Irish Classical Theatre

This week Peter and Anthony discuss three plays still up this weekend: THE CRUCIBLE with stellar performances by Adriano Gatto and Aleks Malaise at the Kavinoky Theatre; MINDING FRANKIE, a heartwarming, funny play (but take a tissue, too!) with Kristen Tripp Kelley and Christian Brandjes, and PAINTING CHURCHES at O'Connell & Company with many themes, including "you can't go home again."

Playwright Gary Earl Ross,  winner of the Emanuel Fried Outstanding New Play Award for THE GUNS OF CHRISTMAS, whose plays about race relations and legal proceedings THE MARK OF CAIN and MATTER OF INTENT were well received, has a new play produced by Subversive Theatre -  THE TRIAL OF TRAYVON MARTIN.

Kelly Meg Brennan holds the eerily lit venue at 44 17th Street in Buffalo for 80 ripping minutes as she portrays over 20 characters in a one-woman monologue portraying the last night of Jack the Ripper's final victim, Mary Jane Kelly. Speaking to an unseen person (Jack, himself?) she describes her life and the circumstances that brought her to her present situation, an "unfortunate" as the Victoria press called sex workers. It's not about Jack, though. It's about Mary and Ms. Brennan has the audience wrapped around her little finger in wrapt attention. If they don't extend the run, it will close on Saturday.  Meanwhile, on Main Street three first rate productions keep audiences in their seats.  MRS. WARREN'S PROFESSION takes on the topic of sex workers and presents various ethical points of view at Shea's 710 Theatre,  EQUUS presents repressed sexuality at Irish Classical, and AN AMERICAN IN PARIS beautifully weaves the music of George Gershwin through the Broadway musical with stunning sets at Shea's. And, for an evening of nostalgia with a few surprises, treat yourself to Debbie Pappas's beautiful voice in TENDERLY: THE ROSEMARY CLOONEY MUSICAL.

Shaw Festival

It's another big week for openings in Western New York. The Jewish Repertory Theatre opened 4,000 MILES by Amy Herzog (whose plays will be featured all this season). Tonight's openings include TRUE WEST by Sam Shepard at Road Less Traveled Productions (500 Pearl Street) and EQUUS by Peter Shaffer at the Irish Classical Theatre. Next week, the Shaw sends down MRS. WARREN'S PROFESSION for a run at Shea's 710 Main Theatre. Anthony recalls speaking with Nicole Underhay who plays Mrs. Kitty Warren.

Richard Lambert

What is a dramatic comedy? Well, it's a drama that tackles serious issues, but has a healthy dose of laughs to keep things moving along. LIPS TOGETHER, TEETH APART deals with social isolation, suicide, and AIDS, but, there ARE laughs, in a fine production with a stunning set by 2016 Artie Award winning Paul Bostaph. Meanwhile, Ujima Theatre and Buffalo United Artists collaborate on a story of a white playwright pretending to be black in THE SUBMISSION. And the Irish Classical Theatre presents Tennessee Williams' SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH, about a gigolo/drifter in the company of a faded movie star attempting to win back the love of his youth. DEAR LYDIA, at the Alleyway, a new play about a house-bound advice columnist, is also mentioned this week.

www.irishclassical.com

Niagara-on-the-Lake's Shaw Festival presents MRS. WARREN'S PROFESSION and it is skillfully staged and directed as if this pro-feminist play were being produced in a gentleman's club, which, indeed is how the first production came to be for this censored work. And, it's the Shaw production that will make its way across the border to 710 Main Theatre in the late fall. An excellent choice based on the opening which Peter and Anthony saw over the weekend. Remember, 710 Main is where the Artie awards will be presented on Monday, June 6 at 8 p.m. (bar opens at 7). Meanwhile, Shaw's great friend Oscar Wilde, will have his play AN IDEAL HUSBAND (one of Shaw's favorites) open tonight at the Irish Classical Theatre (625 Main). And don't forget that O'Connell & Company is presenting Sondheim & Furth's COMPANY at The Park School in Snyder.

In this 100th anniversary of the Easter Uprising which ultimately led to the independent Irish Republic of today, there is considerable interest in the great Irish poet, playwright, and political activist William Butler Yeats. THE YEATS PROJECT: TWO PLAYS BY W.B. YEATS combines the dramatic direction of Irish Classical's Vincent O'Neill, Torn Space's visually arresting sets (Dan Shanahan), and movement by Lehrer Dance (Jon Lehrer). It opens tonight at the Andrews Theatre.

