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Theater News by JAVIER - 1/1/20

By JAVIER

Jonathan Pryce and Javier

Jonathan Pryce, who just finished the Broadway run of Height of the Storm opposite Eileen Atkins, can currently be seen in the Netflix release, The Two Popes, as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (later Pope Francis) opposite Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict XVI. It has been nearly 30 years since he found himself in the middle of a controversy over his being cast as the Engineer in the original Miss Saigon.


The Brazen-Faced Varlets open the new year with Carolyn Gage’s The Anastasia Trials in the Court of Women, a satire about a women's theater group putting on a performance about five ladies being tried for betraying Anastasia Romanov, the “last surviving” daughter of the Tsar of Russia. Directed by Lara D. Haberberger, this courtroom drama stars Jennifer Arroyo, Heather Fangsrud, Jessie Miller, Jamie Nablo, Caroline Parzy-Sanders, Emily Pici, Kathleen Rooney, Stefanie Warnick, and Priscilla Young-Anker. The play opens January 17th at Alleyway’s Cabaret. Warning! There is intense audience participation. The company was one of 32 arts and cultural nonprofit organizations awarded with a $1,000 grant from the Arts Services Initiative of Western New York (ASI).


By the way, ASI is accepting nominations for the 2020 Spark Awards, the annual celebration where they recognize outstanding individuals and organizations in the WNY arts and cultural community. Award categories include: Artist of the Year, Arts Organization of the Year, Arts Integration, Lifetime Achievement, Rising Star, Supporter of the Cultural Sector, Trailblazer of the Arts, and Unsung Hero. Deadline for nominations is January 15th. The awards ceremony will be held on May 13th at the Forbes Theater. For more information go to www.asiwny.org


Also on January 17th, The Subversive Theatre Collective will present the regional premiere of Philip Ridley’s Mercury Fur, set in post-apocalyptic London where two brothers provide clients the opportunity to experience their most depraved fantasies. Directed by Mike Doben, the production stars Zachary Bellus, Justyne Harris and Jeremy Catania.  Also featuring, as billed by the company in the press release, “Buffalo’s next generation of acting talent: Matthew B. Cullen, Zach Thomas, Lucas Colon, Vinnie DeStefano and Helen Rose.” There is also a warning/ advisory: intense/graphic language, scenes of violence, sudden loud noises. Hold on to your seats! The play is written and produced in the style of In-yer-face theatre, a movement that emerged in Great Britain in the 1990s. Sarah Kane, Mark Ravenhill and Anthony Neilson are considered to be the top three playwrights in the style.


Also set in London, but in the 1880s at a time when Jack the Ripper was terrorizing the city, Factory for Murders, a play by Scott McCrea, winner of the 2018 Maxim Mazumdar New Play Competition at the Alleyway. Directed by Neal Radice, the production will star James Cichocki, Trevor Dugan, Sandra Roberts, Emily Yancey, Madeline E. Allard, Bob Bozek, Emily Lotocki, Nolan Miles, and Amy Rochford. The mainstage will be reconfigured to centralize the action all around the audience, design by Todd WarfieldFactory runs January 16th – February 8th.


By the way, Darryl Semira has joined the faculty of the Theatre School of WNY at the Alleyway, joining Chris J. Handley, Todd Benzin, Karen McDonald, Bella Poynton, and Don Gervasi. Semira, who appeared on Broadway in Bombay Dreams and Mamma Mia! is also slated to teach musical theater at Buffalo State. It seems that 2020 will be a busy year for Semira, who will also be playing William Shakespeare in Something Rotten at the Kavinoky Theatre.


Congratulations to UB Department of Theatre and Dance professor Lindsay Brandon-Hunter, who was honored at the 2019 Neo-Futurists gala as one of the founding members of the famed theater group’s New York company.


In celebration of O'Connell & Company's 25th Anniversary Season and the 50th Anniversary of The Buffalo Irish Center, Women's Little Christmas will take place on Monday January 6th from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. This traditional Irish Holiday celebrates the hard work women have done to prepare for the holiday festivities. There will be dinner with Irish fare and performances by O’Connell & Co., Irish Dancers, Bag Pipes, Irish Poetry, music & dance. Tickets are $35 pre-sale, $45 at the door. Buffalo Irish Center is at 245 Abbott Road. For tickets go to vendini.com


O’Connell & Company returns to Shea’s Smith Theatre for its production of Nunsense A-Men, which is the original Nunsense with the characters being played by men in drag. Directed by Kelli Bocock Natale, the production will star Michael Starzynski, Jake Hayes, Daniel Lendzian, Nick Lama, and Joey Bucheker, who also choreographs.


