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FRINGE 2013: Critic picks 

David Raymond

"The 24-Hour Plays" I have to admit, this sounds like my worst nightmare: being forced to conceive, write, memorize, and perform six short plays in 24 hours. (It took me longer than that to write this paragraph.) However, I do know there are stouter souls than I out there, and I look forward to seeing them grapple with this theatrical challenge. It does sound like "theater at its most raw and immediate," as it is advertised — and it might be theater at its most fun, too. (Monday, September 23, 8 p.m., Writers & Books, $10)

"The Goldberg Variations" Not to be confused with the play "33 Variations"; those variations are Beethoven's. The background for this performance piece by John Borek and Rebecca Solomon is J.S. Bach's great set of keyboard variations. Bach's music, along with actors and dancers, is enlisted to tell an unsettling story: the collision (often disastrous) between German and Jewish cultures over three centuries. (Sunday, September 22, 9 p.m., MuCCC, $8)

"Macbeth: Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair" Along with all its other good work, Webster's CDS Monarch sponsors the Monarch Players, an acting troupe of performers with and without disabilities. The group is not afraid to tackle the biggies: the Players' presentation of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" was a sell-out at last year's Fringe Festival, and it will be back this year, retelling another Shakespeare tragedy — the "Scottish Play" — through spoken word, dance, and music. (Saturday, September 28, 2 p.m., Blackfriars Theatre, $11)

"New Eyes" It got rave reviews in Los Angeles, has toured America to equal acclaim, and now Israeli-American actress Yafit Josephson's "New Eyes" will play the Rochester Fringe Festival, and later the JCC CenterStage. Josephson's script ranges from hilarious to dead serious as she illustrates how her mandatory service in the Israeli army led to an acting career in the United States — one specializing in villains and terrorists. Based on clips, she gives a funny and moving one-woman performance, playing 18 characters from five different countries. (Saturday, September 28, 8 p.m., TheatreRocs Stage at Xerox Auditorium, $16)

"The Old Maid and The Thief" Gian Carlo Menotti's one-act opera, a whimsical variation on the old farmer's daughter and traveling salesman story, is not performed much anymore, though it was a staple of school and small companies for decades. Rochester Lyric Opera and RAPA offer the chance to catch an American classic with some very fresh young talent – area high-school teenagers, directed by local actor made good Kevin Green. (Saturday, September 21, 10 p.m. & Monday, September 23, 7 p.m., RAPA's East End Theatre, $10)

PUSH Physical Theatre presents PUSH Plus PUSH is not dance, not pantomime, but it is definitely theater, and a very pure form of theater and a surprisingly profound experience. I guess the group's term "physical storytelling" sums it up as well as any other description. PUSH Physical Theatre creates a sensation wherever it appears, and it is back again after great success at last year's Fringe Festival. This year's program of three shows includes the Rochester premiere of "Red Ball" (featuring PUSH + iPads), and a previous favorite, "Job," which matches PUSH with a giant, spinning, steel wheel. (Saturday, September 21, 4 p.m. & Saturday, September 28, 7 and 10 p.m., Kilbourn Hall, Eastman School of Music, $15)

Rebecca Rafferty

"The Beauty of Rochester" This exhibit of watercolors by Ellina Chetverikova celebrates the lovely landscapes and unique architecture of our home. The intention is to remind residents to take in what might have become visual white noise, and to share the love with visitors to the city. Preview Chetverikova's work at View the show for free during the following hours: Thursday, September 19, 5-10 p.m.; Friday, September 20, 5-11 p.m.; Saturday, September 21, noon-10 p.m.; Sunday, September 22, 1-8 p.m.; Monday, September 23-Thursday, September 26, 5-10 p.m.; Friday, September 27, 5-11 p.m.; and Saturday, September 28, 12:30-11 p.m. (Little Theatre Cafe, Free)

"Communication" What you're wearing can tell others about your style, personality, and mood, but designer Emma Scholl's costumes deliberately focus on what is not easily conveyed. Stop in at Java's Cafe (16 Gibbs St.) during your Fringe Fest travels and take in "Communication," a collection of Scholl's playful, wearable art that combines clean lines of fabric with household materials. Each of the five pieces is inspired by the unsuccessful, often non-verbal, and unrevealed interactions of life. Preview the artist's work at (Free viewings Monday-Friday, 6:30 a.m.-midnight and Saturday-Sunday, 7 a.m.-midnight.)

