Theater Talk: ART of WNY in news that's good and bad; and we remember Willie Judson, Jr.

Apr 5, 2019

PARADE, the musical at American Repertory Theatre (ART of WNY), is well directed and chock full of Buffalo talent, many of whom take on multiple roles as the script demands. That's good. Unfortunately, the publishers of scripts also demand something: that presenting venues "buy the rights" to perform licensed propeties which, until a few days ago, ART had not done.

Leo Frank (Jordan Levin) is unjustly accused in PARADE, a musical about a shameful historical event in American history, at American Repertory Theatre, 545 Elmwood, through April 23.
Credit ART of WNY

ART is not alone in this practice and still other venues have altered playwrights' original scripts without permission. If any good can come of this kerfluffle, let it be that so-called "intellectual property" be handled in a more upright manner going forward.

And the Buffalo theater community, actors and audience alike, mourn the passing of Willie Judson Jr. actor, director, and mentor to many, who passed away last week at the age of only 67. Often associated with Buffalo's two premier African-American companies, the Paul Robeson and the Ujima theatres, Judson worked at Irish Classical, ART of WNY, and recently was masterful as "Harry" in Harold Pinter's THE COLLECTION (see photo) at Torn Space Theater. He will be missed.

L-R Willie Judson, Jr. (with Nicholas Bernard) starred in February 2017 in Pinter's THE COLLECTION at Torn Space Theater
Credit Mark Thomas Dugan

OPENING

AN ACT OF GOD, play by David Javerbaum, presented by O’Connell & Company, directed by Victoria Perez, starring Joey Bucheker, Daniel Lendzian, Dan Morris. Apr 5-7, Fri at 8, Sat at 2 & 8, Sun at 2. Shea’s Smith Theatre, 658 Main St. (847-0850). www.oconnellandcompany.com

ONGOING

PARADE, musical by Jason Robert Brown & Alfred Uhry, presented by American Repertory Theater of WNY, directed by Matthew Refermat, starring Jordan Levin, Melissa Levin, Tim Goehrig, Nick Lama, Marisa Caruso, Elise Vullo, Brandon Williamson, Lucas DeNies, Christopher Cummings, Brittney Bassett, Talia Mobley. Through Apr 23, Thu-Sat at 8. TheaterLoft, 545 Elmwood Ave. (697-0837). www.artofwny.org

THE SECRETARY, comedy by Kyle John Schmidt presented by The Brazen-Faced Varlets, directed by Lara D. Haberberger, starring Heather Fangsrud, Stefanie Warnick, Davida Tolbert, Jeannine Giffear, Jamie Nablo, Caroline Parzy-Sanders. Though Apr 6, Fri & Sat at 8, plus Apr 13 at 8 & Apr 14 at 2. Alleyway Theatre’s Main Street Cabaret, 672 Main St. (598-1585).

CLOSING

AFTER THE FALL, drama by Arthur Miller presented by Subversive Theatre in association with Post Industrial Productions, directed by Bob Van Valin, starring Darryl Hart, Bethany Burrows, Elliot Fox, Kate Parker, Brendan Cunningham, Kathleen Rooney, Alex Rubin, Amanda Vink, Bekki Sliwa. Jessica Leigh Tokarski. Through Apr 6, Thu-Sat at 7:30, plus Mar 31 at 2. The Manny Fried Playhouse, 255 Great Arrow Ave., third floor (462-5549). www.subversivetheatre.org

THE JUNGLE BOOK, play by Greg Banks based on the books by Rudyard Kipling presented by Theatre of Youth, directed by Chris Kelly, starring Dan Torres, Bobby Cooke, Brendan Didio, Lissette DeJesus, Rick Lattimer, Matthew DiVita. Through Apr 7, Sat at 1&4, Sun at 2. Allendale Theatre, 203 Allen St. (884.4400). www.theatreofyouth.org

1984 by George Orwell, adapted for the stage by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan directed by Kyle LoConti, starring Chris Avery, Aleks Malejs, Shanntina Moore, John Profetta, Robyn Baun, Johnny Rowe, Xavier Harris, Steve Jakiel, Paul Maisano, Patrick Moltane. Through Apr 7, Thu & Fri at 7:30, Sat at 3:30 & 7:30, Sun at 2. (no performance Apr 5). Kavinoky Theatre, 320 Porter Ave. (829-7668). www.kavinokytheatre.com

THE SIDEWALK STAGEPLAY, written by Edreys Wajed & Paulette D. Harris, directed by Harris. Through Apr 7, Fri & Sat at 8, Sun at 4. Paul Robeson Theatre at the African American Cultural Center, 350 Masten Ave. (884-2013). www.aaccbuffalo.org

SPECIAL EVENTS & PRESENTATIONS

KAVINOKY KABARET, annual fundraiser on Apr 5, doors open at 6, band stars at 7.  D'Youville Academic Center, 6th floor. (829-7668). www.kavinokytheatre.com

THE PRINCESS BRIDE, a staged reading of the cult classic by William Goldman, directed by Scott Behrend & Katie Mallinson, starring Anthony Alcocer, Cassie Cameron, Bob Grabowski, Jimmy Janowski, Dave Mitchell, Ben Moran, Brian Mysliwy, Kristen Tripp Kelley, Lisa Vitrano, Barry Williams, Matt Witten, Doug Zchiegner. One night only fundraiser. Apr 6 at 7:30.  Road Less Traveled Theater, 456 Main St. (629-3069). www.roadlesstraveledproductions.org

SAME TIME, NEXT YEAR, comedy by Bernard Slade presented by Desiderio’s Dinner Theatre, directed by Jay Desiderio, starring Lisa Ludwig, Don Gervasi.  Through Apr 7, evening shows arrival at 6, show at 7:30; matinee shows arrival at 1, show at 2:30. Bobby J’s Italian American Grille, 204 Como Park Blvd., Cheektowaga (395-3207). www.mybobbyjs.com

UPCOMING

BUFFALO QUICKIES, annual festival of one-act plays, directed by Joyce Stilson, Samantha Marchant, Stephanie Riso, Carly Weiser, starring Stephanie Bax, Andrew Zuccari, Dylan Brozyna, Shawnell Tillery, Jaimee Harmon, Mike Starzynski. Apr 11-May 4, Thu-Sat at 7:30 Alleyway Theatre, One Curtain Up Alley (852-2600). www.alleyway.com

Listings adapted from "On the Boards" appearing in Artvoice 04/03/2019