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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Chase

Alleyway announces new chapter

Another theater in transition from founding leadership, a playwright in residence, and a robust season for 2019-2020

Chris J. Handley and Neal Radice

Alleyway Theatre has become the third theater to announcement its transition from a founding artistic director to new leadership in recent months. In the worst kept secret since Kate LoConti Alcocer was announced as the successor to Vincent O'Neill at Irish Classical Theatre, the Alleyway board of directors has chosen Chris J. Handley to succeed Neal Radice. Earlier this year, Loraine O'Donnell succeeded David Lamb at the Kavinoky Theatre earlier this year.

This is an important development, as many cultural organizations fail to survive the retirement of their founders.

The Alleyway press release reads as follows:

"Alleyway Theatre Board President Carlos R. A. Jones announces the planned retirement of Executive and Artistic Director Neal Radice. After forty years serving as its leader, Mr. Radice will step aside from the organization he founded in 1980. Alleyway Theatre is the Theatre District’s oldest producing theatre company and dedicated to producing new plays and musicals.

"A Multi-Year Plan For Succession

"Mr. Radice notified the Board of Directors in 2016 of his intention to retire in May, 2020. At that time, he described the need for Alleyway Theatre to develop a plan for succession, citing his age and the need for the company to chart an energetic future. The Alleyway Board spent the next year considering various paths and settled on a process of identifying a replacement and gradually integrating that person into the organization, thereby accomplishing a smooth transition of executive leadership.

"In 2018, a Cullen Foundation grant of $90,000 was sought and secured to make it possible for the addition of necessary staff. Other funds, including a $25,000 Workforce Readiness Grant from New York State Council On The Arts were also secured. With adequate funding in place, new staff members were added to the company.

"The 2018-19 season was used as a time for training. The 2019-20 will be Mr. Radice’s final season during which the reigns of control will be gradually transferred.

"Chris J Handley Selected To Succeed

"On May 20, 2019 the Alleyway Theatre Board of Directors announced the hiring of Chris J Handley as Associate Artistic Director with the intention for Mr. Handley to step into the position of Executive Artistic Director in May 2020. Chris J Handley has worked as an actor, teacher, director, and producer for over twenty years in Buffalo, New York City, and across the country. He currently serves as Associate Artistic Director at Buffalo’s Alleyway Theatre, where he will succeed Founder Neal Radice as Executive & Artistic Director in May 2020.

"Handley began his training at the former Studio Arena Theatre School and went on to receive a BFA in Musical Theatre from SUNY Fredonia and an MFA in Acting from Indiana University. He has studied with Lincoln Center Education, Patsy Rodenburg, Henry Woronicz, Nira Pullin, Andy Anselmo and former Ringing Bros. Ringmaster, Eric Michael Gillett.

"He taught Acting and Voice & Speech for three years at Indiana University, and will join the Theatre and Dance faculty at SUNY Fredonia to teach Directing this fall. He is Director of Drama at St. Francis High School in Athol Springs, and as an independent lecturer, Handley developed and presented workshops for the Kenny Awards, Buffalo Public Schools, Tapestry Charter School, Nardin Academy, and STAGES Bloomington among others. His students have been seen onstage at New York’s City Center and the Minskoff Theatre, St. Louis MUNY, Goodspeed Opera House, Papermill Playhouse, and on the national tours of White Christmas and the current Hello, Dolly! In 2018, Handley founded the Theatre School of WNY, the new education wing of Alleyway Theatre.

"With a dedication to new theatre works spanning two decades, Handley has appeared in numerous readings, workshops, and productions of new plays and musicals including Mating Habits of the Urban Mammal written and directed by TONY nominee Michael Leeds (Swingin’ on a Star), Peggy Gordon (Godspell), and Timothy Graphenreed (The Wiz); and The King’s Critique written by Nat Zegree and Eric Holmes (The Good Wife) and directed by TONY nominee and EMMY winner George Pinney (Blast). This season, he will direct the world premiere musical The King’s Legacy at Bristol Valley Theatre, as well as Alleyway’s world premiere production of the 2018 Maxim Mazumdar New Play Competition Winner, Factory for Murderers. He also works regionally as a production speech and dialect coach.

