uncomfortable during the playbacks. Note to producers: I was SO concerned the front legs of the chair were going to give out.

A great show!

by Eric Webster on August 6, 2017
This user has reviewed 2 shows

Well written and directed and magnificently performed. Hilarious, heartfelt, touching and insightful. A truly wonderful journey.

1 person found this review helpful


by Shanan Custer on August 6, 2017
This user has reviewed 2 shows

Jen Maren and her team (crisp, funny, poignant script by Peter Simmons; engaging staging by Lee Adams and Josh Will making the TV magic happen ON CUE) deliver a fast-paced, honest, and emotionally charged show that was a sheer delight to watch. Jen Maren is engaging and holds nothing back--so, so great! It's selling out kids! Get there!

3 people found this review helpful

Out of breath

by Kevin Boedigheimer on August 6, 2017
This user has reviewed 3 shows

I laughed nearly the entire time. The only time we weren't laughing was during heart felt personal moments that filled us with teenage angst and memories of parental 'reckless' love.

Why not asked to prom...? um...

by JL Charrier on August 6, 2017
This user has reviewed 3 shows

I had high hopes for this show but it was just a self-indulgent cocktail party anecdote stretched into an hour. Adding even a dash of real humility to the recitation would better serve the telling of this over-acted tale.

Live from the Fringe

by House o Lee on August 6, 2017
This user has reviewed 2 shows

I adored every bit of this one woman tour-de-Jesse Raphael. We felt the Schadenfreude of Jenny's hilariously mortifying night in the spotlight, but we also saw the maturity of talented actress Jen, probing the deeper reaches of her teenage psyche and coming out on the other side a changed woman. Phenomenal evening of storytelling, passion, laughter and poignancy. Must See.

1 person found this review helpful

Much more than anticipated

by Gene Bard on August 6, 2017
This user has reviewed 14 shows

Well, you already get the broad idea. In addition I learned how some of these types of TV shows are built. Though I know about parent child relationships, some of those things to think about once more. And who would have thought she would sing some songs and do it bery nicely. A bit of philosophy tossed in as well Good story teller. And how did the date go? Well you learn that as well.

Funny true story

by Michelle Blaeser on August 6, 2017
This user has reviewed 11 shows

The actress tells her story about prom, but also delves into teenage angst and her relationship with her mom. Full of energy and surprises. Definitely worth seeing.

Loved it!

by Jim Bartsch on August 5, 2017
This user has reviewed 2 shows

I loved this show! Great writing and acting. Funny and poignant telling of what has to be one of the strangest things to happen to a local high schooler.

1 person found this review helpful

A 5-star comedy?

by Corrie Fiedler on August 5, 2017
This user has reviewed 43 shows

My fringe partner and I stay away (FAR AWAY) from most Fringe Comedies. In fact, we often end up at 'yet another comedy' and wonder to ourselves 'why did we get suckered into this, yet again?' If you resonate with our feelings, give "Live from NY" a try. Great production values, a humorous and Minnesotan story. The line about the M&Ms and bottle of wine is still resonating. At the end, "Live from NY" is a one-woman, true storytelling performance. That is very funny (and sort of sad).

A great performance

by Don Feeney on August 5, 2017
This user has reviewed 14 shows

The first thing you notice is that you are laughing. Constantly. And that you really are laughing with, rather than at. Then you realize how incredibly adept Ms. Maren is at bringing the characters to life, from her angsty teenage self to her mom to a pushy New Yorker (or two) and more. Afterwards you appreciate how well-written Mr. Simmons' script is, and how perfectly it was directed by Mr. Adams.

An hour well-spent.

1 person found this review helpful

Awkward painful tale told with humor

by Scott Eastman on August 5, 2017
This user has reviewed 8 shows

Loved this show. Jen Maren shows off her great talents, and I felt her embarrassment and pain. Smaller venue that felt so intimate, and Jen bravely pulls off baring her soul and made us all laugh and cry.

Nice surprises, very much enjoyed!

by Michael Gauer on August 5, 2017
This user has reviewed 8 shows

I was not sure what to expect. She told the story with great timing and fluidity, as if she had told this story many times before. Only now there was more fun detail to it! Fun show!

Incredible performer, hilarious and true

by Sue Searing on August 5, 2017
This user has reviewed 8 shows

Jen Maren is an amazing actor! Teen angst is a time-worn theme, but the particulars of her and her mom's experience kept me in stitches. If you love fast-paced comedy, this is a must-see.

