Two plays discussed in this week's Theater Talk re-imagine two classics. "After Miss Julie" takes Swedish playwright August Strindberg's very dark "Miss Julie" and moves it to Britain in 1945 after a Labor Party Victory. In both plays Julie has a one night affair with a man from a lower class and ultimately sees suicide as the only way to move forward. That opened last night at the Irish Classical Theatre and runs through March 22.
By coincidence, a number of theaters this weekend feature mothers and mother figures (all with varying levels of dysfunction). Having Tyne Daly pass up the chance to spend a winter in Buffalo (go figure!) that opened the door for local talent Anne Hartley Pfohl to star in Terrence McNally's "Mothers and Sons" at the Alleyway Theatre. (The address is One Curtain Up Alley in the shadow of Shea's huge backstage.)
Just back from the Kennedy Center in our nation's capitol, Anthony reports that while the cast of Lerner & Lowe's "Gigi" is first rate, the direction is not. They've got a month to fix things before opening on Broadway.
Openings this week include "The Mystery of the Silver Chalice" - a play at 710 Main where the audience directs the plot - "Beau Jest" at Jewish Repertory in which a Jewish girl hires an actor to play her boyfriend when she goes home to see the parents and "Million Dollar Quartet" which looks at the birth of rock'n'roll. It's at Shea's but for two days only.
At the age of 80, Australian comedian Barry Humphries is retiring his character "Dame Edna Everage" after a 2015 farewell tour. Anthony flew out to Los Angeles to catch a show last week, but Buffalo/Toronto audiences can wait until early April when the tour comes to the Royal Alexandra in Toronto.
Having just seen A.R. Gurney's "Family Furniture" at the Kavinoky Theatre, Anthony Chase noticed strong parallels with Edward Albee's "A Delicate Balance" back on Broadway, especially upper class families who can talk a lot, but not about their problems.
Of last week's two openings, A.R. Gurney's "Family Furniture" at the Kavinoky (D'Youville campus) is "soulful" while Alan Ayckbourn's tightly plotted "Snake in the Grass," a Red Thread Theatre production at the Marie Maday Theatre (Canisius College), is the "thriller."
In common with the great Anton Chekhov, playwrights Alan Ayckbourn and Buffalo's A.R. Gurney both make effective use of small sets which serve multiple purposes as well as indirect action - the off stage drama churning beneath the service. In Ayckbourn's "Snake in the Grass" two sisters reunite after the death of their abusive father. In Gurney's "Family Furniture" a mother might have engaged in an infidelity, but nobody is talking, at least not directly, in the drama set in Buffalo in the 1950s.
It's a rare theater company that has something on the boards over Christmas, but that's when the movies bring out some blockbusters, including an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods." Major stars fill the silver screen, including Meryl Streep as "The Witch" and Buffalo's own Christine Baranski as "The Stepmother." Anthony reports that there are some differences between stage and screen versions, partly because gruesome elements can be comedic on stage while movies, which are only two dimensional, somehow seem "more real." On the other hand, effects such as levitation and magic
Two versions of “A Christmas Carol,” one with Mike Randall at the Sheridan-Parkside Community Center Theatre and one (32 years running!) at the Alleyway, continue as does “Miracle on South Division Street” by “Over the Tavern” playwright Tom Dudzick at the Roycroft Pavilion in East Aurora and “Jerry’s Girls” presented by O’Connell and Company at the Park School in Snyder.
With all of the theaters in the Buffalo area, is there competition for the same audience? Not so, Anthony Chase tells Peter Hall. Each local theater has a niche market which it serves. For example, the audiences for "A Christmas Carol" currently at the Alleyway Theatre (and it its 32nd production) will be looking for nostalgia and something for their kids. Subversive Theatre's "The Guns of Christmas" at the Many Fried Playhouse is both a political statement and a moving portrayal of the horrors of war. And the BUA's "Santa Claus is Coming Out" at The Mainstreet Cabaret or "The Santaland Diaries" at the Road Less Traveled Theatre will appeal to yet a third kind of audience looking for something different.
"Cinderella" has dropped a lot of the 1950s schmaltz and with a new script by Douglas Carter Beane (and a great pair of shoes) this Rodgers & Hammerstein musical brings a lot of sassy adult humor to Shea's Performing Arts Center, but only through this Sunday, December 7th. Down the block, BUA presents "Santa Claus is Coming Out," a story where Santa decides that, despite expectations, it's always better to do the right thing. And across Main Street, for a little more edgy seasonal humor, Mark Sacco brings David Sedaris' "The Santaland Diaries" to the stage at Road Less Traveled (sti
Menotti's opera for all ages - "Amahl and the Night Visitors" - features a new production at the Riviera Theatre this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The BPO and Neglia Ballet team up for Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" Saturday and Sunday at Shea's where Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella" opens on Tuesday. And on Wednesday, December 3rd, one night only at 710 Main Street, it's "4 Girls 4" with Maureen McGovern, Andrea McArdle, Donna McKechnie, and Faith Prince.
