Stage

Can’t Spell Fundraiser Without F-U-N

Starting Wednesday, Aug. 6, the Unforgettable Comedy Challenge will take place at Funny Bone Comedy Club at Destiny USA.

Comedy is a fair medium. Given nothing but a stage and a microphone, it’s up to the performer to make the audience laugh however he or she can. And when a prize – and pride – are on the line, the stakes are sure to rise.



Jungle Fever at the Redhouse

This Tarzan is aimed at youthful audiences. Think of it as The Lion King’s mini-me.

Tarzan has been swinging on his own vine for a long, long time. When Edgar Rice Burroughs launched Tarzan of the Apes in 1914, the guy was an avatar of British imperialism with racist impulses. Since then he’s been all over the jungle: a swimming champ, a body builder and a soft-core stud. It took the Walt Disney company’s 1999 animated feature Tarzan to emphasize our hero’s identity in his adopted simian family. After Phil Collins’ score won an Oscar, Chinese-American playwright David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly, Chinglish) agreed to write the book for the 2006 Broadway musical, including more music from Collins. The Redhouse Arts Center production (running through Saturday, Aug. 2), with spirited direction from Stephen Svoboda, marks the show’s first appearance in these parts.



Classical Glass

James MacKillop takes in Carousel and Madame Butterfly, two popular operatic showcases at this summer’s Glimmerglass Festival

Francesca Zambello retains the common touch at Cooperstown’s Glimmerglass Festival. Determined that the artistic director of one of the nation’s only two world-class summer opera festivals (the other is Santa Fe) should not be seen as formidable, she wanders the pre-curtain crowd, bantering with whomever she can find.



Syracuse Pops Chorus to Premier Musical in Colorado

How Green Was My Valley

A Pulitzer Prize-nominated composer has invited local amateur singers from the Syracuse Pops Chorus (Syracuse Symphony Pops Chorus) to premiere his new musical next month in Colorado Springs.



Outlaws Have More Fun

through Saturday, July 26

Covey Theatre Company’s summertime mounting of Bonnie and Clyde (at the Mulroy Civic Center’s BeVard Community Room through Saturday, July 26) is an extremely gutsy choice, given that the Broadway show opened and closed during December 2011. Yet director Garrett Heater clearly had faith in the work, notably its score by Frank Wildhorn, the popular composer best known for The Civil War (performed in June during the District Festival) and Jekyll & Hyde. The trick to adapting this musical, however, comes with ignoring that long shadow cast by director Arthur Penn’s trend-setting 1967 film version, with its ample star power (provided by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway) and then shocking levels of silver-screen violence.



Counterfeit Comedy

running through Aug. 2

The criminal in Catch Me If You Can isn’t packing lead, he instead robbed banks the easier way, through forged checks and stolen identities. Director Steven Spielberg’s 2002 movie introduced audiences to the unbelievable yet true adventures of Frank W. Abagnale Jr., a con man extraordinaire played with cherubic yet cunning innocence by Leonardo DiCaprio. And what was fun at the movies manages to also deliver its zippy goods in the musical stage version from Central New York Playhouse (running through Aug. 2).



Hill Cumorah Could Use An Update

Though the story is problematic at best, the production is something to be seen.

As the moon rose over the Central New York drumlins on Saturday, excitement mounted in Palmyra for the annual Hill Cumorah Pageant. The 75-minute theatrical spectacle, in its 77th year, tells the story of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS).



A Can’t Miss Les Miz

James Mackillop reviews Cortland Repertory Theatre’s production of Les Misérables.

Director Sam Scalamoni may not have a long history with Cortland Repertory Theatre, but he is just the man to figure out how to stage the epic musical Les Misérables (running through July 26) in the up-close-and-personal space of the Little York Lake Pavilion.



A Grand Slam for Damn Yankees

Damn Yankees remains popular for many good reasons.

That sturdy evergreen built on a Faustian pact, Damn Yankees remains popular for many good reasons. The Richard Adler-Jerry Ross score, one of golden Broadway’s last shouts before the arrival of Elvis, is as good as new under Corinne Aquilina’s musical direction in this revival at Auburn’s Merry-Go-Round Playhouse (running through July 30).



Green Thumbs Up for Horror Spoof

James MacKillop reviews Little Shop of Horrors (running through July 26).

To launch her first season as artistic director at Ithaca’s Hangar Theatre, Jen Waldman delivered a crackling good production of John Logan’s drama Red. With David Studwell as the towering painter Mark Rothko, one could not have asked for a more stimulating dance of ideas about aesthetics and self. Just a few weeks later Waldman and Studwell are back again in Howard Ashman and Alan Menkin’s Little Shop of Horrors (running through July 26). But, whoa! This does not mean the company has slid down a cultural pole. In Waldman’s hands, Little Shop is also a cultural adventure, as well as being a helluva lot of fun.