Theater Talk: A chat with Kavinoky's O'Donnell and D'Youville's Clemo reveals big plans

Aug 21, 2020

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).

OUR TOWN??? PHANTOM??? Mickey and Judy getting ready to "put on a show"??? It's the Kavinoky Theatre under serious renovations for the benefit of actors and audience.
Credit Photo by Anthony Chase

There will be newly cleaned up chandeliers, a fresh look to the proscenium, and "retro-styling" for modern additions, such as the bump-outs to accomodate air circulation as well as the stage manager's booth. All has been re-designed to match the original look. 

Few people do, but if you turn your back to the Kavinoky stage and look up, you can see where so much "magic" happens, in the modern Stage Manager's booth, which will now blend in with its surroundings.
Credit Anthony Chase

And if you enter via the Fargo Avenue entrance, instead of the odd unidentified vintage photo of a random class, there will be a museum quality interactive display of all class photos and memorabilia. 

A close up of the very early 20th century art style seen in the Kavinoky Theatre's details.
Credit Anthony Chase

The opening season will reflect the COVID-19 safety protocols, and so the originally planned big musical SOMETHING ROTTEN (a hilarious take on how Shakespeare got his start) and THE WOMAN IN BLACK (a ghost story) have been moved to the fall of 2021.

So what WILL the Kavinoky have on stage? It will be a shorter version of a traditional season - a four-show offering starting on November 8, 2020 with the hit Broadway one-woman comedy (which starred Bette Midler) I'LL EAT YOU LAST: A CHAT WITH SUE MENGERS, the famous (and infamous) Broadway and Hollywood talent agent from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. 

Depending on seating and health guidelines, the Kavinoky will offer EAT YOU LAST in the theater as well as through virtual streaming so audience members can choose their own comfort level. 

D'Youville's new president, Lorrie Clemo, is re-energizing the campus with new offerings and a new look and a balanced budget and a newly refurbished Kavinoky Theatre.

Then, things quiet down, as does hopefully the spread or threat of spreading of COVID-19, so the remaining three plays will be spread over March to July, 2021. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE will run from March 5 to 28. PEOPLE, PLACES, AND THINGS (a play about the timely topic of addiction) will run from April 30 to May 23. And ROCK OF AGES, a "jukebox musical" with greatest hits of the 1980s will run June 25 to July 26, 2021. 

Loraine O'Donnell, from the New York Times article covering TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD in which she turned a seemingly insurmountable problem into a sold out performance every night becoming the biggest hit in Kavinoky history.
Credit The New York Times

Then an August to enjoy the best of Western New York in the summer and we'll be back where we "should" have been, in September 2021, with SOMETHING ROTTEN, as noted.