Theater Talk

Theater commentary with Anthony Chase and Peter Hall.

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.

Buffalo News

This week it's a new play by Subversive's Kurt Schneiderman called TALES OF THE DRIVEN, new choreography by HAMILTON choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler in CATs at Shea's, a fairly new adaptation of Richard Wright's NATIVE SON at the Paul Robeson, and new staging for TUCK EVERLASTING at the Theater of Youth.

BuffaloNews.com

Millennials; they're coming on strong. Keri René Fuller (interview) stars as Grizabella in CATS opening at Shea's, UB undergraduates are off to represent the United States in an international scenography competition in Prague, and McKinley High School/Buff State grad Janae' Leonard is on stage at the Paul Robeson Theatre as "Bessie" in NATIVE SON.

Tim Coseglia

Everyone seems to have come back from the holidays refreshed and ready to lavish time and attention to detail in a wide variety of theatrical productions, from a magician's cave to country English homes to the wacky countryside of Arthurian legend to the temple of Athena.

Anthony Chase on Facebook

“Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?” asks Emily of the Stage Manager in Thornton Wilder's play OUR TOWN. If ever two people did it was Broadway's Carol Channing (famous as Dolly Levy in Wilder's HELLO DOLLY) and Buffalo's Joe Natale, two of the warmest, kindest human beings ever, and even though they died this week, up to the end they both lived very full lives and left a rich legacy to theater.

Gene Witkowski

At a recent holiday party, Anthony Chase eavesdropped on Darryl Semira, four years on tour with SPAMALOT, as he shared his memories with cast members of the Kavinoky's current production, chock full of lightning fast costume changes, on-purpose "mistakes," and other theatrical hi-jinx. SPAMALOT, the musical by Monty Python's Eric Idle, opens tonight.

A.R.T. Facebook page

Thornton Wilder's 1938 beloved OUR TOWN opens tonight Buffalo's A.R.T. at 545 Elmwood (near Utica).

Pinterest

While most theaters are "dark" following Christmas, the Ujima Theater Company is throwing a Kwanzaa party tonight, Forest Lawn Cemetery Chapel is presenting the final three performances of IT WAS A WONDERFUL LIFE, Desiderio's has performances of LADIES FOURSOME through January 20, and the Kavinoky Theater is busy rehearsing SPAMALOT  which opens in just two weeks.

Playbill.com

This weekend all of the local Christmas shows wrap up, but with 41 Broadway theaters, not to mention off and off-off Broadway, New York City never sleeps. Anthony recently saw KING KONG (it's a musical, sort of), THE CHER SHOW (a jukebox musical with stunning costumes), GLORIA (as in Steinem, co-founder of Ms. Magazine), and THE LIFE SPAN OF A FACT about an overzealous fact checker (Daniel Radcliffe) and his editor (Cherry Jones).

Road Less Traveled Productions

You have many choices for Christmas plays in Western New York but one with very high production values and a charming plot is MISS BENNET: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLY in the beautifully appointed Shea's 710 Theatre (Main at Tupper). The story brings two likeable misfits together under the mistletoe on a lavish set.

Cheryl Gosrki.com (on Facebook)

Main Street's Theater District will be alive tonight as Shea's heads into its final weekend of HAMILTON, THE MUSICAL while on the same block are three openings: the traditional A CHRISTMAS CAROL opens at the Alleyway while up front in the Alleyway Main Street Cabaret, Todd Warfield's wild and wacky A VERY, VERY TRUMPY CHRISTMAS CAROL overlays today's politics on the old story, and, at Main and Tupper Streets MISS BENNET: A CHRISTMAS AT PERMBERLY opens at Shea's 710.

Raíces Theatre Company

HAMILTON is a cultural phenonmenon, introducing new audiences to musical theater with a mixed race cast singing in a mixture of styles in a touring production at Shea's that does not diminish the Broadway effect in any way. Tickets are available. The setting of Lin-Manuel Miranda's earlier musical, IN THE HEIGHTS, is reprised in Raíces Theater Company's BARCELÓ ON THE ROCKS, set in NYC's Washington Heights neighborhood, and it opens tonight at the Manny Fried Theater.

Buffalo Challenger

SIVE at Irish Classical is closing this Sunday. If you haven't gone, go. For an equally powerful theater experience see August Wilson's KING HEDLEY II at the Paul Robeson Theater. CHRISTMAS OVER THE TAVERN may be sold out, but for the holiday spirit see MY THREE ANGELS or NUNCRACKERS.


Katherine Butler

This theater season continues with high quality productions, including AFTERGLOW at The Alleyway, A DOLL'S HOUSE PART 2 at the Kavinoky, SIVE at Irish Classical, but Sam Shepard's FOOL FOR LOVE, starring Eric Rawski, Candice Kogut, and Steve Jakiel at 545 Elmwood closes this weekend.

ICTC

The depth of the talent pool in Buffalo is such that many good shows can be run simultaneously, with a half dozen major productions up right now, although some are better produced than others. At the top of anyone's list should be SIVE at Irish Classical, a take your breath away experience.

Road Less Traveled Productions

Ever since Curtain Up! 2018 the season keeps building momentum. A thrilling Bartlett Sher production of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, a tight breathtaking ensemble with David Mamet's SPEED THE PLOW, and a beautifully sung, very touching MOTHER JONES IN HEAVEN (AND HELL) and five more promising openings this week, three of them tonight!


