Rochester Rep Makes Intense Return with “Red”

Larry Sinak plays Mark Rothko and Lucas Simonson plays Ken during rehearsal for the Rochester Repertory Theatre’s production of “Red” on Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, at the Rochester Civic Theatre. (Joe Ahlquist /

“Red” returns Rochester Repertory closer to its primary goal: the stage.

Expressionist artist Mark Rothko was known as much for his intensity as his art. Larry Sinak, who plays Rothko in Rochester Repertory’s production of “Red,” will have to channel that in a familiar space.

Sinak will be performing in roughly the same spot where he carried Absolute Theatre’s “An Iliad” in 2018. The two-person show opens Friday for the Rep’s first live show since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Lucas Simonson plays Ken, opposite of Sinak.

Based on true events, the Tony-winning show by John Logan presents a challenge for actors, but also an opportunity for a theater company under pandemic restrictions.
Larry Sinak playing “Mark Rothko” and Lucas Simonson playing “Ken” during a rehearsal for the Rochester Repertory Theatre’s production of “Red” Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, at the Rochester Civic Theatre in Rochester. (Joe Ahlquist /

In March, the pandemic cut short the Rep’s run of “Strange Snow.” “Red” was originally scheduled to be directed by Philip Muehe and performed earlier this year. “We thought this would be a small-cast show we could use to dip our toe in the water with COVID,” said director Merritt Olsen, who took over direction of the show because Muehe was no longer available.

The Rochester Civic Theatre’s black box accommodates a larger audience than the Rep’s main stage — especially under state health department guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Households will be seated at least 6 feet apart, and audience members will be at least 6 feet away from the actors.

“That’s not something we could do (at the Rep),” Olsen said.

–John Molseed, Post-Bulletin, October 7, 2020

If you go

What: Rochester Repertory Theatre’s production of “Red”

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9, through Saturday, Oct. 10; 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11; 7;30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, through Saturday, Oct. 17; 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22, through Saturday, Oct. 24; 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25

Where: Rochester Civic Theatre

Tickets: $23 Available online at or by calling 507-289-1737.

More info: Masks are required on the premises at all times.

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