Peter Hall

Theater Talk co-host
Jewish Repertory Theatre

Tonight is Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and also "Curtain Up!" the start of the New Year of  theater in WNY. So we thought we'd "Better call Saul" and speak with Saul Elkin, Artistic Director and co-founder of the Jewish Repertory Theatre of Western New York, about the five plays scheduled for this "virtual" 20-21 season. Saul is excited about the opportunities to collaborate with the playwrights, one of which, Canadian Mark Leiren-Young, would most likely not be able to attend his own show, BAR MITZVAH BOY, starring Peter Palmisano, which opens the season and runs November 5-25, 2020.


Nancy J. Parisi Buffalo Spree

He played with Count Basie, he played with Ellington, he wowed audiences at the piano in AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' and SOPHISTICATED LADIES and COOKIN' AT THE COOKERY, all at MusicalFare Theatre, and he's back there, livestreaming on Sept. 17 with jazz vocalist Ms. Alex McArthur and two days later streaming from the Kavinoky with John Fredo, whose jazz roots go back farther than most know.

TAB & TDA, courtesy of Doug Weyand

The 39th Annual Curtain Up! activities which traditionally launch the new theater season in WNY have been reimagined for this year. Because of COVID-19 and government regulations, in lieu of the Curtain Up! dinner, live performances, and after-party on Main Street in the Theatre District it's all online. The Theatre Alliance of Buffalo (TAB) and Theatre District Association of WNY (TDA) are collaborating to present virtual, socially distanced Curtain Up! 2020 activities. Musicalfare's Doug Weyand explains. 


Courtney Helinski, Buffalo Toronto Public Media

Shakespeare in Delaware Park’s 45th main stage summer season was put on hold this year due to the pandemic, but that has not stopped SDP from carrying on with the mission of free professional outdoor theatre. Their sold out "Live Intermezzo Season" began last Friday, Aug. 21, at the Olmsted Park Lodge Picnic area in Buffalo, with socially distanced touring productions (think “The Best Of The Bard”). 


Photo by Anthony Chase

D'Youville College's new president Lorrie Clemo is modernizing the campus with an historic sensibility and the Kavinoky Theatre is part of that renovation, with new seats on the way, a "Broadway style" entrance on Prospect Avenue, along with fresh paint, moldings, and detail work, says Executive Artistic Director Loraine O'Donnell. Anthony reports that it is stunning and he took some snapshots (below).


Nicki Swift

The Artie nominations are now complete (see below). Christopher Jackson (George Washington in HAMILTON) will be live streaming tomorrow night from NYC in an event to benefit Shea's. This coming Thursday, Buffalo native Jeffry Denman (THE PRODUCERS, CATS, etc.) will live stream with Randall Kramer at the piano. The musical DIANA will premiere on Netflix. And we note the passing of great Canadian actor Brent Carver, most famous as "Molina" in KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN.


Michael Thomas

The second wave of Artie Award Nominations went live on WBFO's Facebook page on Wednesday (final categories will be announced next Wednesday at noon) as read by a talented collection of 2019 winners (see the archives as lovingly maintained by MusicalFare's Doug Weyand). The first (and so far only) live theater of 2020-2021, Torn Space's SILENCE, is rapidly selling out. Find out more here.


Michael Thomas

The remainder of the 2019-2020 Artie Award Nominations will be revealed Wednesday August 5 and 12 at noon on WBFO's Facebook Live. Zoom continues to be the dominant platform which, while not technically "theater," is an excellent space for new play development allowing for a wider audience than a typical reading. COVID is forcing some changes as is #BlackLivesMatter which is demanding more than simply gestures. And, if traditional audiences can't keep up, then, "don't change their minds; change their faces."


Gene Witkowski

The Artie Awards (Buffalo's "Tony Awards") ceremony is still on hold, but the nominations are appearing, including Outstanding Production of a Play and of a Musical. Awards come at the end of the creative process, and tonight you can watch Donna Hoke's  play in development, HEARTS OF STONE, streamed. But it all starts with a creative spark, and Ujima has a call for submissions to their August #ArtThatHeals showcase with the theme, "Black Lives Matter." See details on the Arties, HEARTS, and Ujima below.


cover art for Heat Wave: The Life and Career of Ethel Waters by Donald Bogle

Last week we mentioned Ethel Waters singing "Heat Wave" from the 1933 AS THOUSANDS CHEER by Irving Berlin as well as "Suppertime" (not "Summertime" by Gershwin) about a wife's reaction to news of her husband's lynching. Read Anthony's "op-ed" on wishful thinking in theatertalkbuffalo.com.  With Covid cautions, Torn Space Theater is opening SILENCE, an outdoor production starting July 31st. 


