Theater Talk: RIP Jerry Lewis (there's a Buffalo story); Congratulations Stephen McKinley Henderson

Sep 1, 2017

Did you know that Jerry Lewis got his theatrical start in Buffalo? At the age of 16 he was booed at a (now-gone) Burlesque house, but went back out on stage and started on the road to stardom.


Stardom surrounds Buffalo's Stephen McKinley Henderson, recently in the movie FENCES with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, and now getting raves for A DOLL'S HOUSE, PART 2 in New York. On September 11 he'll have a star installed on the "Plaza of the Stars" in Buffalo's downtown Theatre District.

Julie White as Nora; Stephen McKinley Henderson as Torvald in A DOLL'S HOUSE, PART 2.
Credit N.Y. Times

Curtain Up! 2017 is the "official" start of the new theater season and on Friday, September 15, all plays in Western New York begin at 8:00 p.m. to allow for pre-show festivities (yes, even shows that are not downtown). But many shows begin their run days before Curtain Up! A number of them are listed below and first out of the gate is MusicalFare's September 6th opening of PETER AND THE STARCATCHER, a sort of "prequel" to PETER PAN which Anthony describes as a "charming family show."

Geraint Wyn Davies plays the innocent Sir Peter Teazle in the snake pit of characters in the comedy THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL at The Stratford Festival through October 21.
Credit The Stratford Festival

In addition to the busy local scene, plays and musicals continue at The Shaw Festival and The Stratford Festival through mid-October. One particularly delightful play at Stratford is Richard Brinsley Sheridan's THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL with meddling, gossipy characters such as "Lady Sneerwell" and her sidekick "Snake." As a gentle fool among some despicable types, Stratford veteran Geraint Wyn Davies plays Sir Peter Teazle for laughs and the audience is with him all the way.

OPENING

PETER & THE STARCATCHER, play by Rick Elice, based on the novel by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson, music by Wayne Barker, directed by Chris Kelly, starring Jacob Albarella, Anthony Alcocer, Bobby Cooke, Steve Copps, Kevin Craig, Philip Farugia, Renee Landrigan, Jordan Levin, Jesse Tiebor, Daniel Torres, Doug Weyand, Preston D. Williams. Sep 6-Oct 8, Wed & Thu at 7, Fri at 7:30, Sat at 3:30 & 7:30, Sun at 2 (Sep 15 at 8). MusicalFare Theatre, 4380 Main St., Amherst (839-8540). www.musicalfare.com

UPCOMING

DESIGN FOR LIVING, comedy by Noel Coward presented by the Irish Classical Theatre Company, directed by Katie Mallinson, starring Kate LoConti, Adriano Gatto, Ben Michael Moran. Sep 15-Oct 8,Thu & Fri at 7:30, Sat at 3 & 7:30, Sun at 2 (Sep 15 at 8). Andrews Theatre, 625 Main St. (853-ICTC). www.irishclassicaltheatre.com
    
IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE, play by Tony Taccone and Bennett S. Cohen adapted from the novel by Sinclair Lewis, presented by Subversive Theatre, directed by Kurt Schneiderman, starring Dennis Keefe, Christopher Standart, J. Tim Raymond. Sep 14-Oct 7, Thu-Sat at 8. The Manny Fried Playhouse, 255 Great Arrow Ave., third floor (408-0499). www.subversivetheatre.org

JOHN, play by Annie Baker, directed by David Oliver, starring Darleen Pickering Hummert, Priscilla Young Anker, Sara Kow Falcone, Adam Yellen. Sep 8-Oct 1, Thu-Sat at 7:30, Sun at 2 (Sep 15 at 8). Road Less Traveled Theater, 500 Pearl St. (629-3069). www.roadlesstraveledproductions.org

KILLER RACK: The Feminist, Horror Musical Comedy, world premiere of the musical written and directed by Neal Radice, starring Emily Yancey, Nathan Andrew Miller, Kim Piazza, Joey Bucheker, Kyle Baran, Andrew Zuccari, James Cichocki, Heather Reed, Sabrina Kahwaty, Colleen A. Pine. Sep 14-Oct 7, Thu-Sat at 7:30 (Sep 15 at 8). Alleyway Theatre, One Curtain Up Alley (852-2600). www.alleyway.com

MY OLD LADY, play by Israel Horovitz directed by Michael Lodick, starring Eileen Dugan, Anne Gayley, Richard Lambert. Sep 15-Oct 7, Thu-Sat at 8. New Phoenix Theatre, 95 Johnson Park (853-1334). www.newphoenixtheatre.org

THE PRODUCERS, musical by Mel Brooks & Thomas Meehan, directed by Lynne Kurdziel Formato, starring Norm Sham, Brian Mysliwy, Arianne Davidow, Greg Gjurich, Marc Sacco, Todd Benzin. Sep 8-Oct 1, Thu & Fri at 7:30, Sat at 3:30 & 7:30, Sun at 2 (Sep 15 at 8). Kavinoky Theatre, 320 Porter Ave. (829-7668). www.kavinokytheatre.com

ROOMMATES, world premiere of a play by Mark Humphrey, presented by American Repertory Theater of WNY, directed by Drew McCabe, starring Victor Morales, Michael J Starzynski, Brett Klaczyk. Sep 7-23, Thu-Sat at 8. The 330 Performance Space, 330 Amherst St. (697-0837). www.artofwny.org

SONS & LOVERS, new play by Donna Hoke presented by Buffalo United Artists, directed by Tod Fuller, starring Caitlin Baeumler Coleman, Steve Brachmann, A. Peter Snodgrass, Dave Granville. Sep 15-30, Fri & Sat at 8, plus Oct 1 at 7. Alleyway Theatre’s Main Street Cabaret, 672 Main St. (886-9239). www.buffalobua.org/www.ujimacoinc.org

Adapted from "On the Boards" appearing in Artvoice 08/30/2017