Buffalo Theater News
STAGEFRIGHT by JAVIER
Since the Bills didn’t make it to the Super Bowl, and no theaters operate during the game, what better way to spend last Sunday evening than watching a movie at a movie theater. And what a better choice than 80 for Brady for Super Bowl Sunday. The seasoned pros (mentioned chronologically by age, oldest to youngest): Moreno, Fonda, Tomlin, and Field are at the very top of their game. Not to mention Harry Hamlin who just gets better looking with age. I have been fortunate enough to have seen all of them on stage, where there is really no faking it, and no re-takes. Some of my fondest memories include: Rita Moreno (now 92) returning to Broadway in 1985 in the original production of The Odd Couple, The Female Version, also starring Sally Struthers and a very young Tony Shalhoub (Monk) as one of the Spanish brothers. Jane Fonda (now 86) returned to Broadway in 2009 with 33 Variations, a play by Moises Kaufman that Musicalfare produced in 2012, starring Ellen Horst. Fonda’s last Broadway appearance had been in 1963 in Strange Interlude. Lily Tomlin (now 84) was of course the star of The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, which opened on Broadway in 1985; I saw her at the Royal Alexandra in Toronto shortly after. Sally Field (the baby of the group at 77) made her Broadway debut in 2002 in Albee’s The Goat or who is Sylvia? She returned in 2017 with The Glass Menagerie.
Speaking of seasoned pros, there is marvelous chemistry between Jack Hunter and Adam Yellen in the current must see production of Tuesdays with Morrie, directed by Josie DiVincenzo at the Jewish Repertory Theatre (JRT). The show closes on February 26th. There is no truth to the rumor that Hunter and Yellen will be reunited for a production of Equus. Although, that is not such a bad idea. Picture it. By the way, Mr. Hunter is now bartending at Rohall’s Corner at 540 Amherst Street.
As part of its 20th anniversary celebration, JRT will present the one man show I’m Not a Comedian…I’m Lenny Bruce, written by and starring Ronnie Marmo, originally directed by Joe Mantegna. Only three performances, March 11th at 2 & 7, and March 12th at 3.
The Irish Classical Theatre Company (ICTC) and the BPO will collaborate once again to offer us a unique theatrical experience. ICTC Associate Director Fortunato Pezzimenti and BPO Conductor JoAnn Falletta team up now to present The Tempest, a one-weekend-only performance of fantastical theatrics, magic, and the music of Sibelius. In this version, being very PC, Prospero becomes Prospera and will be played by Aleks Malejs and her daughter Miranda will be portrayed by Sabrina Kahwaty. The production will also star Todd Benzin, Peter Palmisano, Matt Witten, Alejandro Gómez, Gerry Maher, Patrick Cameron, Kevin Craig. Phillip Farugia, Marisa Caruso, Rolando Gómez, Alex Garcia, Madeline Allard-Dugan, and Phoebe Wright. Three performances only! February 24th -26th .
Double reason to celebrate at Road Less Traveled Productions (RLTP). Lucas Knath’s The Thin Place opens on February 23rd, directed by Scott Behrend. The stellar cast features Renee Landrigan, Margaret Massman, Kristen Tripp Kelley, and David Mitchell. The play will transform the theater into an intimate séance. Perfect setting for the other reason to celebrate, the opening of the brand-new lobby cocktail lounge. There will be a ribbon cutting opening ceremony at 2:30. Will the bar be open until show time? Try the specialty cocktails Scotch Behrend or Gin a Gin Gandolfo.
On Saturday April 1st, RLTP will hold its third annual Screen to Stage Fundraiser featuring a reading of Major League, co-directed by Behrend and Katie Mallinson. The reading is set to star Matt Witten, Greg Howze, Charmagne Chi, Steve Copps, Cassie Cameron, Pamela Rose Mangus, Dan Urtz, Jake Hayes, Anne DeFazio, David Lundy, Jenn Stafford, Jeremy Kreuzer, and Ricky Needham.