Just as three plays close this weekend - Irish Classical's ALL MY SONS, Subversive Theatre's  KEELY AND DU, and Second Generation's VANYA AND SONIA AND MASH AND SPIKE - we have four openings - Theatre in the Mist's ALICE IN WONDERLAND, Paul Robeson's FETCH CLAY, MAKE MAN, Theatre of Youth's NUMBER THE STARS and Jewish Rep's BAD JEWS, about a family argument over who's more worthy of a family heirloom.

Theater (and movie) goers were saddened to hear of the passing of Brian Bedford, 80, a staple of Stratford; William Needles, the iron man of Canadian theater, 97; and Alan Rickman, 69, star of Broadway and Hollywood (Die Hard, Harry Potter).

Nora's departure from her marriage at the end of 19th century Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen's A DOLL'S HOUSE marked the beginning of the modern age of theater, but apparently, 20th century Swedish director Ingmar Bergman felt that Ibsen didn't go far enough. Enter NORA which opened last night.

Two very intense 90 minute no-intermission dramas are gripping audiences this week, one at the Alleyway and one at Jewish Rep.

Alleyway Theatre

Broadway is Broadway, sure, but if "the play's the thing," well you can have a pretty good time here in Buffalo. Anthony and Peter both thoroughly enjoyed IN THE HEIGHTS at Musicalfare and NEWSIES at Shea's. But those are only two.

We have one opening this weekend: Nickel City Opera presents THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO, the story of the lecherous Count, the innocent Susanna, the wily Figaro, and the long suffering Countess. It’s at the Riviera Theatre, in a full production with professional singers and orchestra, Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

ROMEO AND JULIET, the tragedy by Shakespeare presented by Shakespeare in Delaware Park, opened at “Shakespeare Hill” in Delaware Park and runs Tuesday through Sunday at 7:30pm through July 12. While Peter still naively clings to the notion that this is a romance, Anthony reminds us that it is a tragedy, played out by a number of mercurial characters, not just Mercutio. Take a blanket or jacket and something to sit on; and, in the best Shakespearean tradition, refreshments may be purchased on-site and consumed during the performance (from which the phrase “The Peanut Gallery” comes).

The 25th Annual Artie Awards presentation last Monday night at 710 Main Theatre was a high energy non-stop romp featuring seven musical numbers with the original Buffalo casts, very funny ad-libs, not to mention lots of fabulous shoes and great hair.  The venue was a first for the Arties, but we hope not the last. 

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The 2015 Pulitzer Prizes were announced early this week and "Between Riverside and Crazy" by Stephen Adly Guirgis won for drama, a work written with Buffalo actor and UB teacher Stephen McKinley Henderson in mind.

The play has been blocked, lit, rehearsed and now all we need is an audience this coming Thursday, March 12th for the opening of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" at Buff State where Theater Talk co-host reverses roles in more ways than one. Now Anthony Chase will be on stage, not in the audience, playing "Lady Bracknell" in high heels, wig, and very stylish clothes.  "Arrivals and Departures" by Alan Ayckbourn opened at the Kavinoky, and the other two openings were Nobel prize winning playwright Eugene O'Neill's "The Hairy Ape" at Torn Space and Steve Martin's "Picasso at the Lapin Agile" at ART In The Box on Linwood Avenue.

Openings this week include "The Mystery of the Silver Chalice" - a play at 710 Main where the audience directs the plot - "Beau Jest" at Jewish Repertory in which a Jewish girl hires an actor to play her boyfriend when she goes home to see the parents and "Million Dollar Quartet" which looks at the birth of rock'n'roll. It's at Shea's but for two days only.

"End Days," "The Homosexuals," and "My Life on a Diet" may be closing, but "Lombardi" just opened at 710 Main Street and one of the great American tragedies, Arthur Miller's 1949 Pulitzer Prize winning "Death of a Salesman," continues at the Irish Classical Theatre.

Public Domain

Stage and screen star Polly Bergen passed away last Saturday at the age of 84. Nominated for a Golden Globe, a Tony, and multiple Emmy awards (she won for "The Helen Morgan Story"), she might be best remembered for her appearances on the television game show "To Tell the Truth."

Theater Critic Anthony Chase joins WBFO's Gabe DiMaio in previewing "The Plough and the Stars," opening Friday night at the Irish Classical Theatre, and "Captain Jett Bettington and the Adventures on Planet Earth," a comedy by Jason Kaiser and Jacob Albarella now on stage through May 10th (Thurs. - Sat.) at the Alt Theater, 255 Great Arrow Ave. 

WBFO File Photo / WBFO News

Artpark has named a new director of development. Carrie Veltri has been named to the post after a national search.