Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York on September 25, 1993 · Page 23
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Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York · Page 23

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Rochester, New York
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Saturday, September 25, 1993
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Page 23
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DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE, ROCHESTER, N.Y., SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 1993 Catch of the day The Duke Ellington Orchestra, directed by Mercer Ellington (right), plays at Wadsworth Auditorium, SUNT Geneseo, at 8 p.m. O See entertainment from centuries past at the Stone-Tolan Country Fair, noon to 5 p.m. (same time tomorrow) at the Stone-Tolan House Museum, 2370 East Ave., Brighton. O The Rose, a reconstruction of a 1757 British frigate, docb in More Tuna' Theatre Arts Playhouse has extended the run of Greater Tuna through Oct. 30. The mmpHv unf V. M.-.-L- C.,ii Charlotte from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (10 to 5 tomorrow). $4 adults, $2 kids. 1 i,n iUCU ULUll Almekmder and Nick Francesco, is about uiv rustic eccentrics ol a town called Tuna, Texas. Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. A dinner-theater special, featuring Tex-Mex cuisine from the Coyote Cafe, is offered at 7 each evening. Tickets to the show alone are $15 nr $19 ;.- t v iui ovriuui CI Li" zens and students. Dinner-theater tickets are UP PACE 11S10 e ) o.ou, or io.ou lor seniors and students. The theater is at 2106 Five Mile Line Road, Penfield. For more information, call (716) 383-9060. Kk! Stuff Connie Neer, actress, teacher and administrator for the former Nazareth Youtheatre, will be offering three workshops for young people in grades three through nine. Neer has taught for the last three seasons at the Harley School's summer theater camps. Those summer camps are so popular," she says, "that I thought the demand was there for more." Among the topics in the once-a-week workshops will be creative dramatics, improvisation, monologues, audition techniques and scene study. The workshops begin Oct. 12 and will meet at Temple Beth El, 139 S. Winton Road, through Nov. 11. Registration deadline is Oct. 5. For more information, call (716) 442-6542. Opera on the air From 8 to io:3o p.m. Monday, WXXI-FM (91.5) will broadcast The Metropolitan Opera Opening Night Gala. The event celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Met debuts of tenors Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo. The program includes opera scenes from Othello and Trovatore, both by Verdi, and Wagner's Die Walkure. James Levine conducts the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus. For information, call (716) 325-7500. All a-Tlngte Political satirist Jimmy Tingle brings his one-man show, Uncommon Sense, to the Downstairs Cabaret Theatre beginning Friday. Tfw Times of London called 1 ingle Americas fore- i - AiJi. most political comedian," and Variety wrote of him, "Whether offering humorous caricatures of New England diehards, poking holes in the pretention of esoteric scholarly pursuits or letting off a solid one-liner, Boston comic Jimmy Tingle is consistently on-the-money." Tingle has performed on The Tonight Slww, HBO's One Night Stand comedy special, at the Edinborough Arts Festival in Scotland and the Charles Playhouse in Boston, among many other venues. After his run at the Downstairs Cabaret, he will perform at the American Place Theatre, off-Broadway. Performances at the cabaret are at 8 p.m. Friday, 10 p.m. next Saturday, 7 p.m. Oct. 3, 8 p.m. Oct. 7 and 8, and 10 p.m. Oct. 9. Tickets are $16; $3 discounts are available for seniors age 60 and older and for groups of 10 or more. Full-time students can receive half-price tickets. The cabaret is at 151 St. Paul St. For more information, call (716) 325-4370. The cabaret also has extended The Heat Is On, the one-woman musical tribute to Rita Hayworth, starring Quinn Lemley, through Oct. 3. For performance times, call the cabaret. Sharon McDaniel and Eugene Marino. Call them at (716) 258-2282 or write 55 Exchange Blvd., Rochester, N.Y. 14614. T1 .... Y y " o nihil n Jimmy Tingle Cm.; 4 if If, f1, i J f 7 " 1 V'-!V':-X " Y V;. Blackfriars Theatre Director David Runzo (center) with the cast of Marvin's Room, ' the 1992 winner of the Drama Desk Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award. The cast (clockwise from bottom left): Stefan Cohen, Shelly Tripp, Sam Hancock, Bettina DeBell, Nancy