Even though snowfall in the actual theater district has been relatively light, half of the potential audience for shows is snowbound and under a travel ban which has led to a number of cancelations all week long. We hope that this weekend has more shows up than dark.
"End Days," "The Homosexuals," and "My Life on a Diet" may be closing, but "Lombardi" just opened at 710 Main Street and one of the great American tragedies, Arthur Miller's 1949 Pulitzer Prize winning "Death of a Salesman," continues at the Irish Classical Theatre.
Two American classics open tonight, Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" at the Irish Classical Theatre and Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie" at the Lancaster Opera House, along with lighter fare including "Mamma Mia" at Shea's.
Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" opens Thursday and Lillian Hellman's "The Children's Hour" continues at The New Phoenix Theatre, two plays that delve into what chaos is caused when young girls tell adult lies. On a more upbeat note, "Ain't Misbehavin'" brings the music of Fats Waller to Musicalfare Theatre with a young, energetic cast.
Lillian Hellman's "The Children's Hour" from the 1930s is not a "modern" play, but in style harkens back to Henrik Ibsen's realist dramas. With a controversial topic, a rumor of lesbianism at a girl's school, Buffalo Public Theatre opens tonight at The New Phoenix Theatre on Johnson Park.
While the first round of plays for most theaters are winding down, and before the next cycle, there is still plenty of theater. And coming up, "Ain't Misbehavin'" at Musicalfare and "The Children's Hour" at New Phoenix Theater, which offers a very intimate experience. "Blood Type: Ragu" is at the Smith, and is all about growing up Italian.
The lights on Broadway dimmed for star of stage, film, radio and television, Marion Seldes, best known for her work in the plays of Edward Albee. Seldes died Monday at 86 after six decades of "ruling" Broadway with her regal presence.
Most of the Curtain Up! plays continue into October, including "All Quiet on the Western Front" at the New Phoenix Theater on Johnson Park in Buffalo, part of the international 100-year look back at World War I. This sad story of young Germans who volunteer together is told with power and grace and is enhanced by the puppetry of Michele Costa.
Stage and screen star Polly Bergen passed away last Saturday at the age of 84. Nominated for a Golden Globe, a Tony, and multiple Emmy awards (she won for "The Helen Morgan Story"), she might be best remembered for her appearances on the television game show "To Tell the Truth."
After 20 years, Buffalo playwright Tom Dudzik's "Over the Tavern" continues to delight audiences, this time at the Kavinoky Theater through October 5. Set in 1959, the story of 12 year-old Rudy who goes "knuckle to ruler" with his teacher, Sister Clarissa, has been tightened up a bit, but all of the familiar cultural references remain intact.
Theater Talk co-host Anthony Chase will be the emcee at this year's Curtain Up! gala dinner at Shea's Performing Arts Center next Friday, September 19. While the dinner always sells out, the local theater productions themselves sell out even faster.
Millions have enjoyed the comedy of Joan Rivers for decades on television, but comedy was only intended to support her while she launched her Broadway career. Rivers died Thursday at the age of 81. Anthony Chase recalls seeing her on Broadway, as well as many local stages.
Anyone who experienced Bruce Norris's riveting "Clybourne Park" at 710 Main Theatre, a Road Less Traveled production, will be interested to know that Norris's play "Qualms," currently in Chicago, continues the tradition of making audiences uncomfortable.
Twice this week, the lights on Broadway were dimmed, a custom that honors the passing of a major star. Though best known for their work in film, Lauren Bacall and Robin Williams had strong ties to the stage. Anthony Chase and Peter Hall discuss their contributions in this week's Theater Talk.
On this week's Theater Talk, Anthony and new co-host Peter Hall talk about the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts. Anthony says the audience was so moved by legendary Broadway performer Chita Rivera's dancing that many openly wept. Also, it looks like Kander and Ebb's final musical The Visit might make it to Broadway after 11 years.
Gabe and Tony discuss the history of Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors, Mary Poppins opening at ArtPark, and a staged reading of Ibsen's The Master Builder. Tony also reviews Poseidon! An Upside Down Musical.