"Locally, Handley has been onstage at Alleyway (Philosophus, Unholy Trinity, Reefer Madness-- Artie nom), Shea’s 710 (Fun Home, Baskerville), Jewish Repertory Theatre (Talley’s Folly), Dramatis Personae/TheatreLoft (Assassins--Artie nom), and Lancaster Opera House (Anything Goes). He will be seen later this year at Shakespeare in the Park (Trinculo in The Tempest), MusicalFare (Buddy the Elf in Elf), and Alleyway in the world-premiere of Navigators by Outer Critics Circle Award-winner Gordon Farrell (The Lifespan of a Fact). He spent over two years as an entertainer aboard a Mississippi Riverboat and performed across the country in thirty-six states, in productions ranging from Hedda Gabler and King Lear to Jesus Christ Superstar and The Drowsy Chaperone. He has spent nine seasons at Bristol Valley Theatre, appearing in almost two dozen productions including Black Comedy, directed by Obie-winner Taibi Magar (Is God Is) and Rough Crossing, directed by Dominic Orlando (Netflix’s The OA). Handley co-created the TV pilot This Just In, co-starring with Broadway’s Lenny Wolpe (Wicked) and directed by Isaac Klein (West Side Story). He also appeared for four seasons opposite Days of Our Lives stars Tina Sloan and Molly Burnett on the award-winning indie soap Empire.

"As Founding Artistic Director of the Dramatis Personae, his work earned four Artie nominations as he oversaw a dozen musicals in five years, including the local premieres of Stephen Sondheim’s Saturday Night and Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years.

"Handley is Vice President of the Theatre District Association, sits on the 2019 Curtain Up! steering committee, and is an eleven-year member of Actors’ Equity Association currently serving on the AEA Buffalo/Rochester Liaison Committee."

At the same time, the Alleyway announced the appointment of Gordon Farrell as playwright in residence.

"Alleyway Theatre Artistic Director Neal Radice has named Broadway playwright Gordon Farrell as Playwright-in-Residence. This means that Mr. Farrell will develop his own new scripts for Alleyway's main seasons as well as take on the writing challenge of developing particularly themed plays on commission.

Buffalo audiences will remember Mr. Farrell's work at Alleyway beginning with Voice Of America in 1991. Two more plays followed before he and Mr. Radice collaborated to create their highly acclaimed Sherlock Holmes musical trilogy in the late 1990s. Lifespan Of A Fact, Mr Farrell's latest play, debuted to critical acclaim this season on Broadway at Roundabout's Studio 54 starring Daniel Radcliffe, Cherry Jones and Bobby Cannavale. The New York Times called Lifespan a "terrifically engaging Broadway drama." Lifespan earned Mr. Farrell a nomination for the John Gassner Award (Presented For An American Play, Preferably By A New Playwright) by the Outer Circle Critics.


Mr. Farrell has returned "home" to Alleyway Theatre to adapt stories from contributing authors Molly Heckerling, Tatiana Gelfand and Lucy A Robbins as he creates a new maze of storytelling, where the audience literally walks along the journey with these women as they cope with life's unpredictable, jagged edges. GIRLS WHO WALKED ON GLASS is a new immersive play project that will premiere at Alleyway Theatre May 30-June 22, 2019, directed by Neal Radice. The theatrical event is based on true stories that intertwine to expose a dangerous world which has ill-prepared three young women to meet challenges and temptations. Following development at the Alleyway, GIRLS WHO WALKED ON GLASS will be performed for general audience and potential backers in New York City where preparations are already underway.


Mr. Farrell will continue his longstanding connection with Alleyway Theatre with the opening of its 40th season and the premiere of his new play NAVIGATORS, September 12-October 5 on the Alleyway Main Stage. In NAVIGATORS, a night of sailing with an explosively political family finds them casting off into a sea of deep secrets!

Playwright Gordon Farrell Trained as a playwright at the Yale School of Drama, Mr. Farrell received an MFA in 1986 and went from there to work with major Hollywood studios, initially as a story analyst for Warner Brothers and Columbia Pictures, and eventually as a screenwriter. He has written for hire and sold screenplays to Universal Pictures, Warner Brothers, MGM and ITC. He has worked with Robert Simonds (producer of "The Wedding Singer", "Molly's Game", "Mile 22"); Neil Moritz (producer of "XXX", "I Know What You Did Last Summer", "Fast and Furious") and Bruce Berman (producer of "The Matrix", "Three Kings", "Mad Max: Fury Road").

Working in independent film, Mr. Farrell has written for and sold projects to NYC indie producer Norman Twain (producer, "Lean On Me", "Boycott", "My Dog Tulip"). Gordon's first independent screenplay, "Girls Who Smoke", premiered in 2011. It went on to be an official selection at over a dozen film festivals, ultimately winning the Audience Choice Award in Seattle at the Post Alley Film Festival.

As a playwright, from 2009 to 2013, Mr. Farrell worked with dozens of women on New York's Lower East Side who wanted to tell their personal stories on stage. The series of monologue plays that grew out of it was called "In The Red Room/Every Woman Dances For Someone." His plays have also been produced in San Francisco, at the Alleyway Theatre in Buffalo, at the Yale School of Drama in New Haven, and at Primary Stages in New York. He authored the book for a series of award-winning musicals based on the life and death of Sherlock Holmes, which ran for three seasons in Buffalo, NY. He is the author of "The Power of the Playwright's Vision", published by Heinemann Press in 2001.

