SEEING AND BELIEVING
Brian Friel's drama "Molly Sweeney" is about a blind woman approaching middle age who has surgery to restore her sight. On stage are three people: Molly, her husband Frank, and Mr. Rice, the surgeon. They relate events leading up to and following her restoration of sight. They occupy three separate chairs, three separate spaces, and ordinary dramatic interchange is ruled out. (Those familiar with Friel's "The Faith Healer" will recognize the arrangement.) As the Irish Classical Theatre Company has demonstrated, Friel's plays work in subtly dramatic ways. What appears to be a miraculous example of sight restored, a surgical coup, is much more. For one thing it is about how we assemble a picture of the world, through sight or no, and what happens when traumatic adjustments are made. Having three versions of the same events amounts to three perspectives or sight lines, and this only goes to emphasize the psychological aspects of sight. Friel has been the dominant Irish playwright for two decades. This work from 1994 will be directed by Vincent O'Neill for the Irish Classical Company. It will be performed in the Chippewa Theatre, 48 W. Chippewa St. Josephine Hogan plays Molly Sweeney, Michael Russo plays Frank Sweeney, and Michael Simpson plays Mr. Rice. It opens Thursday at 7:30 p.m., and performances continue at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Fridays, at 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. Sundays, through Nov. 16.
-- Terry Doran
ARIA OF EXPERTISE
The Chicago Tribune said, "It may be the best opera Mozart never wrote." The reference was to "The Jewel Box," a biographical opera about the young Mozart, a collection of 26 arias and ensembles put together from miscellaneous works fully composed and orchestrated by Mozart, but fitted out with a new modern English text and spoken dialogue by former New Yorker critic Paul Griffiths. The scenario supposes that four characters from the Commedia dell'arte seek out Mozart to write them a new opera. He vacillates between writing an opera seria and an opera buffa, the indecision finally resolved "through a series of musical adventures as the composer finds his own voice and a star is born." "The Jewel Box" will be presented at 8 p.m. next Friday on the Mainstage of the UB Center for the Arts in a touring production directed by Paul Griffiths, with the Slee Sinfonietta conducted by Magnus Martensson. "The Jewel Box" will then move east for another performance at 4 p.m. Oct. 19 in Roberts Wesleyan College, 2301 Westside Drive, Rochester.
-- Herman Trotter
Last year's Broadway revival of the John Kander and Fred Ebb musical show piece "Chicago" comes to Shea's Performing Arts Center for eight performances starting Tuesday. This is a road show, albeit a top-shelf road show, so the performing Tony winners are nowhere to be found. Playing Tony-winner Bebe Neuwirth's bad girl Velma Kelly will be Janine Lamanna, and playing Tony-winner James Naughton's bad-boy lawyer will be Obba Babatunde. (But then, he just won an Emmy for TV's "Miss Evers' Boys.") Ann Reinking's Roxie Hart is missing, but not her Tony-winning choreography. Charlotte d'Amboise will play Roxie. Over it all hovers the spirit of Bob Fosse, his sexy, pelvis-thrusting original choreography. When it first opened in 1975, "Chicago" was billed as "musical vaudeville." There's not much underneath. Its driving style, its flashy appearance, its diverting panache always were the focus and exactly what captivated New York City theatergoers a year ago. The road show promises as close an approximation as possible. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, at 8 p.m. next Friday, at 2 and 8 p.m. Oct. 18 and at 2 and 7 p.m. Oct. 19.
-- Terry Doran