Javier's STAGEFRIGHT column
Tom Calderone will become president and CEO of Buffalo Toronto Public Media, which operates WNED-TV/FM and WBFO-FM, on August 2nd. He succeeds Don Boswell, who is retiring after 23 years at the helm. Tom was formerly global head of content partnership and global head of studios for Spotify. Before that, he served as president of VH1 and as executive vice president of music and talent programming for MTV. How did Buffalo Toronto Public Media snag such a power hitter? He's a Buffalonian! Tom is a 1986 graduate of Buffalo State College, where he got his start as program director of student-run WBNY 91.3 FM. In 2008 he was given a SUNY honorary doctorate. Welcome home Tom!
Of course, Tom needs to know that sponsorship of the 30th Annual Artie Awards comes with his new job. The highly anticipated official announcement of the much-postponed event will be made during “Theater Talk,” with Anthony Chase and Peter Hall this Friday morning on WBFO FM 88.7. (I won’t steal all the thunder, but somebody needs to tell Tom to have his tuxedo ready no later than Monday, September 20, 2021!) Theater Talk plays at 6:45 a.m. and again at 8:45 a.m., with the podcast becoming available later in the day.
This year’s Artie nominees have the distinction of being called nominees for longer than any group in the awards’ 30-year history! Typically, nomination status only lasts for a couple of weeks. The 2019-2020 season was cut short, and the nominations weren’t announced until last summer. Still, by the time the winners are announced, this year’s class will have enjoyed nominee status for well over a year! I just saw Dan Urtz, nominated for Hand to God, and Ricky Needham, nominated for The Boys Upstairs, in Shakespeare and Love, the Shakespeare in Delaware Park touring show, directed by Saul Elkin. They’re still basking in the glow – and why not? They are nominated in different categories! Shakespeare and Love also stars Gabriella McKinley and Kiana Duggan-Haas.
The Arties, of course, will take place at Shea’s 710. It makes you sad to see the billboards for shows that never got to open because of the pandemic as you pass the theater. For instance, 2015 Tony award winner The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time had a preview performance on March 11, 2020 to a very enthusiastic audience, before the production was canceled when New York State began to shut down. The scheduled March 12, 2020 opening night never happened. But as luck would have it, the set was never struck! As if in a fairy tale, it has been sleeping in place all this time, as if waiting for the return of live theater. The show will have its long overdue opening on October 28th. Pamela Rose Mangus, Ben Moran, and Anthony Alcocer will join the previous company players Sam Fesmire, Candace Kogut, Sara Kow Falcone, Jake Hayes, Priscilla Young Anker, and Wendy Hall to tell Simon Stephen’s play about a boy on the autism spectrum who sets about to solve the mystery surrounding the death of a neighbor’s dog. David Oliver directs. Most of the cast should be well off book by now!
Sara Kow Falcone
Priscilla Young Anker
The Kavinoky, now billed as “D’Youville’s Kavinoky Theatre,” opens its season on September 10th with the musical revue From Honky Tonk to Protest: A Woman’s View of Country Music conceived by and also starring Loraine O’Donnell who, if you haven’t heard yet, is now Executive Artistic Director of the theater. Directed by Lynne Kurdziel Formato, the full country band on stage will feature local musicians Dee Adams, Kathryn Koch, Renee Landrigan, Helen Butler, Elton Hough, Charlie Gannon and John Martz with vocals from Annette Daniels Taylor. O’Donnell will narrate and also sing.
The Irish Classical Theatre Company will open its 31st season on January 14th, 2022 with Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot starring Vincent O’Neill and Brian Mysliwi, directed by Kate LoConti Alcocer who, in case you missed it, is now the Executive Artistic Director or the company. She will be back on stage for the next show of the season, Sarah Ruhl’s comedy Stage Kiss, directed by Fortunato Pezzimenti. Back in March 2020, Bryan Delaney’s dark comedy The Onion Game was forced to close because of the pandemic. The production will return in June 2022, once again directed by Greg Natale, starring Stan Klimecko, Kelly Meg Brennan, and David Lundy.
If you missed the cover girls from Road Less Traveled Theater’s season brochure, here they are! The “Vanity Fair” style photo was taken by Vincent Lopez Photography. Each woman represents a show in the season: Maura Coseglia in Hand to God; Pamela Rose Mangus starring in Breadcrumbs; Alexandria Watts will be starring in Donna Hoke’s world premiere adaptation of Little Women called Little Women…Now; Melinda Capeles is set to star in Nina Raines’ Tribes; Margaret Massman will appear in Tribes.
