MusicalFare Theatre

Eileen Elibol, WNED|WBFO

The 25th anniversary celebration for Theater Talk at the WNED|WBFO studios was a huge success Monday as hundreds attended to enjoy various stars of local stages perform songs and skits to honor Anthony Chase and his long-time co-host Jim Santella.  Around town, THE CRUCIBLE at the Kavinoky moves beyond the same old (remember reading it in high school?) into powerful "adult" territory and VIOLET perfectly fits the MusicalFare space with a stunning cast.

shawfest.ca

The 2017-2018 theater season has begun with the first of our Curtain Up! plays: PETER AND THE STARCATCHER: A GROWNUPS' PREQUEL TO PETER PAN directed by Chris Kelly, starring Renee Landrigan as "Molly" and Jesse Tiebor as "The Boy/Peter Pan"," two of the twelve actors who take on 100 roles.

N.Y. Times

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.


Americans for the Arts

The economic power of Western New York's arts community is detailed in a new study from Americans for the Arts, which estimates a $352 million regional impact.


In 1967 Detroit, brother and sister Lank and Chelle find their lives upended by a mysterious woman and as their family falls apart, the '67 riots tear their city apart as well. DETROIT'67 opens tonight at the Bratton Theater at the Chautauqua Institution.

MusicalFare

It's obvious that oodles of love and affection and time, that precious commodity, went into getting the new musical PRETTY FUNNY ready for its premiere.

Rosalind Cramer, Theatre of Youth co-founder, passed away last week at the age of 81. She was also instrumental in founding MusicalFare Theatre, housed on the Daemen College (formerly "Rosary Hill") campus, where she taught theater. And this week there's more discussion of THE TRIAL OF TRAYVON MARTIN at the Manny Fried Theatre.

On this week's Theater Talk, Anthony discusses the difficulties with mounting a review such as SOPHISTICATED LADIES now at MusicalFare, Peter shares a moment while watching Eric Rawski and Caitlin Coleman in STEVE, and both agree on Theater of Youth's THE SHAKESPEARE STEALER.

Kelly Meg Brennan holds the eerily lit venue at 44 17th Street in Buffalo for 80 ripping minutes as she portrays over 20 characters in a one-woman monologue portraying the last night of Jack the Ripper's final victim, Mary Jane Kelly. Speaking to an unseen person (Jack, himself?) she describes her life and the circumstances that brought her to her present situation, an "unfortunate" as the Victoria press called sex workers. It's not about Jack, though. It's about Mary and Ms. Brennan has the audience wrapped around her little finger in wrapt attention. If they don't extend the run, it will close on Saturday.  Meanwhile, on Main Street three first rate productions keep audiences in their seats.  MRS. WARREN'S PROFESSION takes on the topic of sex workers and presents various ethical points of view at Shea's 710 Theatre,  EQUUS presents repressed sexuality at Irish Classical, and AN AMERICAN IN PARIS beautifully weaves the music of George Gershwin through the Broadway musical with stunning sets at Shea's. And, for an evening of nostalgia with a few surprises, treat yourself to Debbie Pappas's beautiful voice in TENDERLY: THE ROSEMARY CLOONEY MUSICAL.

Photography by David Hou.

At the Stratford Festival in Ontario, THE HYPOCHONDDRIAC,  based on THE IMAGINARY INVALID by Molière, is a new version of that classic by Richard Bean with lots of gags and a bit of history, too, as Argon is being played by "Moliere" himself.

Photography by David Hou.

Antoni Cimolino's direction of Shakespeare's MACBETH at the Stratford Festival has been so well received that it's been extended to November 5.

Michael Murphy of the highly regarded Old Globe Theatre in San Diego has been chosen as successor to Anthony Conte, president of Shea's Performing Arts Center (and the Smith Theatre and Shea's 710 Main). 

This week we have three openings to celebrate! Tonight, it's THE PROFANE, a play by Zayd Dohrn, presented by Chautauqua Theater Company, directed by Vivienne Benesch.

This Tuesday, Shakespeare in Delaware Park uses their "down time" between shows (The Winter's Tale ends Sunday night, July 17 and The Taming of the Shrew opens on July 28) to "put on a show" with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

If you want to see strong women on stage, this is the time. Michele Marie Roberts stars in Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber's EVITA now at MusicalFare Theatre in Amherst through August 7. Across town, Lisa Vitrano takes charge as Paulina who speaks truth to power in THE WINTER'S TALE at Shakespeare in Delaware Park (through July 17).

Musicalfare Theatre's talent pool is so deep that it's offering two musicals at once: AVENUE Q at 710 Main and HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING at Musicalfare Theatre's home in Amherst on the Daemen College campus. AVENUE Q is a wonderful collaboration between Musicalfare and Shea's Performing Arts Center, and could point to a healthy future for a Buffalo landmark.

