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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Chase

Theater Dish

Stagefright by Javier

It’s been quite a week for the fabulous Billy Porter who became the first openly gay Black man to win the Emmy Award for Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his role in Pose. The award ceremony took place on September 22nd, Porter turned 50 on September 21st.  He made his Broadway debut in the original 1991 production of Miss Saigon and won the 2013 Tony Award for his performance in the musical Kinky Boots, in which he appeared as Lola. Porter will be a guest star on Idina Menzel’s new holiday album, Christmas: A Season of Love.

O'Connell & Company has postponed the opening of the musical Young Frankenstein by one week. The show will now open October 10th as the renovations to their new space at the Ken-Ton Elmwood Commons continue. The show is directed by Kelli Natale, with musical direction by Bret Runyon, and choreography by Tara Scime. Timothy Goehrig plays Dr. Frankenstein, with Joey Bucheker as Igor, Jenny McCabe as Inga, Pamela Rose Mangus as Frau Blucher, and John Kreuzer as the Monster.

American Repertory Theater of WNY has re-invented itself as The Compass Performing Arts Center. Still performing at TheaterLoft on 545 Elmwood Ave., the Center “begins a new era of diverse programming and the building of a forum for local creative-class individuals, musicians and performance groups to present their artistry.”  Bellissima Productions presented Jonathan Larson’s Tick Tick Boom last week. This week, Paige Allison Healing Arts is presenting Lindsey Price's movement piece/play Emotional Baggage. The Center’s in-house dramatic arts group, The Navigation Theatre Company will make its debut in October with Mark Humphrey's Kindness of Strangers, starring Victor Morales, Suzie Hibbard, Timothy Coseglia, Monish Bhattacharyya, and Jonathan Foreman. The company will focus on producing WNY playwrights.

Acting coach and actor Bob Rusch has formed a new theater company called First Look Buffalo. Plans are for underway for a production of the play, Cops and Friends of Cops, by Ron Klier. They plan to open on January 10th at Compass Performing Arts Center. Rusch, John Patrick Patti, and Rolando Gomez are set to star.

The new national tour of The Tony-nominated musical Xanadu, which was supposed to start this fall, has been canceled. RuPaul's Drag Race favorites Ginger Minj and Jinkx Monsoon were announced to star. The tour was going to make a stop at Shea’s 710 Main in November as part of the Shea’s 710 season. In its place, Shea’s 710 will be presenting Rochester’s Geva Theatre’s production of At Wit’s End starring syndicated columnist Pam Sherman (The Suburban Outlaw) as Erma Bombeck. By the way, welcome to Kevin Sweeney who is the new Director of Marketing and Communications at Shea’s Performing Arts Center. Sweeney was previously Director of Marketing at Geva Theatre.

Shea’s 710 Main season officially kicks off on October 10th with Road Less Traveled production of Superior Donuts by Tracy Letts. Letts won the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for his play August, Osage County.  His latest play, Linda Vista, is now in previews on Broadway after having had its world premiere at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company in 2017 and playing at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles earlier this year.

And speaking of Geva, the theater is currently presenting the Jerry Herman musical La Cage aux Folles, through October 6th. Artistic Director Mark Cuddy is celebrating his 25th anniversary at the helm of the theater by starring in the production as the nightclub owner, Georges.

Rocking Horse Productions, which used to perform at the Lancaster Opera House, begins its season at The Meeting House in the village of Williamsville this week with Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. The company’s season will also include Dan Goggin’s Sister Robert Anne’s Cabaret Class and Forever Plaid.

Don Gervasi and Todd Benzin have joined Alleyway’s Theatre School of WNY. Gervasi will be teaching Adult Acting 101; and Benzin will be teaching Teen Foundations of Acting. Classes start this weekend and next week. Registration is open; go to

Bobby Cooke will direct TOY’s season opener, the musical Pete the Cat, based on the series of books by Kimberly and James Dean. The production will star Ryan Butler, Renee Landrigan, Peter S. Raimondo, Dan Urtz, and Alexandria Watts. The show opens October 12th.

After his successful turn as Motormouth Maybelle in Kavinoky’s production of Hairspray, Lorenzo Parnell will appear as Don Ramiro in Buffalo Opera Unlimited production of Rossini’s Cinderella. The opera will be performed at Rockwell Hall on November 1st at 8, and November 3rd at 2:30.

Eileen Dugan returns to Desiderio’s Dinner Theatre to star opposite Russ Papia in Norm Foster’s On a First Name Basis. Directed by Jay Desiderio, the show is scheduled to open on January 23rd.  Coming up first, Jack Hunter will portray Lt. Columbo in Prescription Murder, opening October 13th.  Also directed by Desiderio, this play inspired the popular “Columbo” TV show starring Peter Falk, and will co-star David Marciniak, Lisa Hinca, Laura Barriere, Rob Dziechciarz, and Rhonda Parker.

The fabulous Christine Baranski will star in The Gilded Age, an upcoming HBO series created by Julian Fellowes who also created Downton Abbey. Baranski will play an aristocrat in this drama set in 1880s America. Cynthia Nixon will play her less affluent sister. Both Baranski and Nixon starred on Broadway in 1984 in The Real Thing.

The cast of Jason Mitchell's "The Boys Next Door," now in rehearsal at Buffalo United Artists, at a photo shoot with Cheryl Gorski.


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