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JCC CenterStage announces 2017-18 season 

In what has now become an annual tradition, JCC CenterStage Artistic Director Ralph Meranto held a "virtual press conference" via YouTube yesterday to announce the organization's 2017-18 season. From his seat in front of the camera in the pristine Lipson Lounge -- part of the $17 million, 26,000-square-foot renovations the JCC unveiled last fall -- Meranto described the five shows and three special events coming up next year.

CenterStage's 41st season will be "a season of firsts," Meranto says. Firsts are something he's particularly passionate about; Meranto has been a key proponent of bringing new works to Rochester and challenging the status quo of local theatrical offerings.

Season highlights include "First Date," a musical that chronicles a blind date in New York City from beginning to end, as CenterStage's non-traditional holiday show and one, Meranto says, "anyone who has been on a first date will relate to."

The second half of the season features Jonathan Tolins' "Buyer and Cellar" -- a one-man comedy that imagines the life of an underemployed Los Angeles actor hired to manage the indoor shopping mall in the basement of Barbra Streisand's home -- and a musical adaptation of "The Bridges of Madison County," with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown (this is the first time the show will play in the region).

The full 2017-18 JCC CenterStage season:

"Cooking with the Calamari Sisters" (October 5 through October 29)

"First Date" (December 1 through December 11)

"The Hit Makers ... And The Beat Goes On" (February 3 through February 18)

"Buyer and Cellar" (March 10 through March 25)

"The Bridges of Madison County" (May 5 through May 20)

Special events include:

"Big Wigs" (December 28 through December 31)

"Upscale" (December 30 and December 31)

"Bring It On: The Musical" (July 15 through July 23)

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