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Let them entertain you 

It's time for the local theatrics to gear up and people to start dancing. You will have your pick of performances to attend, from community theater shows in school gymnatoriums to visiting blockbusters --- along with a matching range in ticket price --- but here's what we're excited about.

We start out with a Mamet, a Parks, and a Fair Lady. Blackfriars will open their fall season with Boston Marriage, a play in which David Mamet tries on a woman's perspective --- in a Victorian drawing room, at that. The trademark Mamet dialogue ("Mametspeak": that clipped, repetitive, witty manipulation of American jargon) is there, just with a slight Oscar Wilde cast.

Shipping Dock Theatre opens with a Rochester premiere, Suzan-Lori Parks' Pultizer-winning Topdog/Underdog. It's the story of two brothers named Lincoln and Booth; the sibling rivalry that follows from that birthright is the staging for larger comments on the urban African American life.

We count on Rochester Broadway Theatre League to quell our Broadway jones, and this year doesn't disappoint. The always lovely My Fair Lady opens the season in October, followed by Peter Pan (with Cathy Rigby in her farewell tour), and finally Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in December. (And it's almost time to start salivating for The Lion King here in March.)

Geva is taking some new directions this fall. There is no A Christmas Carol. Not at Geva. Get your Dickens somewhere else. But that's OK, really. It gives our biggest professional theater a chance to try something new.

And what's new? First The Road Home: Re-Membering America, a new play (this is the world premiere) by Marc Wolf. Wolf's first, Another American: Asking and Telling, won a 2000 Obie, and here he continues his method of presenting a collection of Americans' narratives. The Road Home was born on Wolf's post-9/11, cross-country drive to his New York City home. Geva's wraps up 2005 with a full-circle production of the madcap-whodunit Shear Madness. Apparently, the American theatre staple had its start at Geva in 1976, as a mystery called Who Dunnit? Who knew?

We're happy to see The Big Voice: God or Merman return to the Downstairs Cabaret Theatre for a brief run at the end of September. Continuing the romance with Fringe darlings, DCT gives us The Slip Knot, a one-man show about mind-numbing work, in October. And look for the Noel Coward classic Private Lives. DCT will continue the audience-beloved triumvirate --- I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, The Water Coolers, and Sophie Tucker: Last of the Red Hot Mamas --- through the fall.

For homegrown talent, look at JCCenterstage, which will run Adele Fico's May God Strike Me Dead... If I'm Telling a Lie one weekend in September and one in December. Fico is an amazing character actor; her show ran at Blackfriars to good press and full audiences last year. The Shakespeare Company has The Tempest slated for its annual show; the community-run Dazzle School will present a Columbine-tribute Search Within the Soul; and the community all-ages theater A Magical Journey Thru Stages will be putting on A Christmas Carol (get your Dickens here!) in its cozy little home in the upstairs of the Auditorium Center.

You all get on the dance floor, now. First, the visitors: The American Repertory Ballet will be at SUNY Geneseo and Ballet Flamenco will be at Nazareth College in November; the Moscow Ballet will perform the Russian Nutcracker at the Auditorium Theatre in early December; and you can see traditional Indian dance, with live orchestra, at the India Community Center in October.

Now the local crop: the parade of dance through SUNY Brockport's Hartwell Dance Theater is always impressive, fed by the original choreography and fresh dancers coming out of the school's dance department. The Rochester City Ballet will of course dance the Nutcracker to the music of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra the last weekend in November. And finally, Garth Fagan Dance, 35 this year, will dance for one week at Nazareth College.

For a fuller preview, check the website at www.rochester-citynews.com. For details, see the calendar beginning on page 14.

In This Guide...

    Fall Guide 2005

    A big autumn embrace Jewel-bright leaves trapped between sheets of wax paper.

    Sounds good to me

    Here are music writer Frank De Blase's concert picks for the fall.
    Leon Redbone September 21

    What's so great about Mozart?

    Why, over two centuries after Mozart lived, is he still such a fixture in our cultural consciousness? Why, as we near the 250th anniversary of his birth, is a worldwide celebration mounting, with orchestras clamoring to produce concerts of his music, tourists tracing his footsteps in Austria, and Steinway and Sons giving away an all-expenses-paid trip to Salzburg, the city of his birth?

    Of particular note

    The opening of the concert season is a cause for celebration any time, but this year is particularly noteworthy. Resident musicians --- in the Rochester Philharmonic and smaller classical groups, from the Eastman School's outstanding faculty, and in churches and other venues --- will continue to provide exceptional performances.

    The best of all grapes

    Late this summer there were at least two terrific "Winemaker" dinners at Ravines Wine Cellars overlooking Keuka Lake --- Chasing Pinot: In Search of the Perfect Pinot Noir and Meritage: The Art of Blending. "Meritage"?

    How'd you get so lucky?

    When people stumble upon my not-so-secret identity as a movie critic, they often start chucking questions at me. Most believe that getting paid to give your unsolicited and subjective opinion sounds like a dream, and I do spend a great deal of time pinching myself. But when the clock strikes midnight and I'm trying to get enthusiastic about a film I had zero interest in seeing, it can seem a little nightmarish.

    Turn on the reading light

    Well, the Rochester Arts and Lectures series is already sold out. If you don't have tickets, you may be able to get standing-room-only tickets to hear Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner)and Alexander McCall Smith (The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, The Sunday Philosophy Club) --- both worth it.

    Satisfy your inner nerd

    The autumnal re-opening of school doors calls us back inside to the world of books. Summer paperbacks with sand trapped between the pages get shelved.

    Keep it on ice

    Not too many things have lasted for 50 years in Monroe County, but the Rochester Americans have. Since the Amerks were founded a half-century ago, the demographics of its hometown have completely changed, Kodak has withered away, and countless other American Hockey League teams have come and gone.

    They'll fight their hearts out

    There's a certain smell to freshly mowed grass on a high school football field, a mixture of chlorophyll and dew and mud that wafts into a player's nose and triggers a release of adrenaline and testosterone that carries him through the picturesque violence that will consume his mind and body and soul for a quartet of 12-minute quarters. Books and movies like Friday Night Lights can only go so far in relaying the passion and release that is a high school football game.

    It's the season for eating well

    "It is a time when every cook wishes time could stand still and the bounty of the fall last forever." So says Max chef-owner Tony Gullace, and you'll get no argument from the dozens of food-loving friends who jumped to say what they like best about food in the fall.

    The learning never stops

    School is great, but why stop there? There are plenty of museums offering kid-friendly exhibits and events to keep the structured (but fun!)

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