Theater Talk: Shawfest's STAGE KISS and BASKERVILLE at Shea's 710 give "meta-theatrical" delight

May 18, 2018

Audiences love being "in on the joke." Sometimes a character "breaks the fourth wall" and speaks directly to us. Another "meta-theatrical" device is the "play within a play" where actors take on roles as, well, actors putting on a play. A superb example is Sara Ruhl's hilarious STAGE KISS currently at The Shaw Festival's Royal George Theatre. And then there's something else, where the jokes come from the fact that everyone is aware that it's a play but nobody openly acknowledges that. It tickles something fierce in BASKERVILLE, a comedic re-telling of the Sherlock Holmes story, with only five players taking on dozens of roles.

The hilarious BASKERVILLE is at Shea's 710 Theatre tonight and Saturday only (L-R Marc Sacco, Maria Droz, Todd Benzin, Chris J. Handley, not shown Patrick Cameron)
Credit MusicalFare

DISCUSSED ON THIS WEEK'S THEATER TALK:

THE RAIN DOGS PROJECT, seven locally written one acts based on the music of Tom Waits, presented by American Repertory Theater of WNY, directed by Nick Lama and Katherine Burkhart, starring Candice Kogut, John Profeta, John Kreuzer, Carly Luksch, Gary Andrews-Stieglitz, Courtney Maj. Through May 26, Thu-Sat at 8. Note new location! Main Street Cabaret (in the Alleyway Theatre complex) (697-0837). www.artofwny.org

STAGE KISS, play by Sarah Ruhl, starring Fiona Byrne and Martin Happer, with Neil Barclay, Rong Fu, Jeff Meadows, Sarena Parmar & Sanjay Talkwarat The Royal George Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake, in repertory at various days and times. (905.468.2172 OR 1.800.511.7429) www.shawfest.com/playbill/stage-kiss/

BASKERVILLE: A SHERLOCK HOLMES MYSTERY, comedy by Ken Ludwig presented by MusicalFare, directed by Randall Kramer & Doug Weyand, starring Todd Benzin, Patrick Cameron, Maria Droz, Chris J. Handley, Marc Sacco. Through May 19, Fri & Sat at 8. Shea’s 710 Theatre, 710 Main St. (1-800-745-3000).

WNED|WBFO presents the 2018 Artie Awards celebrating outstanding Western New York theater. The public is invited Monday, June 4 at Shea’s 710 Theatre, 710 Main Street at the corner of Tupper, a fundraiser for the ECMC Immunodeficiency Clinic. The 2018 nominations will be announced on WBFO's Facebook Live stream on Monday, May 21.

OPENINGS THIS WEEK

ANNIE, Broadway musical presented by The Springville Players, directed by Don Wesley. May 17-27, Thu-Sat at 7:30, Sun at 2. Mongerson Theater, Springville Center for the Arts, 37 North Buffalo St., Springville (592-9038). www.SpringvilleArts.org

SERENATA IN ITALY, play written and directed by Linda Silvestri, presented by Western Door Playhouse, starring Tom Turici, Sam Fadel, Sam Granieri, Patricia Crowe, Lynda LaGreca, Elaine Meranto, Carl Bishara, Tim Bookhagen. May 18-27, Fri. & Sat, at 7:30, Sun. at 2:30. Woodbox Theatre, Niagara Arts and Cultural Center, 1201 Pine Ave., Niagara Falls (297-5910).

ONGOING

BLACKBERRY DAZE, musical by Watson, Jones & Knowles, starring Latosha Payton, Danielle Green, Sandra Gilliam, Tifani Wofford, Ayana Williams, Augustus Donaldson Jr., Fisher. Through May 27, Fri & Sat at 8, Sun at 4. Paul Robeson Theatre at the African American Cultural Center, 350 Masten Ave. (884-2013). www.aaccbuffalo.org  

ONCE, musical by Walsh, Hansard & Irglová, directed by Randall Kramer, starring Jacob Albarella, Ryleigh Grace Cavanagh, Mia Cimato, Katie Clark, Steve Copps, Philip Farugia, Robert Insana, Amy Jakiel, Renee Landrigan, Bob Mazierski, Theresa Quinn, Andrew J. Reimers, Nick Stevens. Through May 27, 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

THE RAIN DOGS PROJECT, one acts based on the music of Tom Waits, presented by American Repertory Theater of WNY, directed by Nick Lama and Katherine Burkhart, starring Candice Kogut, John Profeta, John Kreuzer, Carly Luksch, Gary Andrews-Stieglizt, Courtney Maj. Through May 26, Thu-Sat at 8. Note new location! Main Street Cabaret (in the Alleyway Theatre complex) (697-0837). www.artofwny.org