"Crocodile" Set in suburban upstate New York, "Crocodile" begins as a typical enough story, with 17-year-old Ernest, an awkward high-school senior who, while navigating the painful path to adulthood, falls hard for the new girl in town. Truly getting to know someone happens in stages, and soon enough, our hero learns that his new girlfriend, Sasha, has more complexities than she initially owns. Presented by Brain Crane, the screening is free to attend, and recommended for ages 17 and older. (Friday, September 20, 9 p.m., Little Theatre 1, Free)

"Emerging Artists" This show features new visual-art works by recent RIT alumni that was selected by Class of 2013 alumni Joseph Tarantelli and Ho Moon. View the work for free while stopping for a bite during the following hours: Thursday, September 19, 5-10 p.m.; Friday, September 20, 5-11 p.m.; Saturday, September 21, noon-10 p.m.; Sunday, September 22, 1-8 p.m.; Monday, September 23-Thursday, September 26, 5-10 p.m.; Friday, September 27, 5-11 p.m.; and Saturday, September 28, 12:30-11 p.m. (Little Theatre Cafe, Free)

Mounafanyi Percussion and Dance Ensemble is Rochester's own PanAfrican performance group, blending talented musicians and movers from Africa and the African diaspora, including Guinea, Ghana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Ivory Coast, and the United States. Artistic director Kerfala "Fana" Bangoura was a long-time member of Guinea's prestigious performance groups Les Ballets Africains and Les Percussions des Guinée, and was formerly based in Portland, Oregon, before relocating to Rochester in 2011. (Sunday, September 22, 5 p.m., MuCCC, $10)

"Sun Boxes" When Rochester Contemporary's "State of the City: Street-ish" exhibition opened in August, one of the artists included in the show was represented only with a video to introduce his work, and a few of his silent "Sun Boxes" as props and a hint of what was to come. During Fringe Fest, 20 speakers, each operating independently and powered by the sun via solar panels, will be set up in the small park adjacent to Rochester Contemporary (137 East Ave.). Created by Arkansas-based artist, Craig Colorusso, these "Sun Boxes" will emit ambient waves of B-flat notes, creating a solar-powered sonic landscape. The work will be activated Thursday-Saturday, September 26-28, noon-8 p.m. Passersby and park visitors can enjoy the installation for free.

Casey Carlsen

Everybody Dancing If you don't like to just watch, Thomas Warfield's "Everybody Dancing: The Interactivity of Creativity and Innovation" is an audience-participatory (optional) presentation and performance that examines the effect of everyday movement communication, gesture, and dance on our lives and relationships. In addition to Warfield, RIT assistant professor in NTID's Cultural and Creative Studies Department, members of the RIT/NTID Dance Company will take part. Company members run the gamut from deaf to hearing-impaired to hearing. The workshop/performance is a project of PeaceArt International Inc., a non-profit outreach organization Warfield started in 1990 to use the creative process and the arts to build community and foster world peace. (Saturday, September 28, 3:30 p.m., Little Theatre 1, Free)

Futurpointe Dance "PsychoPomp & Pageantry" Futurpointe dancers train in "reggae ballet." This movement vocabulary has roots in Caribbean Modern techniques and urban popular world cultures, is distinctive in its lilting dance style, and expresses varied cultural concepts and themes. The show combines interactive projection art and short theatrical vignettes into four acts choreographed by Guy Thorne, N'Jelle Gage, and Heather Roffe. Look to be transported as the choreographers act as artistic guides of the expressed ritual and customs in a non-narrative format. And psychopomp? Those are traditionally angels, deities, Valkyries, or other creatures that help transport the spirit of the deceased to the next world. (Saturday, September 21, 9 p.m. & Sunday, September 22, 1:30 and 9:30 p.m., Geva Theatre Nextstage, $16)

"The Goldilocks Score and Other Dances" Red Dirt Dance is a contemporary company formed by Karl Rogers. Originally from Oklahoma, Rogers is now an assistant professor of dance at Brockport. He has danced with the highly regarded contemporary group David Dorfman Dance; now Rogers choreographs and dances for his own company. During Fringe it will be presenting "The Goldilocks Score" in a split bill of works by Rogers and Paul Matteson. Rogers' world premiere "We Too Cling" imagines a conversation between two 20th century artists, the playwright Tennessee Williams and the pop-art painter David Hockney.  Matteson, also a Dorfman dancer, gives us "Take it OVER," his newest work. The production is recommended for mature audiences only. (Thursday, September 19, 6 p.m. & Friday, September 20, 6 p.m., Geva Theatre Nextstage, $16)

