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The Thursday Theater Roundup

Here's our weekly run-down of the must-see shows in Western New York:

"Inherit the Wind,"through April 16 in the New Phoenix Theatre. From the review: "The current political overtones of the play practically leap off the stage and smack us in the face, just as its historically literate authors intended. It’s obvious that the debates of 1925, 1955 and 2011 are stunningly similar to one another. But in its essence, this potentially cynical play is in fact wildly optimistic because it views social progress as inexorable." --Colin Dabkowski

"Over the Pub," through April 10 at Erie Community College in an O'Connell and Company production. From the review (coming tomorrow): "Ultimately, this Irish adaptation [of Tom Dudzick's 'Over the Tavern'] by Dolores Mannion wins out, it 'works,' it's almost as funny as its progenitor, and we learn to care once again for a troubled family: parents Pat and Ellen, teenagers Eddie and Annie -- both with hormones gone amok -- special-needs Mikey and 12-year-old Tommy, a precocious, television-addicted, rules-questioning catalyst who has a problem with his catholicity." --Ted Hadley

"Rock 'n' Roll," through April 3 in the Kavinoky Theatre. From the review: "With this 2006 play, Stoppard ('Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,' 'Arcadia,' 'Shakespeare in Love') reanimates that age-old conflict between the egalitarian ideals of Marxism and its horrendous track record in practice across the past century. His goal, reduced to a gross simplification, is to make a kind of radical argument about how little those arguments seem to matter in the face of the one universally positive transformative force of the 20th century: rock ’n’ roll." --Colin Dabkowski

"Next Fall," through April 2 in Buffalo United Artists Theatre. From the review: "'Next Fall,' a wise and uncommonly witty play by Geoffrey Nauffts that opened March 11 in the Buffalo United Artists Theatre, takes place at the perilous intersection of religion and sexuality. That place, across history, has been the site of more than a few fatal collisions. But in this show, all the common assumptions about who’s right and who’s wrong, who’s innocent and who’s to blame have been tossed out the window." --Colin Dabkowski

Ujima play

Peter Johnson stars as Zooman in "Zooman and the Sign" at TheaterLoft. Photo by Sharon Cantillon / The Buffalo News.

"Zooman and the Sign," through March 27 in TheaterLoft, a co-production of Ujima Theatre, Alemaedae Theatre Productions and Xavier Films. From the review: "This production, directed  by Willie Judson, is powered mostly by the simmering intensity of Peter Johnson, who plays Zooman with a spine-chilling mix of menace and manufactured confidence, so clearly born of insecurity. It is as much because of Johnson's performance as Fuller's dialogue that we see Zooman both as a conduit for certain ugly truths about urban violence and as a cold-hearted product of that violence himself." --Colin Dabkowski

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The cast of "Screen Play" performs in the Road Less Traveled Theatre.

"Screen Play," through March 27 in the Road Less Traveled Theatre. From the review: "You'll recognize the characters of Peter Lorre and Claude Rains and laugh -- and maybe get a chill -- at the rantings of a Homeland Security henchman, Abner Patch, a Bible-totin', chapter-and-verse quotin', good-hair guardian of [A.R.] Gurney's supposed oligarchical government. [Scott] Behrend again directs; his is a labor of love. His cast is young, varied and lapses in the spirit of the evening are few." --Ted Hadley

Mandrake publicity 3
Brian Riggs and David Autovino in "The Mandrake."

"The Mandrake," through March 27 in the Irish Classical Theatre's Company's Andrews Theatre. From the review: "Irish Classical Theatre Company, so adept at these costumed romps, has assembled just the right director — Fortunato Pezzimenti — and cast to tell this foolish tale, one full of Italian Renaissance stock characters and one so faithfully translated by the scholarly Peter Constantine." --Ted Hadley

"Standing on My Knees," through March 26 in Buffalo Laboratory Theatre. From the review: "Buffalo Laboratory Theatre continues a diverse and challenging season with this heartbreaking work. Director Taylor Doherty has moved the story on stage, the audience close by, suddenly voyeurs, and he is right to have done so: Doherty wants watchers to 'see every tear.' BLT superbly integrates light, sound and special effects. Much of it is the work of Steven Fox, who, along with Doherty, underscores [the main character's] ills with the pessimistic music of Bela Bartok and the dissonant sounds of John Cage." --Ted Hadley

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