The Hill Family

Ever optimistic actor activist Lorna C. Hill, who founded Ujima, the longest continuing running theater company in Buffalo, succumbed to cancer, while COVID-19 claimed Broadway star Nick Cordero. In other pandemic related news, Actor's Equity has schedule two shows in August in The Berkshires under very strict protocols, Spree magazine's July issue cover what's what, and Shea's has moved the touring (non-Equity, opening in Buffalo) production of TOOTSIE back? up? to December 1, 2020! Keep your season tickets!


secondgenerationtheatre.com

Little by little, theater companies are getting better at zooming around the web, because, if it ain't online, it ain't. Period. The Antonyo Awards honoring black Broadway actors, etc. can still be seen. Visit Playbill.com for Mart Crowley's THE MEN FROM THE BOYS, tonight at 7 p.m., a sequel to THE BOYS IN THE BAND. Also tonight, at 8 p.m., "That's Shawbiz" features various Shawfest actors with very slick use of Zoom technology. On Sunday, at 7 p.m., SGT will offer PAGE TO STAGE: MISCAST where a number of favorite


Dudney Joseph on Instagram

The show can't go on (it's not just venue concerns, but rehearsals, tech, etc.), yet the fundraising must! Second Generation Theatre has elected to damn the coronavirus and go full speed ahead with a virtual version of  "Page to Stage: Miscast" in which some of Buffalo's most talented performers tackle material that is entirely inappropriate for them, online on Sunday, June 28, 2020 at 7 p.m. For online entertainment, Broadway Black's inaugural Antonyo Awards airs tonight, June 19, at 7 p.m.

Monique Carboni in Playbill.com

June is Pride Month and while COVID-19 may have curtailed the parade, Playbill.com/PridePlays announces a performance of Donja R. Love's "one in two" (about being HIV Positive, Black, and Queer) tonight at 7pm. Watch, then vote before midnight for the first ever "Antonyo Awards" (the "just for fun" presentations will be on Juneteenth) which promise to be "hilarious, uplifting, and unapoligetically black." Then read "We See You, White American Theater."


Sara Kurlwich in The New York Times

Playwright (THE NORMAL HEART), novelist, in-your-face AIDS activist Larry Kramer, described as "one of America's most valuable troublemakers" passed away last week. During the 1980s he criticized Ronald Reagan, Dr. Anthony Fauci (they later became friends), as well as gay culture and behavior. He was a major influence on Tony Kushner to write ANGELS IN AMERICA. In other AIDS related news


Shakespeare in Delaware Park Facebook page

Shakespeare in Delaware Park announced the cancellation of its entire summer season.  Online is where the action is and SIDP has one of the busiest Facebook pages. Visit here for their 30th anniversary online celebration (CHANGED TO Saturday 5/30) and Road Less Traveled to hear a podcast with Anthony and Peter Palmisano. Tonight (Friday) you can go to BroadwayCares.org/Chita at 8pm to see some legendary performers.


Alleyway.com

"Changing... it keeps changing" wrote Sondheim and it's now official. Neal Radice and his wife Joyce Stilson have handed over the venerable 40 year old Alleyway Theatre (over 150 productions to date not including 29 years of "Buffalo Quickies") to the next generation although "Buffalo Quickies" continue live on YouTube for the next two Sunday mornings at 11am.  We also note the passing of Joey Giambra and Lori McDonald, two longtime Buffalo theater notables. 


Avery Schneider / WBFO News

The Artie Awards (Buffalo's version of Broadway's Tony Awards) are important in recognizing outstanding work, but if theater people are anything, they are are people who need people. Yet, because of schedules the WNED|WBFO Artie Awards is the one night of the year when everybody can party. And if they can't kiss-kiss, hug-hug, squeeze one more into a selfie, then we'll wait until they can! 


Marc J. Franklin in Playbill.com

And the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for drama goes to.... a musical! (the 10th in Pulitzer history) A STRANGE LOOP, by  Michael R. Jackson, about a black, queer writer working as an usher writing a musical about a black, queer writer working as an usher writing a musical about (see above). While most spring and summer theater workshops and programs remain cancelled, a rich resource for parents is Playbill.com's "Online Resources for kids and families to get you through COVID-19" including Disney and Lincoln Center activities.


