Theater Talk: Paul Robeson Theatre continues a long Buffalo tradition with 'Ma Rainey'

Dec 15, 2017

As Buffalo continues to welcome immigrant communities, it needs more theater diversity, but right now we do have two established organizations: the younger Raices Theatre for Puerto Rican and other Latino cultures (currently showing DESDE EL PUENTE: CHRISTMAS EDITION) and the more established Paul Robeson Theatre, Buffalo's oldest continuing theater, part of Buffalo's African American Cultural Center, currently offering MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM through Christmas Eve.


Set in 1927 Chicago, August Wilson's MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM concerns a recording studio, eager to make money on the "Black Bottom" dance craze, and the lives affected. Shown: the actual "Ma Rainey - Mother of the Blues."

DISCUSSED ON THIS WEEK'S THEATER TALK

THE LION KING, touring production of the Broadway musical by Elton John & Tim Rice, presented by Shea’s and Albert Nocciolino. Dec 14-Jan 7, Tue-Thu at 7:30, Fri at 8, Sat at 2 & 8, Sun at 1, plus Dec 21, 27 & 29 at 1.  Shea’s Performing Arts Center, 646 Main St. (1-800-745-3000). www.sheas.org

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. Through Dec 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

A CHRISTMAS CAROL, adapted and directed by Tim Carroll, presented by The Shaw Festival, starring Michael Therriault as Scrooge. Through Dec 23, at the Royal George Theatre, Queen Street, Niagara on the Lake (1.800.511.7429) www.shawfest.com

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. Through Dec 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

DESDE EL PUENTE, 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. Through Dec 17, Fri & Sat at 8, Sun at 6. The Manny Fried Playhouse, 255 Great Arrow Ave., third floor (381-9333).  www.raicestheatrecompany.com

OPENING

THE LION KING, touring production of the Broadway musical by Elton John & Tim Rice, presented by Shea’s and Albert Nocciolino. Dec 14-Jan 7, Tue-Thu at 7:30, Fri at 8, Sat at 2 & 8, Sun at 1, plus Dec 21, 27 & 29 at 1.  Shea’s Performing Arts Center, 646 Main St. (1-800-745-3000). www.sheas.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

ONGOING

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. Through Dec 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

A CHRISTMAS CAROL, adapted and directed by Tim Carroll, presented by The Shaw Festival, starring Michael Therriault as Scrooge. Through Dec 23, at the Royal George Theatre, Queen Street, Niagara on the Lake (1.800.511.7429) www.shawfest.com

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. Through Dec 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

CLOSING

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, directed by Meg Quinn. Through Dec 17, Sat & Sun at 1 & 3:30. Added performance Dec 16 at 6. Allendale Theatre, 203 Allen St. (884.4400). www.theatreofyouth.org

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 16 at 3. New Phoenix Theatre, 95 Johnson Park (853-1334). www.newphoenixtheatre.org

DESDE EL PUENTE, 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. Through Dec 17, Fri & Sat at 8, Sun at 6. The Manny Fried Playhouse, 255 Great Arrow Ave., third floor (381-9333).  www.raicestheatrecompany.com

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. Through Dec 16, Thu-Sat at 8. 330 Performance Space, 330 Amherst St. (697-0837). pollyannaproductions.com

IRVING BERLIN’S AMERICA, musical play written and arranged by Chip Deffaa, presented by O'Connell & Company, directed by Drew McCabe, starring William Group, Matthew MooneyThrough Dec 17, Thu-Sat at 7:30, Sun at 2:30. The Park School, 4625 Harlem Road, Snyder (848-0800). www.oconnellandcompany.com

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. Through Dec 17, Fri & Sat at 7:30, Sun at 2.  Shea’s 710 Theatre (1-800-745-3000). www.roadlesstraveledproductions.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. Through Dec 17, Thu at 7, Fri & Sat at 8, Sun at 2. Ghostlight Theatre, 170 Schenck St., North Tonawanda (743-1614). www.starrynighttheatre.com
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS

MIRACLE IN LEVITTOWN, staged reading of a new comedy written and directed by Michael Fanelli, presented by Subversive Theatre, starring Constance Caldwell, John Profeta, Jack Agugliaro, Jenae Leonard, Bob Bozek, Kent Bostock, Becky Globus, Hasheen DeBerry, Ronald Hicks, Virginia Brannon. Dec 21-23 at 7:30. The Manny Fried Playhouse, 255 Great Arrow Ave., third floor (408-0499). www.subversivetheatre.org

Adapted from "On the Boards" appearing in Artvoice 12/14/2017