Although it is something that is often overlooked, the City of Rochester has many fine theater groups, featuring shows that strive to enlighten or simply to entertain. While original theater certainly has a home here, travelling theater shows like ?The Phantom of the Opera? and ?Stomp? will stop by, and enrich the lives of everyone in the audience. While you may not be certain about the content of a perfor-mance in Rochester, you can most certainly count on one thing ? that you will be engaged from the time the curtain rises, until it falls.

In the 2001-2002 season of theater in Rochester, the Auditorium Theatre will host several national and international shows. This weekend, ?Stomp? will be playing ? an explosive, and unique performance that features the troupe using extremely unconventional objects as percussion instruments. Starting on Oct. 16, ?Swing!? will be dancing and singing until Oct. 21. ?The Phantom of the Opera,? a story about a masked man that terrorizes the Paris Opera House and falls in love with a young soprano, arrives on Nov. 14 and plays until Dec. 9.

The Blackfriars Theatre is a professionally-oriented community theater, and has been providing the best possible showcase for actors, actresses, technicians and theater artists for over 50 years in downtown Rochester.

In the month of October, the Blackfriars will be performing ?Master Class,? a hilarious, Tony Award-winning play in which a legendary opera diva teaches a class in front of the audience. ?Over The River And Through The Woods? will be playing during December. In March, the Blackfriars will be performing ?The Elephant Man,? the true story of John Merrick, a man hampered by his deformity. They will also be showing ?Floyd Collins,? a musical based on a true story of a young man trapped while exploring an underground cave in 1925 Kentucky.

Part of what makes the Downstairs Cabaret Theatre unique is the fact that it prides itself on presenting nontraditional theater to nontraditional audiences, while still being ?not-for-profit.? After extending performances of ?Lullaby of Broadway? and ?I Love You, You?re Perfect, Now Change,? the Downstairs Cabaret Theatre has only three more performances of ?The Fantasticks,? taking place Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 and 2.

This musical is the engaging story of two people that grew up, separated by a wall that their feuding fathers built to keep them apart. As a result of the separation, the two fall madly in love with each other, and later realize that their fathers set the whole thing up to get them together. The theater is also currently playing ?Working Class,? a 75 minute long one-man show that features a menagerie of ?jobs you love to hate ? guys you gotta love.? This show will be playing until Oct. 6.

The Downstairs will also be playing ?Eye of the Storm? and ?Noel Coward at the Caf de Paris? during the month of October.

Not only is the Geva Theatre home to enjoyable acting, it is incredibly aesthetically pleasing, being designed with Victorian elegance in mind. The $2.85 million renovation of the Naval Armory in the mid-?80s was certainly worth it, as the theater features 500 seats and a modified thrust stage.

Another notable thing about the Geva Theatre is the fact that the Nextstage theater is next door and closely tied together, so much so that sometimes their performances will share actors. This weekend, the Geva Theatre will be finishing its performance of ?2 Pianos 4 Hands,? a comedy about two budding pianists dreaming of greatness.

On Oct. 9, both Nextstage?s ?Garden? and the Mainstage?s ?House? open simultaneously with exactly the same cast in an unprecedented theater event.

On Nov. 23, the Geva Theatre performs Dickens? ?A Christmas Carol,? a show that has played to sold-out audiences for the past five years. ?The Miser? opens on Jan. 8, a side-splitting play about a cheapskate that accuses himself of stealing his money, secret lovers, and wonderfully disgruntled house servants.

On Feb. 5, the Nextstage Theater opens ?Below the Belt,? a comedy about a trio of co-workers competing to climb a mythical corporate ladder. Running from Feb. 19 until March 24, the Geva Theatre hosts ?Flyin? West,? a play about four African-American women that have journeyed West to settle in an all-black town, to own land, and to be free.

While the Shipping Dock Theatre is preparing to move to a new location soon, they plan to open their season in their current location, the former home of the Downstairs Cabaret. Beginning on Oct. 5, the Shipping Dock Theatre performs ?W;t,? the winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, a powerful, thought-provoking play about a renowned English professor who reassesses her life after being diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer.

?Fame Takes A Holiday,? a musical about four women struggling for success in an all-female comedy troupe called ?The High Heeled Women,? opens on Dec. 7. On April 12, the Shipping Dock Theatre performs a provocative play concerning ethical issues in the modern era. ?Beautiful Thing,? a comedy about a boy falling for the boy next door opens on June 14.

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