Artistic director Mark Cuddy and executive director Christopher Mannelli recently announced 11 productions and events of the 2017-18 season at Geva Theatre Center, 75 Woodbury Blvd., Rochester.
“Our 45th anniversary takes place at a time when Geva Theatre Center can illuminate the stories and characters that are essential to our vibrant American culture,” Cuddy said. “The richness of contemporary life and the heroes of history, both here and abroad, weave through the 11 plays and musicals that have been carefully chosen for Rochester. I am proud that Geva will help lead the Rochester region into the future with humanity and creativity. Now, more than ever, we need to come together and share these theatrical experiences.”
“In the Heights” will run Sept. 5 through Oct. 8. The play features music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Melissa Rain Anderson, choreography by Julio Agustin, musical direction by Don Kot and a book by Quiara Alegria Hudes. The musical by the creator of “Hamilton” follows a neighborhood on the cusp of change, where decisions can be which traditions to keep and which to leave behind. “In the Heights” is the winner for four Tony awards and a Pulitzer Prize nominee.
“Smart People” by Lydia Diamond and directed by Summer Williams will run Oct. 5-22. On the eve of the 2008 presidential election, four intellectuals find themselves embroiled in a web of social and sexual politics. Brian, a neuroscientist, is studying the brain’s responses to race and its societal implications. Ginny, a psychologist, is studying low-income Asian-American women’s reaction to stress. Jackson, a young doctor, has opened a clinic for low-income patients. Valerie, an actor, is struggling to make ends meet by working as a maid.
The world premiere of “The Agitators: The Story of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass” will run Oct. 17 through Nov. 12. “The Agitators,” created by Mat Smart and directed by Logan Vaughn, depicts the friendship of Anthony and Douglass. When the young abolitionists met in 1840s Rochester, they were full of hopes and a common purpose. As they grew to become cultural icons, their movements collided and their friendship was tested.
“The Other Josh Cohen” will run Jan. 9 through Feb. 4, 2018. Directed by Hunter Foster, the play features a book, lyrics and music by David Rossmer and Pittsford native Steve Rosen. When Josh Cohen receives a letter after his apartment is robbed of everything but a Neil Diamond CD, his life could change forever. “The Other Josh Cohen” was nominated for six Drama Desk awards and the Lortel Award for outstanding musical.
“Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End” by Margaret Engel and Allison Engel will run Jan. 25 through Feb. 11, 2018. Directed by Cuddy and starring Bombeck and columnist Pam Sherman, this is the story behind an average housewife who championed the lives of women with an incomparable wit that sprang from the truth.
“The Diary of Anne Frank” will run Feb. 13 through March 18, 2018. The play by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett was newly adapted by Wendy Kesselman. In this co-production with Arizona Theatre Co. directed by David Ira Goldstein, Anne Frank emerges from history as young girl with the aspirations of any teenager. The depiction of eight people in hiding from the Nazis in a concealed Amsterdam attic captures the claustrophobic reality of their daily existence.
The world premiere of “Heartland” by Gabriel Jason Dean and directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh will run March 17 through April 1, 2018. Harold Banks is a renowned professor of comparative literature at University of Nebraska. After Afghan refugee Nazrullah arrives at his doorstep armed only with copies books belonging to Banks’ daughter, an American teacher killed in an attack on an Afghan Girls School, the two men spend the next few months as roommates. Cuddy stars as Banks in his return to the Geva stage.
The world premiere of “One House Over” by Catherine Trieschmann and directed by Mark Clements will run April 3-29, 2018. When Rafael and Camila Hernandez move in downstairs to help Joanne with her father, Joanne breathes a little easier. She needs their help, and they need jobs, but she can’t anticipate the complications that arise when they start to feel like family and act like it. The performance is a co-production with Milwaukee Repertory Theatre.
“Steel Magnolias” by Robert Harling and directed by Skip Greer will run May 8 through June 3, 2018. Truvy’s motto at her Louisiana beauty shop is: “There is no such thing as natural beauty.” Six southern women gather every week to gossip, swap recipes and support each other. Those sisterly bonds, however, are about to be tested when M’Lynn and her daughter, Shelby, face a life-changing event.
To celebrate Geva’s production of Miranda’s “In the Heights,” Geva will present a reading West Bloomfield native Mary Hamlin and stage and screen star George Arliss’ original 1917 Broadway play, “Hamilton” on Sept. 20. The reading will feature “In the Heights” cast members and is underwritten by Hamlin’s grandson, George, and his wife, Mary.
The Fielding Stage will be a venue for the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival on Sept. 14-23.
“Festival of a New Theatre,” a two-week showcase of new plays and projects in Geva’s developmental process, will run Oct. 24 through Nov. 5. More than 330 full-length or short works have received readings and/or workshops as part of Geva’s new play development programs, and more than 65 have had subsequent productions around the country and the globe.
“A Christmas Carol,” a Rochester holiday tradition directed by Cuddy, will run Nov. 22 through Dec. 24. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by a series of ghosts who remind him who he was and what he might yet become. He learns the true meaning of the season and that it’s never too late to make a new start.
“The Marvelous Wonderettes: Caps and Gowns,” written by Roger Bean and directed by Melissa Rain Anderson, will run Dec. 7-24. In a sequel to “The Marvelous Wonderettes” in 2016, Betty Jean, Cindy Lou, Missy, and Suzy will sing about their final year in high school in 1958. Act Two takes place in 1968, where the girls celebrate Missy’s marriage.
“The 2017-18 season will continue the long tradition of excellence and artistry by Geva Theatre Center,” Mannelli said. “In addition, we have successfully completed ‘Front and Center: The Campaign for Geva,’ raising more than $11 million to support the renovation of the building and grow the theater’s endowment fund. Through that endeavor, we have created a space for our community to gather, a center for arts in downtown Rochester that welcomes each and every member of our city.”
Subscriptions for the full nine-play season start at $201. The ESL Wilson Stage Series and Fielding Studio Series start at $117 and $84, respectively. Subscribers enjoy exclusive benefits such as ticket exchange privileges, priority advance booking and discounts, coupons to area restaurants and free coat check.
Subscribers to the 2017-18 season will be able to purchase tickets for “A Christmas Carol” and “The Marvelous Wonderettes: Caps and Gowns” starting June 21. Tickets to all individual shows will go on sale to the general public July 18.
For information, call 585-232-4382 or visit gevatheatre.org.