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Buffalo Theater News: October 2023

STAGEFRIGHT by JAVIER


two men smile for the camera
With Stephen Schwartz

Songwriter Stephen Schwartz will be appearing with the BPO this Saturday, October 28th in Stephen Schwartz and Friends, an evening of stories and songs with him at the piano. Can you believe it was 20 years ago this October 30th that his show Wicked first opened on Broadway at the Gershwin Theater where it’s still playing to full capacity. Schwartz’s first major credit was the title song for the Broadway play Butterflies are Free which opened on October 21, 1969 and ran for only three years! He then went on to write such musical classics as Godspell, Pippin, and The Magic Show (at one point they were all running on Broadway simultaneously). Then came The Baker’s Wife, Working, Rags and Children of Eden. Schwartz has earned numerous awards including three Grammys, three Oscars, and a Golden Globe. But wait, no Tony? Not for composing anyway. After six nominations, he did receive the 2015 Tony Award's Isabelle Stevenson Award. That award is presented annually to a member of the theater community who has made a substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of one or more humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations. In Schwartz’s case, for his work with the ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop, the ASCAP Foundation, and for his role as President of the Dramatists Guild (2009-2015). But I digress, Stephen Schwartz & Friends plays at Kleinhans at 7:30. Tony Award-winner Debbie Gravitte (Jerome Robbins’ Broadway) will be one of the friends performing that evening. Gravitte has appeared several times at Kleinhans and at Artpark.

Javier with Isabelle Stevenson at Sardi's
with Isabelle Stevenson, for whom the Tony Award for Humanitarianism is named. She was president and later chairperson of the board of the American Theatre Wing from 1966, until her death in 2003

The Alumni Association of Buffalo State University in collaboration with Buffalo State Theater Department will present a reading of Sixty Nine Seventy, a play by ’72 alumnus Michael Eichler. The play follows the lives of four local alumni from different socio-economic backgrounds during the 1969-70 academic year. Directed by Kyle LoConti, the reading will feature Buffalo State alumni Jeremy Catania and Sam Crystal, together with NU alumni Anika Pace and Sean Taylor. The event takes place on Saturday, November 18th at the JVL Alumni & Visitor Center, lunch at noon, reading at 12:45 p.m. Tickets are $15, free for students. Go to https://alumni.buffalostate.edu/sixty-nine-seventy-event


The cast of Jessica Dickey’s "The Convent"

Up next for The Brazen-Faced Varlets, Jessica Dickey’s The Convent about an eclectic group of women attending a stringent retreat in a medieval-style convent. Stefanie Warnick makes her directorial debut with a cast featuring Sandra Roberts, Pamela Rose Mangus, Juli Gryier, Rachael Buchanan, Gabrielle Nunzio, Heather Fangsrud and Lara D. Haberberger. The show runs November 3rd-18th at the Compass Performing Arts Center, at 545 Elmwood Ave., Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30, Saturdays 5 p.m. Tickets are available at theconvent.eventbrite.com .


Two men wrapped in a pink feather boa pose in a theater dressing room
With John Scherer backstage at The Maltz Jupiter Theatre when he played Albin/Zaza in Jerry Herman's "La Cage aux Folles"

Buffalonian John Scherer, a Broadway veteran who has played in theaters all over the country (most recently in The Sound of Music at the North Shore Music Theatre in Boston), will be back on the boards in Buffalo at the Lancaster Opera House starring in A Christmas Story (November 24th – December 10th), the comedy, based on the popular 1983 movie. Scherer was Broadway's original Bertie Wooster in Andrew Lloyd Webber's By Jeeves, and also played Joe Gillis on Broadway, opposite Betty Buckley's Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. The play will be directed by David Bondrow, also starring Ray Boucher, Kelleigh Murray, and Lauren Teller.


Kevin Leary will direct and choreograph The Niagara Arts and Cultural Center production of A Charlie Brown Christmas, a live stage adaptation of the classic television special featuring the characters of by Charles M. Schulz. The show will run December 2nd-17th.


