The 2014-15 theater season is going to be packed, so let's dive right in:
(Pittsford Musicals, October 18, 24, 25)
This venerable community theater group continues to try new things, this time with a recent hit combining old-fashioned musical comedy and a murder whodunit, with a very "Broadway" score by John Kander and Fred Ebb (of "Cabaret" and "Chicago" fame) and a clever book by Rupert Holmes and Peter Stone. For more information, visit pittsfordmusicals.org.
(Geva Theate Center, October 21 through November 16)
Geva's 2014-15 season includes some guaranteed crowd-pleasers in the form of the mystery thriller ("Wait Until Dark") and the musical comedy ("Little Shop of Horrors"), but my vote for the most interesting-sounding production goes to this thought-provoking play about social and economic inequality by David Lindsay-Abaire ("Rabbit Hole"). For more information, visit gevatheatre.org.
Gore Vidal's "The Best Man"
(Penfield Players, November 1, 7, 8, 14, 15)
The late novelist and political commentator, Gore Vidal, occasionally ventured into the theater, and his mordant 1960 comedy about machinations among presidential hopefuls at the Democratic convention has proved surprisingly durable, with two recent star-filled Broadway revivals. I don't know when "The Best Man" was last performed around here, so I am excited to see Penfield Players taking it on. For more information, visit penfieldplayers.org.
(MuCCC, November 7-22)
"Romeo and Juliet"
(Blackfriars Theatre, February 20 through March 8)
Two ambitious Shakespeare productions coming up! In November, the Shakespeare Players try their hand at that Himalaya of a tragedy, "King Lear," directed by John Jaeger at MuCCC. Blackfriars is observing the upcoming retirement of its artistic director, Jack Haldoupis, with a season full of enticing projects, but this company's intimate performing space might be the most interesting fit for Shakespeare's classic romantic tragedy, "Romeo and Juliet." For more information, visit muccc.org and bftix.org.
"West Side Story"
(Kodak Center for Performing Arts, November 20-30)
The Rochester Latino Theatre Compnay and OFC Creations collaborated memorably for the local premiere of the recent Broadway hit "In the Heights," and have now gathered a crack team for this rare production of the classic Bernstein-Sondheim musical. For more information, visit kodakcenter.org.
"God of Vengeance"
(Bread and Water Theatre, October 31, November 1, 7, and 8)
I admit I had never heard of this 1906 play by Sholom Asch, originally written in Yiddish and closed down on obscenity charges in 1923 for its depiction of domestic violence, prostitution, and more. It is apparently still a hard-hitting play and could be quite a discovery. "God of Vengeance" is part of Bread and Water Theatre's upcoming Rainbow Theatre Festival. For more information, visit breadandwatertheatre.org.
"The Man Who Came to Dinner"
(RAPA, December 18, 19, 20, 21, 26, and 27)
This once-popular, still very funny, Kaufman and Hart comedy used to be a staple of community and high school theater, but it isn't seen much anymore. Screen Plays' revival is directed by Jean Gordon Ryon. For more information, visit rapatheatre.org.
"Judgment at Nuremburg"
(MuCCC, January 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, and 17)
This is another final project for a retiring mainstay of local theater. Michael Arve directs this stage version of the famous 1960's movie about the post-World War II Nazi trials, also with an "all-star" cast of local theater notables. For more information, visit MuCCC.org.
(Rochester Broadway Theatre League, January 13-18)
RBTL's upcoming season mostly offers high-profile revivals of shows you've seen before: "Annie," "Anything Goes," and more. From the list, I'm most like to check out this acclaimed revival of Stephen Schwartz's hippie-dippy musical from the 1970's, which has some great songs and has been given a circusy, high-powered makeover by director Diane Paulus. For more information, visit rbtl.org.
(JCC, March 14-29)
Readers of a certain age will remember the flap in Skokie, Illinois in 1977, when members of the neo-Nazi party petitioned to march in a parade in the heavily Jewish suburb. This play melds that volatile situation with the set-up of Thornton Wilder's classic "Our Town" to come up with something that sounds, at the very least, like compelling theater. For more information, visit jccrochester.org.