Rochester is fortunate to have an array of strong stage theater choices. From Geva, our excellent equity theater jewel, to the traveling Broadway shows brought to town by RBTL, to the strong offerings of Blackfriars, JCC, Downstairs Cabaret, the new Lyric Theatre (which does operas!), shows at the Kodak Theatre On The Ridge, small and innovative options like the Bread and Water Theatre, Everyone’s Theatre Company, MuCCC, strong town guild theaters, or college and high school programs across the WNY region, there is never a dearth of quality theater options from which to choose in this area. No matter what technology can bring – and it can bring a lot – there is something irreplaceable about watching live theater. Do yourself a favor if you haven’t been to a play recently, and bring a young person who might discover the magic power of theater that has been known to transform lives.
September ushers in the season that always brings a fresh slate of interesting shows. Here is some of the most compelling fare coming our way. We’ll start by recommending a pair of plays at the MuCCCC, an intimate theater that is putting out affordable and thought-provoking plays from its home at 142 Atlantic Avenue in Rochester’s Neighborhood of the Arts. MuCCC stands for Multi-use Community Cultural Center, and it lives up to its name by being accessible to all community members and exploring a myriad of cultural perspectives and themes. Coming up immediately, from August 30th through September 2nd, is a pair of full-length plays that will alternate stagings on the four nights. Kaleidoscope is by playwright Karen Culley. It explores the many forms of trauma historically endured by African Americans, the mental ramifications involved, and the coping mechanisms that have been used throughout the centuries. Kaleidoscope will be performed on Wednesday, August 30th and Friday September 1st. On Thursday the 31st and Saturday, September 2nd, the play will be A Safe Distance From Love, written by Laura Thomas. It follows the last night in a hospital’s existence before it permanently closes down, and how eleven characters’ lives dramatically collide with one another in the waning hours. It is about the life and death of an institution, Wheeler Hospital, as well as the lives and deaths that have occurred between its walls.
Geva Theatre, as always, has a number of intriguing plays. But one that has national themes with a distinctively local flavor is particularly intriguing. The world premiere of The Agitators will be part of the Wilson Stage Series and run from October 17th through November 12th. It tells the story of the enduring but tumultuous 45-year friendship between Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, historical icons whose connection started right here in the Flour/Flower City. The play was commissioned by Geva and the New York State Council of the Arts for playwright Mat Smart to pen, and it will be directed by Logan Vaughn.
For another play that has both worldwide-recognition and local connections, check out Blackfriar’s production of Dracula as conceived, staged, and choreographed, by Rochester’s amazing PUSH Physical Theatre. If you don’t know PUSH, they are amazing storytellers that utilize the human body, creative motion, and feats of stunning physicality as their chief medium of expression. The play is directed by Danny Hoskins, Blackfriar’s Artistic and Managing Director, and will be directed by Virginia Monte. Dracula will open – when else? – on Halloween! It will run until November 12th.
Rounding out our theater selections, The RBTL is bringing Fun Home to the Auditorium Theatre from November 14th to the 19th. Nominated for twelve Tony Awards, it won five last year – including Best Musical – the play explores the unlocking of mysterious and complex family relationships, specifically one between a daughter and her father. There are some themes that the families may not want the very youngest budding theater lovers to begin grappling with yet, so the play has a 13 year-old and up age recommendation with it.
These recommendations are only a small swath of the available offerings coming to The ROC stages in the next couple of months, so be sure to investigate all the possibilities. And don’t forget that the Fringe Festival will be hitting town in September, too, so the choices will be expanded even more in the second half of the month!
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