Buffalo Theater News June 2022
STAGEFRIGHT by JAVIER
Another year, another Artie Awards ceremony. I always look forward to the after party at Matinee and the food trucks outside. Amy Jakiel, the fabulous co-host of the evening and I are both very fond of corn dogs as the photo confirms. That picture was taken before I knew that my husband and co-host was in the Emergency Room. (He urged me to “Go! Have a good time!” Then the minute I was out of the house, he went to the hospital). He didn’t look that bad when I left home. I swear! We call that acting! The photo documents the precise moment of the evening when everybody begins to ask if anybody remembers who won.
For all of you who were concerned, Artie winner Julie Kittsley did break her glass Artie (not on purpose), but it has already been replaced. It is not true that she was trying to recreate a moment from her performance as Tallulah in the play Looped by Matthew Lombardo. She simply dropped it. Kittsley now joins the illustrious Brian Riggs and Wendy Hall, who also broke their Arties on Artie night. (Add that to the Artie stats, Doug Weyand!) It’s been reported that Michele Ninacs moved her Artie Award to a safer location in the house, after she learned they are worth $500.00. E-bay anyone?
Speaking of Looped, playwright Matthew Lombardo’s new play, When Playwrights Kill, will have its world premiere at the Bushnell Theatre in Hartford, July 26th-August 5th, starring André De Shields, Jeremy Jordan, and Harriet Harris. De Shields, who won his first Tony award at 73 in 2019, for his performance in Hadestown, shows no signs of stopping. The Young Vic/West End production of Death of a Salesman is coming to Broadway next season. Director Miranda Cromwell co-directed the London production alongside Marianne Elliott, and together they won the 2020 Olivier Award for Best Direction. "Looking at Death of a Salesman from the perspective of a Black family living in a predominantly White capitalist world changes the way that you hear this text," said Cromwell. Sharon D. Clarke and Wendell Pierce are set to reprise their acclaimed performances as Willy and Linda Loman, for which Clarke received the Olivier Award for Best Actress and Pierce was nominated for Best Actor. And guess what, De Shields will join the cast as Willy's brother, Ben. No one mentions that Andre starred as Willy Loman at Buffalo State College, directed by Drew Kahn. The Broadway revival is sure to be nominated for (and win) a Tony. Tony voters love British imports.
Speaking of revivals, yes, Take Me Out won the Tony for Best Revival of a Play and so did its star Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Other revival nominees were American Buffalo, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, How I Learned To Drive and Trouble in Mind. Didn’t Chita look fabulous? She is the original Anita in the original West Side Story, and her lavender dress was an homage to her original Anita costume.
Chautauqua Institution just announced director Jade King Carroll as Producing Artistic Director of its resident Chautauqua Theater Company (CTC). The 2022 season will include Paula Vogel’s Indecent, Animals out of Paper by Rajiv Joseph, and Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Road Less Traveled will be presenting Joseph’s Guards at the Taj in November. Winner of the 2016 Obie Award for best new play, the production is scheduled to be directed by Artie Award winner Katie Mallinson. The play is set in India in 1648, during the unveiling of the Taj Mahal.
Happy Pride Month! The fabulous Leah Delaria is back on Broadway in the hilarious comedy POTUS, which also stars Julie White, Vanessa Williams, and Rachel Dratch. Delaria was the first openly gay comic on television in the US. She was previously on Broadway in The Rocky Horror Show and On the Town. She can also be seen in the current feature film Potato Dreams of America.
Congratulations to Brian Brown who has been appointed Managing Director at Ujima Company. Margaret Smith had served in that capacity during the company’s transition for the past two years. Up next for the company, Calamus Project Live, a reading of Walt Whitman’s “Calamus” cluster of poems included in Leaves of Grass. These poems celebrate and promote “the manly love of comrades.” Directed by Curtis Lowell, with dancing by Naila Ansari, performances by Brandon Williamson, Gerald Ramsey, Brian Brown, Ben Caldwell, Christina Foster, and Rachel Jamison, the event will take place in the auditorium of the Burchfield Penney Art Center on June 29 at 7:30 p.m. The program will include a discussion with the actors, as well as brief remarks by BPAC Burchfield Scholar Nancy Weekly and Partnership for the Public Good senior policy fellow Sam Magavern. The event is free and open to the public.
