Theater News -- August 14th
The fabulous Roslyn Ruff just completed the extended run of Fairview, the 2019 Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Jackie Sibblies Drury, which closed August 11th at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn. The play was co-commissioned by California’s Berkeley Rep and New York’s Soho Repertory Theatre where it premiered in June 2018. Ruff will be a TV series regular this fall in NBC’s Lincoln (formerly known as The Bone Collector), a drama based on the bestselling book series by Jeffery Deaver that was adapted into the 1999 movie starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. A Buffalo native, Ruff soon will also be recurring in Epix’s crime drama series Godfather of Harlem, Other recent credits include a recurring role on HBO’s Divorce and CBS’s Madam Secretary.
Curtain Up 2019 is nearly upon us and the Irish Classical Theatre will open its season with the rarely revived 17th Century Jacobean tragedy of incest and intrigue, ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, by John Ford. Directed by Fortunato Pezzimenti, the production will star Anna Krempholtz, Jeremy Kreuzer, David Oliver, Charmagne Chi, Chris Brandjes, Adriano Gatto, Ben Moran, Adam Yellen, Aleks Malejs, Jacob Albarella, and Rolando Gomez. The show opens on Curtain Up Night, September 20th.
Towards the end of the 2019-2020 season, we can look forward to the Musicalfare production of Bright Star, opening May 7th at Shea’s 710 Main. This 2016 Tony-nominated Broadway musical features a Grammy-nominated score by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. The Broadway cast was an amazing ensemble headed by Carmen Cusack, Stephen Bogardus, and Dee Hoty. The local production, directed by Lynne Kurdziel-Formato, will feature a Who’s Who of Buffalo musical theater, including Jacob Albarella, Mary Gjurich, Greg Gjurich, Charmagne Chi, Dudney Joseph, Amy Jakiel, and Michele Roberts.
Life is a Cabaret! One of the most anticipated shows of the season is the Second Generation Theatre production of Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret, directed by Kristin Bentley and choreographed by Kelly Copps, music direction by Allan Paglia. Joining Ben Moran as the Emcee are Ricky Needham as Cliff, Cassie Cameron as Sally Bowles, Steve Jakiel as Herr Schultz, and Pamela Rose Mangus as Fraulein Schneider. The production opens in June 2020.
The company’s season opens in October with the regional premiere of the campy musical The Toxic Avenger by Joe DiPietro and David Bryan, directed and choreographed by Doug Weyand, music direction by Paglia, starring Bethany Burrows, Steve Copps, Jenn Stafford, and Raphael A. Santos. Season tickets are now on sale for the company’s season which also includes Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women. For a limited time, subscribers can choose a Platinum Level Subscription that allows you to reserve premium seating for every show. Call 508-7480 or visit secondgenerationtheatre.com. By the way, DiPietro and Bryan are best known for the Tony Award-winning musical Memphis. Their latest collaboration, Diana, a musical about the late Princess of Wales will arrive on Broadway in the spring after having had successful run at the LaJolla Playhouse. DiPietro wrote the book and lyrics for the long-running off-Broadway show I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change.
The Carriage House Players (CHP) have just announced their 2019-2020 theater season, the company’s first full season at the Taylor Theater in Lockport. Neil Simon’s The Prisoner of Second Avenue opens September 20th, directed by Gail Golden, starring Kathleen Rooney, Alicia Michielli, Alisse Sikes, Betsy Bittar, Daniel Morris, and Darryl Hart. The live radio version of It’s a Wonderful Life by Joe Landry, directed by Peg Merrill, opens December 6th. The season concludes with A.R. Gurney’s The Dining Room, directed by Bittar, opening on April 17th, 2020. Among those scheduled to appear in the season are Les Bailey, Margo Davis, and Victor Morales. For tickets and further information, visit www.kenancenter.org or call 433-2617. The Taylor Theater is located adjacent to the Kenan House at 433 Locust Street in Lockport.
The 2020 Shaw Festival season will feature the musicals Gypsy, Assassins, and Me and My Girl. Bernard Shaw will be represented by The Devil’s Disciple. American plays include O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms, and Trouble in Mind by Alice Childress. The Narnia cycle continues with Prince Caspian, adapted for the stage by Damien Atkins, based on the novel by C.S. Lewis. The season will also include Charley’s Aunt and The Playboy of the Western World.
Save the date! Sunday, May 31st 2020 at 2 p.m. at UB Center for the Arts Drama Theatre, MusicalFare will celebrate its 30th anniversary. The event will feature food, drinks, and songs from the musicals produced over the thirty years, with the original performers. If you were there for the 25th, you know this is an event that can’t be missed. Details to follow. The company’s lease at Daemen expires at the completion of the 2025 season and a committee is in charge of securing a new home, keeping in mind what the audiences wants: keep the theater intimate, keep the sight-lines clear, and stay in the Amherst area. Of course, I think they should also keep the cabaret and bar.
Coming up in Musicalfare’s Premier Cabaret, Let Chi Entertain You: Now With 30% More Jokes, starring Charmagne Chi and Joe Donohue III, August 16th and 23rd at 8 p.m. The Cabaret Big Band led by Phil Sims with vocalist Katy Miner performs on August 17th at 8 p.m. The Carole King Tribute with the TLC Trio on August 24th is sold out.
Canterbury Woods in Williamsville is building a performing arts center which will be named after local philanthropist and vocal coach to the stars, Andy Anselmo. Plans are for the center to be, according to CEO Rob Wallace in an interview with the Buffalo News, “a local resource for the greater community to use for performing arts and shows and musicals and whatever else occupies that space.” The center will have a seating capacity of 250.
In case you haven’t heard, O’Connell & Company will move from The Park School to The Ken-Ton Elmwood Commons (formerly Philip Sheridan School) located at 3200 Elmwood Ave. on September 1, 2019. The musical Young Frankenstein will inaugurate their new space. American Repertory Theatre of WNY last used the space for its production of The Heathers.
The fabulous Marisa Tomei will play Serafina in Roundabout Theatre Company's Broadway revival of The Rose Tattoo by Tennessee Williams. It was just announced that Emun Elliott (Game of Thrones, A View From the Bridge in London), will be making his Broadway debut, starring as Alvaro. Previews begin September 19th.