Peter Hall

Theater Talk co-host
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.

Tatiana Gelfand

Anthony remembers Zoe (say "Zo") Caldwell, winner of four Tony Awards (the last for portraying the opera star Maria Callas in MASTER CLASS) who passed away Tuesday at 86, at home, due to complications from Parkinson's. On a recent trip to NYC, he saw Jane Alexander (age 80) in GRAND HORIZONS, Charles Busch (only 65) in THE LEGEND OF LILY DARE, and very much enjoyed the new, more true to life book for THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN.  SCOTCH AND MADNESS opened at the Alleyway did last night while many more plays are about to (see listings).

Matthew Murphy

Mary Magdalene along with Jesus, Judas, Caiaphas, Pilate and Herod et. al. sing in the 50th anniversary tour of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR at Shea's, while Josie DiVincenzo plays 40 different roles in the one-woman WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW about late-in-life pregnancy at Jewish Repertory. And two singers, one glorious, Alberta Hunter, is portrayed by Zoe Scruggs and Ember Tate in COOKIN' AT THE COOKERY at MusicalFare, while the worse singer in the world, Florence Foster Jenkins, is portrayed by Mary Kate O'Connell at her new theater in Kenmore.

Bethany Burrows, musicalfare.com

Agnes Bain spent 41 of her 78 years overseeing the growth of Buffalo's African American Cultural Center on Masten Avenue, the home of the Paul Robeson Theatre (the play JUMP is wrapping there this Sunday afternoon) where she was beloved and is sadly missed. Meanwhile a celebration of blues singer Alberta Hunter in COOKIN' AT THE COOKERY is on stage at MusicalFare, FACTORY FOR MURDERERS is back on stage, and JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR is coming to Shea's.

Lawrence Rowswell

It's so "meta" and hilarious when Buffalo's radical feminist troupe, The Brazen-Faced Varlets, puts on a very funny play by Carolyn Gage, THE ANASTASIA TRIALS IN THE COURT OF WOMEN, about a radical feminist troupe putting on a play. The young cast and director of MERCURY FUR also present great ensemble work in an "in yer face" production. While the  flu got the better of FACTORY FOR MURDERERS (think Jack The Ripper), but they're back at the Alleyway. And we remember Buffalo's Mary Loftus (click here for a detailed bio by Anthony).

Marcus T. Thompson, Jr.

A dozen different shows now into February give present a wide variety of genres, from exposing our hidden motivations in THE ANASTASIA TRIALS, THE ANTIPODES, and JUMP to "detective shows" MISS NELSON IS MISSING or THE MOUSETRAP to plays that portend violence such as COPS AND FRIENDS OF COPS, FACTORY FOR MURDERERS, and MERCURY FUR.

Gene Witkowski, Kavinoky Theatre

After an early start for both THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY and COPS AND FRIENDS OF COPS, over half a dozen other productions are up this weekend, including A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (Irish Classical with the Buffalo Philharmonic at Kleinhans) and on Monday the second free reading of GOD OF VENGEANCE which is the basis for a Paula Vogel play (INDECENT) coming in March. Take some time to peruse the listings below.

Gene Witkowski

Some things might be worse than you'd think (perhaps the movie version of CATS) and some will be much better than you'd suspect from the title (the gorgeous musical THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY which opens this weekend at the Kavinoky) and one limited run should be greater than the sum of its parts - Shakespeare's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM with the complete incidental music by Mendelsssohn.

Toronto Globe and Mail

In 2019, as every year, the theater community lost beloved people, including Diahann Carroll, who sang "The Perfect Year" in her role as Norma Desmond in Webber's SUNSET BOULEVARD. And there was Carol Channing and Hal Prince and, in a bit of delicious irony, both despised critic John Simon of New York Magazine and actress Sylvia Miles who once dumped a plate of lasagna on his head.

Bethany Burrows, musicalfare.com

With nine area shows still in production this weekend, most up through Sunday, it's time to look back on a strong year with directorship transitions at The Alleyway and The Irish Classical Theatre while up at Shaw the "new" (since 2017) Artistic Director, Tim Carroll, is firming up his vision. Ujima Theater has a new stage, Road Less Traveled and MusicalFare continued to make good use of Shea's 710, and the Kavinoky had a major success with MOCKINGBIRD.

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Anthony went to NYC, which "keeps Christmas well," saw the tree in Rockefeller Center, and took in some serious dramas, including Samuel Hunter's GREATER CLEMENTS starring Judith Ivey and Adam Rapp's THE SOUND INSIDE starring Mary Louise Parker, about a Yale professsor who mis-reads and mis-uses one of her students. Here in Buffalo, if you think you've seen A CHRISTMAS CAROL, think again. With an entire cast of veterans (young and old) on stage at the Alleyway, there is a particularly fresh charm in the telling.

Jessica Marinelli

About half of the current theater in town is Christmas inspired, but not all, and that includes Buffalo's "Theatre District" starting with Shea's 710's remount of CHRISTMAS OVER THE TAVERN and the Alleyway's annual favorite A CHRISTMAS CAROL, but we also have Melissa Leventhal channeling the late great Patsy Cline at Shea's intimate Smith Theatre which shares a lobby with the 3000+ seat Shea's and the touring production of LES MISERABLES.

