Theater Talk: New Phoenix 'Mice and Men' finest yet

Apr 1, 2016

Long anticipated but absolutely worth the wait, OF MICE AND MEN at The New Phoenix Theatre offers a peak performance; Buffalo Quickies at The Alleyway might be their best in 25 years; Playwright Terrence McNally speaks tonight (a BUA Funder at the TR Site) and tomorrow (free event at Buff State).


John Fredo (left) as "George" and Greg Natale as "Lennie" in John Steinbeck's OF MICE AND MEN at The New Phoenix Theatre through April 16.

OF MICE AND MEN, the moving drama by John Steinbeck about the two migrant farm workers, George and Lennie, their mean-spirited boss Curley, and his flirtatious wife, directed by Kelli Bocock-Natale, opened Friday March 25 to raves and runs through April 16, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 at The New Phoenix Theatre, 95 Johnson Park. (853-1334). This might be their best opening this season. Don’t miss it.

Greg Natale and Candice Kogut are compelling in the death of Curley's wife, perhaps the finest such scene in any production.

A Buffalo tradition for a quarter of a century BUFFALO QUICKIES, the 25th annual celebration of new one-act plays, directed by Joyce Stilson, runs through April 8, Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 at the Alleyway Theatre, One Curtain Up Alley (852-2600).  Just as with “MICE,” this one is not to be missed, but you only have one more week.

Terrence McNally, a four-time Tony Award winner considered by many to be one of America's most important playwrights today, will read from his new book, Selected Works, A Memoir in Plays, tonight, Friday, April 1 at 7 p.m. at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site. This special fundraising event will benefit local LGBT theater Buffalo United Artists (BUA). Interspersed with McNally's readings, BUA actors will read scenes from the author's plays. 641 Delaware Avenue There are also activities planned at Buff State’s Flexible Theater in the Donald Savage building.

We had two openings of note:

COMPULSION OR THE HOUSE BEHIND, a play by Rinnie Groff concerning the diary of Anne Frank presented by Jewish Repertory Theatre, directed by Saul Elkin, starring Ray Boucher, Peter Palmisano, Anne Roaldi opened last night, and runs through April 24, Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 4 & 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m., plus two Wednesday performances, April 13 & 20 at 7:30 p.m. at The Maxine and Robert Seller Theatre, 2640 North Forest Road, Getzville (688-4114 x391).

THE MARK OF CAIN, world premiere of a play by Gary Earl Ross presented by Subversive Theatre. Concerning Clarence Darrow for the defense of an African American who defended his home against the Ku Klux Klan, it was directed by Michael Lodick, and stars Lawrence Rowswell, Gary Earl Ross, Greg Howze, Brendan Cunningham, Candace M. Whitfield, Rich Kraemer, J. Tim Raymond, Murry Galloway, Tamara S. Hopersberger, Aquiera Roberts. It runs through April 30, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 at The Manny Fried Playhouse, 255 Great Arrow Ave., third floor (408-0499).

And opening tonight, LEND ME A TENOR, a comedy by Ken Ludwig, directed by Kevin Leary, starring David Bondrow, Marisa Caruso, Ricky Needham, Chrissy Vogric, Emily Yancey, Priscilla Young-Anker, Robert Zimmerman, Tom Zindle runs through April 10, Thursday through Saturday 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Lancaster Opera House, 21 Central Ave., Lancaster (683-1776).

Opening on Tuesday, April 5, THE WIZARD OF OZ, a touring production of the classic musical presented by Shea’s and Albert Nocciolino runs through April 10, Tuesdays through Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 & 8, closing Sun at 2 & 7 p.m. at Shea’s Performing Arts Center, 646 Main St. (1-800-745-3000).

Closings this weekend include:

FULLY COMMITTED, the one-man comedy by Becky Mode presented by The Irish Classical Theatre Company, directed by Fortunato Pezzimenti stars ARTIE Award winning Brian Mysliwy whom many will recall from his recent role as the anarchist in “Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime.” As an out-of-work actor trying to handle a busy reservation desk for a fancy NYC restaurant all the while waiting for an audition callback Mysliwy ably creates 40 different characters in the course of the play. Through April 3, Thursdays & Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 3 & 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. at the. Andrews Theatre, 625 Main St. (853-ICTC). www.irishclassicaltheatre.com

THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE, adapted from the children’s novel by C.S. Lewis, presented by Theatre of Youth, directed by Chris Kelly runs through April 3, Saturdays at 10 a.m. & 2 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. at the historic Allendale Theatre, 203 Allen St.  (884-4400). www.theatreofyouth.org  Four very talented actors play the roles of the four children – Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter, as well as all of the other characters (Tumnus, Aslan, the White Witch). It runs about 75 minutes but do plan to stay around for the talk back where the children in the audience get to ask questions. It’s almost as entertaining as the show!

THE HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES, play by John Guare presented by American Repertory Theater of WNY, at their new home, a very serviceable building with good sightlines on Amherst Street (near the Sportsmens Tavern) directed by Drew McCabe, runs through April 2, Thursdays - Saturdays at 8 at 330 Amherst St. (697-0837) www.artofwny.org

SAFE, the world premiere of the play by Donna Hoke, directed by Kyle LoConti, runs through April 3, Thurdays-Saturdays at 7:30, Sundays at 2 (no performance Mar 27) at Road Less Traveled Theater, 500 Pearl St. (629-3069).

Next week look for AVENUE Q, the musical by Robert Lopez & Jeff Marx presented by MusicalFare Theatre, directed by Doug Weyand, all about growing up (sort of) starring Jacob Albarella, Charmagne Chi, Jeffrey Coyle, Maria Droz, Amy Jakiel, Dominique Kempf, Marc Sacco. It opens April 7 and runs through April 24, Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays & Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. at the luxurious 710 Main Theatre located at, believe it or not, 710 Main Street in Buffalo. (1-800-745-3000).  www.sheas.org/710main.