Theater Talk: RIP Sam Shepard, An Octoroon stirs up Shaw, Macbeth fares well despite foul weather

Aug 4, 2017

Theater Talk observes the passing of Sam Shepard, an American playwright (44 plays!) with a particularly edgy off-Broadway slant, who was also an actor, author, screenwriter, and director.

Although he received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for his play BURIED CHILD, he was known to most people as an actor, having been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager in THE RIGHT STUFF (1983). He passed away at the age of 73 of complications from Lou Gehrig's Disease. At The Shaw Festival, the old fashioned Royal George Theatre is the perfect venue for a 21st century update of a mid-19th century American melodrama that was called THE OCTOROON. Concepts of racial identity are thrown up for examination as the very talented André Sills (who is black) plays two different whites - a plantation owner with modern European sensibilities and an old fashioned Simon Legree type slave owner. It fits the Shaw mission in that that it's both highly entertaining and very thought provoking. As to Shakespeare in Delaware Park's MACBETH, the cast is strong but the run has been plagued by bad weather, so, if you are free on a night with no rain in the forecast, just go! Just go!

André Sills (R) wears a special two-part costume as he plays two contrasting slave owners in AN OCTOROON at The Shaw Festival's Royal George Theatre.
Credit The Shaw Festival

OPENING

JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, musical by Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber, directed by Debby Koszelak, starring Anthony Lafornara, Jill Anderson, Taryn Goehrig, Katie Riederer. Aug 3-13, Thu & Fri at 7, Sat at 8, Sun at 2. Ghostlight Theatre, 170 Schenck St., North Tonawanda (743-1614). www.starrynighttheatre.com

TRAINWRECK, new musical based on the album by Boys Night Out. Aug 4-26, Fri & Sat at 9.  Patchwork Theatre of Niagara, 1201 Pine Ave., Suite 104, Niagara Falls. Facebook.com/PatchworkNiagara

ONGOING

MACBETH, tragedy by William Shakespeare presented by Shakespeare in Delaware Park, directed by Saul Elkin, starring Matt Witten, Lisa Vitrano, Chris Hatch, Jamie Nablo, Nick Stevens, Ray Boucher. Though Aug 20, Tue-Sun at 7:30. Shakespeare Hill in Delaware Park (856-4533). www.shakespeareindelawarepark.org

Buffalo Actor Matt Witten who last appeared in Sam Shepard's TRUE WEST at Road Less Traveled now plays Macbeth at Shakespeare in Delaware Park through Sunday, August 20.
Credit Shakespeare in Delaware Park

PRETTY FUNNY, world premiere of a musical by Marisa Guida and Philip Farugia, directed by Randall Kramer, starring Arin Dandes, Amy Jakiel, Lou Colaiacovo, Nicole Cimato, Marc Sacco, Dan Urtz, Brittney Basset, Bethany Burrows, Michael Wakowiak, Camryn Clune. Through Aug 13, 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

FATE OF THE DATE: THE SILVER CHALICE, by Taylor Doherty, presented by the Buffalo Laboratory Theatre. Aug 5 at 7:30 & Aug 6 at 2. Swan Auditorium on the campus of Hilbert College (202-9033). www.buffalolabtheatre.org

CLOSING

HEARTS OF STONE, reading of a new play by Donna Hoke as part of the Buffalo Infringement Festival, directed by Kyle LoConti, starring Josie DiVincenzo, Philip Knoerzer, Ben Michael Moran, Melinda Capeles Rowe, Jennel Nadine Pruneda, Steve Copps. Aug 3 & 4 at 7:30. Alleyway’s Main Street Cabaret, 687 Main St.

HEARTS YOUNG & GAY [Part One], reading of a play by Frank Canino presented by Bloody Sunday & Then Monday Series as part of the Buffalo Infringement Festival, starring Alejandro Gomez, Nick Lama, Steve Brachmann, John Profeta, Darryl Hart, Kyle Baran, Verneice Turner. Jul 29 at 7, Karpeles Manuscript Library, 453 Porter Ave. Aug 5 at 6:30; Aug 6 at 2. Rust Belt Books. 415 Grant St.

UPCOMING

DISNEY’S THE LITTLE MERMAID, Pittsburgh CLO & Kansas City Starlight touring production of the Alan Menken musical, presented by Shea’s and Albert Nocciolino. Aug 15-20, Tue-Fri at 7, Sat at 2 & 7, Sun at 1 & 6. Shea’s Performing Arts Center, 646 Main St. (1-800-745-3000). www.sheas.org

ROMEO AND JULIET, tragedy by William Shakespeare presented by Chautauqua Theater Company, directed by Dawn Monique Williams. Aug 11-18. Bratton Theater, Chautauqua Institution (357-6250). www.ciweb.org/chautauqua-theater-company

Adapted from "On the Boards" appearing in Artvoice 8/2/2017