STAGE KISS, play by Sarah Ruhl, starring Fiona Byrne and Martin Happer, with Neil Barclay, Rong Fu, Jeff Meadows, Sarena Parmar & Sanjay Talkwarat The Royal George Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake, in repertory at various days and times. (905.468.2172 OR 1.800.511.7429) www.shawfest.com/playbill/stage-kiss/

STELLALUNA, adapted for the stage by Saskia Janse, based on the book by Janell Cannon, music by Guus Ponsioen, presented by Theatre of Youth. Through Jun 2, Sat & Sun at 2 (no performance May 26 & 27). Allendale Theatre 203 Allen St.  (884-4400). www.theatreofyouth.org

CLOSING

BASKERVILLE: A SHERLOCK HOLMES MYSTERY, comedy by Ken Ludwig presented by MusicalFare, directed by Randall Kramer & Doug Weyand, starring Todd Benzin, Patrick Cameron, Maria Droz, Chris J. Handley, Marc Sacco. Through May 19, Fri & Sat at 8. Shea’s 710 Theatre, 710 Main St. (1-800-745-3000).

CHILDREN OF EDEN, musical by Stephen Schwartz presented by Niagara Regional Theatre Guild, directed by Fran Newton, starring Adam English, M. Joseph Fratello, Amy Sturmer, Cassandra Bigouette, Dan Zerpa, John Panepinto, Kim Ehrenburg. Through May 20, Fri & Sat at 7:30, Sun at 3, plus May 12 at 3. Ellicott Creek Playhouse, 530 Ellicott Creek Rd., Tonawanda (260-2319). www.niagaratheatre.com

THE CHRISTIANS, play by Lucas Hnath, directed by Scott Behrend, starring Dave Hayes, Aaron Moss, Steve Jakiel, Victoria Pérez, Lisa Vitrano. Through May 20, Thu-Sat at 7:30, Sun at 2 Road Less Traveled Theater, 500 Pearl St. (629-3069). www.roadlesstraveledproductions.org

THE CURIOUS SAVAGE, comedy by John Patrick, directed by L. Don Swartz, starring Julie Senko, Gary W. Cox, Vanessa Stipkovits, Alexandra Saleh, Quentin Gray. Through May 20, Thu at 7, Fri & Sat at 8, Sun at 2. Ghostlight Theatre, 170 Schenck St., North Tonawanda (743-1614).
www.starrynighttheatre.com

THE FOREIGNER, comedy by Larry Shue, directed by David Oliver, starring Kevin Craig, Patrick Moltane, Aleks Malejs, Christopher Evans, Anne Gayley, David Mitchell. Dan Urtz. Through May 20, Thu & Fri at 7:30, Sat at 3:30 & 7:30, Sun at 2.  Kavinoky Theatre, 320 Porter Ave. (829-7668). www.kavinokytheatre.com

ROUNDING THREE, play by Richard Dresser. Through May 20, Fri & Sat at 7:30, Sun at 2:30. Lancaster Opera House, 21 Central Ave. Lancaster. (683-1776). www.lancasterregionalplayers.org

UPCOMING

LADY WINDERMERE’S FAN, comedy by Oscar Wilde presented by the Irish Classical Theatre Company, directed by Josephine Hogan, starring Matt Witten, Ben Michael Moran, Christian Brandjes, Chris Kelly, Jamie O'Neill, David Lundy, Arianne Davidow, Colleen Gaughan, Emily Collins, Jaimee Harmon, Kathleen Betsko Yale, Kate LoConti. Jun 1-24, Thu & Fri at 7:30, Sat at 3 & 7:30, Sun at 2. Andrews Theatre, 625 Main St. (853-ICTC). www.irishclassicaltheatre.com

LA LUPE: MY LIFE, MY DESTINY, play with music by Carmen Rivera presented by Raíces Theatre Company, directed by Victoria Pérez, starring Melinda Capeles, Steve Brachmann, Rolando Martín Gómez, Smirna Mercedes Pérez, Dewel Pérez, María Pérez-Gómez. May 25-Jun 10, Fri & Sat at 8, Sun at 6.  Manny Fried Playhouse, 255 Great Arrow Ave. 3rd floor (381-9333). www.RaicesTheatreCompany.com

LOVE NEVER DIES, touring production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical presented by Shea’s and Albert Nocciolino. Jun 5-10, Tue-Thu at 7:30, Fri at 8, Sat at 2 & 8, Sun at 2 & 7. Shea’s Performing Arts Center, 646 Main St. (1-800-745-3000). www.sheas.org

THE RED DRESS, play by Tania Wisbar presented by Argyle Road Productions, directed by Frank A. Rossi, starring Liz McKendry, John Nuncio, Jeremy Kreuzer, Camilla Maxwell, Pamela Rose Mangus. May 31-Jun 23, Thu-Sat at 8. New Phoenix Theatre, 95 Johnson Park (853-1334). www.newphoenixtheatre.org

Listings adapted from "On the Boards" appearing in Artvoice 5/16/2018