Theater News: June 22, 2023
STAGEFRIGHT by JAVIER
At age 23, Ben Platt became the youngest recipient of the 2017 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for his performance in Dear Evan Hansen. Platt reprised the role of Evan Hansen in the 2021 film adaptation of the musical. The touring production of the musical is playing Shea’s Buffalo this week through Sunday. Platt is back on Broadway starring in the revival of the musical Parade for which he received a 2023 Tony nomination.
The fabulous Verneice Turner is the new Artistic Director of the Paul Robeson Theatre (PRT). Their upcoming season will be focused on area (including southern Ontario) playwrights. The first show, opening September 7th, will be produced by David Oliver’s Revelation Theatre, The Royale by Marco Ramirez, about an African American boxer living in the 1900s. PRT’s shows will include Tolley's Place by Shirley Sarmiento, Hoarding Hope by Kerrykate Abel Smith, The Polish Cleaning Lady's Daughter by Paula Wachowiak, and A Pitch From Satchel Paige by Loren Keller & James Keller.
Since his departure from the PRT, former Artistic Director Yao Kahil Newkirk has created his own company, Black Feather Theatre Company. The first production is a one-year long performance, Separation Anxiety, in honor of Trayvon Martin.
Shakespeare in Delaware Park kicks off its 48th season in the park with Measure for Measure June 22nd, the second day of summer. The season continues with Romeo & Juliet opening on July 27th. The touring production of Where There's a Will, There's a Play! an hour-long piece featuring scenes and sonnets from Shakespeare, has already been touring since June 14th. Check out www.shakespeareindelawarepark.org or On the Boards for future dates and locations.
SDP won’t be the only Shakespeare playing this summer. Musicalfare is presenting a musical adaptation of Twelfth Night, also named Twelfth Night. Directed by Susan Drozd, choreographed by Carlos R.A. Jones, with music direction by Theresa Quinn. The show will star Louis Colaiacovo, Lissette DeJesus, Thomas Evans, Alex Anthony Garcia, Christian Hines, Cordell Hopkins, Christopher Houston, Stevie Jackson, Nicholas Lama, Kristen-Marie Lopez, Gabriella Jean McKinley, Ricky Needham, Maria Pedro, Dave Spychalski, Ember Tate and Daniel Torres. Twelfth Night runs July 5th-August 6th. The musical was conceived by Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub, with music and lyrics by Taub. It premiered at Shakespeare in the Park in New York city in 2018. Taub also wrote the lyrics for the musical adaptation of The Devil Wears Prada, with music by Elton John and book by Paul Rudnick. Prada ran last summer in Chicago, and according to John, it is back on the working table for at least another year.
Speaking of Carlos Jones, we hear he’ll be taking his leave from Buffalo State and embarking on a new adventure, heading the dance program at SUNY Brockport. We wish him continued success!
The 2023-24 Jewish Repertory Theatre of WNY season will kick off on October 26th with the play Sisters In Law, directed by Josie DiVincenzo, starring Tina Rausa and Priscilla Young, portraying Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor. I wonder who will play who? Next, Saul Elkin will direct the powerful Kindertransport, starring Charmagne Chi, Robyn Baun, Wendy Hall, and Dave Wysocki. The season will end with the popular Crossing Delancey directed by Steve Vaughan, starring Arin Lee Dandes, Adam Yellen, and Darleen Pickering Hummert, who, I hear, is already off book.
How time flies! Road Less Traveled will be celebrating its 20th Anniversary! Congratulations! You can now purchase a BLUE CARD for only $150 and see each of the 4 shows in their season or use them any way you want while enjoying other card-member perks like cocktail lounge and extra ticket discounts. The season will kick off with a musical! Murder Ballad will open September 14th, directed by Doug Weyand, starring Anthony Alcocer, Leah Berst, Ricky Needham, and Jenn Stafford (a truly all-star cast). Dave Hayes returns to RLTP in April with Madeleine George’s The Curious Case of the Watson Intelligence, directed by Katie Malllinson. The play was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2014, the year when Annie Baker’s The Flick won, and Jeanine Tesori’s Fun Home was also a finalist. The Curious Case will also star John Kaczorowski and Emily Yancey. You won’t want to miss Arthur Miller’s All My Sons (November 9-December 10), starring stage & screen star and Buffalo native Sean Cullen, directed by Scott Behrend, also starring Lissette DeJesus, Sara Kow-Falcone, Bob Grabowski, Greg Howze, Johnny Rowe, Nick Stevens, Maria Ta, and Lisa Vitrano.
Arthur Miller fans rejoice. Irish Classical Theatre Company (ICTC) will be presenting The Price in April, directed by Fortunato Pezzimenti, starring Kate LoConti Alcocer, Todd Benzin, Tom Loughlin, and Ben Michael Moran. LoConti Alcocer will be directing the company’s first show of the season, Belfast Girls, starring Robyn Baun, Cassie Cameron, Solange Gosselin, Lily Jones, and Renee Landrigan.
