Anthony Chase

Theater Talk Host

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

Anthony is back from the west coast having attended The American Theatre Critics Association annual conference where much of the cocktail conversation was about critic Hedy Weiss whose recent reviews in the Chicago Sun Times created controversy.

All week long people have been asking: "What did Anthony think of The Tony Awards?" and here he dishes the dirt.

Eileen Elibol, WNED|WBFO

The ARTIE AWARDS, produced by WNED|WBFO were a huge success in terms of fun, for honoring excellence in theater, and to raise money (over $14,000 and counting) for the ECMC Immunodeficiently Clinic. Some recent Shaw outings have been less than hoped for, but that's not the case for Shaw's SAINT JOAN which is powerful theater and for a tragedy, surprisingly funny. It's at the large Festival Theatre in Niagara on the Lake and makes full use of the stage to astound the audience. Opening tonight: FREE FRED BROWN! with Ujima Company at Paul Robeson Theatre on Masten Avenue.

You don't have to go out of town to catch good theater in June and some lovely leading ladies. Tonight's long awaited openings include Noel Coward's HAY FEVER with Josephine Hogan at the Irish Classical, LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA with the Second Generation Theatre's Debbie Pappas Sham at the Lancaster Opera House, and GET HAPPY with Sára Kovacsi, a celebration of Mr. "Over the Rainbow" Harold Arlen, Buffalo's own, which opens at Theatre of the Mist.

Anthony and Peter enjoyed meeting theater fans at the WNED studios for coffee and donuts and "Theater Talk Live" where they talked about the summer season, including the Shaw Festival, Chautauqua, and Shakespeare in Delaware Park, and were treated to live performances from Second Generation Theatre whose LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA opens next Friday as well as MusicalFare, whose PRETTY FUNNY opens in July.

Anthony and Peter are doing the first (of more, we hope) "Theater Talk Live" event – A Summer Theater Preview next Thursday May 25 at 10:30 am at the WNED-TV Studios! We'll provide an overview of musicals and plays being staged this summer across WNY and Southern Ontario.

Call it marketing, or branding, or just plain knowing your audience, but Buffalo theaters this week are delighting their niches with finely chosen fare.

The Tony Award nominations are out, and Anthony is pleased to report that this year no London performances were nominated.

This week on Theater Talk, Anthony sings the praises of three women currently on local stages (coincidentally about 300 feet from each other in Buffalo's Theatre District): Joyce Stilson in I'M FINE at the Alleyway Theatre, Kate LoConti in THE WINSLOW BOY at Irish Classical Theatre Company, and Mary Gordon Murray in the touring updated CABARET at Shea's Performing Arts Center.

It's not a pared down touring CABARET that comes to Shea's next week; it's the real Broadway show. For something a lot quieter, THE CEMETERY CLUB is a bittersweet comedy about three widows and a widower at O'Connell and Company. Anthony saw GROUNDHOG DAY the musical in New York and both Peter and Anthony agree that the set, sound, and lights at THE TRIAL OF TRAYVON MARTIN are exceptionally well crafted.


Rosalind Cramer, Theatre of Youth co-founder, passed away last week at the age of 81. She was also instrumental in founding MusicalFare Theatre, housed on the Daemen College (formerly "Rosary Hill") campus, where she taught theater. And this week there's more discussion of THE TRIAL OF TRAYVON MARTIN at the Manny Fried Theatre.

Playwright Gary Earl Ross,  winner of the Emanuel Fried Outstanding New Play Award for THE GUNS OF CHRISTMAS, whose plays about race relations and legal proceedings THE MARK OF CAIN and MATTER OF INTENT were well received, has a new play produced by Subversive Theatre -  THE TRIAL OF TRAYVON MARTIN.

NY Theatre Guide

PROOF, a drama by David Auburn, stands up well to repeated viewings, and if you've only seen the movie, well, you haven't seen the drama. Presented by Buffalo Laboratory Theatre, with Marissa Biondolillo in the role of Catherine, the mathematician, it's at Shea's 710 Main Theatre but only tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2. 

Acting coach Constantin Stanislavski (whose name is associated with Marlon Brando's "method acting") once said, famously, "Remember: there are no small parts, only small actors." But what if the actors are, well, actually kind of small? Two Buffalo favorites who fit that category show their huge talents in two ongoing productions.

Shea's Performing Arts Center and Albert Nocciolino just announced their 30th Anniversary Broadway Season (2017-2018) and went on to reveal that the long-awaited musical HAMILTON will be part of the 2018-2019 season. Next season special engagements include THE LION KING and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA while the season opens with Emilio and Gloria Estefan's ON YOUR FEET. This weekend's highly recommended plays are THE MOTHERF**KER WITH THE HAT at Road Less Traveled with very tight direction and stellar performances, STOP KISS which builds all evening towards "the kiss" (but with only two more performances at the Manny Fried Theatre), THE SEEDBED which is a family drama at the Irish Classical Theatre, A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE at the Kavinoky, and THE UNDERPANTS which is a modern adaptation by Steve Martin of a 1910 German play about sexual attraction, among other themes. And, opening tonight, it's the fabulous Jimmy Janowski as Cleo herself in CLEOPATRA, a BUA production at the Alleyway Theatre.

Audio

This week Theater Talk recommends STOP, KISS (Subversive Theatre at the Manny Fried Playhouse); A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE at the Kavinoky Theatre with powerful performances by John Fredo, Debbie Pappas Sham, Renee Landrigan and others; and looks forward to a new play by Bryan Delaney, THE SEEDBED, which opens tonight at the Irish Classical Theatre.


