Theater Talk

Theater commentary with Anthony Chase and Peter Hall.

Jessica Marinelli

About half of the current theater in town is Christmas inspired, but not all, and that includes Buffalo's "Theatre District" starting with Shea's 710's remount of CHRISTMAS OVER THE TAVERN and the Alleyway's annual favorite A CHRISTMAS CAROL, but we also have Melissa Leventhal channeling the late great Patsy Cline at Shea's intimate Smith Theatre which shares a lobby with the 3000+ seat Shea's and the touring production of LES MISERABLES.

Irish Classical Theatre on Facebook

For the first time ever, The Shaw Festival has a holiday show on the main Festival Theatre stage - HOLIDAY INN,  by Irving Berlin, directed by Shaw and Stratford superstar Kate Hennig, as the traditional A CHRISTMAS CAROL continues at the Shaw's Royal George Theatre. The Alleyway will launch their 37th annual A CHRISTMAS CAROL on December 6, and ELF continues (with only a few single tickets left) at MusicalFare Theatre.

K.E.G. courtesy of The Paul Robeson Theatre

The August Wilson "century play" about Pittsburgh's Hill District in the 1960s opened at the Paul Robeson Theater, three and a half hours of delicious Wilson monologues, directed by Wilson devotee Ed Harris. On and off Broadway, Anthony took in several plays, including the controversial SLAVE PLAY by Jeremy O. Harris and Will Eno's THE UNDERLYING CHRIS starring Buffalo expat (and Bills fan) Lizbeth Mackay.

Mark Duggan, courtesy of Second Generation Theatre

Buffalo's "Theater District" on Main is hoppin', from Tupper (Shea's 710 Theatre with LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS this weekend and ERMA BOMBECK: AT WIT'S END starting Tuesday) to The Alleyway (where BUA opens THE BOYS UPSTAIRS) to Shea's Smith Theater (SGT's THE TOXIC AVENGER) and down the next block to 456 Main where Road Less Traveled opens INTERROGATION ROOM.

Subversive Theatre on Facebook

Two "Sci-Fi/Fantasy" openings tonight include Subversive's SHE KILLS MONSTERS about D&D and THE TOXIC AVENGER, Second Generation at Shea's Smith Theatre, a musical based on the 1984 movie. SUPERIOR DONUTS closes this weekend at Shea's 710 with a compelling story of cultures colliding and coming together while PRESCRIPTION MURDER: COLUMBO continues to entertain dinner theater audiences through mid-December.

Matthew Murphy, sheas.org

The Broadway tour of the high-energy COME FROM AWAY is at Shea's this week (five shows remaining) with its message of our common humanity. We mourn the loss of local actor Tim Finnegan, a funny, very warm fellow who often appeared in gay activist productions (see below). And Anthony is back from NYC where he saw Matthew Lopez's THE INHERITANCE which depicts the life experience of different generations - those who lived through the height of the AIDS crisis and those who came later.

David Cooper Shawfest.com

Shaw Festival Artistic Director Tim Carroll has heard thousands of opinions (and calls for his job) regarding his vision for the venerable institution but as he continues to make his mark, the revenues continue to grow. Most of the summer offerings close this weekend, but there are still chances to see the hilarious THE LADYKILLERS and the very dramatic (in the best sense) VICTORY, both directed by Mr. Carroll.

K C Kratt

Of all the arts, theater often embraces diversity first. America's struggle to diversify is a strong theme in the ongoing PIPELINE at Ujima and LADIES SWING THE BLUES at the Paul Robeson Theatre, as well the upcoming SUPERIOR DONUTS and a number of shows closing this weekend, including the musicals HAIRSPRAY and WEST SIDE STORY, and one person shows BRIGHT COLORS AND BOLD PATTERNS and KNOCK KNOCK, JESUS CALLING. For details, see the listings below.

Ujima Theatre Company

Playwright Dominique Morriseau has a knack for presenting relevant current situations with realistic dialog (DETROIT '67, SKELETON CREW) and Ujima Company's current production of her play about the "school to prison pipeline" continues their fine theatrical tradition, now in their new theater space on Buffalo's West Side.

Cheryl Gorski

While the gala dinner for Curtain Up! Friday night, September 20 is sold out, many restaurants can accomodate or you can just come for the street party on Main between Tupper and Chippewa with live music, food trucks, and fun until 1 a.m. (See the lyrics to Irving Berlin's "Top Hat, White Tie And Tails" below.)


Musicalfare Facebook posting

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.

Emily Cooper Shawfest.com

Before Curtain Up! on September 20,  Jeanne Hebbbon Cairns will be inducted to "The Plaza of the Stars" on September 16 at 5:00 p.m. (free, open to the public, at Shea's 710 Theatre). WEST SIDE STORY opens at MusicalFare this Wednesday, and Anthony reports a very satisfying theatrical event, the six-hour (including lunch and two intermissions) production of MAN AND SUPERMAN with the often excerpted DON JUAN IN HELL. Only 17 performances have been scheduled at The Shaw Festival.

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).

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