2019's Most Anticipated Rochester Productions
Happy New Year Rochester theatre-goers! It is now officially 2019, and with it a new year full of wonderful theatrical productions of all varieties on stages large-and-small across the 585. We're fortunate to live in a city with some of the most diverse and eclectic arts organizations in New York State, so I thought I'd take a minute to highlight some of the productions I'm most excited about in 2019. A couple caveats: #1, the typical theatre season runs September(ish)-June(ish), and most theatre companies haven't announced their 2019-2020 seasons yet, so this article really only encompasses the first half of 2019; and #2, my theatrical tastes and interests aren't necessarily representative of the wider theatre-going community, so this list may not reflect Rochester's most anticipated or talked-about shows on the horizon (notice RBTL's upcoming run of Hamilton didn't make the cut, not for lack of worthiness). That being said, enjoy, and as always your thoughts and feedback are welcome!
Indecent- JCC CenterStage Theatre, March 30-April 14. This Tony-winning play, which first premiered off-Broadway in 2015 and on Broadway in 2017, is one of my favorite new shows in recent years. Inspired by the controversial 1923 Broadway debut of Sholem Asch's God of Vengeance, this play explores a troupe of Jewish immigrant actors who risked their lives and careers to perform at a time when art, freedom, and truth were on trial. Indecent blends gripping drama with abundant humor and musicality in a way that few shows do, and I am absolutely ecstatic to see JCC's production of it this spring. For tickets and more information, click here.
The Humans- Geva Theatre, February 19-March 17. The Humans has been one of the most buzzed-about plays since it premiered on Broadway two seasons ago under the direction of Joe Mantello (of Angels in America fame). Truthfully I have limited knowledge of The Humans, but it adheres to one of my favorite theatre forms: the intimate family drama (other favorites include August: Osage County, Buried Child, and A Raisin in the Sun), so naturally my curiosity is peaked. The Humans centers on the Blake family as they gather for Thanksgiving in a crowded, run-down Manhattan apartment as the many family members deal with aging, illness, and a changing economy. For tickets and more information, click here.
The Royale- Geva Theatre, April 11-28. Another of my favorite theatrical forms--the sports drama--and on one of my favorite of Rochester's stages--Geva's Fielding Stage-- The Royale is a 2019 show that I'm greatly looking forward to. While I'm the king of all dunces when it comes to sports (In what I'm sure is a surprise twist, I was a music and theatre kid growing up) I have an inexplicable pull toward Field of Dreams, Rocky, and other stories about athletic teams and players. Coupled with the rave reviews it received at Lincoln Center and other venues, it's sure to land with me and other dramaphiles. The Royale focuses on boxer Jay "The Sport" Jackson, who wants to be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. But it's 1905, and in racially segregated Jim Crow America his chances are about as good as getting knocked out. For tickets and more information, click here.
Waitress- Rochester Broadway Theatre League, June 4-9.Waitress carries the accolade of being one of the few-if not the only-film to stage adaptions of the past decade that I think really works (for misfires see Shrek and Pretty Woman, among others). Based on the 2007 film of little notoriety, Waitress tells the story of Jenna Hunterson, a waitress in an abusive relationship with her husband Earl. When Jenna unexpectedly becomes pregnant, she begins an affair with her gynecologist, Dr. Jim Pomatter. Looking for ways out, she sees a pie contest and its grand prize as her chance. I saw the touring production of Waitress in Buffalo last season on a whim after a friend offered me a free ticket. I entered the theatre with no baggage and little expectation, and left with a new favorite musical. I know Hamilton is the show that everyone is losing their minds over in RBTL's 18-19 season, but Waitress is what I'm most excited to see. For tickets and more information, click here.
Driving Miss Daisy- Hummingbird Theatre Company, February 27-March 3. Because I've only ever seen the excellent 1989 film version of the story, catching the staged version of Driving Miss Daisy (on which the film was based) has been on my theatre to-do list for some time; naturally I was thrilled to see that it's being done by Rochester's Hummingbird Theatre Company in a couple months. The story is of Daisy Werthan, a widowed, 72-year-old Jewish woman living in midcentury Atlanta. When she is deemed too old to drive, her son hires Hoke Colburn, an African American man, to serve as her chauffeur. The story defines Daisy and her point of view through a network of relationships and emotions by focusing on her home life, synagogue, friends, family, fears, and concerns over a twenty five-year period. For tickets and more information, click here.
Long Day's Journey Into Night- Rochester Community Players, April 5-20. Long Day's Journey Into Night is Eugene O'Neill's semi-autobiographical 1941 play which is commonly considered to be his finest work, and one of the 20th century's most important pieces of theatre. A play that's admittedly pretty grim in nature, it focuses on the Tyrone family across the span of one day as they grapple with the morphine addiction of Mary, the illness of Edmund, and the alcoholism of Jamie; as day turns into night, guilt, anger, despair, and regret threaten to destroy the family. I first saw this play at the Stratford Theatre Festival, and was utterly transfixed from beginning to end. I've never seen an RCP production, but I'm hoping to catch them perform this timeless classic come April. For tickets and more information, click here.