Absolute Riot

by Teresa Nelson on August 5, 2017
This user has reviewed 4 shows

you will be laughing all the way home. This one woman show will have you feeling her pain while laughing right along side of her. A memorable show easily.

Great story!

by J. Bach on August 5, 2017
This user has reviewed 26 shows

What a great story! And beautifully told!

Awesome performance

by Kumar Mallikarjunan on August 4, 2017
This user has reviewed 2 shows

Jen was phenomenal. Bringing so many characters to life and fully of energy through out the show. A simple story told in an effective way. Fully enjoyed the show.

Cast and crew

*Jen Maren


Jen is an active actress in the mediums of stage, television, film, and voiceovers. She has appeared on many stages including The Guthrie Theater, Park Square Theatre, The History Theatre, Mixed Blood Theater, The Old Log, Illusion Theater, Children's Theatre Company, Walking Shadow Theatre Company, Skylark Opera, Troupe America, and Hennepin Stages. Most recently she starred as Marjorie Congdon Caldwell in the hit musical GLENSHEEN at The History Theatre . During the day she is an active member of Science Live Theater at The Science Museum of Minnesota. Jen holds a BA Theater Arts from St. Olaf College and also trained at The British American Drama Academy in Oxford, England.
Keep up with her next gigs at www.jenmaren.com

*Member of Actors' Equity Association

Peter Simmons


Peter Simmons is an active member of the Twin Cities theater community, having performed in numerous productions at theaters such as Park Square, Yellow Tree Theater, Old Log Theater, and others. He also pursues a busy career as a voice artist, and performs with Science Live Theater at the Science Museum of Minnesota. For twenty-plus years he worked with Lee Adams at Mystery Cafe, writing and performing in the broad but honest comedic style Lee's company is known for. But the best and most interesting thing about Peter is his wife, Jen Maren.

Lee Adams


Lee founded Mystery Cafe Comedy Dinner theater in 1989, and maintained ownership until just last year. There he directed over a hundred productions and wrote dozens of shows. He has also directed many other productions around the Twin Cities, including last year's critically acclaimed Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe at Pioneer Place on Fifth. You may have seen Lee in this exact space during last year's Fringe in "You Suck." Lee also pursues a steady career as a freelance voice talent, writer, and actor - and has been the in-stadium voice of the Saint Paul Saints for the past five years, serving as the MC and PA announcer.

Joshua Will

Media/ Stage Manager

An alumnus of Dudley Riggs' Brave New Workshop, Joshua's Fringe resume includes “Angelina Jolie Is A Zionist Whore! Or, Plan 9 From Baghdad," "Dating Your Mom," "Sex & Sensibility," "You Suck!" and "The Phallic Menace" (Edinburgh, Scotland). His new book, The Alternative Animal Alphabet, is now available at Amazon.com (and contains Chinchillas -- which Ms. Maren is quite fond of).

More information


If you want to get your schadenfreude on, this is the show for you.

Parents love their children and will often go to extreme lengths to make them happy. Sometimes these efforts can go awry. 

It's 1992 in Red Wing, Minnesota. Jen Maren (formerly Jenny Peters-Horen) was a straight-laced high school junior involved in all sorts of extracurricular activities ... except one: dating. This was not by choice: Jenny very much wanted romantic attention. But no dice. Margo, Jenny's mom, wanted her daughter to be happy and, come hell or highwater, SHE WOULD MAKE IT SO. 

One day in April of that year, Margo was watching the Sally Jessy Raphael Show and heard Sally utter these fateful words: "Mother's out there, if you are upset that your daughter isn't going to prom, give us a call!" Margo picked up the phone. 3 days later she and Jenny were on a plane to New York to appear on national television.

This is a true story. (Gussied up a little for the stage.)

It's a story Jen has been telling and re-telling over the years, trying to make sense of her willingness to be publicly humiliated, the emotional fallout that ensued, and the nature of the love she feels for the preposterous human being she is blessed to call "mom."

Now, 25 years later, Jen is finally ready to re-live the experience. Come and join her in this one-woman show where she inhabits 16 different characters through comedy, music, and emotional revelation. 

Peter Simmons has written a dramatic, fast-paced script that will leave you laughing, crying, and cringing at the events in this true story. 

Joshua Will has taken THE ACTUAL VIDEO OF THE SHOW and crafted the media to support Jen's journey back in time. 

Lee H. Adams has brought to bear his comedic directing skills to help Jen take you all along on this wild ride. 

For 25 years, Jen has told this story in bars, dressing rooms, buses and balconies - but now those who have heard it will get to see it in even more depth. 

You can find us at Rarig Xperimental, but take note that seating is very limited.

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