Theater Talk

Theater commentary with Anthony Chase and Peter Hall.

Emily Cooper Shawfest.com

Buffalo actors are busy prepping for Curtain Up!, but there's not much on stage yet. Charmagne Chi wraps up her "adult content" cabaret at MusicalFare tonight. Yet trips to the two great Canadian Festivals continue to yield treasures. A stunning CYRANO DE BERGERAC at Shaw stars Stratford/Shaw's Tom Rooney in a new translation/adaptation by Stratford/Shaw's Kate Hennig  whose play MOTHER'S DAUGHTER at Stratford is worth the drive.

Jay Desiderio Facebook / Theater Talk on WBFO, Buffalo Rising, Artie Commit

Ellen Horst is the stern Holocaust survivor, Grandma Kurntiz, admonishing her daughter Bella (Diane DiBernardo) and her two grandsons, played by Ayden Herreid and Timothy Whipple, who get some great Neil Simon gag lines in LOST IN YONKERS. Out of town, there's fun for all at both The Stratford Festival and The Shaw Festival when actors take on wildly contrasting roles in different plays in repertory, such as Stratford's OTHELLO and THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR on stage this summer.

Love's Labour's Lost Facebook page

Broadway dimmed its fabled lights in honor of Harold "Hal" Prince who earned 21 Tony Awards in his career and was involved with so many iconic musicals starting with THE PAJAMA GAME and WEST SIDE STORY, FIDDLER, CABARET, and more, who passed away at the age of 91. And, while in NYC, Anthony took in two "hot tickets" - MOULIN ROUGE and FAIRVIEW. Locally, LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST continues to delight audiences in Delaware Park. 


Greg Funka, Chautauqua Institution

If you haven't seen LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST at Shakespeare in Delaware Park, or FIRST DATE at MusicalFare, or MOMMIE QUEEREST at the Alleyway, then by all means, go, go, go. But, if you're interested in an August road trip, then you want a "destination" with lots to do such as The Chautauqua Institution, or The Stratford Festival (or the Shaw Festival) or Broadway!

shawfest.com

The Chautauqua Opera Company is gaga for the 18th century, wrapping up their opera trilogy  - BARBER OF SEVILLE and ¡FIGARO!(90210)  - on Saturday with THE GHOSTS OF VERSAILLE, all based on plays by Beaumarchais. At the Bratton Theatre, they've updated Goldoni's ONE SERVANT, TWO MASTERS with ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS. And the discussion continues about theater specialites which are more in demand - the dramaturg and the dialect coach.


buffalo united artists

Anthony is in NYC, but before he left, both he and Peter enjoyed FIRST DATE starring Marc Sacco and Marie Michelle Roberts at MusicalFare as well as MOMMIE QUEEREST, BUA's "summer camp" send up of the movie "Mommie Dearest." On Broadway, Anthony's seen WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME (a quirky but successful play); AIN'T TOO PROUD (a jukebox musical about The Temptations); and ROLLING STONE (inspired by Arthur Miller's THE CRUCIBLE).

The Shaw Festival

Even though society may look down on her, she's still in control, and we could be talking about the flower girl, "Sonya," in THE RUSSIAN PLAY by Hanna Moscovitch or Margy, the prostitute in Mae West's SEX, both of whom forego money for love, but "it's complicated." These two seemingly different plays just opened and continue the conversation started when Shawfest presented GBW's MRS. WARREN'S PROFESSION several seasons back.

lapromationaldesign.blogspot.com

Anthony is back after a short trip to NYC where he saw his favorite MY FAIR LADY (again!) at Lincoln Center and TO KILL A MOCKINBIRD at the Schubert (the updated Aaron Sorkin version that's coming to the Kavinoky in the fall)! And THE TEMPEST continues to delight at Shakespeare in Delaware Park (especially with comic masters Chris Handley and Norm Sham - see photo).

