Ujima

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.

Eileen Elibol, WNED|WBFO

The ARTIE AWARDS, produced by WNED|WBFO were a huge success in terms of fun, for honoring excellence in theater, and to raise money (over $14,000 and counting) for the ECMC Immunodeficiently Clinic. Some recent Shaw outings have been less than hoped for, but that's not the case for Shaw's SAINT JOAN which is powerful theater and for a tragedy, surprisingly funny. It's at the large Festival Theatre in Niagara on the Lake and makes full use of the stage to astound the audience. Opening tonight: FREE FRED BROWN! with Ujima Company at Paul Robeson Theatre on Masten Avenue.

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.

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.

By coincidence, a number of theaters this weekend feature mothers and mother figures (all with varying levels of dysfunction).  Having Tyne Daly pass up the chance to spend a winter in Buffalo (go figure!) that opened the door for local talent Anne Hartley Pfohl to star in Terrence McNally's "Mothers and Sons" at the Alleyway Theatre.  (The address is One Curtain Up Alley in the shadow of Shea's huge backstage.)

Theater Talk's Jim Santella and Anthony Chase preview the Ujima Company's production of Breath, Boom, opening Friday.   The curtain also rises on BUA's The Normal Heart.