No big surprise, To Kill a Mockingbird has officially become the most popular drama ever produced by the Kavinoky, breaking all attendance records. The Broadway production is still going strong, a year after it opened, with a cast now headed by Ed Harris. A national touring production will kick off in August at the Kennedy Center, starring Richard Thomas. Plans are also underway for the London production, which will open in June starring Rhys Ifans of Notting Hill and Harry Potter fame. Most notably, the Broadway company will perform in Madison Square Garden on February 26th, a first for a Broadway play, for a crowd of 18,000 public school students.


Coming up next at the Kavinoky, continuing its 40th anniversary season, the Broadway musical The Bridges of Madison County, by Jason Robert Brown and Marsha Norman. Directed by Loraine O’Donnell and music direction by Alan Paglia, the production will star Michele Marie Benzin, Steve Copps, Christopher Guilmet, Ian Hayes, Arin Dandes, Robert Cooke, Ben Moran, Karen Harty, Kelly Copps, Laryssa Petryshyn, Pamela Rose Mangus, Paul Maisano, and Kelly Copps who will also choreograph.


Word is that casting is complete for soon to be announced Kavinoky 2020-2021 season. Highlights include productions of two musicals. Something Rotten will feature Steve Copps as Nick Bottom; Kelly Copps as Bea Bottom; Dan Urtz as Nigel Bottom; Bethamy Burrows as Portia; Brian Mysliwy Nostradamus; Gregory Gjurich as Lord Clapham; Louis Colaiacovo as Brother Jeremiah; and Norm Sham as Shylock. The Rock of Ages will feature Hannah Keller as Sherrie Christian; Anthony Alcocer as washed up rock star Stacee Jaxx; Loraine O’Donnell as Justice Charlier, the stripper mom; Phil Farugia as Lonny Barnett; Chris Guilmet as club owner Dennis Dupree; Kevin Donohue and Greg Gjurich as father and son Franz and Hertz Klinemann; Alexandria Watts as Regina McKaig; Lorenzo Shawn Parnell as the mayor; with music direction by Alan Paglia.


By the way, save the date! On Monday, January 20th at 7 p.m. the Kavinoky, in collaboration with The Jewish Repertory Theatre, will host a reading of God of Vengeance, a new Stephen Fife adaptation of the 1906 Yiddish play by Sholom Asch. The play is about the daughter of a Jewish brothel owner who falls in love with a prostitute.  It featured the first lesbian kiss on stage. Indecent, the play by Paula Vogel coming to the Kavinoky in March, deals with what happened when God of Vengeance was first produced. Everyone involved was convicted on obscenity charges.  Reservations recommended, call 716-829-7668.  Pay What you Can.


Pulitzer Prize winner playwright Annie Baker returns to Road Less Traveled Productions (RLTP) with her 2017 play The Antipodes, a play about people telling stories about telling stories. Baker won the 2014 Pulitzer for her play The Flick. RLTP previously produced her play Circle Mirror Transformation at 710 Main. Directed by Scott Behrend, The Antipodes will star Sean Cullen, the company’s 2020 American Theatre Master.  A native of Buffalo, and a graduate of the Yale School of Drama, St. Bonaventure University and Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School, Cullen has extensive TV, movie, theater, and Broadway credits. The play will open on January 16th and will also star Cassie Cameron, Kristen Tripp Kelley, Greg Howze, John Hurley, David Marciniak, Ricky Needham, Dave Hayes, and Adam Yellen.


Acting coach and actor Bob Rusch has formed a new theater company called First Look Buffalo. The company’s inaugural production is the play Cops and Friends of Cops by Ron Klier. Directed by Drew McCabe, the production will run January 10th -- February 1st at The Compass Performing Arts Center. The play stars Tony Grande, Dan Morris, John Patrick Patti, Shakora Purks and Rusch.


Niagara U grad Alan Trinca is appearing off-Broadway in Dep Kirkland's play, “Ms. Trial,” about colleagues at a law firm who become embroiled in a situation involving a sexual impropriety that escalates into sexual assault.


Javier and Alan Trinca in Manhattan.

Happy New Year to everyone. Here we are in 2020! Congratulations to Debbie Pappas and daughter Laura Barriere who will greet a new addition to their family this year, starting the new decade by becoming grandmother and mom! If you doubt that time is fleeting, take a look at Debbie and Laura in the photo below!



Lisa Vitrano, Brittany Bassett, Alexandria Watts, Heather Gervasi, Sabrina Kahwaty, Jake Hayes, and Ricky Needham will star in Donna Hoke’s adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel, Little Women, to be called, Little Women Now, directed by Katie Mallinson at RLTP in November 2020.


Congratulations to Raices Theatre Company, recipient of the National Federation for Just Communities Award for Arts/Culture.  This year’s awards will be presented at a luncheon on Thursday, February 13, 2020 at the Convention Center. Sabor!