The Jewish Repertory Theatre of WNY (JRT) will kick off its 2021-22 season on October 21st with Anna Ziegler’s Photograph 51 a play that tells the true story of Rosalind Franklin, a great female scientist of the 20th century. Directed by Katie Mallinson, the production will star Jacob Albarella, Ray Boucher, David Hayes, Dan Torres, Kristen Tripp Kelley, and Adam Yellen who, in case you haven’t heard, is the Director of Performing Arts at JRT. The season continues in February with The Treasurer by Max Posner, about the ties between a son and his aging mother played by Darleen Pickering-Hummert. Directed by Saul Elkin, the play will also star David Lundy, and Alexandria Watts. The season ends in May with the comedy Modern Orthodox by Daniel Goldfarb, directed by Elkin, and starring Zachary Bellus, Genevieve Ellis, and Yellen.
Out on The Town
Sarah Norat-Phillips and Lisa Ludwig ran into each other while having dinner at Mother’s Restaurant. Ludwig’s movie Mother’s Day directed by Travis Carlson opened June 18th at the North Park. Shot entirely in Gerry, New York and helmed by Pan American Film Division, the film just won the Best of the Festival in the 2021 Queens World Film Festival, where Ludwig was also honored as Best Actress of the festival. Congratulations! A founding member of the prestigious Ujima Company, Norat-Phillips is now serving as the Interim Artistic Director of the company. She will be directing the production of Spunk, set to open in May 2022. The play with music is an adaptation of three short stories by Zora Neal Hurston was first produced by the company in the 1993-94 season, directed by the legendary Lorna C. Hill earning Norat-Phillips an Artie for Best Actress. This time around, Zoe Scruggs will play the lead. Zoe is currently an Artie nominee for Cookin’ at the Cookery which played at Musicalfare.
And speaking of Musicalfare, it is not your typical Camelot that will open the company’s season on September 15th. This will be a new re-conceived version of the classic Lerner and Loewe musical, to be directed by Victoria Perez and Carlos Jones. The company is billing it as “a story and production for our times.”
So, the re-conceived version of O’Connell & Company’s Camelot which was in the planning, will have to be re-conceived for the future. They were thinking about an all-female cast, just as they did with 1776. In the meantime, the ambitious O’Connell & Company season planned for next year opens with Art by Yasmina Reza, directed by Victoria Perez; and includes the play PUFFS or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic (what’s with the long titles?), a comedic retelling of the Harry Potter book series by J. K. Rowling, but from the perspective of the "Puffs”, directed by Joey Bucheker; the world premiere of Confessions of a Reverend Mother which is based on the Nunsense character created by Dan Goggin; Tenderly, The Rosemary Clooney Musical (Feb 11-27) directed by Richard Lambert; and some new variation of the bingo show. The season will also include the musical Working, directed by Neal Radice, with musical direction by Donny Jenczka. The holiday offering is set to be Claus, the musical (Dec 3-19), to be directed by none other than Michael Galante who has been absent from the scene in quite some time. The season will also include two singularly sensational Broadway musicals, A Chorus Line (Oct 15-31) directed and choreographed by Dewayne Barrett; and Rent (May 6-22) directed by Joey Bucheker.
Back at the Alleyway, where, in case you haven’t heard, Chris Handley is now the Executive Artistic Director, they’ve got a new logo and website. Neal Radice remains involved with his adaptation of A Christmas Carol, which will return in December for the 39th time, under his direction. This year, the production will have two new cast members, Josh Wilde and Sandra Roberts taking over for regulars Joyce Stilson and David Poole. The Mazumdar New Play Competition continues under the new Alleyway administration. The 2020 prize goes to Deborah Yarchun's The Aleph Complex and Josie Nericcio's El Árbol. Each play will premiere in Alleyway's 2022/23 season. The 2021 Mazumdar Competition is now open for entries through August 10.
You may not know his name, but you know his work. Paul Huntley designed wigs for more than 200 shows, including Carol Channing's for Hello Dolly; Glenn Close's for Sunset Boulevard, and Chita Rivera's for The Visit. After a career in the movies that included wigs for Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marlene Dietrich, his first Broadway show was Uncle Vanya in 1973; his last was the current production of Diana: the musical. In 2003, he was honored with a special Tony Award. He died in London last week at the age of 88.