Case, Pam Marsocci (who plays Bessie), Harriet Stark and Greg Paris. ANNETTE LEIN Staff photographer By EUGENE MARINO STAFF THEATER CRITIC t's an autumn of milestones for David Runzo. Long a popular and respected actor, director and teacher, Runzo is celebrating his 25th year of directing tor blacklnars theatre; he and his cast are now putting the finishing touches on Marvin's Room, Scott McPherson's award-winning comedy-drama. Runzo also turned 50 recently, and that same day he received a letter informing him he is this year's recipient of the GeVa Theatre Legacy Award for his contributions to local theater. The bald numbers that outline those contributions seem to amaze even him. "Ive directed 120 plays and been in 200," Runzo says between sips of tea at his Corn Hill home. BUT EVEN with all those shows behind him, and more to come this sea son, Marvin's Room is something special, he says. The play last year won the Drama Desk Award and the Outer Critics Cir cle Award. Frank Rich of The New York Times called it "one of the funniest plays of the year as well as one of the wisest and most moving." It does almost miraculously keep catching you off guard with its artful mix of offbeat humor and a serious story line. "Every time you think it's going one way, ba-boom, it hits you the other way," Runzo says. A simple plot description doesn't begin to do justice to the play: It is about a woman, Bessie, who has devoted her life to caring for her invalid father, Marvin, and her sweet, slightly daft aunt. In the course of the play, Bessie learns that someone is going to have to care lor her, too. The play "reaches almost everyone," Runzo says. "Everyone some time is MS1- PREVIEW After 25 years of directing for Blackfriars, David Runzo finds 'Marviris Room, ' this seasons opener, a special experience going to have to take care of someone who is dying. ... It does move you and does make you laugh. It's a very hopeful, up play." McPherson was 32 when the play was first produced in New York. "How can a man of 32 know all this?" Runzo asks in amazement. He's speaking not only of the warm substance of the play but also of the way in which McPherson moves the play from moment to moment. "I hate to use the word, but it's written almost with genius," he says. McPherson will write no more such works. He died last November of com plications from AIDS. He was 33. From the first rehearsal at Blackfriars, Runzo says, everyone found the play "very special. "It's a magical cast, and I think the play is what did it." RUNZO HAS special memories of other plays he has directed for Blackfriars, including Gypsy, Orphans, Amadeus and The Shadow Box. He began directing there in the 1968-69 season, beginning with The Fantasticks. At the time, he was a much different director. "I used to scream and holler. Throw shoes. Rehearsals would go till 2 in the morning. I've mellowed." Now, he carefully plans out the show before rehearsals, unlike those directors who try to "find it" with the actors. He gives the actors a clear framework, but he also adjusts his approach to the discoveries he makes with them in rehearsal. And in Marvin's Room, "all of the actors have come up with things that I didn't think of. You can't just stay within the frame you've worked out in advance." At the Eastman School of Music, Runzo is currently teaching a directing workshop for opera students. Next April, he'll direct The Wind in the Willows for Rochester Children's Theatre, and in June, the romantic comedy Beau Jest at the Jewish Community Center. In November, he'll act in Harold Pinter's The Caretaker at Theatre Arts Playhouse in Penfield, and he will be given the award from GeVa on Nov. 11. But first, of course, comes Marvin's Room. "It's an exciting play to direct," he says. There's so much to bring out in each scene. I find it stimulating when I get my hands on a play that has so much meat to it." Marvin's Room What: The comic drama by Scott McPherson, presented by Blackfriars Theatre Where: Xerox Square Auditorium, at Broad and Chestnut streets When: 8 p.m. next Saturday and Oct. 8, 9, 15, 16, 21, 22 and 23 and 3 p.m. Oct. 3, 10 and 17. The Oct. 22 performance will be sign-interpreted Tickets: $15; $2 discounts are available for senior citizens and full-time students Season subscriptions: Available through Oct. 23; the remainder of the season comprises the musical Little Shop of Horrors, Agatha Christie's Cards on the Table and Stephen Sondheim's Follies For more information: (716) 454-1260 R E V I E W 'The Program' about as real asAstroturf By JACK GARNER STAFF FILM CRITIC The complex world of big-time college football with