Broadwayworld.com

Last week Shakespeare in Delaware Park's first show was cancelled then Antoni Cimolino cancelled the entire Stratford (Shakespeare) Festival. Shawfest is rehearsing via Zoom and may have some shows later in the summer. The good news is that suddenly major Chita Rivera level stars are available to collaborate online, for example at Stephen Sondheim's 90th Birthday tribute ("The Ladies Who Lunch" from COMPANY begins at 1:58:34.)  The 12th annual August Wilson Monologue Competition National Finals will be held online May 2–3. 

Emmie O'Leary

On Friday night, the Buffalo Bills will make their first selection in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft and when General Manager Brandon Beane calls in his choice, WBFO's own Peter Hall, co-host of Theater Talk, will be joining him via Zoom.

Alleyway.com

Anthony recalls a time when, as a high schooler, Broadway was a bit out of reach, so he read everything he could about the theater. Now, when theaters are dark, he finds reading a comfort. Even though social distancing rules might be relaxed by summer, so much work takes place long before opening night that Shakespeare in Delaware Park can't just "flip a switch" on June 18 and put on a show. Sadly, AS YOU LIKE IT has been canceled. Meanwhile, the Alleyway Theatre's "Buffalo Quickies" air live Sunday mornings at 11am on YouTube.


MGM publicity still, Public Domain, courtesy of Wikipedia

In the 5th week of social distancing, electronic media is becoming a bigger part of our lives as we try to stay connected and entertained or both. This Sunday at 11 a.m., the Alleyway Theater will have a socially distant but live theatrical event via YouTube. And with no theaters to attend, Anthony has discovered, or re-discovered, binge-watching streamed television shows and is delighted to see how many follow the 19th century model, proposed by Eugene Scribe, of "the well made play." 


Times-Standard

The last record of any semblance of live theater, once a staple of the mighty Greek and later Roman cultures, was around 530 A.D. Then we entered "the dark ages" and, as now with the COVID-19 pandemic, theater was dark. But ultimately, it was Easter, and depictions of the three Marys at Jesus' tomb (the Holy Mother, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the sister of Lazarus) that reignited the magic of live presentations.


biography.com

Are you being productive during this time of "social distancing?" Shakespeare, during one period of the plague in the early 1600s wrote ANTHONY AND CLEOPATRA, MACBETH, and KING LEAR. 


Tom Kirdahy, husband of Mr. McNally, on Facebook

The Coronavirus pandemic is causing hardship because of social distancing (see the list of theatrical cancellations and postponements below) and it has led to the sad death of a wonderful friend of Buffalo theater, especially BUA, playwright Terrence McNally, many of whose plays were produced locally.


Irish Classical Theatre

As theaters are canceling their current runs (see listings) many are also canceling rehearsals for upcoming shows. Social distancing is affecting everyone, from the Stratford Festival to Shawfest, to local productions, to Broadway, and all the Broadway national tours across America. Many theaters will, we hope, be able to turn a cancellation into a postponement. Listen to Theater Talk weekly and, in-between, subscribe to  Anthony's (FREE) blog theatertalkbuffalo.com for updates.

Larry Rowswell courtesy of the New Phoenix Theatre

Carolee Carmello swept into audience's hearts as Dolly Levi, the matchmaker from Yonkers, in a darn near perfect production of HELLO, DOLLY! at Shea's now cancelled. At the New Phoenix Theatre, Victoria Perez once again demonstrated her formidable skills as a director in KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN with a breakout role for actor Rick Lattimer, cancelled so far only for this weekend. There's also a breakout role for actor Dan Urtz down Main Street at Road Less Traveled's HAND TO GOD, open this weekend! In all cases, it's best to contact the box office (see listings for contact information). Also see Anthony's blog www.theatertalkbuffalo.com

Julieta Cervantes

Carolee Carmello has had a fabulous Broadway career, reports Anthony, and she's bringing her big, big voice to the Shea's stage in HELLO, DOLLY! where a very rich next season opens with a straight play, Aaron Sorkin's adaptation of MOCKINGBIRD. Read all about it on Anthony's blog TheaterTalkBuffalo. On a much smaller stage, four local playwrights have dealt with the theme of Armageddon in THE END: AMEN whose Alleyway cast includes two superb actors "on loan" from the Paul Robeson.

Alleyway.com

March will bring a raft of openings, but madness and more signs of the times are on stages this weekend, at both ends of The Alleyway Theatre complex and in the suburbs as well (see listings). This week's conversation was about SCOTCH AND MADNESS and THE END: AMEN and two closings: GLORIOUS and WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW. Theater Talk notes the passing of Mary Haney who graced the stages of Shawfest for 30 years and over 60 productions.

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