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Putting on a good show

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It is, in my opinion, the best moment in the world: after the lights go down and before the show starts. Voices hush, bodies settle, and you wait. There is so much possibility in the air that breathing feels better.

In fall, local theater and dance groups start performing in earnest. Rochester and the surrounding area offer great quality in theater and dance, and draw good shows from out of town. There are a growing number of options for families, as well. Grab a seat. Details on these and many more dance and theater shows are in the calendar below, as well as in City's weekly calendar.

Curtain up

After a brief summer lull, local theaters are already back up and running. Geva Theatre has Broadway Bound up through October 3. It is the last in Geva's presentation of Neil Simon's double-B trilogy (Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues) and brings back much of the cast and crew that audiences have happily followed. Next up on the Mainstage is a George Bernard Shaw play, John Bull's Other Island. And on the Nextstage look for a new play by Dan O'Brien, Key West. Geva's Comedy Improv returns for another season of late-night, cheap-date, fall-off-your-seat-funny engagements.

Downstairs Cabaret Theatre has not stopped with I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, now in its fourth year. Other shows at Downstairs Cabaret are 7 Sins, James Judd's one-man show that has been gathering praise on the fringe-festival circuit,in October and November; and The Unforgetting, a new Depression-era story, in November.

The solid Blackfriars Theatre brings us the musical revue After Sondheim in October and the comedy Stones in His Pockets in November and December. JCCenterstage stages a one-woman show, Kicking and Screaming, the memoir of former Rockette Jennifer Jiles, who plays all 25 characters. And the persevering Shipping Dock Theatre has The Syringa Tree, a story of South African apartheid.

The Rochester Broadway Theatre League satisfies our craving for big production values with its fall lineup of Broadway shows: Mamma Mia!, the story of a wedding set to ABBA music; and the sweet, perennial, culture-clash musical, The King and I.

Good theater on a budget comes to us via The Shakespeare Company, this year putting on the Scottish play and the University of Rochester's International Theatre Program, whose bold, well-crafted productions will this year include the modern-day Dionysian tale, A Mouthful of Birds.

If opera is your thing, the talented students in the Eastman Opera Theatre will put on East and West in November, and Adventures of the Monkey King: A Beijing Opera, will be at the University at Buffalo and the University of Rochester in October. The Beijing Opera performs the Beijing style of Chinese opera, combining song with acrobatics, masks, and kung-fu-style fight scenes.

And don't forget the wealth of theater in the north: there is still time to visit the Shaw Festival (in Niagara-on-the-Lake) and the Stratford Festival (in Stratford).

Groove thing

Once again, count on Rochester Broadway Theatre League to bring the big-ticket numbers. Stomp, that thrashing dance sensation, is coming in November, and the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, along with two ABT principles, Paloma Herrera and Jose Manuel Carreno, will perform a one-night concert September 30. Proceeds from the tickets will benefit the Rochester City Ballet.

The RCB will dance in its own candy-sweet holiday tradition. The Nutcracker, with music performed by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, will be back the last weekend in November.

The opportunities to see Garth Fagan Dance in local concert are too few, but the troupe returns to Nazareth for its annual fall show at the end of November. Nazareth will also host the Virsky Ukrainian National Dance Company and their balletic, passionate folk dances.

Finally, SUNY Brockport is one of our best dance destinations. Besides student and faculty concerts, the college will host Limón Dance Company at its Hartwell Dance Theater. Limón, a renowned modern dance troupe, will set up residency at SUNY for three weeks, conducting workshops and demonstrations, and performing two sets of concert programs at the end of October.

In This Guide...

    Seeking the artful bounty

    Members of the Rochester Association of Art Dealers already inaugurated the new season; they strutted their stuff during Galleries Week, which started the second weekend of September. Most of their exhibits will remain up for several weeks, giving you plenty to see.

    Searching for the Holy Grail (of fruit)

    The fall harvest season is one of my favorites, with cool nights and an almost endless variety of fruits and vegetables to sample, some more well-known than others. Lately, I have fallen in love with the heirloom tomato "Brandywine" --- which is not very red, is impossible to slice for the perfect sandwich, and has a thin skin unsuitable for shipping.

    Only the movies you want to see

    As I was thinking about how to structure this piece on the films of autumn, I became hung up on the notion of film criticism versus movie reviewing. Film criticism is an art that seems to require a thorough steeping in film history, astute reasoning, an extremely keen eye, and the ability to concisely convey your thoughts using clever word-type thingies.

    Lack not music’s pleasures

    It may be years, decades, centuries, before the Olympics come to Rochester. While you're waiting, enjoy the abundant classical music Rochester offers every year, all year round.

    Failure is so possible

    Fall arrives in Rochester with a flurry of colorful brochures announcing dance, music, and theater events. It's an exciting time of year for arts lovers --- authors start arriving, film festivals hit town, and art exhibitions open.

    Hear your live delights

    I figure since we got screwed out of summer we deserve a cool fall. And I'm not talking about the mercury either.

    Hitting the lecture circuit

    OK, all you nerds out there, it's time to get down to work. Stock your pencil boxes, pull out your literary anthologies, and check the batteries in your tape recorders: fall is bursting with enough lectures and literary events to make us all feel like we're back in school again.

    City’s choice: family theater

    Theater is not just for grownups. Besides the magical tradition of The Nutcracker, during the fall there are other performances around town for the family to enjoy.

    Fall Guide 2004

    Fall with grace It leads us into the grip of colder, darker winter, but fall is a gentle warden.

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