An award-winning computer game designer, Mr. Farrell helped develop the multi-million selling franchise for Sierra Online's "Empire Earth", as well as Reverie World Studio's "Dawn Of Fantasy". In 2013 he became Lead Writer for RWS's "Kingdom Wars" series, in 2016 "Medieval Kingdom Wars", and is currently writing their latest game, "Stars End" (tbp 2019).

Alleyway also announced a robust 2019-2020 season, featuring renewed energy and double last year's programming:

The 2019-20 Season


by Gordon Farrell September 12 - October 5 (Pay-What-You-Can Performance September 19) Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 PM, Curtain Up!, Friday, September 14 at 8:00 PM Alleyway Main Stage, 1 Curtain Up Alley, Buffalo, NY

Fresh off his Broadway Hit play Lifespan Of A Fact, Gordon Farrell continues his longstanding connection with Alleyway Theatre by authorizing the premiere of his latest play. Imagine a night of sailing with a political family casting off for deep secrets! Directed by Neal Radice. Suitable for adults and teens.

World Premiere Play.


by and starring Buffalo’s own John "Circ" Kane

November 8-16 Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM Alleyway Cabaret, 672 Main Street, Buffalo, NY John “Circ” Kane recounts his childhood fantasy, and the steps he took to realize his dream. Along the way he introduces us to the many colorful characters that he met on his hilarious journey. Imagine… running off to join the circus! Directed by Joyce Stilson. Suitable for adult audiences. One Man Comedy.


Charles Dickens’ classic adapted and directed by Neal Radice

December 6-22 Fridays at 7:30 PM, Saturdays at 2PM and 5 PM, Sundays at 2 PM. Also, Thursday December 12 and 19 at 7:30 PM and final performance Sunday December 22 at 5 PM. Alleyway Main Stage, 1 Curtain Up Alley, Buffalo, NY Western New York’s longest running theatrical presentation and fifth longest running stage version of Dickens’ masterpiece in the nation... probably the world! Don’t be sold out of Buffalo’s favorite holiday treat! Imagine Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the Alleyway Carolers warming the cockles of your holiday heart for another merry season! For everyone of every age! 37th Annual Presentation.

GOLDEN GIRLS: The Lost Episodes, Holiday Edition

by David Cerda

December 5-28 Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM (no performance December 26) Alleyway Cabaret, 672 Main Street, Buffalo, NY Yes Rose, there is a Santa Claus! Imagine… everyone’s favorite Golden Girls have flown North for the Holidays and they’re all played by men. Directed by Todd Warfield. Drag Holiday Parody. Factory For Murderers by Scott McCrea January 16 - February 8 Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 PM (Pay-What-You-Can Performance January 23) Alleyway Main Stage, 1 Curtain Up Alley, Buffalo, NY Jack The Ripper is terrorizing London and, while Scotland Yard seems to be helpless, one detective discovers a truth better kept unknown… forever. The 2018 Winner of the Maxim Mazumdar New Play Competition. Imagine discovering London’s darkest secret! Directed by Chris J Handley. Suitable for adults and teens. World Premiere Play.


by Tatiana Gelfand and Paul Jensen

February 20 - March 14 Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 PM (Pay-What-You-Can Performance February 27) Alleyway Main Stage, 1 Curtain Up Alley, Buffalo, NY The holidays can be a difficult time at Psychological Counseling Services, especially for the overnight crew which consists of only Fred. But this Christmas, he’s going to receive so much more insight than he’ll give. One big secret that’s been hiding is about to explode on the scene. Imagine what it’s like to be alone… yet surrounded by the inhabitants of your psyche! Author Tatiana Gelfand directs. Suitable for adults and teens. World Premiere Play.


March 26 - April 18 Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 PM (Pay-What-You-Can Performance April 2) Alleyway Cabaret, 672 Main Street, Buffalo, NY

Spring means Quickies! Our annual celebration of new one-act plays features world premieres of recent finalists and one-act winners of the Maxim Mazumdar New Play Competition. Imagine a smorgasbord of tasty theatrical tidbits flavored with the spice of life! Suitable for adult audiences. 28th Annual Celebration of One-Act Plays.

IMAGINE THE WORLD MADE OVER… forty years of words and music

by Neal Radice

April 23 - May 16 Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 PM (Pay-What-You-Can Performance April 30) Alleyway Main Stage, 1 Curtain Up Alley, Buffalo, NY After four decades of service, Alleyway Theatre’s Founder and Executive Director Neal Radice offers his thanks and bids farewell to the Alleyway audience with a revue of his nearly two dozen full-length musicals. The musical sendoff will star four of the area’s most outstanding vocalists and feature special guest narrators. Imagine … having a magical musical time in the theatre! Directed by Neal Radice, musical direction by Monica Stankowicz, choreography by Heather Reed. Suitable for adults and teens. World Premiere Musical Revue.


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