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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Chase

Theater News -- June 20, 2019

Stagefright -- by Javier

How time flies. Adam Kluge made his professional debut at MusicalFare playing the title role in Oliver! in September 2011 and was recognized at the Arties for his “Outstanding Debut.” The following year, he played Winthrop in The Music Man. Now attending Columbia University, Adam will be appearing in BUA Takes 10: Stonewall Edition, a collection of short plays that commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. That historic event is considered to mark the beginning of the gay rights movement. Curated by Donna Hoke, the production presents a cohesive collection of short works that tell the story of before, during, and after the riots. Among the short works is an excerpt from Hoke’s full-length play On the Roof, and a new play by local playwright j. Snodgrass. There’s also a piece from Doric Wilson’s Street Theater. Wilson was an early figure in Off-Off-Broadway, and a champion of both gay theater and gay rights. He was present when riots broke out at the Stonewall Inn. Directed by Jessica Rasp, BUA Takes 10 also stars Tim Finnegan, Tim Goehrig, Melissa Leventhal, Matthew Rittler, A Peter Snodgrass, and Andrew Zuccari.

Adam Kluge's 2011 headshot for "Oliver!" (courtesy of MusicalFare)

Three times is the charm for Broadway veteran Andre DeShields who won this year’s Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his performance in Hadestown. DeShields, who turned 73 this year, was previously nominated in the same category for The Full Monty in 2001 and Play On! in 1997. He was also in the original The Wiz in 1975 and Ain’t Misbehavin’ in 1978. Congratulations!

No such luck for Christopher Standart at the Artie Awards, who was sidestepped for the tenth time. Standart has been nominated six times in the acting category (including three for playing a woman), three for directing, and one for costume design. Hang in there, Chris. Susan Lucci lost 18 times before she took home an Emmy!

Christopher Standart, character actor extraordinaire, the Susan Lucci of Buffalo

Preparations are sure underway for next year’s Artie Awards ceremony, which will be the 30th. How time flies indeed. They have added three committee members: Nancy Doherty, Justin Karcher, and Don Gervasi. The season has already started with a huge bang, just among the musicals, there have been three outstanding productions so far: Ujima’s Passing Strange, Musicalfare’s Fun Home, and Second Generation’s Nine (which is still running and a MUST see). Maybe the Artie committee should consider limiting the number of times one can win or give a sympathy Artie to those who have been nominated ten times in the same category (sorry, Chris), but have never won. There was a rumor going on, too, that for the 30th anniversary, they were going to look back and decide who really didn’t deserve an Artie (Take Back the Artie); or that they might have an Artie swap, in which a person can trade an Artie they didn’t actually deserve for one that they did.

Kelli Bocock-Natale
Kelli Bocock-Natale is back!

After a stellar acting turn in ICTC’s Entertaining Mr. Sloane (with an equally stellar ensemble), Kelli Bocock-Natale returns to the directorial chair for O’Connell & Company’s fall production of the musical Young Frankenstein which is set to star Tim Goehrig, Jenny McCabe, Vanessa Dawson, Pamela Rose Mangus, Joey Bucheker, David Wysocki, Sabrina Kahwaty, Matt Myers, and John Kreuzer. Bucheker will choreograph. The very entertaining Memories & Martinis starring Mary Kate O’Connell closes this week. Guest stars will be Ann Mosner, Kate Masiello, Anne Gayley, and Victoria Perez.

One of my most anticipated shows next season is the revival (in the true sense of the word) of Jon Elston’s Artie winning play Interrogation Room at Road Less Traveled. The company first produced the play in 2003 at what was then Ujima’s TheaterLoft with a cast featuring the late John Buscaglia and Dee LaMonte Perry, Leon Hicks, and Matt Witten. Scott Behrend directed then and will also direct now. Elston has updated the script and the lead detective is now a woman, played by Candace Whitfield. Witten will play the part that Buscaglia played, for which he won an Artie Award in 2004. Nick Stevens and Dave Burgos complete the cast in the revival. The company will open the 2019-20 season with Lee Blessing’s The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid, also directed by Behrend, starring Victor Morales, Dave Mitchell, Dave Lundy, and Patrick Cameron.

Buffalo-based company Opera-Lytes is celebrating 25 years of presenting operetta and classic musicals in WNY. This coming weekend they will present Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic masterpiece The Mikado at the Springville Center for the Arts, starring Holly Bewlay, John Clayton, Ted Smeltz, and Maria Goodrich with conductor Ciaran Krueger. Showtimes are June 21st and 22nd at 7:30, and June 23rd at 2. Go to

After being ousted from Lancaster Opera House, Rocking Horse Productions and Lancaster Regional Players have been recognized as theater groups in residence by the Williamsville Arts and Culture Committee. Both companies will be part of the 2019-2020 “Theatre on Main” season at the Village of Williamsville Meeting House. The season will consist of six shows with each company producing three. Rocking Horse will open the season September 27th with Agatha Christie’s And Then There Was None. Lancaster Opera House will open next season with Neil Simon’s Rumors. Their season will also include Christie’s The Mousetrap, the musicals Nunsensations, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and The Music Man, and Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit.

Aurora Players will conclude its 2019 with the musical Bright Star written by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. The show received five 2016 Tony nominations including one for Best Musical. The Aurora Players production will be directed by Tom Durham, choreographed by Renée Obringer, with music direction by Bob Sowyrda. It opens October 18th.

The fabulous Joey Giambra

Harry Lipsitz, Joey Giambra and Susie Noon Productions will present a reading of Tom NaplesImmigrants and Ancestors on June 29th at 7:30 at the Kavinoky. Essays will be narrated by Giambra and Loraine O’Donnell, accompanied by Naples, Jim Mumm, and Phil Lewis. For tickets go to


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