STAGEFRIGHT: by Javier
Playwright John Cariani’s (pictured above) first play, Almost, Maine opens this week at Shea’s 710 Main in a Road Less Traveled production directed by Doug Weyand, starring Eve Everette, John Kreuzer, Nicholas Lama, and Wendy Hall. Almost, Maine premiered at the Portland Stage Company in 2004 before opening off-Broadway in 2006. It has since become one of the most frequently produced plays in the US. Cariani’s fourth, and most recent play, Love/Sick played in New York in 2015. He is also a very busy actor and received a Tony nomination for performing the role of Motel the tailor in the 2004 revival of Fiddler on the Roof. Most recently, he appeared on Broadway in Something Rotten and The Band’s Visit.
A.R. Gurney’s Love Letters continues playing at O’Connell & Company with a rotating cast. Mary Coppola Gjurich and Gregory Gjurich perform on February 14th & 15th. Anne Gayley and Keith Elkins return on February 16th. Darleen Pickering Hummert and Roger VanDette will play the matinee on February 17th. Next week will be the final week, when Joyce Stilson and Neal Radice perform on February 21st and 23rd. Lisa Ludwig and Russ Papia perform on February 22nd and 24th.
On February 22nd the Brazen-Faced Varlets will present ‘night Mother by Marsha Norman, (which was the winner of Buffalo Spree’s Best Actress, Priscilla Young-Anker, and the Best Production of a Classic Show and was nominated for 3 Artie Awards) for Grand Rounds at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center at 400 Forest Ave. at 8 a.m. The piece was selected as a novel way to present the topic of suicide as a mental health issue to trainees and current practitioners. This performance is open to the public. The production is directed by Lara Haberberger and also stars Heather Fangsrud.
Saul Elkin, beloved founder of Shakespeare in Delaware Park and Jewish Repertory Theatre of WNY is back home and recovering nicely after a scare with an infection that started on the bottom of his foot and sent him to the hospital. The worst part? Saul had to miss the opening of Lanford Wilson's Talley's Folly -- the first JRT opening he has missed in 16 years! Feel better Saul!
On Monday, March 18th at 7 p.m., the Kavinoky will present a reading of The Ghost of Seymour St. a new play by Tom Dudzick, author of the popular Over the Tavern. The new comedy takes place in the Larkinville area of Buffalo in the middle of a blizzard. The reading will be narrated by Dudzick and will star Steve Copps, Kelly Copps, and Isaac Fesmire.
Ujima's move to the recently renovated School 77 at 429 Plymouth is now complete. The offices and rehearsal space are fully functioning and construction is under way in the new theater. The musical Passing Strange with music and lyrics by Stew will open on April 26th. Directed by Lorna C. Hill, the production will star Preach Freedom, Brian Brown, Zoe V. Scruggs, Tianna Livingston, Augustus Donaldson, and Jaqueline Cherry.
It seems that Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf will be lighting up the Buffalo boards once again, starring Pamela Rose Mangus and Richard Lambert, under the direction of Nancy Doherty. Doherty won the 1991/92 Artie for direction of the same play, back then starring Saul Elkin and Lorna C. Hill.
The Wake, Irish Classical Theatre’s party to die for takes place on Friday, February 15th at a new location, The Town Ballroom. The company’s annual fundraiser begins at 7 p.m., with VIP entry at 6 p.m.
Jon Elston’s 2004 Artie Award winning play, Interrogation Room, will be revived as part as the 2019/20 at Road Less Traveled. The season will open with Lee Blessing’s The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid, Madeleine George’s The Curious Case of the Watson Intelligence, Annie Baker’s The Antipodes, and Robert Askins’s Hand to God which was postponed from this season giving some more time for the company to relocate to its beautiful new theater.
Torn Space opens its 2019 season on Friday February 15th with the world premiere of the stage adaptation of The Killing of a Chinese Bookie by John Cassavetes. The company will have its annual spring fundraiser on February 28th beginning with dinner at 6:30, followed by the performance at 7:30, and a guest speaker, American film blogger, cinephile, and film critic Girish Shambu.
Speaking of Torn Space, the theater company and its team of designers have been selected to represent the US at the Prague Quadrennial (PQ). The company’s production of They Kill Things (2015) will be featured in the Professional / Transformation Exhibit in Prague in July 2019. The design work is credited to: Dan Shanahan and Melissa Meola (writers/directors), Marisa Caruso (managing director), John Rickus and Carlie Todoro-Rickus (lighting designers), Tim Stegner (marketing design, installation artist), Justin Rowland, Eric Burlingame, Avi Amon (sound designers), Jess Wegrzyn (costume designer), Brian Milbrand (video designer), Frank Napolski, MJ Myers (installation artists), and Alexia Buono (choreographer). Congratulations!
Also representing the US at the PQ, UB’s Department of Theatre and Dance. Assistant Professor Jonathan Shimon is leading a team of faculty, staff and students who have fabricated and built, and will transport two cutting-edge multimedia exhibits. The exhibits were displayed at UB’s Center for the Arts and they will be transported to Louisville, Kentucky, for the United States Institute for Theatre Technology National Conference in March. Then it’s on to Prague, June 6-16.
Interestingly, the Torn Space show selected for the PQ starred Diane Gaidry (pictured below in a production photo from the show), who passed away on January 30, 2019. In addition to her work at Torn Space, Gaidry has been seen at Irish Classical Theatre. She is, perhaps, best remembered for the role of Simone Bradley in the 2006 film, "Loving Annabelle," directed by Katherine Brooks. Her performance won the Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Actress at L.A. Outfest. Gaidry was greatly admired for her talent, well-liked in the theater community, and will be greatly missed.