Buffalo United Artists Facebook page

Today we observe the 50th anniversary of "The Stonewall Riots" in NYC which mark the modern era of Gay Rights with a "Triple Play" (pardon the pun) of LGBTQ themed theater: You can see THE SEAT NEXT TO THE KING and/or ON THE ROOF either tonight or tomorrow, and BUA TAKES 10: STONEWALL EDITION tonight through Sunday.

Second Generation Theatre Facebook post

As mentioned, the "next" (2019-2020) Artie Award season is well underway and so far the theatrical offerings are simply first rate. For example, Kelli Bocock-Natale and Stan Klimecko a bit too interested in "Mr. Sloane," at Irish Classical, while across Main Street Ben Michael Moran and a cast of fifteen high energy actresses are making NINE the talk of the town.

www.shawfest.com

The Shaw Festival now has half of its productions up, including a very satisfying musical (finally!) in Lerner and Loewe's  BRIGADOON, for which seats are becoming scarce. Locally, GIRLS WHO WALKED ON GLASS at the Alleyway is immersive, innovative, and very well done, a play that you won't soon forget.

Eileen Elibol, WNED|WBFO

The 29th Annual Artie Awards recognized Buffalo theatrical talent (and hard work, late nights, and supportive spouses) while raising dollars to support HIV/AIDS Immunodeficiency Services. See the winners and pictures or visit #ArtieAwards or see "Related Content" below. Now we're already into next Artie season. Two plays focus on dangers women face, with an immersive experience by Gordon Farrell titled GIRLS WHO WALKED ON GLASS at Alleyway Theatre while Kelly Beuth's students from BAVPA present the edgy LAYLA'S ROOM at Subversive Theatre.

You don't have to enroll at Buff State to enjoy a talk by "Professor Chase!" Anthony will be introducing a live, costumed dramatic reading "Little Women", Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at the Kavinoky Theatre. This week we also look at the first four openings at The Shaw Festival (see listings below) and the highly recommend LOOKING THROUGH GLASS which closes Sunday at the Jewish Repertory Theatre in Getzville.

Eileen Elibol, WNED|WBFO

The nominations for the 29th Annual Artie Awards, a fundraiser for HIV/AIDS & Immunodeficiency Clinic at ECMC and a chance to highlight theatrical excellence in Western New York were revealed in a Facebook Live broadcast with Anthony Chase and Nicole Marrale Cimato this past Monday. You can watch it here. The 29th Artie Awards winners will be announced Monday, June 3, starting at 8pm (red carpet at 7pm) at Shea’s 710 Theatre.

broadwayworld.com

The WNED|WBFO Artie Awards nominations will be live streamed on WBFO's Facebook feed Monday, May 20, at noon (the awards ceremonies will be Monday, June 3 at Shea's 710 Theatre). It's the awards season on Broadway, too, where Anthony Chase has been watching, meeting, and greeting.

Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News

Ujima Company opened the musical PASSING STRANGE in PUSH Buffalo's renovated "Elementary School 77" at 429 Plymouth Avenue on Buffalo's West Side while Road Less Traveled Productions continued with THE UNDENIABLE SOUND OF RIGHT NOW at their new theater on Main Street. This is all good.

Diane Almeter Jones

Most area theaters are going for laughs this week with the highly irreverant BOOK OF MORMON at Shea's, the ultra-clever EQUIVOCATION at the Kavinoky, and an all-female 1776 at O'Connell & Company.

O'Connell & Company

Just as the Artie Award committee thought it might begin deliberations, area stages are exploding with openings such as EQUIVOCATION (about "The Gunpowder Plot"), THE UNDENIABLE SOUND OF RIGHT NOW (an aging rocker confronts new musical tastes) and ANNAPURNA (ex-wife returns).

bookofmormonbroadway.com/gallery

He didn't have a traditional start in theater, but that hasn't slowed him down. Jacques C. Smith, coming to Buffalo in the touring musical THE BOOK OF MORMON at Shea's Performing Arts Center April 30 to May 12, talks about the acting life.

