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Our Top 10 critic picks for the 2014-15 theater season.

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Our Top 10 critic picks for the 2014-15 theater season.

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The 2014-15 theater season is going to be packed, so let's dive right in:

"Curtains"

(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.

"Good People"

(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.

"King Lear"

(MuCCC, November 7-22)

and

"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.

click to enlarge Anthony Wayne, Patina Miller, and Andrew Fitch in "Pippin." The musical will be presented by Rochester Broadway Theatre League in January. - PHOTO BY JOAN MARCUS
  • Photo by Joan Marcus
  • Anthony Wayne, Patina Miller, and Andrew Fitch in "Pippin." The musical will be presented by Rochester Broadway Theatre League in January.

"Pippin"

(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.

"Our Suburb"

(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.

In This Guide...

    Fall Guide 2014

    Did we even have a summer?

    Artists with class

    Meet three teaching artists who are shaping the next generation of creative thinkers.
    The old adage, "To learn, read. To know, write.

    Fall's palette

    Yes, there has been talk of the dreaded polar vortex revisiting Rochester again. But resist the temptation to slip into that cocoon of hibernate-y despair — we're at the top of the arts season, and there are plenty of engaging exhibits and events to distract us.

    Going alone

    Though the productions are drastically different, two solo shows this fall take a similar approach to preparation.
    One of the most theatrical of theatrical genres is the solo show: 90 minutes or so featuring one actor, and one actor alone. They may be playing a character in the playwright's imagination, or a historical person, or, if the actor is skilled enough, a stage full of memorable characters.

    Autumn moves

    Once fall sets in, be on the lookout for the 2014-15 dance season to be in full swing.
    It's never easy previewing the upcoming dance season and singling out which performances promise excellence, but with Rochester dancers and choreographers focused like a laser on the imminent Rochester Fringe Festival (September 18-27), information about later dance shows was hard to pin down. So, along with the picks outlined below, look for pop-up performances from smaller groups as the cultural year progresses.

    Hearing the season change

    The fall always brings out the best of classical music. Here are our critic picks for the fall season.
    The 2014–15 classical season is stirring up a wide variety of talents and mediums for the fall. World-renowned guest artists, fearless programming, and interactive concerts are pillars to this fall's offerings.

    Back-yard scenes

    Rochester's local film scene is growing. Here are a handful of flicks currently in production.
    Being the birthplace of film, Rochester has always prided itself on being a city with a deep, abiding love for the movies, so it only follows that we would have a vibrant, active community of filmmakers as well. Add in RIT's renowned school of film and animation constantly pumping out new generations of auteurs, and you've got a veritable hotbed of activity of the cinematic variety.

    Hollywood screens

    The fall movie schedule promises some mainstream film gems. Here are our critic picks.
    There are plenty of mainstream films coming out this season. Along with those local productions in the works, here are the larger-release films I'm most looking forward to.

    Down on the farm

    As fall kicks in, Western New York celebrates with a bushel full of agricultural events.
    As the calendar and the seasons change, so does the nature of our harvest, and by proxy, our recreation. With our roots and heritage so closely tied to the land of Western New York, it should come as no surprise that many people gravitate toward agriculturally themed events as the leaves change.

    Ithaca is gorging

    If you get hungry while driving through the Finger Lakes, make a stop in Ithaca to fill up.
    According to the all-too-true joke, 'round these parts there are only two seasons: winter and roadwork. But there's actually a third: leaf-peeping season.

    Special Events Guide

    Summer may be over, but it's not time to head indoors just yet. Rochester has plenty of events to keep you busy through the fall.

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