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First weekend big for the Fringe

The numbers are in, and the Minnesota Fringe Festival is off to a roaring start. Tickets sales over the first weekend are up 19 percent over 2008, with 16,814 tickets sold from Thursday to Sunday. That jump could help the festival return to the numbers it saw in the middle of the decade, when about 45,000 tickets were sold each year.

Several individual shows roared out of the gates, with 19 first-weekend shows reporting sellouts. Topping the list is “Parry Hotter and the Half-Drunk Twins,” which sold out its first three performances. OK, the show is presented at the Augsburg Studio, which only seats 53 patrons at a time, but every seat in the house was full.

The piece, created by local improv star and poet Tom Reed, has been well-reviewed by Fringe bloggers. It closes this evening, ­ so you may want to make reservations to see this one.

Doing well doesn’t just help the performers and creators up front (they take home a portion of the gate) but can also earn them an additional slot. The festival’s final slot ­ this coming Sunday at 8:30 p.m. ­ is reserved for each venue’s top-selling show. So maybe there is more “Parry Hotter” in the future.

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