Stagefright by JAVIER
The fabulous Kelli O’Hara will be this year’s star at the Shea’s Gala Celebration, which will take place on Saturday, October 7, 2023. Winner of the 2015 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance in The King and I, O’Hara is currently starring off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theater Company in the new musical Days of Wine and Roses written by Adam Guettel and Craig Lucas. Guettel and Lucas previously collaborated on the 2005 musical Light in the Piazza which also starred O’Hara earning her, her fist Tony nomination. Her other Tony nominations include The Pajama Game (2006), South Pacific (2008), Nice Work If You Can Get It (2012), The Bridges of Madison County (2014), and Kiss Me, Kate (2019).
Shakespeare in Delaware Park’s season officially kicks off on June 14th when the touring production of Where There's a Will There's a Play opens at the Roycroft Inn at 7 p.m. The show is an hour-long production featuring scenes and sonnets from whom else? Shakespeare!, adapted by Brendan Didio, directed by Norman Sham, starring Heather Casseri , Emily Basset, Connor Graham, and Nate Higgins. The show will be touring all over Buffalo through August (check On the Boards for locations). In Shakespeare in Delaware Park tradition, all performances are free, but donations are graciously accepted. Measure for Measure opens in the Park on June 22nd.
Speaking of Didio (is there end to this man’s talent?), he will be co-starring with Aleks Malejs in the D’Youville Kavinoky production of The Sound Inside by Adam Rapp, directed by Kyle LoConti. The play had a very successful run on Broadway starring Mary-Louise Parker. The D’Youville Kavinoky show runs June 9th-25th. By the way, Parker starred many years ago in the Studio Arena production of Hay Fever. And Rapp is the brother of Anthony Rapp, original Rent cast member.
The Kavinoky held a sensational farewell party for Loraine O’Donnell on May 20th, hosted by Ben Moran with Chuck Basil at the piano and performances by Anthony Chase, Maggie Zindle, Greg Gjurich, Mary Craig, Dee Adams, and Ricky Needham. Although retired from the Kav, O’Donnell will be back in October to direct the classic The Rocky Horror Show which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year. Music direction by Allan Paglia, the show will run October 27- November 19, starring Andrew Kawalczewski as Rocky, Dan Urtz as Riff, Michele Roberts as Magenta, Charmagne Chi as Columbia, Melinda Carpeles as Janet, George Brown as Brad, Ben Moran as Frankenfueter, John Fredo as Dr. Scott, and Kerrykate Abel as Eddy. The narrator will be played alternatively by Mike Randall and perhaps Anthony Chase. The latter is still negotiating the terms at home.
Up next for Bellissima Productions, the Broadway musical Head Over Heels, which features music of the 1980s all-female rock band The Go-Go’s, directed by Nicolette Navarro, starring Karen Harty and Eric Glynn. The musical will play at Ujima’s Lorna C. Hill Theatre, June 9-17. The company has plans for a production of Prelude to a Kiss, the Craig Lucas play that premiered on Broadway in 1990, where it starred, guess who? Mary-Louis Parker. Kevin Deese will play the part originated by Timothy Hutton.
Eileen Dugan will be making her return to the Lancaster Opera House in the comedy Grand Horizons, directed by Frank Kuhn. The comedy opened on Broadway in 2019, starring Jane Alexander in Dugan’s role. It won’t be the first time Dugan has done an Alexander role; Shadowlands comes to mind. Dugan will be joined by Steve Jakiel, Pamela Rose Mangus, Jason Francey, Merrick Allen, Lisa Miller, and Shawn Adiletta. The show opens on June 9th. The Lancaster Opera House will kick off next season with The Little Shop of Horrors.
Another smash hit for Second Generation Theater, Tick, Tick … Boom!, now running through June 4th. The company celebrates its 10th anniversary (time goes so fast!) next season, opening with The Color Purple in collaboration with Ujima, and Shea’s. The season will also include the premiere of The Bowling Play by Kelly Copps. Scheduled for April, the seldom performed Sondheim show Merrily We Roll Along. Coincidentally, the show is scheduled to play Broadway beginning September, starring Daniel Radcliffe. This will be a coup. Usually, when a show is on Broadway, the rights are very restricted. Anyway, Happy Anniversary Second Gen!!!! They were all little girls when I first met them.
Well, it is Artie time. I know it is impossible to pick six top performances when there are over 50 shows in the season. That is huge! I would like to mention those egregiously overlooked. Steven Jakiel (again) and Pamela Rose Mangus were absolutely terrific in Cabaret. (There is no truth to the rumor that Pamela is starting her own theater company, slated to open with Pam herself as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard). I don’t know whether Jakiel had to audition, but his performance was sublime. For best actor, so many choices. Darryl Semira and Afrim Gonbalaj were just perfect in the outstanding production of Guards at the Taj. Peter Horn in Clue; that was quite a workout. Jenn Stafford and Bobby Cooke were first-rate in Romance, Romance. There wouldn’t be a John Kaczorowski nomination without Tara Kaczorowski. And…. Adriano Gatto in Misery -- there should have been a fundraiser for the Kavinoky, in which you pay for a photo op of yourself in bed with Gatto! Chris Hatch brought a special je ne sais quoi to Shakespeare in Delaware Park. And not least, there should be a new category next year for Best Supervision of a musical production!