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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Chase

Theater News, May 14, 2019


Matinee bar regular Steve Jakiel is the only original cast member returning to the Road Less Traveled Productions (RLTP) revival of Superior Donuts, a play by Tracy Letts, which will open the next season at Shea’s 710 Main. Jakiel plays Arthur Przybyszewski, owner of a run-down donut shop in a Polish neighborhood in Chicago. Directed by Lucas Lloyd, the production will now star Jake Hayes, John Profeta, Lisa Vitrano, Gabriel Roberé, Christina Rausa, Dave Hayes, Johnny Barden, and Dave Spychalski. The company had previously produced the play in 2011 under the direction of Scott Behrend, with a cast that featured Barry Williams, Gerry Maher, Carlton Franklin, Jermain Cooper, Victoria Perez, Stan Klimecko, Patrick Cameron and Aaron Krygier. Actor, playwright, and screenwriter Letts is currently starring on Broadway in the revival of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons opposite Annette Benning. He won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play August: Osage County and a Tony Award for his portrayal of George in the revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 2013. In 2017 Superior Donuts was adapted into a television series of the same name, and aired on CBS.

RLTP will present the fourth edition of its annual fundraiser Buffalo Stories on June 1st. This year’s guest of honor is Shelley Drake, Senior Vice President and WNY Regional President for M&T Bank and President of the M&T Charitable Foundation. The evening begins at 7 p.m. with a pre-performance reception, performance of Buffalo Stories: The Life of Shelley Drake at 8 p.m., and a post-show reception to follow. Written by Jon Elston and Phil Farugia, the piece is directed by Lucas Lloyd and stars Brittany Bassett (as Shelley Drake), Karen Harty, Amy Jakiel, Renee Landrigan, Laura Barriere, Ricky Needham, and Nick Lama. Seating is limited. Tickets will not be sold at the door. Call 629-3069.

As it is the common practice in Buffalo, now, to book actors several months (or years) in advance of productions, it was not possible to get all of the same actors originally cast in To Kill a Mockingbird at the Kavinoky last year to come back this year to perform in the Aaron Sorkin version. John Kreuzer will take over Steve Jakiel’s character, as Jakiel will now appear in Superior Donuts. Other additions to the Mockingbird cast include Mary Mcmahon, Ray Boucher, Peter Palmisano, Marie Costa, Jake Albarella, and Michael Seitz.

As part of ICTC’s all new Speakers Series, UB English Professor Barbara Bono will present a talk entitled Hamlets and Your Hamlet: A Conversation about Famous Hamlets, the ICTC Hamlet, and Your Hamlet. This will take place on Saturday, May 18th at 2 p.m., immediately prior to the 3 p.m. matinee performance of Hamlet.

TOY will open the 2019-20 season with the popular Pete the Cat. The holiday musical Mr. Popper’s Penguins will arrive in December. The season will also include Miss Nelson is Missing in January and February, The Outsiders in March and April, and Go, Dog, Go in May and June.

Kelli Bocock Natale returns to the stage in the upcoming ICTC production of Joe Orton’s Entertaining Mr. Sloane. Directed by Greg Natale, the show opens on June 7th and will also star Stan Klimecko, Gerry Maher, and Anthony Grande. Orton’s play was produced back in 2000 at the New Phoenix under the direction of Scott Behrend, starring Richard Lambert, Kamala Boeck, David Avery, and Joey Giambra.

Up next at the New Phoenix, the American premiere of Steven Elliott Jackson’s The Seat Next to the King. The play won the Toronto Fringe Festival last year as Best New Play.

Brett Klaczyk has been cast as Nick in "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

Talking Leaves is holding a book signing with the playwright, on May 21st at 7 p.m. Directed by Todd Fuller, starring Bobby Cooke and Xavier Harris, the play opens on June 7th. It will be a busy year for Brett Klaczyk at the New Phoenix as he has been cast as Nick in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Prior to that, Klaczyk will star in the company’s Curtain Up show, the revival of Grant Golden’s and Jim Santella’s musical revue Izzy. Directed by Lambert, with musical direction by Don Jenczka, the show will also star Renee Landrigan, Nathan Miller, and Chuck Basil.

After the grand opening of its new theater space with an excellent production of Passing Strange, Ujima will open the 2019-20 with Dominique Morisseau’s Pipeline, directed by Lorna C. Hill. The play premiered at Lincoln Center in June 2017 after winning the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award in 2016. One of the most prominent current playwrights, the Paul Robeson Theatre has produced her plays Detroit ’67 and Skeleton Crew (both part of her three-play cycle The Detroit Projects). She wrote the book for the jukebox musical Ain't Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptations, which opened on Broadway this past March and earned her a Tony nomination for Best Book of a Musical. Her play Confederates will open off-Broadway this coming season.

Buffalo Writers’ Theater will present the 4th annual celebration of short original plays taking on the theme of fairy tales and myths. This year’s line-up: Little Red Riding Tie by Jim Marzo, directed by Jon Elston; Grandma Spoke to Me of Sidhe by Tim Joyce, directed by Elaine Roberts; The Fox and the Crow by Jennifer Tromble, directed by Matt Boyle; Cackling Ever After, written & directed by T.J. Snodgrass; Queen of the Trilobites, written & directed by Michael Fanelli; Exoplanet: Underworld by Bella Poynton, directed by Matt Boyle; Keeping Up With the Gorgonians by Winifred Storms, directed by Elston. The cast features Jenni Attea, Alexxis Butera, Kate Cody, Kathleen Rooney, Tracy Snyder, Mike Starzynski, Penny Striker, Julia Marie Szprygada, Alyssa Walsh, Matt Walter, and Andrew Zuccari. Dates: May 18th at 7 p.m, May 19th at 2 p.m., May 25th at 7 p.m., May 26th at 2 p.m. Location: Rust Belt Books, 415 Grant St. (it may be a little crowded back stage). Admission is $10.00

Big, the musical by Buffalo’s composer David Shire and lyrics by Richard Maltby will finally make its West End debut in September. Based on the 1988 film directed by the late Penny Marshall, the musical premiered on Broadway in 1996. The show has been touring the UK since 2016.

A couple of current Broadway musicals have just announced touring productions, so expect to see them some time soon at Shea’s. Pretty Woman, another show based on a film, will launch its tour in October 2020. The Disney musical Frozen will open in December in Los Angeles. Caroline Bowman who starred in Evita at Shea’s a couple of seasons ago, will play Elsa.

Getting ready to kick off its 44th season, Shakespeare in Delaware Park will break ground May 20th to install the seasonal stage. The season begins June 20th with The Tempest, directed by Saul Elkin, followed by Love’s Labour’s Lost, directed by Steve Vaughan, opening on July 25th. Note, this season there’s a new curtain time, 7:15 p.m., that is fifteen minutes earlier than in previous years.

Artie Award winner Joe Donohue will reprise his role, or rather roles (he plays all the suspects) in the musical Murder for Two at the Bristol Valley Theater in Naples, July 11th – 21st. Donohue starred in the Musicalfare production opposite Phil Farugia, directed by Doug Weyand, which opened coincidentally on July 11th last summer.

The arts world mourns the passing of Peggy Lipton who played the groundbreaking role of Julie Barnes on the influential 1970s television show, "Mod Squad," among the first television series with a mixed race cast. Lipton died on May 11, 2019 at the age of 72. (Thank you to Theater News reader, Loretta, for her astute observation about mixed race casting in the 1960s and '70s).


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