Anthony Chase

Theater Talk Host

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

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.

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?"

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!

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.

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. (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.

ROMEO AND JULIET, the tragedy by Shakespeare presented by Shakespeare in Delaware Park, opened at “Shakespeare Hill” in Delaware Park and runs Tuesday through Sunday at 7:30pm through July 12. While Peter still naively clings to the notion that this is a romance, Anthony reminds us that it is a tragedy, played out by a number of mercurial characters, not just Mercutio. Take a blanket or jacket and something to sit on; and, in the best Shakespearean tradition, refreshments may be purchased on-site and consumed during the performance (from which the phrase “The Peanut Gallery” comes).

FUN HOME, the first Broadway musical with a lesbian protagonist, swept five Tony Awards this past Sunday in the musical category.

The 25th Annual Artie Awards presentation last Monday night at 710 Main Theatre was a high energy non-stop romp featuring seven musical numbers with the original Buffalo casts, very funny ad-libs, not to mention lots of fabulous shoes and great hair.  The venue was a first for the Arties, but we hope not the last. 

With five venues, settled in a quaint town with plenty of walk-to attractions, the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, continues to attract a sizeable audience from Buffalo. Anthony Chase reports in during the intermission of "Peter and the Starcatcher" at the Royal George Theatre which is attracting a large number of younger audience members (suitable for 8+) who react audibly to the imaginative plot - the "prequel" to "Peter Pan."

The 25th Annual Artie Awards, Buffalo's celebration of local theater, will be held on Monday, June 1 at 710 Main for the first time. The event will be hosted by actors Charmagne Chi, recently seen in "Carousel," and Amy Jakiel, recently in "She Loves Me," with Artvoice theater editor and Theater Talk co-host Anthony Chase.  Doors (and bar) at 710 Main will open at 7 p.m.; the Artie Awards show begins at 8 p.m.  The modest admission fee helps support the Immunodeficiency Clinic at ECMC.

Kelli Bocock-Natale is two for two (her previous Macbeth was a knockout) as a winning director of Shakespeare at the New Phoenix Theatre.  Bringing Shakespeare's inventive language to 21st century ears demands every ounce of love and attention that a director can muster, and aided by an eye-catching (though minimal) set from Paul Bustaph and an appropriately magical, mystical soundscape by Tom Makar, Bocock-Natale "brings it" (including a new twist on the ending) to "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (through May 23).

With so many regional stages it's bound to happen that some productions are uneven, and this week while "Carousel" (MusicalFare thorugh May 17) was generally disappointing, "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" (Irish Classical through May 17) was helped by Kristen Tripp Kelley.  Anthony enjoyed "Rust Belt Grotesque" (ART InTheBox through May 23) and the musical "She Loves Me" (Kavinoky through May 24).  And Theater Talk is very much looking forward to Kelli Bocock-Natale's direction of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (New Phoenix Theatre through May 23).

The 69th annual Tony Award nominations were announced Tuesday morning by co-hosts Mary-Louise Parker, past Tony winner, and Bruce Willis (yes, since you just asked yourself, he's going to make his Broadway debut in the upcoming "Misery"). The awards will be handed out on June 7th in a live telecast from Radio City Music Hall, co-hosted by Kristen Chenoweth and Alan Cumming.

The 2015 Pulitzer Prizes were announced early this week and "Between Riverside and Crazy" by Stephen Adly Guirgis won for drama, a work written with Buffalo actor and UB teacher Stephen McKinley Henderson in mind.

This week Anthony interviewed Steven McKinley Henderson in an "Inside the Actor's Studio" format and enjoyed Henderson's memories about Broadway, Hollywood, The Regional Theater Movement, The Black Arts Movement, and August Wilson.