Brazen Faced Varlets

Road Less Traveled Productions opens its 2018-2019 season tonight with SPEED THE PLOW in their new theater on Main Street near Court, while a few blocks north, the Brazen Faced Varlets move from smaller quarters to the Alleyway Cabaret for a play about our divided political landscape, THE TAMING.


Mark Duggan

BIG FISH delights, with its nuclear family set against a swirl of tall tales and larger than life characters, on a re-designed Shea's Smith Theatre stage. This week it's all about musicals, musicals, musicals.

It's all about musicals this week as BIG FISH (based on the movie) opens tonight at Shea's Smith and LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken continues at O'Connell & Company.

Irish Classical

Folks lined up at Shea's in the wee hours to buy the hottest ticket in America as HAMILTON, the musical, went on sale. And the "Hamilton phenomenon" seems to have raised interest in theater generally. So, if you're interested in a really good show locally, we can recommend any of the six plays and musicals closing this weekend.

Christy Francis

In the musical CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY on stage at Shea's, young Charlie Bucket is lucky to get a Willy Wonka golden ticket. Meanwhile, Shea's has partnered with Ticketmaster to thwart HAMILTON scalpers with their "Verified Fan" program which, if you're a lucky winner, will give you a (golden) access code to buy HAMILTON tickets. PINKALICIOUS runs two more weekends, fun for both girls and boys too!

Alleyway Theatre

Clifford Odets was expected to inherit the mantle of the great American dramatist Eugene O'Neill, and you can see why in Odets' 1937 drama GOLDEN BOY, about a boxer who really wants to be a violinist. Across Main Street, at the Alleyway Theatre, PHILOSOPHUS had its world premiere, and will no doubt be tightened up a bit by the playwright Colin Speer Crowley, but as it stands its sold-out shows are full of comedic shtick. There's a new production of PINKALICIOUS at Theatre of Youth starring Sabrina Kahwaty, and a musical about high school, HEATHERS, closes this weekend, an ART production put on in an old high school.


BuffaloRising.com

Curtain Up! is tonight, and regardless of which theater venue you attend, you're invited downtown for the big "after the shows" street party where you can see Lynn Kurdziel Formato's star, the latest in the "Plaza of the Stars" on Main Street at Tupper. Here's good news for readers! Anthony Chase is back writing reviews for GUSTO at The Buffalo News. And we are sad to note that three-time Tony Award nominee Marin Mazzie known on Broadway for RAGTIME, PASSION, and KISS ME KATE died Thursday of ovarian cancer at 57.


Cylla von Tiedemann

"Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd / His skin was pale and his eye was odd / He shaved the faces of gentlemen / Who never thereafter were heard of again" sings the chorus at the opening of one of Sondheim's most enduring works. SWEENEY TODD opens tonight at the Kavinoky Theatre. The Stratford Festival continues into late October with Shakespeare, modern classics, and new works, including Ms. Erin Shields' dramatization of PARADISE LOST, with one of the Stratford stars, Lucy Peacock, as "Satan."

@BuffaloBRAUN

Now, through the magic of theater and a new play called ONCE IN MY LIFETIME opening next week at Shea's Smith Theater, Bills fans (isn't that everyone at some point?) can gain redemption.


Photography by David Hou

While August is traditionally the month for taking a vacation, that message hasn't gotten to the theaters!

@BuffaloBRAUN

The Buffalo Bills are the only NFL team to have lost  four consecutive Super Bowls (1991 to 1994) and this has long been a source of civic dismay. But, what if they won? What would that feel like?

Deen van Meer / Aladdin North American Tour

Over the weekend the Second Generation Theater (founded by Kristin Bentley, Kelly Copps, and Arin Dandes) put on a retrospective of their past five shows, and gave a hint of their upcoming BIG FISH, at Shea's Smith Theatre, their new "home." Next door, at Shea's , the Disney musical ALADDIN opened, featuring Lissa deGuzman as Princess Jasmine, a role she's looked forward to all her life, as told to WBFO in conversation. And Donna Hoke will indulge a persistent Buffalo dream, to win a Superbowl, in ONCE IN MY LIFETIME, coming to Shea's Smith Theatre later this month.

Shakespeare in Delaware Park Facebook Page

Director Kyle LoConti's MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING at Shakespeare in Delaware Park has too much respect for the text to keep going for the easy laughs using cheap sexual innuendos and obscene gestures. No, for that you'll hve to get over to see SILENCE: THE MUSICAL, held over one more weekend due to popular demand. On the other hand, for something family friendly, try THE ODYSSEY at Artpark, and speaking of family, Heather Fangsrud has a tender and funny story of growing up in a very religious family in KNOCK KNOCK, JESUS CALLING.


| Photo: Karli Cadel/The Glimmerglass Festival

This week Anthony went to NYC to take in Lincoln Center's MY FAIR LADY (with Michael Yeargen's high energy set and on Sundays Kerstin Anderson's big voice) as well as the similarly structured PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL at the Nederlander, and another play by Joshua Harmon (a Shaw for our times) called SKINTIGHT starring Idina Menzel. Peter went to the Glimmerglass Festival, equidistant from Buffalo and NYC, attracting an audience which appreciated the seldom seen Janacek opera THE CUNNING LITTLE VIXEN, the new Pulitzer Prize winning SILENT NIGHT, and a youthful WEST SIDE STORY with a (literally) show-stopping version of "America" with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

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