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Theater series offers ‘Edges’ starting Friday

The cast of the Department of Theatre and Dance production of "Edges" includes, from left, Taryn Feuer, Delaney Gruber, Zach Liddick, Emily Friedrichsen, Adria Urbanowicz, all senior BFA Musical Theatre majors. The production opens Friday in the Alice E. Bartlett Theatre.

A modern song cycle exploring universal themes facing young people will be the next offering in the Walter Gloor Mainstage Series at the State University of New York at Fredonia.

“Edges,” an award-winning work by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul opens Feb. 23 in the Alice E. Bartlett Theatre of Rockefeller Arts Center. It runs for six performances through March 2. Dates and show times are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. and Thursday, Feb. 29 through March 2 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are available online 24/7 at fredonia.edu/tickets and by phone at (716) 673-3501 or in per-son at the Campus Ticket Office in the Williams Center on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Directing the Mainstage production is Paul W. Mockovak, distinguished teaching professor. He explained “Edges” is a song cycle, rather than a book musical with scenes and an overarching storyline. In contrast, a song cycle is a collection of songs that are all linked together by a central theme.

“There is a universality in the themes in ‘Edges,'” Mockovak said, “Coming of age and question-ing choices, making decisions, self-discovery; explorations of relationships with family, friends, romantic partners and the complexities that can arise in them. This is combined with a modern score and deeply human lyrics that are accessible.”

“Edges” was written by Pasek and Paul (“Dogfight,” “James and the Giant Peach”) during their sophomore year at the University of Michigan. It is described as a “charming, witty and honest examination of adulthood that explores what happens when we are teetering on the edges of our lives.” It earned Pasek and Paul a 2006 Jonathan Larson Award (this award was established in memory of Larson, the late “Rent” composer).

Mockovak said there are many highlights in this Mainstage production.

“For our audience, I think one of the highlights is enjoying the fruits of our performance and design labors,” Mockovak said. “In the Bartlett Theatre, we are more intimate and up close so the personal connection will be deeper,”

The Mainstage production has been double cast, with the blue cast performing on Feb. 23, 24 and March 1, while the red cast performs on Feb. 25, 29 and March 2.

“Two highlights that come immediately to mind are the amazing cast and a design/production team that bring creativity and collaboration to the process,” Mockovak said.

In the end, the director hopes audiences will be moved by the music.

“While there are themes of questioning and wondering there are also moments that are uplifting, humorous, and hopeful,” he said. “I find myself humming some of the tunes and hope our audi-ence will as well.”

“Edges” is a Walter Gloor Mainstage Series event presented by the Fredonia Department of Thea-tre and Dance as part of the 2023-24 Lake Shore Savings Season at the Michael C. Rockefeller Arts Center.

“Edges” carries a content warning for adult themes and vulgar and derogatory language. It is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI).

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