Mariah Maloney Dance Mariah Maloney brings a wealth of rich experience to the Rochester dance scene. For almost 10 years she was a principal dancer with the Trisha Brown Dance Company, a company at the forefront of the postmodern dance movement. Her company, Mariah Maloney Dance, performed at the prestigious Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival last summer. Maloney's new piece, "LIGHT," was partially inspired by a sparkler dance her father performed for her as a young child, when they were living in an Alaskan cabin with no electricity. Her dancers wear LED costumes, so we should be in for some stunning visuals. Not to mention movement. (Thursday, September 19, 8 p.m. & Sunday, September 22, 6:30 p.m., TheatreROCS Stage at Xerox Auditorium, $12)

"Merged: A Dance Concert" You can also catch the sensual choreography of the ambitious Heather Roffe in this collaboration with Heather Roffe Dance and James Hansen Assemblage Dance. Hansen performed with both modern and ballet companies for 15 years before forming his own widely touring company. His choreography has been produced by such prestigious dance festivals as Jacob's Pillow. Hansen will present his newest piece, "Stag Line," which uses a sound design he created from 1960's sitcom dialogue, Frank Sinatra, Shirley Bassey, and more. Roffe premieres a piece that deals with the personal and social perspectives of fear. (Wednesday, September 25, 6 p.m. & Friday, September 27, 5:30 p.m. & Saturday, September 28, noon, Geva Theatre Nextstage, $16)

"Transient Being" When I learned that Alaina Olivieri, a Rochesterian performing artist and elegant dancer, was performing a piece in which she interacts with liquid paint, I knew I needed to recommend it. The work was created at the artistic direction of Eran David P. Hanlon in collaboration with Olivieri, and by visual artist Joseph Tarantelli, with the assistance of Asuka Hiraoka. Hanlon choreographed Olivieri's movement to relate to the projected video, his documentary "FALL WINTER SPRING," which shows the creation of the painting which shares the same name. Hanlon describes "Transient Being" as a metaphor for the inextricable simultaneity of creation and destruction. (Saturday, September 28, 6 p.m., Gallery r, Free; recommended for ages 17+)

Frank De Blase

"The 39 Steps" Before the advent of the TV, the boob tube, the one-eye babysitter, folks would gather around the radio for broadcast entertainment. Local theater group Screen Plays tackles Hitchcock's 1935 spy thriller "The 39 Steps" with vintage equipment and foley stage to give the audience a rare, behind-the-scenes look at radio in its golden era. Note that Geva Theatre Center will be doing a satirical take on the play as part of its 2013-14 season. (Saturday, September 21, 2 p.m., George Eastman House Curtis Theatre, Free)

Dead Metaphor Cabaret Ask yourself, which came first: The lyric or the poem, or the lyrical poem? Here to shed a folksy, artsy, bluesy, cabaret (we're seeing this word a lot in this Fringe Fest, aren't we?) light on the conundrum are Curt and Nani Nehring Bliss. The duo's original exploration may not make the difference any clearer, but in this debate, everyone is right. (Thursday, September 26, 8 p.m. & Saturday, September 28, 4 p.m., Writers & Books, $8)

Hiroya Tsukamoto A Japanese ex-pat living in Gotham, Hiroya Tsukamoto has bopped with his group at joints all over, from his native land to the States, including the prestigious Blue Note in NYC. Tsukamoto is an innovative guitarist who fuses folk, jazz, and world music. But hey, ain't it all world music? Get a listen at (Thursday, September 26, 8 p.m., Bernunzio Uptown Music, $9)

Low Standards Here's a fo' sho' show that may need a shoe horn. The Fairport-based Low Standards has actually raised its standards and plugged itself into a performance cocktail of comedy, cabaret, and a splash of va-va-voom a la Big Apple Burlesque bombshell, Candy Janes. I'm gonna go twice. Check for more info. (Wednesday, September 25, 9 p.m. & Friday, September 27, 11 p.m., RAPA's East End Theatre, $8.)

