New Phoenix Theatre

This week Peter and Anthony discuss a recent social media flap over HAMILTON, the uses of theater as a political weapon, the opening of BUFFALO PINOCCHIO set in a dystopian Buffalo of the future at the New Phoenix Theatre, two runs of the ballet THE NUTCRACKER, this weekend at Shea's Performing Arts Center (Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.) and next weekend at UB Center for the Arts, and, for Shakespeare fans (sort of) A MIDSUMMER DYKE'S CHRISTMAS (in celebration of the 400 years since Shakespeare and the 10th anniversary of the lesbian troupe Brazen-Faced Varlets) has all sorts of funny references.

This week's Theater Talk conversation starts with GIVE 'EM HELL, HARRY (originated by Buffalo's own James Whitmore) these days starring David Lundy at the New Phoenix Theatre, but only through October 29. Meanwhile, CHRISTMAS IN JULY at the Alleyway concerns a group of gay men who meet at a summer resort and become fast friends. The playwright, Matthew Crehan Higgins, is director of Buffalo's Pride Center, and the cast is all gay, but interestingly, the director is not, it's Lisa Ludwig, and Anthony has some thoughts on why that is. And there's also a story or two about Sophie Tucker, the last of the "red hot mamas" whose career is, basically, a history of 20th century entertainment, from an Edison wax cylinder through vaudeville to television.

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.

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).


Every theater in Buffalo has its niche, a special calling, and for the Alleyway that means putting on new plays. Meanwhile, the New Phoenix seems to specialize in classics – sometimes 16th century, sometimes 20th century. And, for the Jewish Repertory Theatre, well, their name says it all.

Two plays, both running through Sunday, February 28, deal with the emotions that cultural identity stirs up, as well as culture versus stereotypes. BAD JEWS presented by Jewish Repertory Theatre, directed by Steve Vaughan, asks questions about Jewish identity while FETCH CLAY, MAKE MAN presented by Paul Robeson Theatre, directed by Laverne Clay, presents a late-in-life friendship between boxer Muhammad Ali and Hollywood actor Steppin' Fetchit.

A number of plays and musicals were held over during Thanksgiving week so audiences have one final opportunity to see, for example, NORA at Torn Space Theatre, STOMPIN' AT THE SAVOY at the Paul Robeson Theatre, or BOTH YOUR HOUSES at the Kavinoky Theatre, all discussed on this week's Theater Talk.

The month of November may end soon, but many local productions will be up through Sunday, December 6, so if your entertainment plans were curtailed by Thanksgiving "busy-ness" you still have time.

Anthony visits The Big Apple and enjoys FIRST DAUGHTER SUITE by Western New York native son Michael John LaChiusa as well as ON YOUR FEET celebrating the careers of Emilio and Gloria Estefan. Laurie Metcalf (remember the TV show Roseanne?) is superb in MISERY.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Buffalo's Curtain Up! remains one of the premier theater events in the country.  WBFO's Eileen Buckley says Friday night will mark the 34th annual celebration of Buffalo's professional theater season.

FUN HOME, the first Broadway musical with a lesbian protagonist, swept five Tony Awards this past Sunday in the musical category.

The 25th Annual Artie Awards, Buffalo's celebration of local theater, will be held on Monday, June 1 at 710 Main for the first time. The event will be hosted by actors Charmagne Chi, recently seen in "Carousel," and Amy Jakiel, recently in "She Loves Me," with Artvoice theater editor and Theater Talk co-host Anthony Chase.  Doors (and bar) at 710 Main will open at 7 p.m.; the Artie Awards show begins at 8 p.m.  The modest admission fee helps support the Immunodeficiency Clinic at ECMC.

Photo from The New Phoenix Theatre program.

A play written by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Lanford Wilson continues on stage at the New Phoenix Theater in Buffalo. As WBFO's Eileen Buckley reports, it features a local television meteorologist who portrays a priest in 'Angels Fall.'

Photo from the Buffalo Public Theatre

A child's lie, that destroys the lives of two school teachers, is now being performed on at the New Phoenix Theatre. Buffalo Public Theatre is staging 'The Children's Hour.' It is adapted from the original 1934 play, tackling the topic of gay rights. WBFO's Eileen Buckley sat down with director Loraine O'Donnell, who explains how same-sex issues still transcend 80+ years later.

Lillian Hellman's "The Children's Hour" from the 1930s is not a "modern" play, but in style harkens back to Henrik Ibsen's realist dramas.  With a controversial topic, a rumor of lesbianism at a girl's school, Buffalo Public Theatre opens tonight at The New Phoenix Theatre on Johnson Park.

Most of the Curtain Up! plays continue into October, including "All Quiet on the Western Front" at the New Phoenix Theater on Johnson Park in Buffalo, part of the international 100-year look back at World War I.  This sad story of young Germans who volunteer together is told with power and grace and is enhanced by the puppetry of Michele Costa.

A Pulitzer Prize winning play hits a local stage Friday night.  This week, Theater Talk host Anthony Chase offers an in-depth review of the opening of The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds at the New Phoenix Theatre.

A brand new theater group in Buffalo has been staging an ambitious performance at the New Phoenix Theatre.  Second Generation Theatre Company, formed by a group of young women, has mounted a production of Into the Woods.