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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Chase

THEATER NEWS -- April 21, 2019


Artie winners Lisa Ludwig and John Profeta are set to star in the New Phoenix production of Sharr White’s Annapurna which opens April 26th, directed by Terry Kimmel. The play premiered in San Francisco in 2011 and then played Los Angeles in 2013 with Megan Mullally, before moving to New York, off-Broadway in 2014. White is a fascinating playwright. He made his Broadway debut in 2013 with The Other Place starring the very busy Laurie Metcalf as a businesswoman dealing with an illness (the part would be great for Ludwig). Metcalf just opened this week on Broadway in Lucas Hnath’s new play Hillary and Clinton, co-starring with John Lithgow. She won back-to-back Tony Awards in 2017 for A Doll’s House Part 2 (also written by Hnath, produced at the Kavinoky last year), and in 2018 for Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women (to be produced in Buffalo next season by Second Generation). She was just announced for the Broadway revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (in the works for next season at the New Phoenix) starring opposite Eddie Izzard who appeared at UB Center for the Arts last year.

Back to Ludwig, she has become the queen of the two-hander. Before Annapurna, she was in the very successful Same Time, Next Year opposite Don Gervasi at Desiderio’s. Next season she will be at Jewish Repertory in Oh My God! opposite Todd Benzin. Among past productions, Fool for Love with Brian Riggs and The Blue Room with Richard Lambert. Not to mention an unforgettable performance with Roz Cramer in ‘night, Mother. Also, the original Buffalo production of The Kathy and Mo Show, with Jeanmarie Lally (who was succeeded by several others). And back in 1992, the Buffalo premiere of Terrence McNally’s Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, directed by Kimmel, opposite Peter Sham.

And speaking of Frankie, the show is heading back to Broadway. It begins previews on May 4th at the Broadhurst, starring Audra McDonald and Michael Shannon. McNally and McDonald are very close and have been looking for a project to work together again. McDonald won her first two Tony awards for Master Class (1996) and Ragtime (1998), both by McNally. The musical, Kiss of the Spider Woman, had been in discussion as a possible project for her several times, but nothing came out of it.

By the way, Lucas Hnath’s new play The Thin Place, will have its New York premiere in November at Playwrights Horizons.

Carlos Maggiolo Perez is making his TOY debut with the upcoming production of Dragons Love Tacos. Carlos is a seventh grader at Frank A. Sedita Academy where he will be playing the Genie in the school’s production of Aladdin Jr. Directed by Kyle LoConti, who won last year’s Artie for directing Stellalluna, also at TOY, Dragons Love Tacos stars Melinda Capeles, Joe Isgar, Alejandro Perez, Victoria Perez (Carlos’s mom), Daniel Torres, Dan Urtz, Alexandria Watts, and Preston Williams. The show opens on May 4th (just a day before Cinco de Mayo), and is sponsored by… you guessed it, Mighty Taco.

Kevin Kennedy has joined the cast of Kavinoky’s Hairspray as Mr. Pinky. There were over one hundred hopefuls at the dance call last week, so this show promises to be big! Brian Cavanagh is set to direct The Mystery of Irma Vep, which will reunite the stars of last season’s hit The Producers, Brian Mysliwy and Norm Sham. By the way, Equivocation opens this week under the direction of Katie Mallinson, making her the third female director this season at the Kavinoky. Lynne Kurdziel-Formato directed Spamalot, and Kyle LoConti directed 1984.

Buffalonian Marian de Forest wrote the 1912 stage adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel Little Women. The play would make Buffalo's Katharine Cornell a star when she played the role of Jo. In 1919, De Forest was also behind the founding of the Zonta International, a network of professionals empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy. On June 1st at 3:30 p.m. the Kavinoky Theatre and the Zonta Clubs of Buffalo and Grand Island will present a dramatic reading of Little Women to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the organization. Following the reading, Anthony Chase will give a talk on De Forest and Katharine Cornell, who have long been among his favorite theater personalities. For tickets, call 829-7668.

Incidentally, Buffalo playwright Donna Hoke's contemporary adaptation of Little Women will be featured in the 2020-2021 season at Road Less Traveled.

Up next at the Alleyway, Girls Who Walked on Glass, a new immersive play project by Gordon Farrell, May 30th -June 22nd. Directed by Neal Radice, the play will star Jamie Nablo, Emily Yancey, and Ember Tate. Also featured are Daniel Greer, John Panepinto, Trevor Dugan, Gayle Petri, Betsy Bittar, Niki Nowak, Lillian Reszel, Sandra Roberts, and James Cichocki. Costumes will be designed by newly appointed Alleyway Resident Costume Designer Cichocki. Farrell and Radice collaborated to create their Sherlock Holmes musical trilogy in the late 1990s.

After Musicalfare’s Fun Home at Shea’s 710 Main (May 9th – 19th), and The Tempest at Shakespeare in Delaware Park (June 20th – July 14th) Chris J. Handley will be back at Bristol Valley Theatre in Naples for the rest of the summer. First, he will star as Sherlock in Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily, a play by Katie Forgette, July 25th – August 4th (hey, Radice and Farrell, are you ready for another sequel?). Handley will then direct the world premiere of the musical The King’s Legacy (August 22nd – September 1st), a musical journey through the intrigue of the Tudor court.

Buffalo Opera Unlimited will present Rossini’s Cinderella, November 1st – 3rd at Rockwell Hall. Auditions will be held on May 3rd, from 7 - 9 p.m. at University Presbyterian Church, 3334 Main St. Call 882-1692 to schedule a time. Auditioners are asked to prepare at least one aria in English.

For all Hamilton fans, the show is playing in Rochester through May 12th. Next season, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, will play October 1st-6th. That’s the only show that will not play Buffalo from the Rochester line-up.

Buffalo’s Ron OJ Parson has long ago established himself as a prominent director in Chicago. He just directed Lynn Nottage’s Ruined at the Goodman and was featured in an article at SDC Journal where he mentions his beginning with Studio Arena Theatre School during Neil Du Brock’s leadership. Lynne Kurdziel-Formato is also heading to Chicago to direct the musical An American in Paris at the very prestigious Drury Lane Theatre.

The 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Drama was awarded to Jackie Sibblies Drury for her work Fairview. The play premiered at Off-Broadway's Soho Rep last year in a sold-out, extended run, starring, among others, Buffalo’s own Roslyn Ruff.

As well known, the super fabulous Daphne Rubin Vega has been cast as Daniela in the film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda's In the Heights, scheduled to hit movie theaters in 2020. Vega made her Broadway debut as Mimi in Rent in 1996. She also played Stella in the 2012 Broadway revival of A Streetcar Named Desire.


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