Buffalo Theater News
STAGEFRIGHT by JAVIER
Congratulations to Buffalo’s Ruben Santiago-Hudson who has received a Tony nomination in the Best Actor Category for his performance in his play Lackawanna Blues, which ran on Broadway at the Manhattan Theatre Club last fall. The play premiered at the Public Theatre in 2001 and was made into an HBO movie in 2005. It has since been performed all over the country, except, strangely enough, in Buffalo – and not for lack of trying! In the play, Santiago-Hudson reminisces about growing up in Lackawanna. (Fun fact: he and Jimmy Janowski went to the same high school). He received the 1996 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance in August Wilson's Seven Guitars. Pictured with us is the fabulous Roslyn Ruff, who is back on Broadway at Lincoln Center in the revival of Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth.
Born and raised in Buffalo, Ruff was a regular at Ujima Company. Her Broadway commitment prevented her from attending the official naming ceremony for the Lorna C. Hill Theater which took place on May 12th.
The dedication of the Lorna C. Hill Theater was conducted by her son, Amilcar C. Hill. It was followed by the opening performance of Spunk, a musical based on three tales by Zora Neale Hurston. Company member Sarah-Norat Phillips, who is now serving as Interim Artistic Director, starred in the 1994 production of the show and directed the current production, which stars Lorna’s daughter Curtis Lovell. Norat-Phillips won an Artie Award for her performance. The show was also revived in 1999, starring Nas Afi. Running through May 29th, this year’s Spunk also stars Luis Montijo, Tanika Holmes, Raynardo Shedrick, Brandon Williamson, and company veteran Gerald Ramsey. We hear that there soon will be news as to who will take over as Artistic Director. The company plans to open next season with Toni Stone by Lydia R. Diamond, a fascinating play about the first woman to go pro in the Negro League. The original off-Broadway production opened in 2019, directed by Buffalonian Pam McKinnen.
One more local tie to this year’s Tony awards, the regional Tony is going to Chicago’s 67-year-old Court Theatre, the professional theater of the University of Chicago and for many years, the artistic home of Buffalo’s own Ron O.J. Parson!
Can you believe it’s been fifty (50!) years since the movie version of the Kander & Ebb musical Cabaret was released? The Regal Elmwood cinemas will have a screening of the movie on July 17th & 20th. In the meantime, Second Generation Theatre will be presenting the musical live on stage at Shea’s Smith Theatre, directed by Kristin Bentley, choreographed by Kelly Copps, music direction by Allan Paglia, starring Cassie Cameron as Sally, Joe Russi as the Emcee, Dan Urtz as Cliff, Pamela Mangus as Fraulein Schneider, Steve Jakiel as Herr Schultz, and Amy Jakiel as Fraulein Kost. Running June 10th-26th, the large cast also features Kris Bartolomeo, Melinda Capeles, Kevin Cusi, Alex Garcia, Matt Rittler, Stevie Jackson, Kristen-Marie Lopez, Sofia Matlasz, Natasha McCandless, and Steve Brachmann as Ernst.
Jewish Repertory Theatre of WNY will open the next season with The Chosen directed by Saul Elkin, starring Tom Loughlin, Dave Lundy and Ray Boucher. Next, Josie DiVincenzo will direct Tuesdays with Morrie starring Jack Hunter and Adam Yellen. The season closes with Neil Simon’s comedy Barefoot in the Park, directed by Brain Cavanagh, starring Zak Ward, Renee Landrigan, Tina Rausa, Boucher, and Lundy. The company will also be presenting a three-show run of the award-winning play I’m Not A Comedian…I’m Lenny Bruce starring Ronnie Marmo and directed by Joe Mantegna in March.
Congratulations to Tom Loughlin who is this year’s Artie Career Achievement Award recipient. Former Chair of the Theater Department at Fredonia University, Loughlin will play Nick Bottom in Shakespeare in Delaware Park’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The 31st Artie Award ceremony will take place on Monday, June 6th , at 8 p.m., sponsored by Buffalo/Toronto Public Media to benefit the HIV/AIDS and Immunodeficiency Clinic at ECMC. Nominations will be announced on Monday May 23rd at noon, live-streamed on the WBFO YouTube channel, by founder and Theater Talk co-host Anthony Chase, with Curtis Lovell, last year’s Outstanding Actress in a Musical. The Awards ceremony will be co-hosted with Chase by Charmagne Chi and Amy Jakiel, with music direction by Phil Farugia at Shea's 710 Theatre on Monday, June 6, at 8pm. Tickets are on sale NOW! Get them here! Over the years, the Arties have raised over $500,000 for AIDS-related charities.
Next at the Lancaster Opera House, Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, directed by David Bondrow, starring Katie Buckler, Peter Horn, Marisa Caruso, Maddie Bellanti, David Mitchell, Mary Bellanti, and Denise Maffitt. The show runs June 10 – 26.
Ann Emo, chair of the theater department at Buffalo State has announced that she is stepping down to accept a position as a dean at Keuka College in the Finger Lakes.
Linda Barr will play Lena Younger, also known as “Mama,” in the Paul Robeson Theatre production of Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun," directed by Yao Khalil Newkirk, opening June 10th.
Now playing on Broadway, the 2020 Pulitzer Prize winner, A Strange Loop with music, lyrics and book by Michael R. Jackson. The musical has received eleven Tony Award nominations including Best Musical. It is just one of ten musicals that have received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. They include: A Chorus Line, Hamilton, Rent, South Pacific, How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, Next to Normal, Of Thee I Sing, and Fiorello! The 2022 Pulitzer for Drama went to Fat Ham, a play by James Ijames that transposes Shakespeare’s Hamlet to a family barbecue in the American South. In 2021 Katori Hall won the Prize for her play The Hot Wink King. Katori is best known for the play The Mountaintop and for writing the book for Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, which is coming to Shea’s next season. By the way, Fat Ham just began previews at the Public Theater in New York, where it is scheduled to play through June 12th. Hamlet is now Juicy, a queer, Southern college kid and the ghost of his father appears in his backyard.
Congratulations to Mike Randall who is celebrating his 50th anniversary portraying Mark Twain in his one-man show Mark Twain Live! What a way to celebrate, by performing his show at the Riviera Theatre this past May 14th, fifty years to the date from when he first performed it!