its recruiting scandals, multimillion-dollar TV contracts, steroid testing arid academic concerns would make fascinating grist for a serious film. Though it skims superficially over these themes, The Program isn't that movie. The title refers to a fictitious college's "football program," but it also reinforces the idea that the film's quality doesn't extend much beyond a typical TV program. One also might argue that the film is "programmed," in the sense that it tries to push all the expected buttons as packaged Hollywood entertainment. EN OTHER WORDS, The Program succeeds only on a certain predictable level as a modest sports flick, complete with the all-important, must-win final game. The depth and realism of The Program is about on a par with the baseball comedy Major League. The earlier film's a comedy and this is a drama, but they have many similarities, maybe because both have been directed and co-written by David S. Ward. The Program seems to aspire to be more than quickly forgotten entertainment. If that's the case, it's been forced to punt. The film barely touches the surface of the aforementioned serious issues, but refuses to take them seriously. For example, when a steroid-crazed lineman attempts to rape a female student, all is forgiven as long as he's ready to make the big play in the big game. And when the team's star quarterback is forced into alcohol rehab for four weeks during the season, the only issue seems to be whether hell take his girlfriend's phone calls. PART OF THE problem with The Program is that the team's coach remains barely a figurehead. Despite the top-billed casting of James Caan, Coach Winters is never defined or explored. We never learn anything about him; he just shows up for occasional practice drills or on the sidelines during games. It's like making a movie about a dysfunctional family, and ignoring the TOUCHSTONE PICTURES Craig Sheffer (left) as an out-of-control quarterback and coach James Caan fail to tackle anything of substance. parents. Instead, the film focuses on star quarterback Joe Kane (Craig Sheffer), who is being actively considered for the Heisman Trophy, and hotly recruited freshman tailback Darnell Jefferson (Omar Epps), a black urban youngster who is confronted with immense change in a Southern college environment. Craig Sheffer (of A River Runs Through It) portrays Kane as a devil-may-care guy who likes life on the edge. He races motorcycles and likes to stand on cliffs. (At one point, Kane and several of his teammates challenge fate by lying lengthwise on the double yellow line of a busy highway, while cars and trucks zoom by within inches. I dread the day I read about some real high school jocks who've been inspired to duplicate that irresponsible film sequence.) Ward and his co-writer Aaron Latham try to generate a subplot involving Kane's estranged relationship with his alcoholic, out-of-work father; but after the situation is used to milk some emotion, it's cast aside without a resolution. A few of the football sequences seem a bit over-choreographed, especially those employing a pretentious helmet-cam that generates shots through a runner's face mask. Other football scenes are more realistic, though, and the practice sessions are generally intense and believable. Actresses Halle Berry and Kristy Swanson are given little to do, beyond serving as the respective girlfriends of Jefferson and Kane. I guess they also serve who stand on the sidelines and cheer. But after the cheering stops in The Program, there's little left to think about. The Program Starring: James Caan, Craig Sheffer, Oman Epps, Halle Berry Directed by: David S. Ward Playing at: Cine Greece, Marketplace, Pittsford Plaza and Loews Webster theaters Rated: R, with profanity and violence Jack's rating: With 10 as a must-see, this film rates Buffalo Philharmonic still on hold STAFF REPORTS 3 Only the sound of silence comes from the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. A Wednesday notice advised ticket holders that tomorrow's concert, "The Mozart Experience" by the Magic Circle Mime Company, is "postponed until further notice." Concerts scheduled for Friday and next Saturday, with guest soloist Angela Cheng, are also postponed. Tickets for these concerts will be honored when the season resumes, the notice adds, but it forecasts no start-up date. After the orchestra board laid off musicians due to unresolved contract negotiations, the Sept. 10 season debut was also called off. For ticket information, call (716) 885-0331. But be patient: All but six BPO staff members have been terminated.

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