Victoria Perez

Short play festivals abound! The Alleyway continues BUFFALO QUICKIES, highlighting eight local playwrights. At Buff State, the focus is on local, student directors with six one-acts. At the Manny Fried Playhouse, Raices Theatre presents locally written bilingual musical (yes!) shorts in their DESDE EL PUENTE series.

ART of WNY

PARADE, the musical at American Repertory Theatre (ART of WNY), is well directed and chock full of Buffalo talent, many of whom take on multiple roles as the script demands. That's good. Unfortunately, the publishers of scripts also demand something: that presenting venues "buy the rights" to perform licensed propeties which, until a few days ago, ART had not done.

Carol Rosegg, 2018

Shows this week take on serious issues, including the musical RENT at Shea's (HIV/AIDS, drug addiction, homelessness) and PARADE at American Repertory Theatre (Anti-Semitism, lynch mobs), and AFTER THE FALL (the Holocaust, the stock market crash).

Sean Ryan Facebook

Have you seen the titles "Dance Captain" or "Swing" in your playbill at Shea's? Wonder what those jobs are? UB alumnus Sean Ryan is in the current tour of RENT at Shea's and explains it all.

Christy Francis

In the past several years a number of city-based theatrical companies have had to contemplate a move (some several times) including American Repertory, Buffalo United Artists, Road Less Traveled, and Second Generation, but it's happening in the suburbs too, to MusicalFare (several years down the road) and now the Lancaster Regional Players at the Lancaster Opera House. 

Cheryl Gorski

Shea's revealed its 2019-2020 season along with the Smith Theatre and Shea's 710, both of which have some shows with substance lined up. For good theater right now, folks are talking about "ABSOLUTE BRIGHTNESS" at the Alleyway, "ANGELS IN AMERICA" at the Smith, BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY at Road Less Traveled. Tonight, 1984 opens at the Kav, and SIDEWALK STAGEPLAY at the Robeson.

Gene Witkowski

The Buffalo theater season is cyclic and right now in a boom time we're bullish on so many A-list plays using our best Buffalo actors, directors, and behind the scenes efforts (such as the Drozd sisters' costumes, make-up, and hair for FROST/NIXON). Arranging your calendar to see as many shows as possible can be a bit like playing the game of TETRIS, but should be worth the effort.

Matthew Murphy

The Kavinoky Theatre, caught in the crossfire of Rudinplay versus Dramatic Publishing's dueling lawsuits, has had to cancel TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD through no fault of their own. Meanwhile, THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE at Torn Space is getting great press for their innovative adaptation of the Cassavete's movie. And Shea's brings the emotional musical MISS SAIGON to a whole new generation.

Gina Gandolfo, Road Less Traveled Productions

The Vietnam War, Racial Inequality, Immigration: issues th are hot-button topics central to two musicals this week, RAGTIME which continues at Musicalfare Theatre and MISS SAIGON (interview with "The Engineer" actor Red Concepción) which opens at Shea's on Tuesday. On the other hand, for some sweet, bittersweet, and downright zany looks at love, it's ALMOST, MAINE at Shea's 710 Theatre.

Facebook.com

Lea Salonga premiered the role of Kim in the original 1989 MISS SAIGON, then Jon Jon Briones sang the role of The Engineer in the 2014 revival, and now another Philippino actor, Red Concepción, proudly takes the stage in the new 2018-2019 U.S. tour for which he promises "producer Cameron Mackintosh has spared no expense."


Jewish Repertory Theatre

There is a continuum from the shocking British 1990's "In Your Face" style to didactic morality plays, such as TALES OF THE DRIVEN currently at Subversive, to theater that teaches, such as A HOME WITHOUT A HOUSE presented (free) next week by Planned Parenthood, to love stories with a message of acceptance, such as TALLEY'S FOLLY at Jewish Rep.

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