Anthony Chase

Theater Talk Host

Listen for Theater Talk, Friday morning at 6:45 and 8:45 during Morning Edition.

If you missed Anthony's cameo in the movie THE AMERICAN SIDE (starring Matthew Broderick and showcasing the City of Buffalo in all of the location shots) then pencil in a trip to 710 Main where Hollywood stars Ryan O'Neal and Ali MacGraw (of LOVE STORY) will appear in Buffalo-born A.R. Gurney's LOVE LETTERS.  Need a little Vegas in your life? Buffalo's own Eric Jordan Young IS Sammy Davis Junior in CELEBRATING SAMMY: BROADWAY TO VEGAS with the BPO at Kleinhans, Saturday night at 8 p.m.

In this 100th anniversary of the Easter Uprising which ultimately led to the independent Irish Republic of today, there is considerable interest in the great Irish poet, playwright, and political activist William Butler Yeats. THE YEATS PROJECT: TWO PLAYS BY W.B. YEATS combines the dramatic direction of Irish Classical's Vincent O'Neill, Torn Space's visually arresting sets (Dan Shanahan), and movement by Lehrer Dance (Jon Lehrer). It opens tonight at the Andrews Theatre.

Musicalfare Theatre's talent pool is so deep that it's offering two musicals at once: AVENUE Q at 710 Main and HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING at Musicalfare Theatre's home in Amherst on the Daemen College campus. AVENUE Q is a wonderful collaboration between Musicalfare and Shea's Performing Arts Center, and could point to a healthy future for a Buffalo landmark.

The Jewish Repertory Theatre opened COMPULSION OR THE HOUSE BEHIND with a veteran cast presenting the story, based on real life, of "Sid Silver" trying to produce a play about "The Diary of Anne Frank" and meeting resistance which only feeds his paranoia. The most "sane" character on stage is Anne Frank, represented by a Michele Costa designed puppet, ably manipulated and voiced by Amelia Scinta.

Long anticipated but absolutely worth the wait, OF MICE AND MEN at The New Phoenix Theatre offers a peak performance; Buffalo Quickies at The Alleyway might be their best in 25 years; Playwright Terrence McNally speaks tonight (a BUA Funder at the TR Site) and tomorrow (free event at Buff State).


Every theater in Buffalo has its niche, a special calling, and for the Alleyway that means putting on new plays. Meanwhile, the New Phoenix seems to specialize in classics – sometimes 16th century, sometimes 20th century. And, for the Jewish Repertory Theatre, well, their name says it all.

The Theater community is really hitting its stride as we head into spring with a number of very fine performances. With two short runs, closing this Sunday, which include two very different “look backs” at the mid-20th century, we also have a number of plays continuing into late March and early April including three excellent offerings by our local amateur theaters at the Roycroft, Ellicott Creek, and the Woodbox Theatre in Niagara Falls.

Shea’s Performing Arts Center and Albert Nocciolino have announced their 2016-2017 season including FINDING NEVERLAND, AN AMERICAN IN PARIS and A CHRISTMAS STORY. Meanwhile, at Shea’s, the Carole King musical opens on Tuesday, a play about a comedian turned Nazi hunter opens on Thursday, and two shows open tonight -a play about bullying at Road Less Traveled, and Theater of Youth presents a stage version of a classic children’s novel.

Dixie Longate comes up from Mobile and returns to Shea's Smith with her southern-style humor, a little biting (a la Joan Rivers) at times; the Irish (well, one actor, but when it's Bosco Hogan that's all you need) take over Canisius; and FINALLY, the American Repertory Theatre is in their new home on Amherst Street, ready for a March 10th opening night with a play by John Guare.

Three openings this week include THE CITY OF CONVERSATION, a play about politics by Anthony Giardina at the Kavinoky, CHILDREN OF EDEN, a musical by Stephen Schwartz at the Lancaster Opera House, and NEVER WEAR A TUBE TOP WHILE RIDING A MECHANICAL BULL, a comedy in drag starring “Dixie Longate” (of “Tupperware” fame).

Opening tonight, THE SHIPMENT, deals with multiculturalism and cultural identity while EL HAJJ MALIK concerns the life of Malcolm X. Both of these plays will appeal to audiences of BAD JEWS and FETCH CLAY, MAKE MAN. Meanwhile, LOAD MORE GUYS deals with on-line gay hook-ups, a topic in the news recently.

Audio Pending...