Irish Classical Theatre on Facebook

For the first time ever, The Shaw Festival has a holiday show on the main Festival Theatre stage - HOLIDAY INN,  by Irving Berlin, directed by Shaw and Stratford superstar Kate Hennig, as the traditional A CHRISTMAS CAROL continues at the Shaw's Royal George Theatre. The Alleyway will launch their 37th annual A CHRISTMAS CAROL on December 6, and ELF continues (with only a few single tickets left) at MusicalFare Theatre.

K.E.G. courtesy of The Paul Robeson Theatre

The August Wilson "century play" about Pittsburgh's Hill District in the 1960s opened at the Paul Robeson Theater, three and a half hours of delicious Wilson monologues, directed by Wilson devotee Ed Harris. On and off Broadway, Anthony took in several plays, including the controversial SLAVE PLAY by Jeremy O. Harris and Will Eno's THE UNDERLYING CHRIS starring Buffalo expat (and Bills fan) Lizbeth Mackay.

Gina Gandolfo 2019

Before all the "Christmas" shows begin, fine productions abound right now, including TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD at The Kavinoky and TWO TRAINS RUNNING at the Paul Robeson, as well as Mark Humphrey's THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS, THE BOYS UPSTAIRS at BUA, OH MY GOD at JRT, THE INTERROGATION ROOM at RLTP, and with an extra show Saturday at 2 added by popular demand, SHE KILLS MONSTERS at Subversive (see listings below).

Stephen Gabris, courtesy of Kavinoky Theatre

Once again, Drew Fornarola's "Starring Buffalo" assembled local stars (including Dudney Joseph, Jr. as "the plant"), Broadway stars, and students from Newfane, Fredonia, and Lockport, this time at Shea's 710, for LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. Subversive Theatre's SHE KILLS MONSTERS continues with rave reviews. Expectations are high for TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD  opening at the Kavinoky.

Mark Duggan, courtesy of Second Generation Theatre

Buffalo's "Theater District" on Main is hoppin', from Tupper (Shea's 710 Theatre with LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS this weekend and ERMA BOMBECK: AT WIT'S END starting Tuesday) to The Alleyway (where BUA opens THE BOYS UPSTAIRS) to Shea's Smith Theater (SGT's THE TOXIC AVENGER) and down the next block to 456 Main where Road Less Traveled opens INTERROGATION ROOM.

Subversive Theatre on Facebook

Two "Sci-Fi/Fantasy" openings tonight include Subversive's SHE KILLS MONSTERS about D&D and THE TOXIC AVENGER, Second Generation at Shea's Smith Theatre, a musical based on the 1984 movie. SUPERIOR DONUTS closes this weekend at Shea's 710 with a compelling story of cultures colliding and coming together while PRESCRIPTION MURDER: COLUMBO continues to entertain dinner theater audiences through mid-December.

Matthew Murphy, sheas.org

The Broadway tour of the high-energy COME FROM AWAY is at Shea's this week (five shows remaining) with its message of our common humanity. We mourn the loss of local actor Tim Finnegan, a funny, very warm fellow who often appeared in gay activist productions (see below). And Anthony is back from NYC where he saw Matthew Lopez's THE INHERITANCE which depicts the life experience of different generations - those who lived through the height of the AIDS crisis and those who came later.

David Cooper Shawfest.com

Shaw Festival Artistic Director Tim Carroll has heard thousands of opinions (and calls for his job) regarding his vision for the venerable institution but as he continues to make his mark, the revenues continue to grow. Most of the summer offerings close this weekend, but there are still chances to see the hilarious THE LADYKILLERS and the very dramatic (in the best sense) VICTORY, both directed by Mr. Carroll.

K C Kratt

Of all the arts, theater often embraces diversity first. America's struggle to diversify is a strong theme in the ongoing PIPELINE at Ujima and LADIES SWING THE BLUES at the Paul Robeson Theatre, as well the upcoming SUPERIOR DONUTS and a number of shows closing this weekend, including the musicals HAIRSPRAY and WEST SIDE STORY, and one person shows BRIGHT COLORS AND BOLD PATTERNS and KNOCK KNOCK, JESUS CALLING. For details, see the listings below.

Ujima Theatre Company

Playwright Dominique Morriseau has a knack for presenting relevant current situations with realistic dialog (DETROIT '67, SKELETON CREW) and Ujima Company's current production of her play about the "school to prison pipeline" continues their fine theatrical tradition, now in their new theater space on Buffalo's West Side.

Gene Witkowski photographer

Although the annual start of the Buffalo theater season sees many openings, in fact, a number of plays and musicals have been up for a few weeks, including HAIRSPRAY, which is dazzling audiences young and old, from all backgrounds. Director Carlos Jones has added a twist, a second role in drag, "Motormouth Maybelle" sung by operatic tenor Shawn Parnell.

Cheryl Gorski

While the gala dinner for Curtain Up! Friday night, September 20 is sold out, many restaurants can accomodate or you can just come for the street party on Main between Tupper and Chippewa with live music, food trucks, and fun until 1 a.m. (See the lyrics to Irving Berlin's "Top Hat, White Tie And Tails" below.)


Musicalfare Facebook posting

At some point in time, "operettas" became the uniquely American phenomenon known as "Broadway Musicals" and they excel at exposing the realities of life in the U.S. including racism. From the days of SHOWBOAT to BABES IN ARMS to the period pieces WEST SIDE STORY (which opened this week at Muscialfare) and HAIRSPRAY (opening tonight at the Kavinoky) there's intense drama when the characters on stage cross race lines.

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