Speaking of Jeanine Tesori, she just won the Tony for Best Original Score for Kimberly Akimbo which is still running on Broadway. Lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, who also wrote the play on which the musical is based. Tesori won another Tony for Fun Home (2015), and was also nominated for the musicals Thoroughly Modern Millie (2002), Caroline or Change (2004), and Shrek the Musical (2009). Her first nomination, coincidentally, was in 1999 for composing the incidental score for Lincoln Center Theatre’s production of Twelfth Night. That production is best remembered (at least by me) for a gorgeous set with a pool into which Paul Rudd jumped naked. Rudd played Orsino opposite Helen Hunt as Viola. Back in the day, when Tesori went as Jeanine Levenson, her musical Galileo had its world premiere at Buffalo’s Studio Arena in 1989. Book and lyrics written by then husband Keith Levenson. Galileo was directed by then Artistic Director David Frank, who is now retired living in Madison, Wisconsin.
The Brazen-Faced Varlets will remount Holland Taylor’s one-woman play Ann, starring Artie-Nominated Priscilla Young-Anker as Texas Governor Ann Richards. The play will be presented July 21st & 22nd at the Lakeshore Center for the Arts, located in the First Presbyterian Church in Westfield. Coming in October, the company will mount a new play, The Convent by Jessica Dickey under the direction of Stefanie Warnick. In the play, a group of women attend a retreat which is based in a medieval convent where they “explore desire, devotion, and the mystery of the intrinsic divinity.” The women will be played by Pamela Rose Mangus, Sandra Roberts, Juli Gryier, Rachael Buchanan, Heather Fangsrud, Gabrielle Nunzio, and Lara D. Haberberger. Coming in March, an all-women production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, directed by Haberberger, starring Warnick in the title role.
Chautauqua Theater Company (CTC), the resident theater company of Chautauqua Institution, will kick off its main stage season in July, the first under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Jade King Carroll. Pride and Prejudice by Kate Hamill, adapted from the novel by Jane Austen, directed by Carroll, begins previews on July 22nd. tiny father by Mike Lew, directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel, begins previews on August 4th. von Stuelpnagel received a Tony nomination for his direction of the hilarious Hand to God. Hammill’s new play The Light and the Dark will be read on August 4th.
Torn Space's decade-long exploration of designing site-specific theater for Silo City is being featured in the internationally curated exhibition at the Prague Quadrennial and will be installed in the National Gallery Trade Fair Palace. Torn Space will join Netherlands, Uruguay, Spain, Greece, France, and Brazil among other countries in this international survey of the best in contemporary stage design and scenography. And in very welcoming news, Torn Space returns to mainstage theater productions with The Homecoming by Harold Pinter, November 10th-December 9th, “a classic script as you’ve never seen it”. Torn Space’s last mainstage production was the superb The Killing of a Chinese Bookie in 2019. The company has always excelled in producing classics as seen through a new lens, The Collection, A Streetcar Named Desire, and many others come to mind.
Buffalo State University Department of Theater has announced its 2023/24 season: On the Verge by Eric Overmyer, Teach by Donna Hoke, and the musical Little Shop of Horrors.
Second Generation Theatre presents the final free reading of the season on June 26th at 7 p.m. at Shea’s Smith Theatre. The Niceties by Eleanor Burgess will be directed by Gabriella J. McKinley, starring Anika Pace & Diane DiBernardo. The two-hander follows a discussion between a young black student at an elite East Coast university and her esteemed white professor who meet to discuss a paper about the American Revolution. The company will celebrate its 10th anniversary this coming season. Congratulations!
And, in case you haven’t heard, DiBernardo will make her BUA debut in Samuel Hunter’s A Great Wilderness, also starring BUA first-timers Michael Starzynski, Jon May, and Emily Yancey. Directed by Drew McCabe, the play will also star Kerrykate Abel and Jonathan Beckner. It opens September 1st at the Compass Performing Arts Center.
ICTC will present the next installment of its free and open to the public Cultural Classics Exchange Series: YALLA BITCH! A Night of Words and Music by Lorna C. Hill and Curtis Lovell. The event will feature YALLA BITCH!, a one-woman show written by Hill, coupled with music and poetry by Hill’s daughter Curtis Lovell. Tioga Simpson directs, also starring Rachael Jamison, Daisy Medina, and Brooklynn Walker. Open Rehearsal with an Artist Q&A on July 14th at 7:30 at the Lorna C. Hill Theater, a performance will follow at 7:30 p.m. on July 15th at The Andrews Theatre.
Playwright and Buffalo State alum Marco Antonio Rodriguez was in town to attend the production of his play Bloom which Raíces is presenting at the Road Less Traveled Theater directed by Katie Mallinson, starring Alejandro Gómez and Victoria Pérez in knock-out performances. Pérez directed the play when it had its US world premiere in New York city in May 2022. Pérez also directed the English world premiere of Rodriguez’s play Barceló on the Rocks, produced by Raíces in 2018. Rodriguez is listed as one of the 50 in the 2022 book Fifty Key Figures in LatinX and Latin American Theatre. Bloom closes on Sunday June 25th with a show at 6 p.m.
Also closing on June 25th and all worth seeing: Grand Horizons at Lancaster Opera House, The Importance of Being Earnest at ICTC, The Sound Inside at D’Youville’s Kavinoky. The Golden Girls closes its extended run on June 24th at the Alleyway. You can actually see all of these five shows this weekend if you plan it right.