Theater Talk: WEST SIDE STORY and HAIRSPRAY openings address racism in America

Sep 6, 2019

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.

At the tech rehearsal for this week's opening of WEST SIDE STORY at Musicalfare.
Credit Musicalfare Facebook posting

OPENING

CATCH 22, comedy by Joseph Heller presented by Subversive Theatre, directed by Kurt Schneiderman, starring Connor Maxwell, Jack Agugliaro, Jacob Chester Sauer, Lawrence Rowswell, John Kehoe, Leon Copeland, Jr. Sep 6-28, Thu-Sat at 7:30. The Manny Fried Playhouse, 255 Great Arrow Ave., third floor (462-5549). www.subversivetheatre.org

HAIRSPRAY, Broadway musical based on the John Waters’ film, directed by Carlos Jones. Sep 6-Oct 6, Thu & Fri at 7:30, Sat at 3:30 & 7:30, Sun at 2. Kavinoky Theatre, 320 Porter Ave. (829-7668). www.kavinokytheatre.com

WEST SIDE STORY, musical by Laurents, Bernstein & Sondheim, directed by Chris Kelly, starring Leah Berst, Robert Cooke, Lissette DeJesus, Brendan Didio, Matthew DiVita, Thomas Evans, Philip Farugia, Rheanna Gallego, Alejandro Gabriel Gomez, Julieana Guash, Alexia Guzman, Karen Grace Harty, Dominique Kempf, Blaise Mercedes, Koby Morgan, Ricky Needham, Jordan Rosas, Joe Russi, Dan Torres, Dan Urtz.  Sep 4-Oct 6, Wed & Thu at 7, Fri at 7:30, Sat at 3:30 & 7:30, Sun at 2 (Sep 20 at 8).  MusicalFare Theatre, 4380 Main St., Amherst (839-8540). www.musicalfare.com

CONTINUING

LOST IN YONKERS, play by Neil Simon presented by Desiderio’s Dinner Theatre, directed by Lisa Ludwig, starring, Ellen Horst, Diane DiBernardo, Elliot Fox, Ayden Herreid, Timothy Whipple, Kevin Nagel, Kelly Cammarata. Through Sep 29, Thu & Sat, dinner at 6, show at 7:30; Sun, dinner at 1, show at 2:30. Bobby J’s Italian American Grille, 204 Como Park Blvd., Cheektowaga (395-3207). www.mybobbyjs.com

COMING UP

THE AUTHENTIC LIFE OF BILLY THE KID, play by Lee Blessing directed by Scott Behrend, starring Daniel Greer, Peter Palmisano, David Mitchell, Patrick Cameron, Sep 12-Oct 6, Thu-Sat at 7:30, Sun at 2. Road Less Traveled Theater, 456 Main St. (629-3069). www.roadlesstraveledproductions.org

BRIGHT COLORS AND BOLD PATTERNS, one man comedy by Drew Droege presented by Buffalo United Artists, directed by Carly Weiser, starring James Cichocki. Sep 13-Oct 5, Fri & Sat at 8. Alleyway Cabaret, 672 Main St. (886-9239) www.buffalounitedartists.org

NAVIGATORS, world premiere of the play by Gordon Farrell directed by Neal Radice, starring Chris J Handley, Sandra Roberts, Tom Owen. Sep 12-Oct 5, Thu-Sat at 7:30 (Sep 20 at 8), Alleyway Theatre, One Curtain Up Alley (852-2600). www.alleyway.comOPENING

OUT OF TOWN
AT THE SHAW FESTIVAL 10 Queen’s Parade, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON, Canada 905-468-2172 / 1-800-511-7429 (a 1-hour drive from downtown Buffalo)

BRIGADOON, a musical, by Lerner and Loewe, at the Festival Theatre, through October 13

GETTING MARRIED, a comedy by George Bernard Shaw, at the Shaw's Royal George Theatre, through October 13.

MAN AND SUPERMAN, by George Bernard Shaw, at Festival Theatre, August 17 through October 5.

ROPE, a thriller by Patrick Hamilton (after Hitchcock) at The Royal George Theatre, through October 12

SEX, by Mae West, at the Jackie Maxwel Theatre, through October 13

THE LADYKILLERS, by Graham Linehan, at the Festival Theatre, through October 12

THE RUSSIAN PLAY, by Hannah Moscovitch, a "Lunchtime One-Act" at the Royal George Theatre, though October 12

THE GLASS MENAGERIE, by Tennessee Williams, at the Jackie Maxell Theatre, through October 12

VICTORY, by Howard Barker, at the Jackie Maxwell Theatre, through October 12

OUT OF TOWN AT THE STRATFORD FESTIVAL, Stratford, ON www.stratfordfestival.ca 1-800-567-1600 (A 2-1/2 hour drive from downtown Buffalo)
AT THE FESTIVAL THEATRE:
OTHELLO by William Shakespeare through October 27  
BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL by Lee Hall and Elton John extended through November 10
THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR by William Shakespeare through October 26
THE FRONT PAGE by Ben Hecht & Charles MacArthur adapted by Michael Healey through October 25

AT THE AVON THEATRE:
PRIVATE LIVES by Noel Coward through October 26
LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken through November 2
THE NEVERENDING STORY based upon the novel by Michael Ende, adapted by David S. Craig through November 3
THE CRUCIBLE by Arthur Miller through October 25

AT THE STUDIO THEATRE:
HENRY VIII by William Shakespeare extended through October 27
MOTHER'S DAUGHTER by Kate Hennig through October 13
NATHAN THE WISE by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing in a version by Edward Kemp extended through October 19
BIRDS OF A KIND by Wajdi Mouawd through October 13

Listings adapted from Javier Bustillos