Theater Talk: It's a Wonderful, Magic, Farndale, Charlie Brown, Hellcab, Christmas "from the bridge"

Dec 1, 2017

The Christmas Season continues to provide dozens of  area productions, with several yet to open, from the high art of Mozart' s MAGIC FLUTE to the dark comedy of HELLCAB and three (3!) takes on IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, from the one night only SHOW UP at Nietzsche's, to performances of A CHRISTMAS CAROL at both the Alleyway and the Shaw, right up through "Christmas Eve Eve" (December 23).

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY hearkens back to the old days of radio soaps and runs through December 10 at Shea's 710 Theatre
Credit Road Less Traveled Productions

OPENING

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, based on the story by Charles M. Schulz and the television special by Melendez & Mendelson, adapted by Eric Schaeffer, presented by Theatre of Youth. Dec 2-17, Sat & Sun at 1 & 3:30. Allendale Theatre, 203 Allen St. (884.4400). www.theatreofyouth.org

A CHRISTMAS CAROL, by Charles Dickens, adapted and directed by Tim Carroll, presented by The Shaw Festival, starring Michael Therriault, through Dec 23, various days and times at The Royal George Theatre, 85 Queen St, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0, Canada  (1.800.511.7429) www.shawfest.com

DESDE EL PUENTE ("from the bridge"), Christmas Edition, one-act play festival presented by Raíces Theatre Company, starring Marta Aracelis, Melinda Capeles-Rowe, Lissette De Jesús, Chris Espinal, Rolando Martin Gómez, Alexia Rose Guzmán, Smirna Mercedes-Pérez, Víctor Morales, María Pérez-Gómez, Josué Rosario-Cáliz, Carlos Rafael Maggiolo, Amara Gómez. Alejandro Pérez. Dec 1-17, Fri & Sat at 8, Sun at 6. The Manny Fried Playhouse, 255 Great Arrow Ave., third floor (381-9333).  www.raicestheatrecompany.com

SHE LOVES ME, musical by Masterhoff, Bock & Harnick presented by Niagara University Theatre, directed by Doug Zschiegner. Nov 30-Dec 7, Thu at 7, Fri at 7:30, Sat at 2 & 7:30, Sun at 2. Leary Theatre in Clet Hall, NU campus (286-8685). theatre.niagara.edu

FARNDALE…CHRISTMAS, comedy by David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin, Jr, presented by O’Connell & Company, directed by Joey Bucheker, starring Mary Kate O’Connell, Daniel Lendzian, Melissa Leventhal, Stephanie Bax, Constance Caldwell. Dec 1-3, Fri at 8, Sat at 2 & 7, Sun at 2. Shea’s Smith Theatre, 658 Main St. (847-1410). www.sheas.org

HELLCAB, dark comedy by Will Allen presented by Pollyanna Productions in association with ART of WNY, directed by John F Kennedy, starring Nick Lama, Catherine Burkhart, Rich Kraemer, Shabar Shabazz Rouse, Thorin Vallentine, Emily Styn, Aqueira Roberts. Nov 30-Dec 16, Thu-Sat at 8. 330 Performance Space, 330 Amherst St. (697-0837). pollyannaproductions.com

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, adapted for the stage by James W. Rodgers, presented by Rocking Horse Productions, directed by Jane Navarro, starring Angelo Heimowitz, Michael Breen. Dec 1-10, Fri at 7:30, Sat at 2:30 & 7:30, Sun at 2:30. Lancaster Opera House, 21 Central Ave., Lancaster (683-1776). www.LancOpera.org

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY by Joe Landry, presented by Road Less Traveled Productions, directed By John Hurley, starring Anthony Alcocer, Kelly Copps, Steve Copps, Charmagne Chi, Phil Farugia, Fisher. Dec 1-10, Fri & Sat at 7:30, Sun at 2.  Shea’s 710 Theatre (1-800-745-3000). www.roadlesstraveledproductions.org

IT WAS A WONDERFUL LIFE celebrates the lives of many famous "permanent residents" at Forest Lawn Cemetery, brought "to life" by a variety of Buffalo's favorite performers.

IT WAS A WONDERFUL LIFE, presented by Forest Lawn Cemetery, Sat & Sun, Dec. 2-23, 11 am and 2 pm, in the historic Forest Lawn Chapel, featuring a variety of well-known Buffalo actors as many "permanent residents" who create musical, comical and poignant glimpses of Christmases past when they enjoyed life on this side of the lawn. (288-5999) www.forest-lawn.com/events

MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, presented by Western Door Playhouse, directed by Sam Granieri. Dec 1-10, Fri & Sat at 7:30, Sun. at 2:30. Woodbox Theatre, Niagara Arts and Cultural Center, 1201 Pine Ave.  at Portage Road (297-5910).

