Theater News -- October 30, 2019
Stagefright by JAVIER
Tony Award winner André De Shields was honored with the Joyce Warshow Lifetime Achievement Award this past October 21st during the SAGE Awards and Gala in New York city. The fabulous Emmy Award-winning actor Leslie Jordan (Will & Grace) received the SAGE Pioneer Award. SAGE is a non-profit organization dedicated to older LGBTQ individuals. Jordan will bring his one-man show Exposed to the Lyric Theatre in Rochester on Saturday, March 28th. For tickets, go to www.OFCCreations.com
Buffalo’s own John “Circ” Kane returns to the Alleyway after nearly ten years, with his one-man comedy My Life in the Basement. In his show, Circ talks about his childhood fantasy of joining the circus. Directed by Joyce Stilson, My Life in the Basement, will play November 8th, 9th, 15th & 16th at the Alleyway Cabaret. Circ spent many years as the Ring Master for the Big Apple Circus.
Second Generation Theatre will kick off its Free Reading Series, headed by the company’s literary director Katherine Boswell, on Monday December 9th with A Kid Like Jake by Daniel Pearle, directed by Sabrina Kahwaty. The event begins at 7 p.m. at the Kenmore Presbyterian Church (2771 Delaware Ave.) and is followed by a brief Q & A session. The series continues on January 27th with the world premiere of The Bowling Play by Kelly Copps, directed by Amy Jakiel. On April 27th, Mara Westerling Morris directs Sister Cities by Colette Freedman. The series ends on June 22nd with Gloria by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, directed by Tracy Snyder. Admission is free, monetary and canned good donations are accepted on behalf of the Kenmore Presbyterian Food Pantry.
Mark Humphrey’s new play The Kindness of Strangers (pictured with actors Victor Morales, Suzie Hibbard, and Monish Bhattacharyya) is currently playing at Compass Performing Arts Center (formerly TheaterLoft) through November 16th. The production has a 5 p.m. Saturday matinee. Later in the season, Subversive Theatre will present another world premiere by Humphrey, Two Afternoons at Kelly’s, directed by Jack Hunter.
Despite his busy schedule, Buffalo’s Ron OJ Parson was in town to celebrate Ujima’s opening of its new grand space. Parson recently finished directing August Wilson’s King Hedley II at the Court Theatre in Chicago. With this production under his belt, Parson has now directed every play in Wilson’s 10-play cycle chronicling the black experience in America in the 20th century.
Speaking of Wilson, director Ed Smith returns to the Paul Robeson Theatre to direct Two Trains Running, the seventh play in the cycle, set in the 1960s. The play was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award in 1992.
Another large cast takes to the stage at Musicalfare’s upcoming production of Elf, the Musical, which is based on the popular 2003 film starring Will Ferrell. Written by Bob Martin, Chad Beguelin, and Matthew Sklar (the same team behind last year’s charming The Prom), Elf played on Broadway in 2010. Directed and choreographed by Michael Walline, the Musicalfare production stars Melinda Capeles, Louis Colaiacovo, Adrienne Ricchiazzi Cummings, Chris Cummings, Rheanna Gallego, Chris J. Handley, Jake Hayes, Stevie Jackson, Johnny Kiener, Nicholas Lama, Bob Mazierski, Jennifer Mysliwy, Dan Urtz, Michael Wachowiak and Alexandria Watts. The show runs November 13th-December 22nd.
After a sold out run at Musicalfare last year, it is no surprise that the musical Christmas Over the Tavern is being brought back this holiday season, this time at Shea’s 710 Main Theatre. Written by Buffalo’s Tom Dudzick and directed by Randall Kramer, with music direction by Theresa Quinn, the show will run December 5th – 22nd. Dudzick is, of course, the playwright behind the Over the Tavern trilogy, three comedies based on his early years growing up in Buffalo. It’s kind of a homecoming for Dudzick, as the second and third plays of the trilogy premiered at 710 Main back when it was known as the Studio Arena Theatre. There will be two changes in the cast for the 710 remount. Joel Fesmire will play Rudy Pazinski, joining his brothers Samuel and Isaac who were in the show last year. So, all three Pazinski brothers in the show are being played by real-life Fesmire brothers. Peter Horn is taking over for Jacob Albarella, who was already committed to doing To Kill a Mockingbird at the Kavinoky. Pamela Rose Mangus, Caroline Schettler, and Wendy Hall will reprise their parts.
To Kill a Mockingbird is finally making it to the Kavinoky. Through an exclusive deal with the Broadway production, the company will be able to offer the new adaptation by Aaron Sorkin, which is still running very strongly on Broadway. As a matter of fact, the Broadway production began previews a year ago on November 1st. Beginning November 5th, Ed Harris will replace Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch. The local production, directed by Kyle LoConti, stars Chris Avery as Atticus Finch with Aleks Malejs, Xavier Harris, Robyn Baun, Shantina Moore, Paul Maisano, Patrick Moltane, John Profeta, David Lundy, Michael Seitz, Jacob Albarella, Marie Costa, Mary McMahon, Ray Boucher, Kevin Kennedy and Peter Palmisano. The production runs November 8th – December 8th.
In the upcoming revival of Jon Elston’s 2003 play Interrogation Room, John Vines has stepped in for an ailing Tanika Holmes to play Detective Bremen. Holmes had also stepped in for the previously announced Candace Whitfield. Elston had updated the script with the formerly male detective now played by a woman. The part was originated by the late Dee LaMonte Perry. Interrogation Room won the Artie Award for Best New Play in 2004. The revival opens November 1st.
In another last minute replacement, Lara Haberberger will step in for the previously announced Jenn Stafford in the upcoming New Phoenix Theatre production of Ed Graczyk’s 1976 play, Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, scheduled to open on November 22.
Josie DiVincenzo is heading to the Redhouse theater in Syracuse to star in Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage, November 7th – 17th. Broadway star Hunter Foster is in his inaugural season as Artistic Director of the theater company. The season kicked off with the musical Rent and will also include: the new musical A Syracuse Christmas Carol, Romeo & Juliet, August Wilson’s Fences, and the musical Fun Home. Broadway performer and Foster’s wife Jennifer Cody will also star in God of Carnage. Foster was last seen on Broadway in the musical The Bridges of Madison County.
Les Misérables is coming back to Shea’s December 10th – 15th. In some related news, on October 28th, Wicked surpassed Les Mis to become the fifth longest-running production in Broadway history.
Speaking of long runs, who would have thought that when Nunsense first opened in 1985, it would become such an enormous franchise with sequels and spin-offs that get played around the world on a regular basis. Sister Robert Anne's Cabaret Class, a one-nun show, plays November 7th – 18th at The Meeting House in Williamsville, presented by Rocking Hall Productions. O’Connell & Company will present Nunsense A-Men!, the drag Nunsense, January 24th – February 2nd. And not to be left behind, Lancaster Opera House will present Nunsensations, the Nunsense Vegas Revue, March 20th – April 5th.