SpeakFathom: A Language-Musical Cabaret Without getting too creepy, SpeakFathom skirts a sort of eerie cabaret netherworld couched in the flexibility of language and its sound as music, as opposed to mere dialogue. Performed by F'loom, Speakfathom is described it as a tour of the underbelly of psycholinguistic reality. Uh-huh. To help get your head around that, check out (Saturday, September 21, 6 p.m. & Sunday, September 22, 5 p.m., Writers & Books, $11)

U.S. Oh! Show The brazen beauties who bump 'n' grind in Deadly Dames Burlesque are sure to put the tease in striptease and the tits in titillating. Ooo la got-damn-la! Dig it way down as gals like B.B. Blues, Big Bertha Boleyn, Eva Scarafore, Onyx Blaze, and Sybil Disobedience peal and squeal for the audiences' joyous appeal. This show's theme is centered around our troops, with a USO-style nod to patriotic cabaret. Come on down and wave the flag. Or better yet, you can salute. (Friday, September 27, 10 p.m., MuCCC, $10)

Adam Lubitow

"All Your Questions Answered" The vague description for this show -- "an evening of short, silly, subversive, satirical plays, and charming musical numbers" -- makes it sound innocuous enough. But when that material is springing from the mind of Greg Kotis (a two-time Tony Award-winner for the acerbic musical "Urinetown"), it promises to be anything but. I'm not entirely sure what to expect, and truthfully, that makes it all the more exciting. (Thursday, September 19, 9 p.m.; Saturday, September 21, 7 p.m.; Sunday, September 22, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, September 28, 3 & 8:30 p.m.; Geva Theatre Nextstage, $16)

Cirque du Fringe I love a good spectacle, so naturally I'm excited about Cirque du Fringe. There's no more immediate way to get back in touch with your childlike sense of wonder than a circus aerial and acrobatics show. But when you meld that to the more adult entertainments of cabaret and burlesque, it's bound to make for an unforgettable experience. The show will deliver a lineup of 11 national acts, showing off their skills and performing an array of breathtaking feats. Held in the already glitzy Magic Crystal Spiegeltent, there will be no shortage of good old-fashioned razzle dazzle on display. It's an evening that promises to be magical, astounding, and a little bit naughty. (Thursday, September 19-Saturday, September 28, 8 p.m., except Friday, September 20, 9 p.m. Family-friendly matinees held both Saturdays of the fest and Sunday, September 22, at 2 p.m., Spiegeltent, $31 or $180 for VIP booth)

Dupre on Krol The Rochester International Jazz Festival may be over, but that doesn't mean you have to suffer through the symptoms of withdrawal. There are plenty of great live jazz performances lined up for Fringe, including Dupre On Krol. Featuring Eastman School of Music students Jacob Dupre (piano), Jeffrey Krol (drums), and Matthew Krol (bass), the jazz trio will class up your night with their unique take on some classic tunes from the great American songbook. (Saturday, September 21, 8:30 p.m., Java's Café; Friday, September 27, 5:15 p.m., Gibbs Street Main Stage, Free)

"Nosferatu Bemshi!" One of the wackier-sounding shows on the Fringe schedule, "Nosferatu Bemshi!" combines a screening of the silent 1922 vampire film "Nosferatu," about the amorous intentions of fiendish bloodsucker Count Orlok, with an accompanying live alternate voice-over from performers David Esposito and G. E. Schwartz featuring poetry, flash fiction, and a "soundscape" of some sort. The show is sure to be one of the more unusual experiences Fringe has to offer. (Friday, September 27, 10 p.m., Writers & Books, $6)

"Wing-Man" Gifted physical comedian and professional clown (literally, he was a popular member of the Big Apple Circus) Mark Gindick brings his quirky one-man show "Wing-Man" to the Rochester Fringe. In the tradition of Charlie Chaplin and the Marx Brothers, the production is a silent comedy about big ideas as Gindick examines topics ranging from social media to love in the modern age, all without uttering a single word. (Thursday, September 26, 9:30 p.m.; Friday, September 27, 7 p.m.; Saturday, September 28, 1:30 & 7 p.m., Geva Theatre Nextstage, $16)

"Zero Gravity, Zero Hope: An Alien Horror Show" I've found that improv shows always seem to have a much higher success rate when they're focused around a specific theme, and this has a great one: extraterrestrial suspense films à la "Alien," "Pitch Black," or "The Thing." Beginning with the familiar premise of a spaceship crew attempting to survive their encounter with a bloodthirsty extraterrestrial being, this show, from Geva Comedy Improv, is sure to take off (no pun intended) in some wild and wacky directions. (Friday, September 20, 10:30 p.m.; Saturday, September 21, 10:30 p.m.; Friday, September 27, 10:30 p.m.; Saturday, September 28, 10:30 p.m., Geva Theater Nextstage, $16)


It's an evening that promises to be magical, astounding, and a little bit naughty.

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