THE MAGIC FLUTE, opera by Mozart (sung in English) presented by Buffalo Opera Unlimited, conducted by Tim Kennedy, starring  James Judd as Tamino, Eric Kesler as Papageno, Karen D'Angelo as Queen of the Night, Emily Yancey as Pamina, Sarah Bleweth as Papagena, and Kofi Hayward as Sarastro, at Rockwell Hall on the Buffalo State Campus, 1300 Elmwood Avenue. Fri Dec 1 at 8, Sun Dec 3 at 2:30 (878-3005) www.rhpac@buffalostate.edu

ONGOING

CINDERELLA, conceived and directed by Kelli Bocock-Natale, starring Jamie Nablo, Alejandro Gomez, Daniel Williams, Sean Murphy, Michael Wachowiak, Ray Boucher, Caitlin Coleman, Eric Rawski. Through Dec 16, Thu-Sat at 8, plus Dec 2, 9 & 16 at 3 (no performance Nov 23). New Phoenix Theatre, 95 Johnson Park (853-1334). www.newphoenixtheatre.org

CLOSING

GREEN DAY’S AMERICAN IDIOT, musical presented by UB Department of Theatre & Dance, directed by Gary John LaRosa. Thorugh Dec 3, Thu & Sat at 7:30, Sat at 2 & 7:30, Sun at 2. UB Center for the Arts Drama Theatre, north campus (645-ARTS). theatredance.buffalo.edu

VIOLET, musical by Tesori and Crawley, directed by Susan Drozd, starring Patrick Cameron, Taylor Carlson, Annette Christian, Jeffrey Coyle, Maria Farugia, Matthew Iwanski, Dudney Joseph, Jr., Ben Michael Moran, Matt Rivera, Ember Tate, Maggie Zindle, Michele Marie Roberts. Through Dec 3, Wed & Thu at 7, Fri at 7:30, Sat at 3:30 & 7:30, Sun at 2. MusicalFare Theatre, 4380 Main St., Amherst (839-8540). www.musicalfare.com

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS

CHRISTMAS VARIETY SHOW, presented by The Towne Players. Dec 1 at 7:30. Sheridan-Parkside Community Center Theater 169 Sheridan-Parkside Dr., Tonawanda (693-9641). www.towneplayers.com
SHOW UP, solo comedy written & performed by Peter Michael Marino, directed by Michole Biancosino & The Audience. Dec 7 at 8. Nietzsche's, 248 Allen St. www.showuptheshow.com

STEEL MAGNOLIAS, comedy by Robert Harling presented by Desiderio’s Dinner Theatre, directed by Kyle LoConti, starring Lisa Ludwig, Lisa Hinca, Justyne Harris, Maureen Porter, Mary McMahon, Bethany Gruendike. Through Dec 10, Thu, Sat & Sun, evening shows arrival at 6, show at 7:30; matinee shows arrival at 1, show at 2:30. Bobby J’s Italian American Grille, 204 Como Park Blvd., Cheektowaga (395-3207). www.mybobbyjs.com

THE KIND OF THING YOU DON’T TALK ABOUT, solo performance by artist Asia Gagnon, presented by Torn Space Theatre.  Nov 30-Dec 2, Thu-Sat at 7:30. Adam Mickiewicz Library & Dramatic Circle, 612 Fillmore Ave. www.tornspacetheater.com

UPCOMING

A CHRISTMAS CAROL, adapted and directed by Neal Radice, starring David C. Mitchel, Joyce Stilson, James Cichocki, Roger VanDette, Jerry Hudson, Emily Yancey, Michelle Holden, David G. Poole, Allison Barsi, Shawn Calmes, Jack Flammer. Dec 8-23, Fri at 7:30, Sat & Sun at 2 & 5 (De 23 at 5 & 8). Alleyway Theatre, One Curtain Up Alley (852-2600). www.alleyway.com

THE LION KING, touring production of the Broadway musical by Elton John & Tim Rice, presented by Shea’s and Albert Nocciolino. Dec 13-Jan 7, Tue-Thu at 7:30, Fri at 8, Sat at 2 & 8, Sun at 1, plus Jan 7 at 6:30; Dec 21, 27 & 29 at 1.  Shea’s Performing Arts Center, 646 Main St. (1-800-745-3000). www.sheas.org

MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM, play by August Wilson directed by Willie Judson Jr., starring Sandra Gilliam, Rachel Henderson, Leon Copeland, Ricky Needham, Sean Farrell, Tuhran Gethers, Roosevelt Tidwell, Al Garrison, Marcus Thompson Jr. Dec 8-24, Fri & Sat at 8, Sun at 4. Paul Robeson Theatre at the African American Cultural Center, 350 Masten Ave. (884-2013). www.aaccbuffalo.org

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS by J. Michael Landis & Jay Wollin, directed by David Bondrow. Dec 15-17, Fri at 7:30, Sat at 11, 2:30 & 7:30, Sun at 2:30. Lancaster Opera House, 21 Central Ave., Lancaster (683-1776). www.LancOpera.org

YES VIRGINIA, THERE IS A SANTA CLAUS, play by Andrew J. Fenady, directed by DJ Swartz, starring Jesse Swartz, Vanessa Stipkovits, Greg Blarr, Carla Kwasniak, Madison Swartz. Dec 7-17, Thu at 7, Fri & Sat at 8, Sun at 2. Ghostlight Theatre, 170 Schenck St., North Tonawanda (743-1614). www.starrynighttheatre.com

Adapted from "On the Boards" appearing in Artvoice 11/29/2017