So, Mangus got the coveted role of the Nurse in Shakespeare in Delaware Park’s upcoming production of Romeo & Juliet, to be directed by Chris Kelly. Aidan Conklin and Erin Grace Kelly (no relation to the director, although he does have a niece who is also named Grace Kelly) will play the title roles. Chris Hatch will play the Friar. Will his costume be as revealing as last season’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream?
Congratulations to Michael Formato who is retiring from the University at Buffalo after holding the position of Production Manager for the Department of Theatre and Dance, for twenty-nine years! He will probably now be able to travel quite regularly accompanying her fabulous wife Lynne Kurdziel-Formato who, when she is not directing in Buffalo, directs for Disney in Europe and South America.
Yao Kahlil Newkirk has resigned as artistic director at the Paul Robeson Theatre of the African American Cultural Center after an angry confrontation with Jim Pitts, executive director of the center - the third executive director in a little over a year. In his resignation letter, Newkirk reports that Pitts accused him of "stealing ticket money" from the theater's recent production of Cadillac Crew by Tori Sampson. The money, intended for the AACC bank account had simply not been transferred from Paypal, and was sitting in plain sight, according to Newkirk, who also reports that the remainder of the Paul Robeson season is cancelled. Rehearsals were on the way for the play The Niceties by Eleanor Burgess, directed by Newkirk. The season would have concluded with Margaret Edson’s Wit.
Elvis is in the house, the Kavinoky house that is. Matthew Lopez’s hilarious play The Legend of Georgia McBride is scheduled to be the Kavinoky’s final show of the 2023-24 season. It’s about an Elvis impersonator who is fired from his regular gig at a run-down small-town Florida bar. His act is going to be replaced by a B-level drag show lead by an aging drag queen. Anthony Alcocer is portraying the Elvis impersonator. Jimmy Janowski is portraying the aging drag queen. I have been asked to direct, in order to keep the production under budget.
The Hispanic/Latinx/Latino-Latina community, (or what do they call it now?) is in mourning. (Ask me in person and I’ll weigh in on what we should be called). Whoever we are, we’re mourning the passing of Raquel Welch, young at 82. Her father was Bolivian, hence her great looks. I was fortunate enough to see her live on Broadway in Victor/ Victoria.
Joining seasoned players (that must be the theme of today’s column) Gerald Ramsey and Ross Hewitt in Ujima’s upcoming production of Choir Boy: Brian Brown, Cordell Hopkins, Joshua Garrett, Justin Garrett, and Paris Glenn. The production opens on March 10th, directed by Karen Saxon. The play is by Tarell Alvin McCraney, who also wrote the Oscar winning “Moonlight.” They warn you that the production has partial nudity. I am not sure what partial means. Dr. Hewitt?
Buffalo Quickies will be back at the Alleyway March 9th-19th. The annual festival will feature plays on a secret topic the playwrights just get two weeks before opening. The production will be directed by Kate Powers with Richard Satterwhite and Bill Patti. Featured playwrights include Shawn Adiletta, Thomas Bellavigna, Victoria Fann, Justin Karcher, Bella Poynton, and Chris Woodworth. Quickie regulars Mike Starzinski and Kate Olena will be in the acting ensemble.
Prodigal Son Productions (James Cichocki, founder) will present a one-day, all-day marathon reading of Margaret Atwood’s classic novel The Handmaid’s Tale. The reading will take place on Saturday, February 18th from 10 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. at the Alleyway Theatre. Tickets are $30, available at alleyway.com. All profits from the reading will benefit the Brigid Alliance, an organization that provides travel, food, lodging, childcare, and other logistical support for women seeking reproductive health that their state will not provide. Thirty-six actresses will take this on. The audience will be seated for a two-hour presentation (10am – noon; noon - 2pm; 2pm - 4pm; 4pm - 6pm; 6pm - 8pm; 8pm - 10pm; 10pm - midnight) where they will hear 5 to 6 actresses perform. The great June Havoc (the model for Baby June from "Gypsy"), who made her living as a marathon dancer during the Great Depression once told me that at the end of a marathon dance, the last couple on the floor was always a woman holding up her male partner. Go get em ladies!