• Javier

Theater News, September 2022

STAGEFRIGHT: by JAVIER

two men posing for the camera
with Vincent O'Neill at the Andrews Theatre

Congratulations to my long-time Irish buddy Vincent O’Neill who will be inducted into the Plaza of Stars on Monday, September 12th at 5:30 p.m. The Buffalo Theatre District Plaza of Stars is at the corner of Main St. and West Tupper, right across Shea’s 710 Theatre. The Plaza features stars, embedded in the pavement and representing Buffalonians who have made a significant mark on the local theater scene.

Hey, wait a minute that corner on Main & Tupper was also designated as Chris O’Neill’s Way a few years ago (that sign needs to be replaced because it has faded). So, it is true, the Irish, or the O’Neill’s are taking over that theater block.


A street sign that says, "This route designated as Chris O'Neill Way"
Sign honoring the late Chris O'Neill at the northwest corner of Main and Tupper

Speaking of the O’Neill’s and therefore the Irish Classical Theatre Company, and the Andrews Theatre, it was so sad to hear about the passing of Peter Andrews, longtime supporter of local theater and especially of the Irish Classical Company. He and his wife, the late Joan Andrews were major donors to the Andrews Theater, and had also been huge supporters of the founding of Studio Arena Theatre in Buffalo, as well as Arena Stage and Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, DC., as well as other theaters.


So, it’s September, and everything is gearing up towards the beginning of a wonderful full theater season after two years of uncertainty due to COVID 19. Curtain Up!, scheduled for September 16th is coming back in a somewhat scaled down version. Unlike previous years, there will be no dinner gala before the theater performances, so the street party starts after the curtain comes down on the shows. The free event will start at 10 p.m. and will feature, among others, the Buffalo Comedy Collective Improv in the Alleyway Courtyard; George Caldwell Quartet

inside the Alleyway Lobby; Griffin Kramer at Shea’s Bistro and Bar; and Tom Makar outside The Irish Classical Theatre.


D'Youville's Kavinoky Theatre is the first to kick off the theater season, opening on September 2nd with the musical Rock of Ages, directed and choreographed by Lynne Kurdziel-Formato with a star-studded cast featuring Anthony Alcocer, Bethany Burrows, Ricky Needham, Dan Urtz, Chris Guilmet, Arin Lee Dandes, Loraine O’Donnell, Gregory Gjurich, Jamil Kassem-Lopez, Lorenzo Parnell, Maya Calvo, Heather Dorler, Thomas Evans, James Caposito, Daniel Pieffer and Stevie Jackson, The On-stage band includes Brad Peace, Bob Bucella, Brian McMahon, Larry Albert and Allan Paglia, who is also the musical director. This Broadway musical is filled with hit music from the 80’s. Dancing in the aisles is allowed.


Next, it is Musicalfare with the Buffalo premiere of Nice Work if you Can Get It!, a delightful new adaptation of the 1920s musical Oh Kay, featuring classic songs by George and Ira Gershwin. Directed by Chris Kelly, choreographed by Kristy E. Cavanagh with music direction by Theresa Quinn, the productions stars Charmagne Chi, Nicole Cimato, Bobby Cooke, Lucas DeNies, John Kaczorowski, Michael Kelleher, Renee Landrigan, Kristen-Marie Lopez, Pamela Rose Mangus, Jon May, Julia Murphy, Adrienne Ricchiazzi-Cummings, Marc Sacco, Josh Wilde, Preston Williams, and Emily Yancey. The show runs September 7th-October 9th. The new book is by Joe DiPietro who also wrote the books for Memphis, Diana, and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. DiPietro was given access to the whole Gershwin catalog except for Porgy and Bess, so there are songs that were not featured in the original musical but were added for this version.


Ujima Theater Company will kick off its 44th season with Jason Odell Williams’s Church & State, a powerful and funny political drama that tackles how religion, guns, and social media influence politics and politicians. The production will run September 16 - October 2, directed by veteran Ujima alum Ross Hewitt who is back in town for now, and will be splitting his retired time between Buffalo and Florida.


There’s a saying in Spanish that goes something like, “everyone returns to the land where they were born, etc., etc.”. So, first Hewitt, and now Dennis Jones, a Niagara University graduate who lived in New York for a long time and is now back in Buffalo. Most recently involved in movie projects, Jones will be starring in the Alleyway world premiere production of The Magnolia Ballet by Terry Guest, directed by Carlos R. A. Jones, also starring Richard Satterwhite, Nigel Reynolds, and Shawn Adiletta. The show opens September 14th and playwright Guest will be in town for opening night to receive The David Goldman Fund for New American Plays Award. Jenni Werner literary director of Rochester’s Geva Theatre will be there to present the award.


It is now confirmed, A Christmas Carol will return to the Alleyway for its 40th time, directed once again by Neal Radice. If you are in the mood for something a little different, American Repertory Theater will be presenting The Birth of Santa, a new play by Justin Karcher and Eric Mowery, a reimagining of A Christmas Carol. The show opens December 1st, starring Andrew Zuccari, David Wysocki, Danielle Burning, Ian Michalski, Rick Lattimer and Mowery, who is also directing.


Some more exciting news for the Kavinoky, their production of People Places and Things by Duncan MacMillan, which was curtailed before the end of its run because of covid, will return with its entire cast, to be presented at 710 Main.


This is the sign currently on the building at 4110 Bailey Avenue (between Sheridan and Main) in Amherst, but that will soon change. The building is the future home of O’Connell & Company, scheduled to open in October with the musical The Addams Family. The ample space will include a theater, a cabaret, a bar, and an outdoor patio. In the meantime the company will open its season for Curtain Up with Confessions of The Reverend Mother, a show conceived by Mary Kate O’Connell and Joey Bucheker, with songs by Nunsense! creator Dan Goggin. O’Connell reprises her Reverend Mother characterization in a show that will also star Katy Miner. The show runs September 9th - 25th at Shea’s Smith Theatre.


David Bondrow will star as Don Quixote in the Lancaster Opera House production of Man of La Mancha, directed by J. Michael Landis, with music direction by Fran Landis, and fight direction by Steve Vaughan. Also starring Lauren Teller as Aldonza, and Ian Michalski as Sancho. The show runs September 23rd-October 9th and will also feature Steven Brachmann, Elliot Fox, Isabella Ruof, Lauren Harris, Andrew Zuccari, Nathaniel Harris, Ryan Norton, Rebecca Kroetschas, and David C. Mitchell as The Captain.

people smiling for the camera
With Drew Fornarola, Alison d'Amato, and Terrie George at MusicalFare's Premier Lounge

After his very successful cabaret performance at Musicalfare’s Premier Lounge, Starring Buffalo’s Drew Fornarola will be presenting a new musical revue on Curtain Up, September 16th, at 8 p.m. at Bittersweet Piano Lounge at Hotel at the Lafayette. Best Friends: An Evening of Song and Dance will star Broadway artists Cameron Adams and Keven Quillon; Buffalo’s cutest couple Darryl Semira and Eric Heusinger; Academy of Theatre Arts Students Braeden Kostusiak, and Megan Zakeri. Music direction by Lucas Colon. For tickets (if there are any left) go to www.starringbuffalo.org

two men and two women smiling for the camera
with Josephine Hogan, Vincent O'Neill, and Lorna C. Hill, back in the day