Anthony Chase

Theater Talk Host

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

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.

Buffalo Humanities Festival

Don't Americans love a story of the little guy talking truth to power? How about lots of little guys - knee high kids hawking newspapers on the street - striking in 1899 to bring two publishing giants - Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst - to their knees.  The Disney Broadway musical opens Tuesday at Shea's.

All across Western New York our theaters begin their 2015-2016 season with a flourish at the annual Curtain Up!

www.musicalfare.com

This week Peter and Anthony look at some of the first offerings of the 2015/2016 season, including IN THE HEIGHTS at MusicalFare Theatre,  GRANNY BIRD at the Alleyway Theatre, and SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE (OR THE CHILDREN'S CRUSADE) at the Manny Fried Playhouse.

examiner.com

Tim Carroll's candidacy for the Shaw Festival's Artistic Directorship was kept under wraps, but his tenure which begins in about 16 months (he'll be shadowing Jackie Maxwell for the 2016 season) holds great promise to return the Shaw to its former glory.  Meanwhile, at the other great Canadian festival, Stratford, the Greek tragedy by Sophocles, OEDIPUS REX,  builds relentlessly to its conclusion, leaving sold-out audiences breathless.

from Shaw Festival website

There are several closings in Buffalo as the summer wanes, but The Shaw Festival in Niagara on the Lake continues well into the fall.


www.post-journal.com (Jamestown, NY)

With Curtain Up! only five weeks away we still have several openings, some closings, and one play held over by popular demand.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Crossdressing newbies Jordan Louis Fisher as Viola and Tim Newell as Olivia in Shakespeare's TWELFTH NIGHT and BUA experienced drag actors Christopher Standart and Jimmy Janowski (who, by the way, has great legs) as Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in BETTE AND JOAN: THE FINAL CURTAIN spice up new productions and keep summer audiences engaged.

In a popular Cole Porter musical we are advised to “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” while the cast sings about “Another Opening, Another Show.” Here in our area, starting last night and going through this weekend we have six (6!) openings (including Shakespeare) from which to choose. And that’s in July! Buffalo is definitely not in Kansas anymore.

Peter and Anthony went to see SISTERS OF SWING: THE ANDREWS SISTERS MUSICAL starring Wendy Hall, Michele Marie Roberts, and Renee Landrigan as Laverne, “Maxene,” and “Patty” Andrews (contralto, soprano, and mezzo). Peter was impressed with Landrigan’s ability to stay right on the knife edge balancing schmaltz with cool, channeling her inner Bing Crosby. Neat trick. Philip Farugia plays their manager, Vic Schoen, and serves as the music director of a very tight backup combo while Nicholas Lama is cast as “Everyone Else” (Danny Kaye, Carmen Miranda, cab driver, etc.). You may have seen it several years ago, but this is a new cast and in a little over two hours you get 24 high energy songs and solid performances from all, through August 9 at Musicalfare Theatre, 4380 Main Street in Amherst.

SISTERS OF SWING: THE ANDREWS SISTERS MUSICAL opened this week and runs through August 9th at Musicalfare Theatre, 4380 Main St., located on the Daemen College campus in Amherst.  And Musicalfare's Randall Kramer takes his talents on the road to Lewiston, presenting PETER PAN, the Broadway musical based on the play by J.M. Barrie, opening at Artpark on July 30th.

Peter is heading south this weekend to see a diverse cast in OUR TOWN, the classic play by Thornton Wilder, presented by the Chautauqua Theater Company through July 12th at the Bratton Theater (your theater ticket is also your gate pass for the Chautauqua Institution). Anthony says that if you did OUR TOWN in high school, forgive that experience, and see the play anew.

We have one opening this weekend: Nickel City Opera presents THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO, the story of the lecherous Count, the innocent Susanna, the wily Figaro, and the long suffering Countess. It’s at the Riviera Theatre, in a full production with professional singers and orchestra, Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

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