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Six Previews

Little Robert

Little Robert
Master Class (photo by Chris Cavanagh)
H.M.S. Pinafore

Local playwright Mark Humphrey, author of the one-man tour de force, Mr. Benny, in which Tim Newell portrayed Jack Benny, has a new play about a historic character opening this week. Little Robert is the story of the fabled blues guitar player Robert Johnson (1911-1938). The legend goes that Johnson’s obsessive desire to become a great blues guitar player inspired him to sell his soul to the devil. Hugh Davis and Robert Ernie Insana star in the production, directed by Gail Golden. American Repertory Theater of WNY presents the production in their basement theater at Episcopal Church of the Ascension, 16 Linwood Avenue.

The Shape of Things

Neil LaBute’s wickedly disturbing 2001 play explores issues of art and ethics. Here, Adam meets Evelyn, who sets out to change him —but for art, not love. Evelyn’s motives are revealed when she opens her graduate thesis art show. To tell more of the plot would be to give away the intriguing reversal that has made this play one of the most talked about of recent years. Subversive Theater at the Manny Fried Playhouse, 255 Great Arrow Avenue.

Set Up

Twenty-first-century relationships again take center stage in this Winner of the 2012 Maxim Mazumdar New Play Competition. “It’s a last-shot, blind date for Cheryl, a busy physician who has decided to ditch romantic dreams and head to Doctors Without Borders. It’s a first-time-in-a-long-time, blind date for divorced lawyer Ted, who has some…problems…with women.” Joyce Stilson and Guy Tomassi star in this new play by Dan Noonan at the Alleyway Theatre.

Master Class

Christina Rausa stars as the divine Maria Callas in this play by Terrence McNally. Late in her career, the great Callas conducts a master class for aspiring young opera singers, and uses the occasion to vent her own personal demons. Directed by Susan Drozd, in addition to Rausa, the production features Jessica L. Hall, Randall Kramer, Renee Landrigan, Raphael Santos, and Michael Wachowiak at MusicalFare Theatre, 4380 Main Street, Snyder.

Hail to the Henrys: A Preview of Henry V

It’s time for the annual fall fundraiser at Shakespeare in Delaware Park. This time, celebrants will be treated to a preview of Shakespeare’s Henry V in a reading adapted and directed by Saul Elkin starring Adriano Gatto, Peter Palmisano, Patrick Moltane, Susan Drozd, Tom Loughlin, Gerry Maher, Geoff Pictor, Adam Rath, David Lundy, and Lisa Ludwig. The event is November 3, beginning at 6, with the curtain at 7. Buffalo Seminary, 205 Bidwell Parkway (856-4533).

H.M.S. Pinafore

Opera-Lytes continues to work its way through the works of Gilbert & Sullivan with H.M.S. Pinafore, the tale of a captain’s daughter in love with a humble sailor. Naturally, father has higher aspirations for the lovely girl. Expect the inevitable Victorian coincidences and plot twists, set to Gilbert and Sullivan’s irresistible score. Gayle Nason-Churchill directs, November 1-3 at the Riviera Theatre, 67 Webster St., North Tonawanda.

See the “On the Boards” section for further details about each of these performances.