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Geva announces 2020-21 season 

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When Geva Theatre Center was selecting its 2020-2021 season, there was no chance they could have predicted a pandemic. But that’s the situation all over the world, and the arts — like most other industries right now — are impressively adapting and pivoting as needed.

Monday, March 16, was supposed to be Geva’s upcoming season announcement, but in the midst of social distancing and other precautions, its leadership canceled the public event and released the season lineup online Monday, March 23, a week later, to allow for a few necessary updates.

As the remainder of Geva's current season has been postponed or canceled altogether, the theater center's leadership team took its time to rewire the new schedule. In an unprecedented move, Geva hopes to reschedule one of the productions, “Looks Like Pretty” — which was in rehearsals when COVID-19 hit — for this July. “Vietgone,” another upcoming production, has been canceled altogether, along with the Regional Writers Showcase, the Young Writers Showcase and the final play of the Hornets’ Nest series.

But Geva’s 48th season still has a green light, and will kick off earlier than usual this year and include 10 productions and two festivals.

The first show on the Wilson Stage, “Airness” (Sept. 1 - Oct. 4), is a relatively new, lighthearted play about the niche world of air guitar competitions. (Though it features some music and choreography, “Airness” isn’t a musical.) The show originally debuted at the Humana Festival — American theatre’s leading launchpad for new plays — in 2017 and will be directed by Geva’s own Skip Greer. A spooky, immersive new take on “Frankenstein” (Oct. 14 - Nov. 15) is on the docket for Halloween time, told from the perspective of the tale’s author, Mary Shelley. This one will be helmed by Geva’s Artistic Director, Mark Cuddy.

Lighter fare fills much of the remainder of the Wilson Stage lineup, from “Yoga Play” (Jan. 19 - Feb. 14), a comedic co-production with Pittsburgh Public Theatre that parodies fitness culture and LuluLemon, to the hit love story musical “Once on This Island” (Feb. 23 - Mar. 28) and “Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash” (closing the season May 12 - June 13), a jukebox-style musical that tips its hat to the original Man in Black. A brand new thriller, “Selling Kabul” (April 6 - May 2) breaks up the fluff with a Taliban-centered plot set in 2013. And of course, it wouldn’t be the holidays at Geva without the return of “A Christmas Carol” (Nov. 25 - Dec. 27).

The smaller Fielding Stage will be occupied by Keybank Rochester Fringe Festival acts (September 15 - 26) and the Festival of New Theatre (FONT) in October before opening its first season show, “The Chinese Lady” (Oct. 28 - Nov. 15), based on the true story of Afong Moy, a young girl brought to the United States from Beijing in 1834 and toured for 45 years as a side-show feature. This is a production of Ithaca’s Kitchen Theatre (though it’s unclear if the show will also be performed there as its season hasn’t yet been announced).

The remaining Fielding shows continue with diverse themes in one-man show “The Real James Bond… Was Dominican” (Jan. 27 - Feb. 14), the true story of the little boy who grew up to be the man who inspired the character of James Bond, and “We Swim, We Talk, We Go To War” (April 21 - May 9), about an Arab-American woman and her nephew’s exploration of identity from the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

Subscriptions for the full nine-play 2020-2021 season (excludes “A Christmas Carol”) are on sale now from $222. The Wilson Stage Series and Fielding Studio Series may each be purchased separately, from $126 and $96. Visit gevatheatre.org/subscribe or call 232-4382.

Leah Stacy is a freelance writer for CITY. Feedback on this article can be directed to becca@rochester-citynews.com.

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