In "Cake," Che Monique leads an R&B re-enactment of a real-life burlesque fiasco involving a giant cake. In “Cake,” Che Monique leads an R&B re-enactment of a real-life burlesque fiasco. (Chris Jay)

This summer, Capital Fringe includes 27 original musicals. That’s nearly a quarter of the theater festival’s 114 performances — more than ever before in its 11-year history, says Capital Fringe president Julianne Brienza. “Maybe it’s because of ‘Hamilton’; I have no idea,” she says. Alas, Fringe doesn’t have a hip-hop musical about the Revolutionary War in the lineup, but there is a hip-hop musical set during the Civil War (“Lil Women”) and a non-hip-hop musical about a revolution (“SuperNOVA,” in which Northern Virginia attempts to secede from Virginia). We’ve got the details on those, and more, in our guide to the musicals of Fringe.

Pop Musicals 

‘Dark Times at Grimesville High’

Tess Higgins plays Olivia, Brittany Martz as Peyton, and Chelsea Townsend as Stacey in 'Dark Times at Grimesville High.' (Rebecca Wahls) Tess Higgins plays Olivia, Brittany Martz as Peyton, and Chelsea Townsend as Stacey. (Rebecca Wahls)

Popular Olivia has loved every minute of high school, while snarky Peyton has absolutely hated it. As both vie to be valedictorian, Peyton sets out to bring down Olivia by convincing her to go undercover into the school’s seedy underbelly for a school newspaper story. In one number, Peyton teaches Olivia how to get in with the mean kids by becoming a bully herself, singing, “Sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will hurt forever/ Oh, it doesn’t matter whether you are strong or if you weep/ The words cut shallow or cut deep/ They will echo ‘round your head for days as you try to fall asleep.”

‘… and a Ghost Grrl’

A lesbian love triangle loses a member to a car crash. She then returns to haunt the other two.

‘And 1! a dansical’

A dance troupe sings their way through everyday challenges, like missed classes and aching muscles.

‘BRYCE: Hydrogen Blonde’

Bryce Sulecki, playing himself, transforms from an ordinary recent American University grad to pop royalty.

‘Complexity: A One Woman Show’

Six actors present the story of one woman’s struggle to find herself.

‘How to Be the Perfect Wingwoman’

Friends discover a book of dating advice from the 1950s and decide to give it a whirl.

‘Romanov’

Tsar-apparent Alexei Romanov, who was murdered during the Russian Civil War, returns with his sisters to set the record straight.

‘Song Reader: The Musical’

In this drama, a soldier falls for a stripper before being deployed to Iraq and returns to discover she has a child, and it’s all told through the music of Beck’s “Song Reader.”

Burlesque musicals

‘Cake!’

Che Monique in "Cake." (Steelswitch Photo) Che Monique in “Cake.” (Steelswitch Photo)

Back in November, burlesque artist Che Monique, above, tried to celebrate her 30th birthday by putting together a show in which she’d jump out of an 8-foot-tall cake. Everything went wrong: A key production assistant got stuck in Texas, the bar ran out of liquor and the half-completed cake proved to be impossible to leap from. “Two people quit the troupe on the spot,” Monique recalls. “Cake!” revisits that disastrous show from the perspective of several people involved in the original production. An enormous cake made of wood, Styrofoam and actual cake co-stars.

‘A Midsummer’s Burlesque Dream’

Shakespeare’s classic gets a sexy song-and-dance makeover.

‘A Romp Around Uranus with Special Agent Galactica’

Galactica can’t get back from the multiverse in time for her Fringe performance, so she must perform via hologram.

‘Waiting for Godot’

A burlesque adaptation of Samuel Beckett’s famous play about nothing.

Rock musicals

‘SuperNOVA’

After being rejected by William & Mary, Northern Virginia resident Scott J. Harrison (Max Snyder, above, with Sarah Marksteiner) is convinced that regional bias is to blame. He joins the SuperNOVA movement, which wants NoVa to secede from the rest of the state. One key song, “NOVA Place I’d Rather Be,” includes these rousing lyrics: “Stand up for something or stand out of the way.”

‘35MM: A Musical Exhibition’

A live cast sings and dances to a photo slideshow.

‘Dial R for Robot’

Cybernetics students destroy a robot and host a party in the wreckage.

‘The Golden Smile’

Mental patients in the 1950s try to avoid getting kicked out of the psych ward by devising a play.

‘Juiced’

A trio of modern dancers perform sex-positive, gender-defying rock-n-roll.

Folk musicals

‘Over Her Dead Body ‘

A bluegrass variety show is haunted by the ghosts of the women who die in all those murder ballads.

‘Rain Follows the Plow’

Settlers from the 1930s tell their stories about the devastating droughts that turned the Great Plains into the Dust Bowl.

‘The Missing Peace’

A feminist fairy tale about a girl who finds her banished mother and heals her land, set to Celtic tunes.

Other genres 

‘The Elephant in the Room’

Jennifer Gwirtz plays a clown with a pachyderm problem in “The Elephant in the Room.” (Lance Huntley) Jennifer Gwirtz plays a clown with a pachyderm problem. (Lance Huntley)

In this all-ages show, a clown troupe is trying to put on a show when a new performer threatens to upstage, or possibly squish, them: an invisible elephant with an agenda of its own. With the ability to change size at will, the elephant forces the clowns to adapt to a new reality while facing non-invisible problems. (One’s an intellectual property dispute.) The linked vignettes are accompanied by a score “that bridges piano-tinkly musical theater and the rawness of vaudeville,” company co-founder Jennifer Gwirtz said in an email.

‘The Apocalypse of Darkness’

Industrial music accompanies the epic poem “The Hashish Eater, or the Apocalypse of Evil” by horror/SF writer Clark Ashton Smith.

‘Brownie and Lolli Go to Hollywood’

Two friends head for California to audition for a TV talent show in this vaudeville-style musical comedy.

‘Do Not Disturb’

Ethan skips work to propose to his girlfriend at a romantic resort, where he runs into his boss, in this Rodgers and Hammerstein-style show.

‘How to Give Birth to a Rabbit’

Based on true events, this multi-genre musical’s about a woman who made 18th-century England believe she gave birth to 19 rabbits.

‘Lil Women: a rap musical’

Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy learn about life and love in a hip-hop version of Louisa May Alcott’s classic book.

‘Once Upon a Bedtime’

In this family opera, children listen to a bedtime story about a princess and her talking horse.

Various locations through July 31; see capitalfringe.org for details; $17 per show, plus one-time $7 button, passes available.

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