• Javier

Buffalo Theater News April 2022

STAGEFRIGHT by Javier


two men pose for the camera
With Bryan Batt at 2ndstage in New York City

The fabulous Bryan Batt who turned 59 in March, is back on the New York stage starring in the new comedy To My Girls. Now best known for his role in the AMC series Mad Men as Salvatore Romano, Batt starred in the original 1993 off-Broadway production of Jeffrey playing Sterling’s boyfriend, Darius, a Broadway chorus dance boy who was appearing in the musical Cats. Batt reprised his role in the 1995 movie adaptation. Coincidentally, Batt actually made his Broadway debut in 1992 in the original production of Cats. When BUA produced Jeffrey back in 1994, the part was played by Sam D’Amato who was followed by Michael Walline.


Now, a multiple Artie Award winner for direction and choreography, Walline will be directing the musical The Secret Garden for Second Generation Theatre, opening in October. Auditions were held over the weekend and from what I have heard, attendance was huge and talent was impressive for the role of the little girl, Mary Lennox. The musical had a successful run on Broadway, and eleven-year-old Daisy Egan who played the part of Mary, won the 1991 Tony Award for best featured actress in a musical, becoming the youngest female recipient of a Tony Award to date. I know who the oldest recipient of an Artie award is, but not the youngest. Doug Weyand, help!


The Tony Awards has postponed this year's nomination announcement and the eligibility cut-off following a string of COVID-related performance cancellations, The ceremony will still take place June 12th at Radio City Music Hall. Previously scheduled for May 3, the nominations will now be announced May 9 at 9 a.m. on the official Tony Award channel.


Locally too, several opening postponements. Road Less Traveled opened Little Women Now on Saturday, a week later than scheduled and I lost count already, how many months after it was first announced before COVID. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf at the New Phoenix will now open on May 6th. Damn Yankees at O’Connell & Company has also postponed its opening to May 6th. The Kavinoky’s opening of People, Places, and Things has been postponed to May 5th. Road Less Traveled has also postponed its Second Annual 10-Minute Play Festival originally scheduled for May 2nd.


The Artie Awards, to be held on Monday, June 6th at Shea’s 710 Main, pandemic allowing. To be eligible for nomination, shows must have opened by May 6th, but with so many shows postponing to that date, the attendance schedule becomes very tight for the committee!


The 2002 Pulitzer Prize winning drama, Proof, opens May 5th at the beautiful Taylor Theater in Lockport’s Kenan Center, presented by the Carriage House Players. Directed by Jennifer Simpson, the production stars Sarah Emmerling, Joe Sciammarella, Tammy Dobe, and Connor Caso. Darryl Hart who is taking a break from acting on stage, is the set designer.


Up next at the Lancaster Opera House is Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, with direction and musical direction by Fran Landis and choreography by Timmy Goodman. The production stars Ian Hayes as Joseph and Jennifer Horton as the Narrator. Also starring, among others, Lorenzo Shawn Parnell, Matthew Rittler, and Jack Kreuzer (yes, of the Kreuzer acting family). Coming up next season at the Lancaster Opera House, the musicals Man of La Mancha, The Sound of Music, The Night Before Christmas, Clue, They’re Playing our Song, and the WNY premiere of the comedy Grand Horizons which is “recommended for 18 years or older’ (is someone going to be naked?) John and Tara Kaczorowski (who are so welcome back to Buffalo) will be starring in They’re Playing Our Song. They were both last seen together on stage in 2015 at the Lancaster production of Singin’ in the Rain.

Six children in sailor outfits standing behind a woman playing a guitar
That is 11-year-old David Bondrow standing behind Loraine O'Donnell as Maria van Trapp

For trivia fans, Lancaster Opera House Artistic/Executive Director David Bondrow played one of the von Trapp kids in an Upstage production of The Sound of Music at Park School back in 1993, directed by ME! Richard Lambert and Loraine O’Donnell played Captain and Maria. Mary Craig was Mother Abbess -- yes, there was a black mother abbess way before Audra!


Speaking of Park School, their theater space has been housing companies for many years ,beginning with Upstage New York, and most recently O’Connell & Company. Bob Rusch’s First Look Buffalo Theatre Company is going to be in residence for the 2022-23 theater season. The company had originally established residence at the New Phoenix, but since Richard Lambert’s announcement of his sudden departure, plans changed. Rusch and John Patrick Patti are co-founders of the company.


