Theater News - Feb.
One of the most anticipated plays of the season opens March 1st at the Irish classical Theatre Company (ICTC). Frost/Nixon marks the official return of beloved Buffalo actor Jack Hunter to the Buffalo boards. Hunter spent several years in California. He will play president Richard Nixon in this fictionalized account of the conversations that took place in 1977 between Nixon and British TV personality David Frost, played by Adriano Gatto (pictured, above left). Directed by last year’s Artie winner for direction, Brian Cavanagh, the production will also star Adam Yellen, Peter Palmisano, David Lundy, Matt Witten, Renee Landrigan, Ray Boucher, and Jamie O'Neill, who will return to Australia at the end of the run. Written by Peter Morgan, who most recently wrote The Audience, Frost/Nixon opened on Broadway in 2007, starring Frank Langella and Michael Sheen, and featuring Niagara University alum Armand Schultz as Bob Zelnick (the part played by Witten). The Broadway production was directed by Michael Grandage who directed the current musical hit Frozen, and also directed Hamlet in 2009 starring Jude Law.
Speaking of Hamlet, ICTC will open its own production on April 26th under the direction of Kate LoConti, starring her husband, Anthony Alcocer (pictured above, right), in the title role. The production will also star Anna Krempholtz as Ophelia, Kristen Tripp Kelley as Gertrude, Adam Yellen as Horatio, and Patrick Cameron as Laertes. LoConti directed the tragedy last year in a student production for the UB Department of Theatre & Dance. Coincidentally, the first time she worked on Hamlet was while she was a student at UB, with the late Jerry Finnegan at the helm. Gatto served as fight choreographer at UB; Adam Rath will do the job at ICTC. The company opens its next season with the 17th century tragedy, ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore by John Ford.
And speaking of LoConti, rumor has it that the fabulous actress/director who spent years in Chicago perfecting her craft before returning to Buffalo, is being groomed for an artistic leadership role. LoConti won the Katharine Cornell Award for Outstanding Visiting Artist in 2015 for her role in After Miss Julie at ICTC. Upon her return, she won an Artie in 2016 for Outside Mullingar. She was nominated again in 2017 for Winslow Boy, and in 2018 for The Constant Wife. All at ICTC.
Some more Shakespeare going on right now. UB Department of Theatre & Dance will do Julius Caesar on March 1st and 2nd only, under the direction of professor Danielle Rosvally. The ninety-minute production will be performed at UB’s Center for the Arts Main Stage Theatre. Also on March 1st, the New Phoenix, opens its run of the seldom produced The Life and Death of King John, adapted and directed by Lawrence Gregory Smith.
Next season the New Phoenix includes plans to mount the two-hand version of Kiss of the Spider Woman, directed by Victoria Perez, starring Rolando Gomez and Rick Lattimer. The season will open with a revival of Izzy, by Grant Golden and Jim Santella, directed by Richard Lambert with music direction by Don Jenczka. Lambert will also direct Come back to the five and dime, Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean, which is set to star, so far, Lisa Ludwig, Jenn Stafford, and Betsy Bittar. And, just like the search for Scarlett, director Nancy Doherty will be casting Nick and Honey over the next few months for her remount of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. Back in her 1991 BET/Ujima co-production, the parts were played by Richard Satterwhite and Jennifer Smith. In 2005, ICTC also produced the Albee play starring Josephine Hogan, Jack Hunter, Christian Brandjes, and Golde.
Artie Award winning set designer Paul Bostaph will join the Kavinoky team next season and is on board to design sets for the musicals Hairspray and The Bridges of Madison County. The former will be directed and choreographed by Carlos Jones who won last year’s Artie for his choreography in the Paul Robeson Theatre’s production of Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope! Bridges will be directed by the theater’s Artistic/Executive Director Loraine O’Donnell. In addition to her administrative and directorial duties, O’Donnell will also star in the two-hander Misery, opposite Peter Palmisano. The play was on Broadway in 2015 starring Laurie Metcalf and Bruce Willis. The company’s annual fundraiser Kavinoky Kavalcade is now called Kavinoky Kabaret and will take place April 5th on the 6th floor of the D'Youville Academic Center.
Musicalfare’s 2017 megahit production of Million Dollar Quartet returns to Shea’s 710 Theatre, March 14-31. The musical takes place in 1956 when Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley met by chance at Sun Records in Memphis. Andrew J. Reimers, Joseph Donohue III, Brandon Barry reprise their Cash, Lewis, and Perkins performances, joined by Nick Stevens as Elvis. Original cast members Jeffrey Coyle and Arianne Davidow also star. Donohue won the 2017 Artie Award for his performance. The company will be celebrating its 30th anniversary next season!
In other casting news, two weeks before opening, the role of "Pops" in the Road Less Traveled production of Stephen Adly Guirgis' Pulitzer Prize winning play, Between Riverside and Crazy, originally played in New York by Stephen McKinley Henderson, has been taken over by John Vines. Fisher was previously announced in the role.
Alleyway Theatre will be holding general auditions for its upcoming 40th season. They are looking for union and non-union performers, stage managers, designers, musicians, and technicians. E-mail resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org. Details will follow. By the way, Todd Warfield is the theater’s new Director of Public Relations.
And finally, caught in the cross-fire of a legal dispute between the producers of the current Broadway adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird and DPC, the publisher of the version that was in rehearsal at the Kavinoky Theatre, the Kavinoky has decided to cancel their production. To Kill a Mockingbird will be replaced by the Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan adaptation of George Orwell's novel, 1984, and will open on March 15th.