By the way, The Calamus Project website has just gone live www.calamusproject.org. It is a new collaboration aiming to bring the poems to a wider audience through films, events, and programs. The project partners include Ujima Company, Partnership for the Public Good, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Just Buffalo Literary Center, UB Humanities Institute, UB Gender Institute, the Walt Whitman Archive, and Rivalry Projects.
In other administrative changes at higher education institutions, set designer Carol Beckley will be the new chair of the Theater Department at Buffalo State College, replacing costume designer Ann Emo, who has retired from State to become Dean of Experiential Learning at Keuka College. Professor Eero Laine will be the new Chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance at UB. Congratulations to both! Please keep me posted on any gossip. Academia is always the best source of dish.
Speaking of Beckley, she will be working with ARTA on the new pilot mentorship program. ARTA celebrated the end of the season on June 13th at the Alleyway Theatre. Awards were presented to Rising Star Elizabeth Oddy, Trailblazer Aleks Malejs, MVP Lisa Vitrano, and Lighthouse Kristin Tripp Kelley.
Long Nguyen bolted from Buffalo State a few years ago to study at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. He’s been dancing ever since, and now announces that he’ll be moving his assets for Broadway Bares XXX, which features denuded dancers to raise funds for Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS. Check out “Knock, Knock, Who’s Bare? and help Nguyen’s groups meet their fundraising goal: https://donate.broadwaycares.org/fundraiser/3948596. And if you’re in NYC, check out the Broadway Bares show on Sunday, June 26th. It is always fun.
Shakespeare in Delaware Park is bringing the bard straight to your neighborhood with scheduled performances in Erie and Niagara Counties. All performances are free, and start at 7 p.m. (except where otherwise noted).
· June 16: Academy Park, Lewiston;
· June 17: Five Points Bakery, (West Side) Buffalo;
· June 18 (4:30 & 7 p.m.): Niawanda Park, City of Tonawanda;
· June 19 (4:30 & 7:00 p.m.): Jewish Community Center, Amherst;
· June 21: Showmobile – Aquatic and Fitness Center, Town of Tonawanda;
· June 22: Community Activity Center, Orchard Park;
· July 20: Bassett Park, Amherst;
· July 21: Quaker Arts Pavilion, Orchard Park;
· July 22: Penn Dixie Fossil Site, Blasdell;
· July 23 (4:30 & 7 p.m.): Nike Base Park, Grand Island;
· July 24 (4:30 & 7 p.m.): Freedom Run Winery, Cambria;
· July 26:Hamburg Town Park (Lakeshore), Hamburg;
· July 27: Veterans Park Complex, West Seneca;
· August 8: Locust Street Art, (Fruitbelt) Buffalo;
· August 15: Raymond Klimek Veterans Park, North Tonawanda;
· August 22: Galanti Park, Lackawanna.
And there goes the summer!
Opening on June 23rd at Shakespeare in Delaware Park, As you Like It, directed by Steve Vaughan. The show will be preceded by a special celebration honoring founder Saul Elkin’s retirement at which the stage will be named The Saul Elkin Stage. Elkin has stepped down from directing the season’s second show A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which will now be directed by Brian Cavanaugh. Congratulations to Saul, and again happy 90th birthday!!!!!
Director Drew Fornarola proves to be endlessly inventive. What a wonderful staging of Sunday in the Park with George at Starring Buffalo, with Broadway’s Josh Young and Emily Padgett Young as George and Dot! Buffalonians Karen Saxon, Keith Ersing, Jake Hayes, Matthew Iwanski-Jackson, Jetaun Louie, Michele Marie Roberts, Sara States, Andrea Todaro, and Josh Wilde more than held their own with strong vocals and whimsical performances. Choreography by Jeanne Fornarola was also fabulous.