Alleyway

There's a lot to celebrate this week on Theater Talk. First off, WNED/WBFO will be the new presenter of the Annual Artie Awards which since 1991 have recognized excellence in Buffalo theater.

Two excellent offerings this week include AFTER THE REVOLUTION, the second of the three Amy Herzog plays presented this season at by the Jewish Repertory Theatre at the JCC in Getzville and THE COLLECTION by Harold Pinter at Torn Space Theater on Fillmore near Paderewski. Both feature strong emotions, deal with secrets and felt betrayals, although the threats in the Herzog play are not as palpable as they are in the Pinter, where they hang like a miasma, affecting everyone.

Mark Thomas Duggan

This week Theater Talk mentions one of the few plays up in a week of musicals.  Torn Space Theater presents THE COLLECTION by Nobel Prize winning playwright Harold Pinter about two couples whose dwellings are separated by an on-stage wall, with, however, telephone connection.

On this week's Theater Talk, Anthony discusses the difficulties with mounting a review such as SOPHISTICATED LADIES now at MusicalFare, Peter shares a moment while watching Eric Rawski and Caitlin Coleman in STEVE, and both agree on Theater of Youth's THE SHAKESPEARE STEALER.

This week on Theater Talk, Peter and Anthony talk about the fast-paced swordplay (choreographed by Steve Vaughan) at Theatre of Youth's THE SHAKESPEARE STEALER which is good for anyone 8 to 80 years old. STEVE continues at Buffalo United Artists at the Alleyway Theatre complex, described as "middle aged gay men behaving badly." And in a Buffalo coup, Rajiv Joseph had his play ARCHDUKE read by Buffalo actors over at Buffalo State before he takes it to California. IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU "shoulda been" a little tighter, but both Peter and Anthony had a good time at this O'Connell and Company production, and were very pleased to see Sara Kovasci move into the lead role so seamlessly.

raicestheatrecompany.com

Anthony reports that despite stunning production elements, the plot of FRANKENSTEIN dragged a little (often a problem when the playwright and the director are the same person), but there is one gotcha! moment you won't want to miss and everyone agrees that Steve Copps as "the monster" is definitely worth seeing. Theatre of Youth opens THE SHAKESPEARE STEALER at the Allentown tomorrow at 2 pm. and it's up through March 5. STEVE, all about middle aged gay men, features a number of Buffalo's middle aged gay actors and there are many funny moments. And MARIELA IN THE DESERT delivers on many levels, with a well crafted play, clever staging, an ending that is a surprise, starring the talented Victoria Perez in the title role and great scene stealing moments from Melinda Capeles Rowe as Mariela's maiden sister-in-law.

After the holidays, the theater scene takes a moment to get back in gear, but this weekend, BANG!, we're back and running with seven, count 'em, seven openings. We have a play with incidental music (AMADEUS), an operetta ("PIRATES"), and an actual modern musical (42nd STREET). We have a scary play, familiar because of the Hitchcock movie, (DIAL M FOR MURDER) and scary play familiar because of many, many movies (FRANKENSTEIN), as well as a not-so-familiar drama about a family's coming apart (MARIELA IN THE DESERT). And we have a play about something that scares us all.... getting older, less vital, and more marginalized, with STEVE, presented as part of the Buffalo United Artist's 25th anniversary year. For a conversation between Theater Talk's Peter Hall and Irish Classical's Vincent O'Neill and Fortunato Pezzimenti, click here.

In FRANKENSTEIN, on stage from January 20th through February 12th Director David Oliver has adapted Mary Shelley's classic gothic novel to the turn of the twentieth century, where the conflicts of "child vs. parent", "God vs Man", and "man vs. machine" take on new meaning. Meanwhile, over at the Kavinoky the unnamed "Pilot" in GROUNDED, staring at a computer screen, starts to blur the boundaries of "woman vs. machine" as modern drone warfare has its affect on her psyche.

Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News

The Kavinoky Theatre is the first out of the gate for 2017 with an opening tonight, an intense 90-minute one woman play written by George Brant, GROUNDED, directed by Kristen Tripp Kelley, starring Aleks Malejs [say "malaise"] as an Air Force jet fighter pilot who is grounded due to pregnancy and spends her days in a windowless trailer piloting drones. And the Kavinoky has announced the opening of their 2017-2018 season with THE PRODUCERS starring Brian Myslivy and Norm Sham (as Leo Bloom and Max Bialystock, characters brought to the big screen by Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane).

GROUNDED, a one-woman play by George Brant

African American playwright August Wilson wrote a series of 10 plays, one for each decade of the 20th century, and finally one of them has become a major motion picture, schedule for wide release on December 25.

If it's on stage this week, it's a holiday show, for sure, but some are better than others.

Moving from the East Side (the African American Cultural Center) to the West Side of Main Street (at Shea's 710 Main Theatre) the Paul Robeson Theatre opened CHRISTMAS IS COMIN' UPTOWN, a musical based on "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. Scrooge is now a Harlem slumlord about to foreclose an apartment house, a recreation center and a church when his late partner and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future take him on their rounds. There's one addition to the classic tale-- a rousing gospel number in a baptist church.

It turns out that magic and the supernatural, not to mention dark themes, often the basis for children's stories, inform a number of holiday offerings on our stages.


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