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Theater News from JAVIER


a mural on a wall with colorful geometric shapes
New mural by Audra Linsner at Alleyway Theatre

a woman jumping in the air in front of a mural
Mural artist Audra Linsner

It is definitely a new and wonderful look at the Alleyway Theatre. The grand lobby has been entirely re-done and now boasts a spectacular new mural designed by Canandaigua-based mural artist and designer, Audra Linsner (pictured). Linsner spent weeks at the theater hand-painting the mural. With support from Lorraine Capital, the Alleyway put out a call for proposals from mural artists last spring. According to a press release from the theater: “We loved that Audra's proposal merged design elements from the building's Art Moderne past with the energy and excitement of our organization as it moves into the future.” You should check it out.


With set designers Christopher and Justin Swader

And there is no better time to check it out than now, with the theater’s current hit White Rabbit, Red Rabbit playing its final week starring Charmagne Chi on September 25th, Brandon Williamson on October 1st, and Norm Sham on October 2nd. The show also features an amazing set design courtesy of New York based designers Christopher & Justin Swader (pictured above, double the pleasure, double the fun. Yes, they are twins). They are designers for theater and live events and have credits all over the country, including the Big Apple Circus.


It is also the last weekend for the limited engagement of O’Connell & Company’s Betsy Carmichael’s BINGO Palace at Shea’s Smith Theatre, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. This time there are special guest Bingo callers: Jay Desiderio on Friday; Jon Summers on Saturday; and Mike Randall on Sunday. Don’t fall for it, there is no "O-76" in Bingo. Betsy Carmichael is, of course, played by Joey Bucheker who runs the gamut of his talent after just having played a very butch character in Yasmina Reza's Art. And, there is no truth to the rumor that Bucheker and Mary Kate O’Connell are going to star as conjoined twins, Daisy and Violet Hilton, in the company’s production of Side Show!


After bringing theater back to Buffalo with God’ Favorite by Neil Simon, and adding several performances (prompting Jimmy Janowski to say, “Next time I will have my understudy do my matinees!”) Desiderio’s Dinner Theatre continues its season with the comedy/drama Tribute by Bernard Slade. The 1978 Broadway production starred Jack Lemmon and was directed by Arthur Storch who became the first Artistic Director of Syracuse Stage in 1974. The LORT professional theater company is in residence at Syracuse University and will resume live performances on October 13th. Slade, who was born in St. Catharine’s, Ontario, created the TV shows The Flying Nun and The Partridge Family, and also wrote for several other shows including Bewitched. He wrote the popular play, Same Time, Next Year, which Desiderio’s presented a few years ago starring Don Gervasi and Lisa Ludwig. But I digress. Tribute opens October 13th, directed by Jay Desiderio, starring Gregory Gjurich, Zachery Gammel, Lisa Hinca, Jennifer Starr, Robert Insana, Marie Costa, and Ludwig in another triumphant return to Desi’s.

four people looking at a ghost
Lorna C. Hill as Madam Arcati, with Michele Ninacs as Elvira, Richard Lambert as Charles, and Regina Jackson as Ruth in the 1992 BUA production of Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit"

Ujima Company opens the first show of its 2021/2022 season on October 8th at the aptly renamed Lorna C. Hill Theatre. The Buffalo legend passed away on June 30, 2021, and we all miss her dearly. Many years ago, she played Madame Arcati in a BUA production of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, also starring the late Tim White, along with Richard Lambert, Regina Jackson, and Michele Ninacs. But I digress again. The first show in the Lorna C. Hill Theatre is American Son by Christopher Demos-Brown, directed by Aaron Mays, starring Tanika Holems, Christopher Guilmet, Mike Benoit, and Tuhran Gethers.


How time flies! The Brazen-Faced Varlets are celebrating their 15th anniversary! Their first show of this season is Shirley Lauro’s All Through the Night, a surrealistic play inspired by interviews with German gentile women, set during and after the Third Reich. Directed by Lara D. Haberberger, starring Sarah Emmerling, Kaeli McGinnis, Jessie Miller, Kathleen Roone, and Stefanie Warnick, the production opens October 8th at the Alleyway Theatre. Not sure if the full-service bar will be open by then, but they have already applied for a license. So is it OK to BYOB? Restaurants do it!


The always popular Buffalo native David Shire and Richard Malty musical Baby is returning to off-Broadway this fall with a cast headed by the fabulous Julia Murney. Produced by Out of the Box Theatrics whose mission is to uplift the voices of marginalized communities, the middle couple of Baby will now be a same-sex couple. I want it all…!


Sabrina Kahwaty joins the cast of the much-anticipated return of Hand to God at Road Less Traveled. Will she get a glamor shot in a glamorous gown like RLT's other poster gals? She is replacing Maura Coseglia who is relocating out of Buffalo. Love you Maura, best wishes!


Another local theater company on the horizon? Rumor has it that actor/director/playwright David Oliver will be opening his own company, coming this spring, and will be performing at the old Road Less Traveled space on Pearl Street. In the meantime, he will be directing the upcoming production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at Shea’s 710 Theatre. Hey 710, isn’t it time to change the posters outside your theater? That was two years ago, and we want to forget about it!

With Stephanie Bax Chandler and Mr. Chandler

What happened last summer? Well, actress extraordinaire Stephanie Bax got married to Bob Chandler in August. Congratulations! She will be keeping the name “Bax” as her stage name.


Congratulations to New York State’s first woman York Governor, Kathy Hochul! A WNY native, she is a big supporter of the arts. So, whatever funding the new stadium gets, there should be an equal amount for our strong theater community, right?