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TAKING THE PLUNGE

Neal Radice, the prolific playwright and Alleyway Theater founder and executive director, has chosen a sensational moment in Western New York history as the subject for his latest musical. "Over the Falls," based on a nonmusical version of the story by Arlene Brent Fanale, tells the tale of Anna Edson Taylor, a matronly teacher who struggles to be an independent woman in a world dominated by males and decides to change her life - and, she hopes, the state of her bank account - by becoming the first person to go over the falls in a barrel and live.

In October 1901, at the cost of her life savings and her job, Anna succeeds in this act of derring-do and is hailed as that rare thing in her time, a female hero. She attempts to hawk her story for money at the Pan-American Exposition but is a dismal failure onstage. A charming friend and associate by the name of Rosalie winds up presenting herself as Anna and then runs off with the love of Anna's life, adding a final indignity when the couple sells Anna's barrel.

In a nice touch of timing, the musical, also directed by Radice, will open Wednesday, the 100th anniversary of Taylor's historic plunge. Pamela Rose Mangus will play Taylor, with Paul Maisano, Tom Owen, Stephanie Bax-Fontanella, Andrew Brown, Kristi Potteiger, Richard McDonald and Tina Lobel-Reichberg completing the cast. A pay-what-you-can performance will be offered Thursday. Tickets are from $10 to $20. For more info, call 852-2600 or go online at www.alleyway.com.

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