Theater Talk: Shaw polishes dramas to perfection

Jul 17, 2015

Peter and Anthony went to see SISTERS OF SWING: THE ANDREWS SISTERS MUSICAL starring Wendy Hall, Michele Marie Roberts, and Renee Landrigan as Laverne, “Maxene,” and “Patty” Andrews (contralto, soprano, and mezzo). Peter was impressed with Landrigan’s ability to stay right on the knife edge balancing schmaltz with cool, channeling her inner Bing Crosby. Neat trick. Philip Farugia plays their manager, Vic Schoen, and serves as the music director of a very tight backup combo while Nicholas Lama is cast as “Everyone Else” (Danny Kaye, Carmen Miranda, cab driver, etc.). You may have seen it several years ago, but this is a new cast and in a little over two hours you get 24 high energy songs and solid performances from all, through August 9 at Musicalfare Theatre, 4380 Main Street in Amherst.

Anthony saw Henryk Ibsen’s THE LADY FROM THE SEA at The Shaw Festival’s Court House Theatre, where it runs through September 13.  Of course we have a restless and haunted soul (it’s Ibsen after all) but this is a romance. Somewhat allegorical, it's a play that's flawed, but the production is flawless and this might be your only chance to see it.

And Peter saw Bernard Shaw’s PYGMALION in a finely acted version on a stunning set. (Does The Shaw Festival ever have a so-so set?) While we all love the Lerner and Lowe musical MY FAIR LADY you should make an effort to travel up to Niagara-on-the-Lake and see the original play upon which the musical was based. This time Shaw tackles equality of the classes and this modern production cleverly incorporates contemporary media, including a BBC special about social class.

It’s time for “summer camp” next week as Buffalo United Artists presents BETTE AND JOAN: THE FINAL CURTAIN, starring Jimmy Janowski and Christopher Standart opening July 24 at 8 then running July 25 through August 16, Saturdays at 8 and Sundays at 7 at Alleyway’s Main Street Cabaret, 672 Main Street in Buffalo.

INTIMATE APPAREL, a play by Lynn Nottage, presented by Chautauqua Theater Company, directed by Vivienne Benesch, also opens July 24 but only runs through August 2. A young woman finds a few pieces of clothing owned by her great-grandmother, and imagines her life as a seamstress in the early 1900s; at the Bratton Theater at the Chautauqua Institution.

PETER PAN, the Broadway musical based on the play you know by J.M. Barrie, is directed by Musicalfare’s Randall Kramer and opens July 30, running through August 7 at the Artpark Main Stage in Lewiston.  If you saw PETER AND THE STARCATCHER at The Shaw Festival, now it’s time to see the rest of the story.

Do you crave a deep theater experience with meaning for your angst-ridden, tortured soul but you don’t like crossing international borders to get up to The Shaw Festival? Then right here in Buffalo you can see RHINOCEROS, the play about social conformity by Eugene Ionesco, presented by Subversive Theatre, opening July 23 and running through August 15, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 at The Manny Fried Playhouse, 255 Great Arrow Avenue (on the third floor).

TWELFTH NIGHT, a comedy by Shakespeare presented by Shakespeare in Delaware Park, is directed by Steve Vaughan (who most recently directed the fight scenes in SIDP’s ROMEO AND JULIET), and features an all-male cast (as it would have in Shakespeare’s day). It opens July 23 and runs through Aug 16, Tuesdays through Sundays (weather permitting) at 7:30 at Shakespeare Hill in Delaware Park.

Parents, reading to your children is admirable, but unless you’ve studied theater arts, did you really think that you could do justice to the American Library Association’s recommended THE TRUE STORY OF THE THREE LITTLE PIGS? Take your kid(s) to this children’s musical based on the book by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, presented by The Friends of Niagara University Theatre, which opens July 23 and runs through August 1 in the Leary Theatre at Clet Hall on the NU campus.

And, by popular demand (those three, four, and five year olds really know how to work social media) BALLOONACY returns to The Maxine and Robert Seller Theatre at the Jewish Community Center, 2640 North Forest Road in Getzville. Presented by TOY’s Theatre for the Very Young series, directed by Meg Quinn, starring Jacob Albarella it runs from August 1 to August16, Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. & 1 p.m.