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VISITING MR. GREEN is a sweet, charming play, but take a tissue or two.

THE BASICS: VISITING MR. GREEN, a 1996 play by Jeff Baron, presented by Jewish Repertory Theatre, directed by Steve Vaughan, starring Saul Elkin and Nick Stevens opened October 19 and runs through November 12, Thursdays at 7:30, Saturdays at 4 and 8, Sundays at 2 at The Maxine and Robert Seller Theatre, 2640 North Forest Road, Getzville (688-4114 x391). www.jewishrepertorytheatre.com  Runtime: about 2 hours with one intermission. $1 snacks (pretzels, candy, bottled water).

THUMBNAIL SKETCH:  Eighty-six-year-old widower Mr. Green walks in front of a car driven by young corporate executive Ross Gardiner. Found guilty of reckless driving, Ross is court-ordered to spend the next six months making weekly visits to Mr. Green. The relationship is prickly at first (that’s the funny part), but over time a friendship develops (and Act II is when you’ll need the tissues).

THE PLAYERS, THE PLAY, AND THE PRODUCTION: Directed by JRT regular Steve Vaughan, young Nick Stevens, another regular and founder Saul Elkin have a nice groove that makes watching this play very comfortable. And, you know, that ain’t bad. With a lot of theatrical companies in Buffalo hampered by low rehearsal budgets and actors who have full time “day jobs,” an evening out to a play can be like going to the casino. Sometimes you just hope to break even.

But this production is a winner.

If you don’t know Nick Stevens, you should. I’ve seen him in a number of productions and he is consistently excellent. Stevens has great range and continues to surprise me with the way he can keep tension coiled inside and then, just when you least expect it…. he lets it out.

And, if you haven’t seen Saul Elkin in a while, do NOT miss this opportunity. If you think of him as a Producer or Artistic Director or just “grey eminence,” well, he’s still got it on the boards, baby, so why deny yourself the pleasure of watching a real pro in action?

VISITING MR. GREEN uses the standard three door set of JRT so everybody involved seems quite natural in the environment which is wonderfully old-man messy (David Dwyer Set Design). The flow between the nine scenes is smooth (Amelia Scinta Stage Manager) and the sound design by Tom Makar is, as always, perfection.

*HERD OF BUFFALO (Notes on the Rating System)

ONE BUFFALO: This means trouble. A dreadful play, a highly flawed production, or both. Unless there is some really compelling reason for you to attend (i.e. you are the parent of someone who is in it), give this show a wide berth.

TWO BUFFALOS: Passable, but no great shakes. Either the production is pretty far off base, or the play itself is problematic. Unless you are the sort of person who’s happy just going to the theater, you might look around for something else.

THREE BUFFALOS: I still have my issues, but this is a pretty darn good night at the theater. If you don’t go in with huge expectations, you will probably be pleased.

FOUR BUFFALOS: Both the production and the play are of high caliber. If the genre/content are up your alley, I would make a real effort to attend.

FIVE BUFFALOS: Truly superb–a rare rating. Comedies that leave you weak with laughter, dramas that really touch the heart. Provided that this is the kind of show you like, you’d be a fool to miss it!

Written by Peter Hall

Peter Hall

Peter Hall continues trying to figure out how “it” all works. For Classical 94.5 WNED and on-stage with the Buffalo Chamber Music Society he’s conducted over 1,000 interviews with artists to get at answers. On “Theater Talk” his favorite question of co-host Anthony Chase is simply “What’s goin’ on?” In every situation he’s in Peter wonders: “What’s the big picture here?” And, “if I had to teach this, how would I break it down to explain it?”

That’s why he loves writing reviews. A show with a strong message that makes him laugh and cry and think about life is a good show. Heard Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO 88.7 FM “Theater Talk” repeats Saturday afternoons at 5:55 p.m. on Classical 94.5 WNED, the radio station where Peter is currently the afternoon drive host as well as producer and host of “Buffalo Philharmonic Live” (Sundays at 5 p.m. repeating Fridays at 10 p.m. on WNED). For the Buffalo Chamber Music Society he moderates on-stage pre-concert chats with the artists and is on-stage host of the Falletta (classical guitar) Competition.

Peter holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from SUNY at Buffalo. For twenty-five years he has been an adjunct professor for Canisius College’s Richard J. Wehle School of Business. He is currently a member of the “Artie Awards Committee.”

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