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Buffalo Theater Dish - May 2023

STAGEFRIGHT -- Buffalo Theater News

With Loraine O’Donnell and Anthony Chase

Loraine O’Donnell’s official final day at the D’Youville Kavinoky was April 21st, the opening night of Network, which she directed with a stellar cast including Peter Palmisano, Jack Hunter, Michele Roberts, Peter Horn, Matt Witten, and Christopher Guilmet. O’Donnell will be back next season to direct two musicals at the Kavinoky, The Rocky Horror Show and Gutenberg! The Musical! In the meantime, Interim Artistic Director Katie Mallinson is set to direct the company’s Curtain Up offering, the one-person show, What the Constitution Means to Me, starring UB’s Department of Theatre & Dance professor and founding ensemble member of the New York Neo-Futurists, Lindsay Brandon Hunter.

Speaking of UB’s department of Theatre & Dance, opening this week and playing through May 7th, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella, directed by James Beaudry, with choreography by Beaudry and Natasha McCandless, music direction by Matt Marco. This is the new version of the musical which played on Broadway in 2013 with a new book by Douglas Carter Beane. The musical will be performed at UB Center for the Arts Drama Theatre. For tickets go to There will be a post-show Meet and Greet with Cinderella, The Prince, and cast members after all matinee performances (April 29 & 30, May 6 & 7 2:00 p.m.). Photographs are permitted.

a row of glass trophies
The Artie Awards

Although Curtain Up is a little far away (September 22nd), there is a lot to see right now. Plays and musicals are opening all over the place, and award season is on the way. Eligible productions for the 2023 Artie Awards, must have opened by May 1st . The Artie Awards will be held on Monday, June 5, 2023 at Shea’s 710. The show starts at 8 p.m. sharp. And remember, while you’re getting sozzled at the bar at your home theater’s pre-Artie party, Shea’s donates a percentage of the 710 bar receipts to the ECMC Immuno-deficiency Clinic on Artie Night.

With Stephen McKinley Henderson

In New York, the Tony Award nominations will be announced on May 2nd. The Tony Awards Administration Committee met in mid-April for the second time and ruled, among other things, that our beloved Stephen McKinley Henderson will be eligible in the Leading Actor category. Henderson’s performance in Between Riverside and Crazy is astounding. By Tony rules, the names of leading actors must be above the title on opening night programs. When that’s not the case, the committee must make a ruling. This process goes all goes back to The Ritz in 1975, when Rita Moreno won the Tony for supporting actress after playing Googie Gomez, one of the leads. Moreno’s name had been below the title.

With Lea Michele

Lea Michele and Myles Frost will announce the 76th Annual Tony Award nominations on May 2. Hosted by Ariana DeBose, the Tony Awards will air live June 11 from the United Palace in Washington Heights from 8 to 11 p.m. on channel 4. In more recent Tony Committee news, Aaron Sorkin will be eligible in the Best Book of a Musical category for his work rewriting the libretto for the revival of Camelot. And New York, New York will not be eligible for Best Score. The show features several John Kander and Fred Ebb songs from other works as well as new songs by Kander and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

With Priscilla Young Anker and David Oliver

The new theater company, Revelation Theatre Productions, headed by artistic director David Oliver, officially launching with a production of The Stick Wife, a 1987 play by Darrah Cloud about the wives of men in the Ku Klux Klan that is, unfortunately, still timely today. Directed by Oliver, the production stars Priscilla Young Anker, Kelly Meg Brennan, Christine Turturro, David Marciniak, Steve Jakiel, and Andrew Salamone. The play runs through May 14, at the Flexible Theater in the Donald Savage Building, on the Buffalo State University campus.

Three men smiling
With Anthony Lazzaro and Justin Gaskill

Anthony Lazzaro and Justin Gaskill are wonderful playing the leads in the hilarious new musical Kragtar! The American Monster Musical, directed by Chris Handley at the Alleyway. Written by Sam French and Kyle Wilson, the show also stars Amy Jakiel, Amanda Funicello, Emily Bassett, Sarah Blewett, Jeremy Kreuzer, Nick Lama, Jetaun Louie, and Matthew Rittler. Musical direction is by James Welch, choreography and musical staging by Kevin Leary. Jakiel is hilarious as the unlikely villain, (and her sister Kelly Jakiel, is also hilarious, appearing simultaneously in another trash movie parody, Disaster! at Musicalfare. Has anyone thought of Side Show?).

In another coup for the Alleyway, coming in September, The Life and Slimes of Marc Summers, written by Alex Brightman & Drew Gasparini, directed by Chad Rabinowitz, starring Marc Summers, the host of Nickelodeon's Double Dare and Food Network's Unwrapped. Brightman, better known for starring on Broadway in School of Rock and Beetlejuice, is a member of the comedy group, The (M)orons, along with Gasparini .The play premiered on April, 2016, in Bloomington, IN, at the Bloomington Playwrights Project where Rabinowitz was Producing Artistic Director. He then became Producing Artistic Director of the Adirondack Theatre Festival in Glen Falls. It’s a small world, isn’t it? I got my Master’s degree at Indiana University in Bloomington!

two men smiling
With Jeff Goode

Playwright Jeff Goode was in town to check out the premiere of his comedy Fursona Non Grata presented First Look Buffalo, directed by Drew Fornarola at the Park School in Amherst. The play runs through May 7th. Goode is also the author of the hilarious Reindeer Monologues. The company may be looking for a new home. Previous Park School tenants have included Upstage New York and O’Connell & Company.

