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Arts beat: TOY goes to Room 207, Lancaster does Christie's classic and not-to-be-missed Mozart

The kids in Room 207 get a comically sharp lesson in "You don't know what you've got till it's gone" when "Miss Nelson Is Missing" comes to the Allendale Theatre starting Jan. 25. The latest production from Theatre of Youth will strike notes of recognition in everyone, whether or not they have read (and who hasn't?) the popular books by Harry Allard that inspired the play.

It goes like this: lovely and caring Miss Nelson is such a nice teacher that her students are taking advantage — misbehaving, acting up, not paying attention. Unable to even begin to control them, she is at her wit's end. And then — she is gone.

Replacing Miss Nelson is every schoolchild's nightmare: a super-strict substitute who believes in discipline, punishment and, worst of all, piles of homework. Ruler in hand, the strangely familiar-looking and indisputably scary Miss Viola Swamp lets the students know that they better get in line — or else.

Joan Cushing adapted Allard's books (the second is "Miss Nelson Is Back") for an action-filled theater production designed for audiences ages 6 and older — meaning, anyone who is in school or who still shudders at the thought of that one teacher who made you shake in your seat. Performances are at 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Feb. 9 in TOY's historic theater at 203 Allen St. Tickets start at $15 (theatreofyouth.org or call 884-4400, ext. 304).

As always, there will be a talk-back after the show for children to meet the cast and ask questions, along with a chance to have photos taken with the actors.

Solving the mystery of 'The Mousetrap'

Murder mystery fans have a chance to see the longest running play in theater history, Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap," without traveling to London, where the show opened in 1952 and has never closed. Instead of London, audiences need only journey to the Lancaster Opera House (21 Central Ave., Lancaster), where "The Mousetrap" opens Jan. 24 through Feb. 9.

In a world of special victims unit depravity and zombie gore, Christie's tale harks back to a time of cozy, somewhat comic country house killings that barely stain the carpet. The suspects/guests are collected in what today would be considered a quaint isolated B&B when disaster strikes in the form of a winter storm that leaves the group snowbound. Soon it is clear that no one is what they seem and that someone is a murderer.

You can try to solve the mystery at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 9. Tickets are $25 general, $23 for seniors and $15 for students through lancasteropera.org. Free parking is on the street and in the civic lot behind the building.

A heavyweight concert with the BPO

While not under orders to "go big or go home," the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus are going particularly big on Jan. 25 and 26 with performances of Mozart's Requiem, the final (unfinished) work by one of the world's most popular and revered composers. Mozart had completed much of the mass before his death at age 35 and it is considered to be among his masterworks. The BPO rightly calls it a "must-experience" for those who love classical music.

Performances are at 8 p.m. Jan. 25 and 2:30 p.m. Jan. 26 in Kleinhans Music Hall (3 Symphony Circle). The story behind the piece and how it was completed is pretty intriguing, and you can hear about it first-hand from BPO music director and conductor JoAnn Falletta during her "Musically Speaking" talk an hour before each concert.

Also on the program is Haydn's Cello Concerto in C, with Buffalo native Drew Cone accompanying the orchestra on cello.

Tickets start at $39 (box office, bpo.org, 885-5000).

Odd and odder

Neil Simon reworked his hit play "The Odd Couple" to be performed with a female cast, renaming the leads Olive Madison and Florence Unger rather than Oscar the slob and Felix the neat freak. The XX chromosome version is being presented for four shows by Curtain Up Productions at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 23, 24 and 25 and 3 p.m. Jan. 26 in the Lockport Palace Theatre (2 East Ave., Lockport). Tickets are $15 to $25 (lockportpalacetheatre.org).

On the flip side, Dan Goggin originally wrote "Nunsense" for women drawn to an acting vocation, but for two weekends Buffalo has a chance to see "Nunsense A-Men," with all the Little Sisters of Hoboken being played by brothers, e.g., guys. No matter what is under those habits, they face the same crisis: their cook accidentally poisons more than four dozen nuns and now they need to raise money to bury them, so they do the only thing possible: They put on a show.

"Nunsense A-Men" is being presented by O'Connell & Co. in eight performances, from Jan. 24 through Feb. 2 in Shea's intimate Smith Theatre. Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $30 (sheas.org or save on fees and get them at the box office).

Lives told through art

Two art shows have their openings Jan. 24 at Buffalo Arts Studio (2495 Main St., Suite 500) as part of the M&T Fourth Friday programs. Paintings by Jay Carrier are included in "We Took Things With Us: A Collection of Recent Work." Carrier, the son of Onondaga and Tuscarora parents, now lives in the City of Niagara Falls and expresses the duality of his cultures through his art.

Mary Rouse of Honeoye Falls also is influenced by her heritage as the daughter of a Navajo father and Ukrainian immigrant Orthodox Jewish mom. Rouse expresses elements of her life living off the grid is sculpture, photography, drawings and collage in her show "Crooning."

The free reception for both exhibitions is from 5 to 8 p.m.; the shows will be up through March 6.

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