As our archive is filling up quickly, from time to time, we’re collecting past stories on a common theme. Today, we look at a year and a half exploring the local theater scene. In addition to reviewing shows, the goal has been to look at art and audiences from various perspectives.
Our first theatrical appearance was in A little bit of the Moulon Rouge and Greenwich Village. With a kindly given Fringe Festival Press Pass, I watched a vibrant performance of La Cage aux Folles by the Rochester Association of Performing Arts. RAPA’s Artistic Director Alan Cuseo even gave “the press” complimentary sandwiches. And got my picture taken back stage with the cast.
Next, Jilted Rochester embraces David Bowie at the Visual Studies Workshop. Even if he is still pissed. was on the debut of Matt Ehler’s play Bowie Goes to Jail about David Bowie’s 1976 mishaps in what I called the Sour City.
We asked Rochestarians whether our rocky relationship with Bowie could be softened, sadly a question now moot. Ehler’s production has since sparked a local Bowie revival — both before and after his death — as seen in a spate of Bowie nights, events and screenings.
Then began the GeVa series with Seeing Red. Did we violate “sacred space” backstage at GEVA? After the performance, the audience was invited backstage and on the set, sparking a lively discussion about theatrical boundaries.
In Deconstructing (and admiring) GEVA’s “Miracle on South Division Street”through the looking glass. we looked at how playwright Tom Dudzick set his play in an almost entirely all black neighborhood but one in which all the characters are white and race is never mentioned.
A finely executed performance of Mockingbird at GEVA. And on the “white trash” Ewells focuses on representations of the “white trash” Ewells and how they become scapegoats obscuring middle class white racism.
What critics said about Moon for the Misbegotten from 1947 onward contributes at least something to Eugene O’Neill studies. The essay charts critical response to the Moon for the Misbegotten over several decades.
The office as therapy in Geva’s The May Queen looks at how playwright Molly Smith Metzler problematizes the concept of narcissist personality disorder by creating a sympathetic character who could easily be clinically diagnosed as narcissistic.In Thumbs up for GeVa’s “Thurgood”, we dicussed three GeVa plays been based on the lives of historically prominent African-Americans: Mountaintop (2015), Martin Luther King Jr., The Agitators (2017), Frederick Douglass, and Thurgood (2018), Thurgood Marshall.
Then we turned to the wonderful plays produced by the JCC’s Center Stage Director Ralph Meranto. King ‘Drew and his new Crew at JCC CenterStage: “Bloody, Bloody, Andrew Jackson” includes allusions to the 2016 election. Meranto’s well chosen play is increasingly prescient as President Trump has a portrait of Jackson now in the Oval Office and recently visited the Hermitage, pointing out to other tourists similarities between the presidencies.
In Once again, charmed and challenged at the JCC CenterStage: Church and State, Meranto again boldly chose a politically-themed play to great effect. The essay also includes a review of Center Stage history over the decades.
In Red Ryder, The Stockholm Syndrome and a glimpse inside the University of Rochester Theater Community, we looked at theater in the Todd Union, past and present.
We even tried — with mixed success — some theatrical adventures. The Rochester Candle Light Ghost Walk sometimes hires actor to play Jack the Ripper during its tour of scary sites near Mt. Hope Cemetery. Once, in Stalker of the Town plays Jack the Ripper at the Rochester Candlelight Ghost Walk, I played Jack.
Finally, in one of the ongoing theatrical performances of the Rocky Horrow Picture show at the Cinema Theatre, I was invited on stage. At the time, I was a Rocky Virgin and, in Talker loses his innocence, Rockily, at the Cinema Theatre, I was deflowered.