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Saturday will mark a significant moment in the life of the modern Chautauqua Theatre Company, which will open its first world-premiere production of a work commissioned specifically for the company. Kate Fodor's "Fifty Ways," a play that examines the painful and sometimes painfully humorous complexities of a long-term relationship on the rocks, opens in the historic Bratton Theatre at the Chautauqua Institution (1 Ames Ave., Chautauqua).

Vivienne Benesch, the company's artistic director, co-stars in the play alongside Michael Gaston, whose credits include TV's "Prison Break," "Jericho," "The Sopranos" and "The West Wing," along with numerous film appearances.

"I do think it is a play that any married couple or anyone in any kind of long-term relationship is going to identify with. It is filled with Kate's wit and compassion, but it's also pretty lacerating," Benesch said. "In an age where everyone is writing incredibly episodically and cinematically, she does do that, but she is also not afraid to sit down in a long conversation. And this play has that."

The show, directed by Chautauqua Theatre Resident Director Ethan McSweeny, begins with a preview performance tonight, opens Saturday and runs through July 29. Tickets are $30. For more information, call 357-6250 or visit theater.ciweb.org.

-- Colin Dabkowski