And speaking of the Kreuzer family, while Jeremy Kreuzer is enjoying a riotous run at Desiderio’s in Love List, father John Kreuzer is finally making his Shakespeare in Delaware Park debut in As you Like It, opening June 23rd, directed by Steven Vaughan. The production will also star, among others, Marissa Biondolillo, Darryl Semira, Jamie Nablo, Marie Costa, Jake Hayes, Chris Handley, Tom Makar, and Chris Guilmet.


Play On! A Nomadic Evening of Live Music and Theater will be held on Sunday, May 15th at 5 p.m. at the Burchfield Penney, featuring performances by Buffalo Chamber Players, Shakespeare in Delaware Park, and the Vocalis Chamber Choir. Limited tickets, $25 each, are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Go to https://shakespeareindelawarepark.org/play-on2/


Josie DiVincenzo (who will be starring in Irish Classical Theatre’s production of Doubt next season) will be performing in New York on May 10th with the fundraising company, Shakespeare with Benefits. The fun, music-filled Bard-Based variety show will benefit the refugees of Ukraine. If you can't make it to the show, you can donate at www.shakespearewithbenefits.org. Proceeds go directly to the refugees through Razom Ukraine, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. As Josie said, no donation is too small!


a man and a young woman pose for the camera
With Sabrina Kahwaty (in 2017)

It is now 100% official. In the May issue of Buffalo Spree Magazine (currently on the stands), Editor-in-Chief Elizabeth Licata announces she is leaving the publication after twenty three years in the job. Congratulations on a job very, very, very well done. I met Elizabeth way before she transformed Buffalo Spree, when we were both working at Artvoice. Elizabeth will now be part of the Buffalo News editorial board. Sabrina Kahwaty (now starring in the Road Less Traveled production of Little Women ... Now) will take over the job after having served as associate editor. That means Sabrina will be her mom, Donna Hoke’s new boss. Hoke is the theater editor for the magazine and also the author or Little Women ... Now. Only in Buffalo!


Brian Fuss is the new Executive Director of the Niagara Arts & Cultural Center. In his introductory e-mail he states: “throughout my nonprofit career, I have advocated for various causes, raised funds for programs and projects, helped expand organizations, created and implemented strategic plans, created community, and developed relationships with people in different sectors. In addition to my nonprofit experience, I have been a professor for about ten years, primarily online. I have a doctorate in public policy and a master's in public administration.”


Director/choreographer Stephanie Klemons will direct the Shea’s 710 production of Once on this Island coming up in September. Klemons, associate choreographer and “global dance supervisor” for the Broadway smash hit Hamilton, takes over from previously announced Bernard Calloway. The show was scheduled for last season, before Covid. Calloway is now unavailable as his BET series The Ms. Pat Show has been picked up for a second season. Artie winner Naila Ansari is still creating the choreography.


a woman smiling at the camera
Susan Shaughnessy at an Opening Night in Buffalo back in the 1990s

We are saddened by the passing of Susan Shaughnessy, a theater professional who spent some time in Buffalo in the late 1980s and early 1990’s. She directed the 1989 Alleyway Theatre production of On the Verge, starring Joyce Stilson, Pamela Rose Mangus, Jennifer Gurney, and Michael Karr. She claimed that she is the one who introduced Stilson to Neal Radice. She also directed the BUA production of Kathleen Betsko’s Johnny Bull back in 1992 at TheaterLoft. Her husband at the time, Patrick Shaugnessy, was technical director at NU and designed the set for the show. He installed the houselights in TheaterLoft which are still there. After leaving Buffalo in 1993, Susan became a drama professor in the University of Oklahoma's College of Fine Arts and served in that role for many years.

with Robert Morse

Elsewhere in the theater world, we have lost one of the greats of Broadway. Robert Morse, Tony Award winning star of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Tru died this week at the age of 90. He also appeared, with Bryan Batt, on television's "Mad Men."


Thursday, May 5th (5/5/22) will be the naming and dedication of the Lorna C. Hill Theater. Also back in 1992, Lorna appeared in a BUA production of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, in which she played Madame Arcati, portraying her as Caribbean. To this day when I hear Madame Arcati’s line,“tricks of the trade???” I hear Lorna’s voice. I will miss her forever.

four people surprised by an invisible spirit
Lorna C. Hill (center) as Madame Arcati in Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit." Michele Ninacs is Elvira. Richard Lambert is Charles. N. Regina Jackson is Ruth. The cast also featured the late Tim White.