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  • Writer's pictureJavier

Buffalo Theater Dish - April 2023


two people smiling for the camera
with the original Sweeney Todd, Len Lariou

Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd is now having its third revival on Broadway, now starring Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford as Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett respectively, under the direction of Tony-winning Hamilton director Thomas Kail. The revival officially opened and the Lunt-Fontanne on March 26th and tickets are on sale through January 2024. Sweeney Todd first opened in March 1979 starring Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury. The 1989 revival starred Bob Gunton and Beth Fowler. The 2005 revival starred Michael Cerveris and Patti Lupone. Buffalo has seen its own locals Bruce Gustafson, John Fredo, Matt Witten, Mary Kate O’Connell, Lisa Ludwig, and Loraine O’Donnell play the roles. If you missed it, look for WBFO’s As 'Sweeney Todd' returns to Broadway, 4 Sweeneys dish about the difficult role, featuring interviews with Cariou, Cerveris, Groban, and Norm Lewis who played the part in the off-Broadway immersive staging of the musical back in 2017, opposite Carolee Carmello.

So, Sondheim (and theater fans in general), rejoice. Musicalfare will be presenting the musical revue Sondheim on Sondheim, all of Sondheim’s favorites with him appearing on video to talking about his inspirations. This show premiered on Broadway and starred, among others, Barbara Cook, Vanessa Williams, Norm Lewis, and Tom Woppat. The local production, which opens June 2 at MusicalFare’s Premier Cabaret, will be directed by Michael Wachowiak, starring Michele Marie Roberts, Kelly Copps, Brittany Bassett-Baran, Philip Farugia, Alex Garcia, and Ricky Needham. Rumor has it that Wachowiak is having a new Sondheim-themed purse specially designed for opening night.

Coming up next for Musicalfare, though, is Disaster! The Musical, written by Seth Rudetsky (yes, that one) and Jack Plotnick, directed by Randy Kramer, choreographed by Robin Barker, with music direction by Theresa Quinn. The large cast features Kyle Bassett-Baran, Kelly Copps, Kevin Craig, Arin Lee Dandes, Alex Anthony Garcia, Michael Gilbert-Wachowiak, Stevie Jackson, Kristen-Marie Lopez, Jon May, Bob Mazierski, Jenny McCabe, Gabriella Jean McKinley, Jennifer Mysliwy, Ricky Needham, Maria Pedro and Emily Yancey. This hilarious spoof on the 1970s disaster movies (FYI, no Sensurround for this production) opens on April 12th.

two people pose under a theater marquee
with Buffalo's own Michele Ragusa during the Broadway run of "Flying Over Sunset"

So, after weeks, or probably, months of speculation, Starring Buffalo finally announced that the fabulous Michele Ragusa (welcome back where you belong) will be playing Dolly Levy in Jerry Herman’s Hello, Dolly! The production will also star Broadway veterans Ali Ewoldt and Kevin Zak, joining Buffalo area stars Lizzie Arnold, Greg Gjurich, Jake Hayes,

Melanie Klaja, Anthony Lazarro, Jetaun Louie, Marc Sacco, and Kayla McSorley. Dolly will run June 2 & 3 at Shea’s 710 Theatre. Incidentally, Ragusa was very much involved in the development of Disaster! when it first ran off-Broadway. She and the rest of the cast were abruptly dumped when the show moved to Broadway in 2016. Reportedly, it was the decision of the producer and entirely out of Rudetsky and Plotnick’s control. (That producer, incidentally, is the husband of Rudetsky. Ain’t Broadway grand?)

Also opening soon! April 14th, O’Connell & Company’s production of the charming musical Romance/Romance, directed by Lisa Ludwig, starring Bobby Cooke, Jenn Stafford, Thomas Evans and Gretchen Didio, choreographed by Julia Murphy, with musical direction by Joe Isgar. The show opens on April 14th at Shea’s Smith Theatre. In quite a coup for the company, the Kander & Ebb musical Chicago will be presented for a limited engagement July 7-16, directed and choreographed by Joey Bucheker, starring Aimee Walker as Velma.

O’Connell will open its 2023-24 season with La Cage Aux Folles, directed and choreographed by Dewayne Barrett (Katharine Cornell Award Winner for A Chorus Line) starring Daniel Lendzian as Albin and Gregory Gjurich and Georges. The season will also include Nuncrackers (Dec 1-17) starring Mary Kate O’Connell, the regional premiere of Grumpy Old Men the Musical (Feb 23-March 10) starring Michael Starzynski and Michael J Galante directed by Steve Vaughan, Dames at Sea (April 5-21) directed by O’Connell, choreographed by Timmy Goodman, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! (May 3-19) directed and choreographed by Bucheker. This is the traditional version, not the recently revisited one.

It’s a weekend for fundraisers in Buffalo! Road Less Traveled (RLTP) will be presenting the third annual screen to stage fundraiser featuring a reading of Major League on April 1st at 8 p.m, featuring special guest Howard Simon of Buffalo’s own WGR550 AM sports radio. Second Generation Theatre (SGT) is presenting their annual fundraising concert Broadway Bucket List, starring Joe Russi, Amy Jakiel, Collin McKee, Lily Jones, Charmagne Chi, Raphael Santos, Anne DeFazio and Ricky Needham on April 2nd at Shea’s Smith Theatre at 7 p.m., doors open at 6 p.m. for cocktails, appetizers and raffles.

By the way, it will be RLTP’s 20th anniversary season coming up! Congratulations to everyone involved. The company will open the season with a musical! (so many to choose from now). The off-Broadway hit Murder Ballad about a love triangle gone wrong will open on September 14th, directed by Doug Weyand, with an A list cast: Jenn Stafford, Ricky Needham, Anthony Alcocer, and Leah Berst. The season will also include Arthur Miller’s classic All My Sons, directed by Scott Behrend, and the 2014 Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Drama The Curious Case of the Watson Intelligence, directed by Katie Mallinson.

So the final show at the Irish Classical this season is the classic The Importance of Being Earnest, directed by Kristen Trip Kelley, starring Josh Wilde, Ben Michael Moran, Melinda Capeles and Renee Landrigan. Annette Daniels Taylor will be Prism, also starring Vincenzo McNeill, Charmagne Chi, and Chris Kelly as Lady Bracknell. Kelly returns next season as director of another classic, Private Lives, set to star Chris Hatch, Jenn Stafford, Anna Fernandez, Maria Pedro, and Darryl Semira (who will hopefully be back from Oregon).

two people smiling for the camera
with playwright Darrah Cloud

David Oliver’s theater company, Revelation Theatre, will present Darrah Cloud’s The Stick Wife, starring Priscilla Young Anker, Kelly Meg Brennan, Christine Turturro, David Marciniak, Steve Jakiel and Andrew Salamone, directed by Oliver, April 21 – May 14 in the Flexible Theatre at Buffalo State University. Set in Alabama in 1963, the play follows three low-income white couples as the women realize that the instigators of a local act of racist violence are living in their homes. Oliver directed the play many years ago in a production that starred the late Mary Loftus and Joseph Natale.

two people pose for the camera
with Roger Bart

Roger Bart will be back on Broadway in the musical Back to the Future, after having starred in the London production. (He also appeared in "Disaster," on Broadway) The show has already announced a national US tour which will kick off in summer of 2024 in Schenectady.


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