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Geva cancels remaining shows, announces schedule for next season

The bad news from Geva Theatre Center is, it is postponing or canceling the remainder of this season. The good news? It has announced next season’s productions. WXXI’s Jeff Spevak reports.

In one fell swoop, Geva Theatre Center on Monday announced it is postponing, canceling or re-platforming the remainder of this season’s events. 


And anticipating an end to the coronavirus pandemic that is shuttering the arts, it also announced on Monday its productions for the upcoming 2020-21 season, beginning with a Sept. 1 show about air guitars, and the people who love them.

Immediately affected are Geva’s current productions of "Once" and "Cry It Out." They have been closed down, but video will soon be made available, perhaps as early as this week, on the streaming channel BroadwayHD.

Two final shows this season will find new dates. The world premiere of "Looks Like Pretty" has been suspended, with hopes to bring it to the stage in July. "Where Did We Sit on the Bus?" will be rescheduled for another time next season.

"Vietgone," which was to close out the season, has been canceled, along with The Regional Writers Showcase, The Young Writers Showcase and the final play of The Hornets’ Nest series.

Two of the shows on the larger Wilson Stage, "Looks Like Pretty" and "Vietgone," represent three-quarters of a million dollars in revenue from season subscribers. Geva Director Mark Cuddy hopes those subscribers and ticket holders will donate back to Geva the cost of the three shows lost to the coronavirus.

“We have staff that we’re trying to keep on, artists to pay, and we just can’t take the huge hit unless people rally,” he said. “I think they will, and I think our longevity is something everyone has bought into and is a part of.”

But in setting its 2020-21 season, Geva is, Cuddy admits, planning for “the unknown.”

The new season opens on Sept. 1.

“We’re not opening with a big musical, the way we’ve been doing before,” Cuddy said, “but instead we have this fabulous, very funny and very heartwarming show called 'Airness,' about air-guitar competition and the air-guitar competitors, it’s really fantastic. There’s a bunch of music in it, it’s just recorded air-guitar licks. We think it will be a really fun opening.”

"Airness" runs Sept. 1 through Oct. 4 as a part of the Wilson Stage Series.

The remainder of the season:

  • "Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein," Oct. 14 through Nov. 15, Wilson Stage Series. A familiar horror tale, but told from the perspective of Shelley and a roomful of her fellow writers.
  • "The Chinese Lady," Oct. 28 through Nov. 15, Fielding Stage Series. This production by Ithaca’s Kitchen Theatre is based on a true story, when in 1834 a young Chinese girl is brought to the United States to tour as a circus sideshow act.
  • "Yoga Play," Jan. 19 through Feb. 14, 2021, Wilson Stage Series. This co-production with Pittsburgh Public Theater is a comedy about cultural appropriation and the search for authenticity amid the commercialization of self-enlightenment.
  • "The Real James Bond… Was Dominican," Jan. 27 through Feb. 14, 2021, Fielding Studio Series. A young boy discovers that the inspiration behind the Ian Fleming spy was Porfirio Rubirosa, international playboy and man of mystery.
  • "Once on This Island," Feb. 23 through March 28, 2021, Wilson Stage Series. A co-production with Syracuse Stage, this musical with an island setting earned eight Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical, Book and Score for its original 1990 production, and won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical in 2018.
  • "Selling Kabul," April 6 through May 2, 2021, Wilson Stage Series. In this thriller, an interpreter for the American military and his family hide from the Taliban. Cuddy calls it “very topical,” and notes that it was to open off-Broadway in April, before being claimed by the coronavirus pandemic; Geva is the only regional theater in the country so far to be granted the rights to produce it.
  • "We Swim, We Talk, We Go to War," April 21 through May 9, 2021, Fielding Studio Series. Geva’s palette of diversity continues with the story of an Arab-American woman and her nephew confronting each other over politics and stories of cultural identity.
  • "Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash," May 12 through June 13, 2021, Wilson Stage Series. Cash’s life story, and more than two dozen Cash classics, including “I Walk the Line,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “I’ve Been Everywhere,” and “Ring of Fire.”
  • "A Christmas Carol," Nov. 25 through Dec. 27, 2020, presented on the Wilson Stage, but not as a part of the series. You know the story; here’s the musical.

The upcoming Geva season will also bring light to new plays in October’s Festival of New Theatre, and the company will produce several contemporary plays in The Fielding Studio Series. The Fielding Stage, the smaller of Geva’s two stages, will again be a venue for September’s KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival.

Subscriptions for the nine-play, 2020-21 season are on sale now, starting at $222. The Wilson Stage Series and Fielding Studio Series may be purchased separately, from $126 and $96. Season subscribers may purchase tickets for "A Christmas Carol" beginning July 15. Tickets to all individual shows, excluding "A Christmas Carol," go on sale to the public on July 15. Tickets to "A Christmas Carol" will go on sale to the public beginning Sept. 21.

For tickets or more information, go to gevatheatre.org or call (585) 232-4382.

Jeff Spevak is WXXI’s Arts & Life editor and reporter. He can be reached at jspevak@wxxi.org.

Copyright 2020 WXXI News

Jeff Spevak has been a Rochester arts reporter for nearly three decades, with seven first-place finishes in the Associated Press New York State Features Writing Awards while working for the Democrat and Chronicle. He has also been published in Musician and High Times magazines, contributed to WXXI, City newspaper and Post magazine, and occasionally performs spoken-word pieces around town. Some of his haikus written during the Rochester jazz festival were self-published in a book of sketches done by Scott Regan, the host of WRUR’s Open Tunings show. Spevak founded an award-winning barbecue team, The Smokin’ Dopes, and believes Bigfoot is real. His book on the life of a Lake Ontario sailor who survived the sinking of his ship during World War II will be published in April of 2019 by Lyons Press.