Just as three plays close this weekend - Irish Classical's ALL MY SONS, Subversive Theatre's  KEELY AND DU, and Second Generation's VANYA AND SONIA AND MASH AND SPIKE - we have four openings - Theatre in the Mist's ALICE IN WONDERLAND, Paul Robeson's FETCH CLAY, MAKE MAN, Theatre of Youth's NUMBER THE STARS and Jewish Rep's BAD JEWS, about a family argument over who's more worthy of a family heirloom.

We have two musicals with somewhat different target audiences this week - PAGEANT: THE MUSICAL and MATILDA THE MUSICAL.

Two very intense 90 minute no-intermission dramas are gripping audiences this week, one at the Alleyway and one at Jewish Rep.

Alleyway Theatre

Broadway is Broadway, sure, but if "the play's the thing," well you can have a pretty good time here in Buffalo. Anthony and Peter both thoroughly enjoyed IN THE HEIGHTS at Musicalfare and NEWSIES at Shea's. But those are only two.

www.musicalfare.com

This week Peter and Anthony look at some of the first offerings of the 2015/2016 season, including IN THE HEIGHTS at MusicalFare Theatre,  GRANNY BIRD at the Alleyway Theatre, and SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE (OR THE CHILDREN'S CRUSADE) at the Manny Fried Playhouse.

Photo by Emily Cooper

The Shaw Festival presents a thinking person's play with possibly too much to think about at once, and many in Buffalo are thinking about Curtain Up, the annual celebration of the start of the theater season.

Peter and Anthony went to see SISTERS OF SWING: THE ANDREWS SISTERS MUSICAL starring Wendy Hall, Michele Marie Roberts, and Renee Landrigan as Laverne, “Maxene,” and “Patty” Andrews (contralto, soprano, and mezzo). Peter was impressed with Landrigan’s ability to stay right on the knife edge balancing schmaltz with cool, channeling her inner Bing Crosby. Neat trick. Philip Farugia plays their manager, Vic Schoen, and serves as the music director of a very tight backup combo while Nicholas Lama is cast as “Everyone Else” (Danny Kaye, Carmen Miranda, cab driver, etc.). You may have seen it several years ago, but this is a new cast and in a little over two hours you get 24 high energy songs and solid performances from all, through August 9 at Musicalfare Theatre, 4380 Main Street in Amherst.

SISTERS OF SWING: THE ANDREWS SISTERS MUSICAL opened this week and runs through August 9th at Musicalfare Theatre, 4380 Main St., located on the Daemen College campus in Amherst.  And Musicalfare's Randall Kramer takes his talents on the road to Lewiston, presenting PETER PAN, the Broadway musical based on the play by J.M. Barrie, opening at Artpark on July 30th.

Peter is heading south this weekend to see a diverse cast in OUR TOWN, the classic play by Thornton Wilder, presented by the Chautauqua Theater Company through July 12th at the Bratton Theater (your theater ticket is also your gate pass for the Chautauqua Institution). Anthony says that if you did OUR TOWN in high school, forgive that experience, and see the play anew.

With so many regional stages it's bound to happen that some productions are uneven, and this week while "Carousel" (MusicalFare thorugh May 17) was generally disappointing, "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" (Irish Classical through May 17) was helped by Kristen Tripp Kelley.  Anthony enjoyed "Rust Belt Grotesque" (ART InTheBox through May 23) and the musical "She Loves Me" (Kavinoky through May 24).  And Theater Talk is very much looking forward to Kelli Bocock-Natale's direction of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (New Phoenix Theatre through May 23).

Openings this week include "The Mystery of the Silver Chalice" - a play at 710 Main where the audience directs the plot - "Beau Jest" at Jewish Repertory in which a Jewish girl hires an actor to play her boyfriend when she goes home to see the parents and "Million Dollar Quartet" which looks at the birth of rock'n'roll. It's at Shea's but for two days only.

At the age of 80, Australian comedian Barry Humphries is retiring his character "Dame Edna Everage" after a 2015 farewell tour. Anthony flew out to Los Angeles to catch a show last week, but Buffalo/Toronto audiences can wait until early April when the tour comes to the Royal Alexandra in Toronto.

Millions have enjoyed the comedy of Joan Rivers for decades on television, but comedy was only intended to support her while she launched her Broadway career. Rivers died Thursday at the age of 81. Anthony Chase recalls seeing her on Broadway, as well as many local stages.

Theater critic Anthony Chase says he saw the latest production of A.R. Gurney's "Buffalo Gal," this one staged by the New Phoenix Theatre at 95 Johnson Park.

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