Neil Simon’s comedies will endure forever. Jewish Repertory Theatre of WNY opened his hilarious and groundbreaking play, Barefoot in the Park, this week, directed by Brian Cavanagh, starring Renee Landrigan, Zak Ward, Tina Rausa, David Lundy, and Ray Boucher. Desiderio’s Dinner Theatre will be opening one of Simon’s earliest plays, Come Blow Your Horn, directed by Jay Desiderio, starring Joseph Marciniak, Jacob Applegate, Molly McGrath, Alyssa Grace Adams, Marc Ruffino, and Cindy Schmitt. The Lancaster Opera House is now presenting the musical They are Playing Our Song, which has a book by Simon, lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager, and music by Marvin Hamlisch. The show stars John and Tara Kaczorowski, (last seen together on the Lancaster stage in the 2015 production of Singin' in the Rain). Directed by Fran Landis, the show also features Rebecca Kroetsch, Alexandra Montesano, Lauren Teller, Merrick Allen, Joseph Greenan, and Nathan Andrew Miller. And the Towne Players of Ken-Ton will be presenting Simon’s farse Rumors, directed by Mike Beiter, opening May 12th. Rumors opened on Broadway in 1989 starring Buffalo’s Christine Baranski, who won her second Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her performance. By the way, Happy Birthday to the fabulous Baranski coming up on May 2nd!

Houndstooth Costume Collective (HCC) held an Open House in their space at 651 Main Street on Wednesday, April 26th with a 1920s theme. Jenna Damberger, Kay Johnson, and Brenna Prather launched the business for use as a shared space, where members can have fittings, production meetings, rehearsals, client meetings, private events, or anything else that requires a place. Amenities include a kitchenette, workout equipment, private desk space, laundry facilities, child and pet play areas, and are available to members with a subscription or at a day rate. HCC also offers a full range of costume construction services, from basic alterations to historically accurate reproduction, draping, drafting, millinery, aging and dyeing, screen printing, and custom fabric design.

Ujima Theater Company will close this season with Cullud Wattah a play by Erika Dickerson-Despenza, directed by Curtis Lowell. The play had its world premiere at the Public Theatre in New York in 2021. It’s about three generations of Black women living through the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Ujima will kick off its 45th anniversary season in September with the musical The Color Purple, a co-production with Second Generation Theatre and Shea’s 710 Theatre, directed by Sarah Norat-Phillips, music direction by Karen Saxon and choreography by Naila Ansari who directed the very successful production of Once on this Island at 710. Ujima’s season will also include 12 Mo Angry Men in December, a series of one acts in March and the classic Wedding Band by Alice Childress in May 2024.

HARP Productions will present the classic Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Taylor Theatre in the Kenan Center in Lockport. Directed by Elaine Roberts, the production opens on May 5th, starring Mary Jayne Goeller, Zachary Fenimore, Bob Moore, Christina Nendza, Chuck Yates, Lori Panaro, Joe Sciammarella, and Christopher Sherman. Speaking of the Kenan Center, Bill Patti was selected as its next Executive Director. Sue Przybyl, the former Executive Director, retired on March 31 after almost 25 years. Congratulations to both! Before coming to the Kenan Center, Patti was General Manager at Shea’s Performing Arts Center.

Update on Chicago, the musical coming to O’Connell & Company in July. Joining Aimee Walker as Velma will be Nicole Marrale Cimato as Roxie, Jake Hayes as Billy Flynn, and Mary Coppola Gjurich as Matron Morton. Now that Phantom of the Opera has closed on Broadway, Chicago has become the longest-running show currently running, followed by The Lion King, Wicked, The Book of Mormon, Aladdin, and Hamilton. Chicago also has the distinction of being the longest running American musical of all time. The original Velma, the fabulous Chita Rivera, has been all over the place this week promoting her new memoir.

With Chris Sullivan

Chris Sullivan is back on Broadway in The Thanksgiving Play by Larissa Fasthorse. The show just officially opened, and its run has already been extended. Sullivan played Toby in TV’s This is Us. He played Amos Hart in Chicago back in 2012.

And now, some rumors about ME! Have you heard I was fired from Sunset Boulevard? I wasn’t. Have you heard that Mary Kate O’Connell has quit the show and will be replaced by Annie DeFazio, who will be replaced in Network by Lisa Ludwig? It’s not true, but you can’t BUY that kind of publicity. Apparently, rumors started to fly when my job title on the show went from “director,” to “production supervisor.” The reality is, rehearsals are going brilliantly, and I realized that Joey Bucheker was doing most of the work, with Music Director Lucas Colon. I’m not about to take credit for his amazing talent, so I asked to have my title adjusted to reflect what I’m actually doing. Here’s a sneak peek of Mary Kate as Norma, getting ready for her close-up folks! We open on May 5th!

a woman with a head scarf
Mary Kate O'Connell as Norma Desmond


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