Critics' picks: David Raymond 

  • "13 the Musical"

Wadaiko Japanese Drumming

Wadaiko are Japanese drums of all sizes, and Japanese drumming (or taiko) is among the more exciting, not to mention the loudest, world music traditions. It also has an enthusiastic following outside of Japan: there are more than 1,000 taiko groups in North America. This ancient form combines rhythm and dance in a way that is overwhelming and hard to resist. (Friday, September 15, 5 p.m. The Little: Theatre 1. Free. All ages.)

"13 the Musical"

Tony Award-winning composer and lyricist Jason Robert Brown is highly respected; while he's never had a real Broadway hit, his musicals are always interesting. And a few have had vigorous afterlives: "Parade," "The Last Five Years," and this 2007 show, about a young Jewish teenager facing his Bar Mitzvah, a new school, and his parents' divorce. Brown's complicated but catchy songs should be well served by the young people, ages 9 to 14, of the newly formed Lyric Voices group. (Saturday, September 16, 11 a.m.; and Monday, September 18, 5:30 p.m. Lyric Theatre: Cabaret Hall. $8-$10. Appropriate for ages 5 and above.)

"The Queens Speak"

Appropriately for the Rochester Fringe Festival, this is not your conventional song recital. In this recital and multimedia presentation, the wives of Henry VIII won't just speak; they sing. Soprano Emily Woodruff and pianist Anna Maimine will perform songs by contemporary American composers inspired by the queens' words, enhanced by original artwork. (Saturday, September 16, 3 p.m. MuCCC. $10. Appropriate for all ages.)

"Really Rosie"

Chicken soup with rice, anyone? Carole King released her "Really Rosie" album in the mid-1970's, and this charming combination of songs by Carole King and stories by the great Maurice Sendak has been a crowd-pleaser ever since — as a record and as an Off-Broadway musical.It's an ideal show for kids that won't bore their parents (or, given Carole King's demographic, their grandparents). This will be the debut show by Last Fool Productions. (Sunday, September 17, 11 a.m.; Friday, September 22, 5 p.m.; and Saturday, September 23, 1 p.m. Blackfriars Theatre. $10-$15. All ages.)

"When Shakespeare's Ladies Meet"

Shakespeare's many heroines have very definite thoughts on the subject of love; this play brings together six of them to offer advice to a seventh, their young friend Juliet. If you want to know whether she takes it, there's only one way to find out: in this "loving comic homage to the Bard." Aspie Works, which is presenting "Shakespeare's Ladies," recently did an interesting take on Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew," and this play is directed by its founder, Justin Rielly. (Sunday, September 17, 2 p.m.; and Monday, September 18, 7 p.m. MuCCC. $10. All ages.)

click to enlarge "Oprah Made Me Do It / Moon Over Gomorrah." - PHOTO COURTESY KEYBANK ROCHESTER FRINGE FESTIVAL
  • "Oprah Made Me Do It / Moon Over Gomorrah."

"Oprah Made Me Do It! / Moon Over Gomorrah"

Not all plays have to be major statements to be entertaining or worthwhile, as these two one-act sketches prove. One, by Bradley Hayward, lampoons the disciples of Oprah's book club; the other, by the late Rochester playwright Byron Wilmot, is a neat little farce that pokes fun at parents who bend over backwards to approve of their son's "lifestyle choices." (Thursday, September 21, 7 p.m.; and Saturday, September 23, 2 p.m. MuCCC. $10. Appropriate for ages 13 and older.)

"The Polite Abductress"

Former Eastman School of Music Director Douglas Lowry, who was also an accomplished poet and composer, created the words and music to this offbeat, slightly risqué operetta shortly before his death in 2013. The titular heroine attempts to kidnap "a scion of the French finance world" — politely and with the help of his maid, as they form a ménage à trois. That does sound French. (Friday, September 22, 4:30 p.m. Lyric Theatre: Cabaret Hall. $5-$15. Appropriate for ages 18 and older.)

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