The JCC CenterStage's new production is "Relatively Speaking," a program of one-act plays, recently presented on Broadway, by writers better known for their work in the movies: Ethan Coen, Elaine May, and Woody Allen. Does anything tie them together?
Broadway Theatre League's current show is the holiday-themed, kid-oriented "Dr.
Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical."
There's more to holiday-time entertainment than Hallmark Channel movies and antique animated specials. Instead of watching another Christmas movie marathon, why not get out of the house and see a holiday-themed play?
Comedy in good faith
The character of the funny nun has been around at least since Chaucer, and is here to stay as a staple of pop culture. You've seen her in "The Sound of Music," "The Flying Nun," numerous variations on "Nunsense", etc., etc.
More than words
Mitch Albom's "Tuesdays with Morrie" may have been a pop-culture juggernaut as a book; as a play it is pretty much Lifetime for guys. Albom's memoir of afternoons spent in the company of a college professor he remembered fondly, during the professor's last days, and the life lessons that resulted, was on the bestseller list for ages and was indeed made into a TV movie (though not a Lifetime movie).
Cheer up, weepy Jean
through a disappointing 2012 film adaptation and the lackluster 25th
anniversary touring production that made a stop at the Auditorium Center back
in May, I admit that, despite my fondness for the show, I wasn't quite sure I
was ready to subject myself to yet another staging of "Les Misérables." Thankfully, I decided to disregard my hesitancy, as Pittsford Musicals'
exceptional new production of the wildly popular musical served as a heartening
reminder about why I ever liked the show in the first place.
The salad days are over
The current production of "Julius Caesar" at MuCCC marks two milestones for Rochester Community Players and its Shakespeare Players shingle. It is the start of the 20th season for the Shakespeare Players.
A runaway success
The touring production of "War Horse," which runs through Sunday
at the Auditorium Theatre, brings one of the most distinctive Broadway events
of recent years to Rochester. "War Horse" started as a popular young people's book by Michael Morpurgo, then became a play by
Nick Stafford for the National Theatre of Great Britain, which produced it in
an extravagantly and irresistibly theatrical style.
The triumph of the MacGuffin
When you walk into the house for Geva's current production of "The 39 Steps," the first thing you see is a good, old-fashioned proscenium framing a good, old-fashioned red curtain. That's a pretty retro visual for a modern theater production, but it turns out to be a perfect visual introduction for this one.
The woman who came to dinner
"Darling, there are no other stars." That line is ascribed to Bette Davis in "Me and Jezebel," the opening production in Blackfriars Theatre's 64th season.
Holding back the years
In his program notes for "The Last Five Years," JCC Centerstage Artistic Director Ralph Meranto refers to the musical as "one of 'those' shows," the type that people in the theater community get excited about working on, and one that becomes truly special to those who fall under its spell. It's not the first time I've heard this show described in this way.
"Mrs. Warren's Profession"
Rochester sees quite a bit of Shakespeare in the course of a theater season, but almost nothing from his runner-up in the Greatest English Playwright sweepstakes (and match in productivity), George Bernard Shaw. Last year Rochester's Black Sheep Theatre presented Shaw's early play "Widowers' Houses"; this month it is presenting "Mrs. Warren's Profession" — another early play and the earliest of Shaw's that is still performed regularly.
In theory, a musical
based on the 1990 film "Ghost" might not seem like such a terrible idea. After
23 years, it remains a popular movie, filled with scenes that have become
iconic in the time since its release (it's impossible to hear "Unchained
Melody" without it immediately conjuring up images of Patrick Swayze and Demi
Moore engaging in some heavy petting around a pottery wheel).
Lightweight musical revues generally have short lives, but "Pump Boys and Dinettes" has proved surprisingly hardy. First produced in the early 1980's as the off-est of Off Broadway shows, it eventually moved to the Big Street and ran for a year and a half.
All in the family
In the one-woman show "Family Secrets," currently on stage at the Downstairs Cabaret at Winton Place, actress Carolyn Michel portrays five different members of one conventionally unconventional family as they struggle to relate to one another and find happiness within their own lives. Originally performed by actress Sherry Glaser and co-written by Glaser with her then husband, Gregory Howells, the play opened in 1993 and had a long, award-winning run Off Broadway (according to Glaser's website, it holds the distinction for being the longest-running one-woman show in Off Broadway history).
Accident and unpredictability
In the four plays I just saw at the Shaw Festival, accident and unpredictability are constant, as are contradiction and reluctant confession. Some are triumphs, others anything but, but the liquid nature of identity is everywhere.