Here's this week's action-packed version of the Thursday Theater Roundup, which features our reviewers' recommendations for the coming week.
"Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing," through April 3 in Theatre of Youth's Allendale Theatre. From the review (coming Friday): "Blume's popular tale, first set down in her 1972 book, follows the travails of young Peter Warren Hatcher (James Robert Steiner), whose fourth-grade life is beset on all sides by the frustrating exploits of his toddling younger brother, known as Fudge. Peter's father (Kurt Guba) and mother (played affably by Loraine O'Donnell in her Theatre of Youth debut) lavish all sorts of attention on Fudge, much to the chagrin of well-behaved Peter, who is always called in to help with his brother's bouts of obstinacy." --Colin Dabkowski
American Repertory Theatre of Western New York's one-act showcase, through April 16 in Buffalo East. From the review (coming Saturday): "Sometimes, though, a night spent with new, short stage works can be serendipitous. It can happen. And, since Buffalo is new-play friendly, the surprise is not infrequent. A case in point is a trilogy of new one-acts at Matthew LaChiusa’s American Repertory Theater (ART), now at home in clunky but strangely comfortable surroundings at Buffalo East. The plays have diverse themes, seem remarkably complete and don’t suffer from the dreaded “work-in-progress” label." --Ted Hadley
"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
Peter Johnson stars as Zooman in "Zooman and the Sign" at TheaterLoft. Photo by Sharon Cantillon / The Buffalo News.
"Zooman and the Sign," extended through April 3 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