Two plays, both running through Sunday, February 28, deal with the emotions that cultural identity stirs up, as well as culture versus stereotypes. BAD JEWS presented by Jewish Repertory Theatre, directed by Steve Vaughan, asks questions about Jewish identity while FETCH CLAY, MAKE MAN presented by Paul Robeson Theatre, directed by Laverne Clay, presents a late-in-life friendship between boxer Muhammad Ali and Hollywood actor Steppin' Fetchit.

Just as three plays close this weekend - Irish Classical's ALL MY SONS, Subversive Theatre's  KEELY AND DU, and Second Generation's VANYA AND SONIA AND MASH AND SPIKE - we have four openings - Theatre in the Mist's ALICE IN WONDERLAND, Paul Robeson's FETCH CLAY, MAKE MAN, Theatre of Youth's NUMBER THE STARS and Jewish Rep's BAD JEWS, about a family argument over who's more worthy of a family heirloom.

With all the interest in the revitalization of downtown Buffalo, home of "THE theater district," we sometimes forget about great theater in the suburbs, including Lancaster, where a family drama inspired by Chekhov is at the Lancaster Opera House.

PIPPIN, the story of the knight in search of meaning and truth, comes to Shea's on Tuesday, January 26 and runs through Sunday, January 31. After the Buffalo tour, the great Priscilla Lopez (from the original A CHORUS LINE) will leave the show. Also on stage, John Rubinstein, the original Pippin, now takes on the role of King Charles (Charlemagne). So it's a chance to see "Broadway Royalty" but only for six days.

Theater (and movie) goers were saddened to hear of the passing of Brian Bedford, 80, a staple of Stratford; William Needles, the iron man of Canadian theater, 97; and Alan Rickman, 69, star of Broadway and Hollywood (Die Hard, Harry Potter).

For the holidays, Manhattan sparkles and Broadway adds extra shows. In Buffalo, theaters go dark for two to three weeks. But, starting tonight, live theater is back with the openings of END OF THE RAINBOW at the Kavinoky and OF MICE AND MEN at the Lancaster Opera House.

Why go to New York City for a Broadway show? Production values are the highest, you might see the "original" cast, and you might catch a star.


While Christmas in New York City is a time to add performances to the schedule, here in Western New York theaters shut down for the Christmas holiday. And so, locally, with the exception of IT WAS A WONDERFUL LIFE, this is your last weekend in 2015 to take in a Buffalo show.

A fixture in the Buffalo theater community, Michael Hake was the music director for dozens of productions and trouper that he was, wrapped up a performance of Musicalfare's PAGEANT and then passed away very quickly a few hours later from heart complications, surrounded by friends. He will be missed.

A number of plays and musicals were held over during Thanksgiving week so audiences have one final opportunity to see, for example, NORA at Torn Space Theatre, STOMPIN' AT THE SAVOY at the Paul Robeson Theatre, or BOTH YOUR HOUSES at the Kavinoky Theatre, all discussed on this week's Theater Talk.

The month of November may end soon, but many local productions will be up through Sunday, December 6, so if your entertainment plans were curtailed by Thanksgiving "busy-ness" you still have time.

Anthony visits The Big Apple and enjoys FIRST DAUGHTER SUITE by Western New York native son Michael John LaChiusa as well as ON YOUR FEET celebrating the careers of Emilio and Gloria Estefan. Laurie Metcalf (remember the TV show Roseanne?) is superb in MISERY.

Nora's departure from her marriage at the end of 19th century Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen's A DOLL'S HOUSE marked the beginning of the modern age of theater, but apparently, 20th century Swedish director Ingmar Bergman felt that Ibsen didn't go far enough. Enter NORA which opened last night.

We have two musicals with somewhat different target audiences this week - PAGEANT: THE MUSICAL and MATILDA THE MUSICAL.

Two very intense 90 minute no-intermission dramas are gripping audiences this week, one at the Alleyway and one at Jewish Rep.

What is a "PLONY?" It's a Playwright Living Outside New York (City) and for a number of talented writers it's very difficult to establish a reputation outside of The Big Apple.

fun4kidsinbuffalo.com

As Halloween approaches, Theatre of Youth presents THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW where all the kids in the audience want to know "is there anybody in the coffin?"

buffalo.com

As Buffalo continues its growth spurt, or renaissance, and property values rise, some smaller theaters are feeling squeezed. Four of them have had to find new venues, including A.R.T., B.U.A., Road Less Travelled, and Rust Belt Books, which is now at 415 Grant Street.

Alleyway Theatre

Broadway is Broadway, sure, but if "the play's the thing," well you can have a pretty good time here in Buffalo. Anthony and Peter both thoroughly enjoyed IN THE HEIGHTS at Musicalfare and NEWSIES at Shea's. But those are only two.

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