An Inspector Calls has been extended at Desiderio’s Dinner Theatre through November 12th. Alyssa Grace Adams joined the cast on October 25th, taking over for Sabrina Kahwaty who is now at Musicalfare’s Legally Blonde.


Lisa Ludwig will be returning to the Desiderio’s stage with the one woman play The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Gina Hobben. We hear that the play contains mature language and themes, smoking and alcohol abuse.


And trying to broaden its Christmas audience, in addition to the traditional A Christmas Carol (December 6th – 24th) by Neal Radice, the Alleyway will be presenting an adults only, totally irreverent holiday event, Blue Xmas: The Charmagne Chi Christmas Special, December 14th-30th. This production is part of the AlleyWORKS series, where new plays and musicals are developed. The ad says: Leave the kids at home for a saucy, swearing, singing good time. Seriously, do not bring children. This is Christmassy AF.


Now in its fifth season, Starring Buffalo presents the musical Sister Act, in the company’s signature staged concert format. Local performers George L. Brown, Anne DeFazio, Alejandro Gómez, Daniel Lendzian, Timiyah Love, Steven Maiseke, Katy Miner, Jenn Stafford and David Evette Tolbert will join American Idol finalist Alyssa Wray as Deloris Van Cartier, and Tony-Award Nominee Sidney DuPont. Fresh off the world premiere of Drew Fornarola’s new musical Tiananmen at The Phoenix Theatre Company in Arizona, Fornarola will direct. Sister Act runs November 3rd and 4th at Shea’s 710 Theatre.


Second Generation Theatre ventures into the new play territory with the world

premiere of the comedy The Bowling Play by Kelly Copps, to be directed by her sister Amy Jakiel. Running February 23rd-March 10th at Shea’s Smith Theatre, the production will star Connor Graham, Alex Watts, Jacob Albarella, Sofia Matlasz, Rick Lattimer, Nick Lama, and Adam Yellen.


three people smile for the camera
With Lockport Audrey, Jenny McCabe and Lancaster Audrey, Amanda Funicello

The Lockport Palace cast of Little Shop of Horrors attended a final weekend performance of the Lancaster Opera House production of the same show. Pleasantries were exchanged after the show. The hit revival of the Alan Menken and Howard Ashman musical continues at the Westside Theatre off-Broadway, where Corbin Bleu (High School Musical; Kiss Me, Kate; In the Heights) recently joined the cast as Seymour, taking over for Jeremy Jordan who is off to the Paper Mill Playhouse to star in the premiere of the musical The Great Gatsby.

two men posing for the camera on a NYC street
With Corbin Bleu

The 1st Annual Shea's High School Musical Theatre Awards ceremony will take place on May 25th, 2024, on the Shea’s Buffalo Theatre Stage. This competition highlights the talent and dedication of high school theater programs in the region. There will be over twenty award categories and over fifty award recipients in the program this year.


D’Youville University is thrilled to announce its very first MFA Graduate Acting Company production, November 3rd- 12th., Thu-Sat at 7:30, Sun at 2 at the Allendale Theatre, 203 Allen St. Brendan Didio, Shannell Dixon, and Kodi James star in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) directed by Megan Callahan, This is an irreverent, fast-paced romp through the Bard’s plays, featuring all 37 plays in 97 minutes!


Renascence, a theatrical exploration of identity and artistry through the poems of Pulitzer Prize-winning Edna St. Vincent Millay, will play this weekend, Saturday Oct 28 and Sunday Oct 29 at 2 p.m. UB Center for the Artt in the Black Box Theatre. The show features music by Carmel Dean (music director for If/Then and American Idiot on Broadway), with a book by Dick Scanlan. Tickets: https://www.ticketmaster.com/search?q=ub%2Bcenter%2Bfor%2Bthe%2Barts%2Brenascence



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