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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Chase

Theater News -- September 5, 2019

Stagefright by Javier

Mike Randall and Javier

After a very successful summer season, Shakespeare in Delaware Park is already gearing up for its 45th season in 2020 and putting together some special events before then. On Monday, December 2nd the company will present a staged reading of Ian Doescher’s William Shakespeare’s Christmas Carol, starring Mike Randall as Ebenezer Scrooge. This is a A Christmas Carol with a twist, where the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future become Puck, Falstaff, and the Ghost of King Hamlet. The reading will take place at Desiderio’s Dinner Theatre where there will be festive food and drink, and a Holiday Artisan’s Market.  And it’s never too early to save the date for next year’s Fabulous Feast which will take place on a very special date: March 14th, 2020.

Although the 2019-20 season has already started with some stellar productions over the summer, in particular Second Generation’s Nine, Musicalfare’s Fun Home, and an especially strong season of Shakespeare in Delaware Park, the semi-official beginning of the season is September when there will be close to twenty shows playing and we are geared towards Curtain Up! which this year will take place on Friday, September 20th. The first to open in September is the much anticipated production of the classic musical West Side Story, directed by Chris Kelly at Musicalfare, with choreography by Nancy Hughes, and music direction by Phil Farugia, featuring twenty performers. The production is being presented “in association with Raices Theatre Company,” and Victoria Perez is being billed as providing “Cultural Authenticity Advisement.” Steven Spielberg’s remake of the 1961 movie musical, with a script by Tony Kushner, is slated for release in December 2020.  A new Broadway revival will open in February 2020.

Actor, director and producer Jeanne Hebborn Cairns will be inducted into the Theatre District Association’s Plaza of Stars on Monday, September 16th. The festivities begin at 5 p.m. at Shea’s 710 Main Theatre, where Lisa Ludwig and Anthony Chase will host the formal presentation. Cairns’ star will then be unveiled at the Plaza of Stars right across the street of 710, at Main & Tupper. A complimentary champagne toast will immediately follow at the popular wine & beer bar Matinee, 698 Main St. The event is free, and the public is cordially invited. As most of us know, 710 is the former home of Studio Arena Theatre. Jeanne became a member of Studio Arena’s original troupe in its first year.

After the ceremony you could head out to the Sportsman’s Tavern (326 Amherst St.) where The Skiffle Minstrels are holding a benefit for the Jewish Repertory Theatre from 6 to 9 p.m. The Skiffle Minstrels is a Western Swing dance band that has been around for over 15 years and has received multiple popularity and “best of” awards from magazines and music organizations. The current line up includes Buffalo Music Hall of Famer Jim Whitford on steel guitar; Dave Mussen on clarinet; midwest fiddler Chris Jones; jazz and polka drummer Bill Hutchison, and original members Phil Knoerzer on guitar, and leader Paul Todaro on Upright Bass.

Jack Hunter and Margo Davis will present In the Moment, a photography exhibit depicting relationships between characters and their environments. Davis and Hunter share works from their individual international travels and their first travels together. The exhibit opens on Friday, September 20th (Curtain Up!) from 4: to 7 p.m. at Matinee, 698 Main St. It goes through October 19th.

Starring Buffalo, a not-for-profit arts organization that brings together Broadway performers, Buffalo theater professionals, and area students, is back for its second season with Little Shop of Horrors in the fall, and Evita in the spring.  Both shows will be presented at Shea’s 710 Theatre. Little Shop will run November 1st & 2nd under the direction of artistic director Drew Fornarola, music direction by Alison D’Amato, choreography by Jeanne Fornarola, and stage management by Susan Forbes. The production will star Dudney Joseph Jr., Dominique Kempf, Alex McArthur, and Cecelia Monica-Lyn alongside Broadway visiting performers Matt Doyle, Lindsay Nicole Chambers, and Brandon Espinoza. Students from Newfane, Fredonia, and Lockport high schools and UB’s Zodiaque Dance Company have been chosen to participate in this production. The organization premiered last fall with a production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. For more information and tickets go to or

Niagara University Theatre will open its season with The Firebugs (Oct. 3-7), a darkly comic contemporary allegory written bySwiss playwright Max Frisch in 1953, directed by Paul Todaro. To out knowledge this is the first local production since Neal Du Brock featured the play in his 1965 Studio Arena lineup. The season continues with the seldom produced musical Freaky Friday, based on the novel by Mary Rodgers (yes, the daughter of Richard Rodgers) and the Disney film, to be directed by Steve Braddock opening on October 24th.  Next (Nov. 21-25), Susan Drozd directs Jane Martin’s madcap comedy Anton in Show Business. The Short Play Festival runs January 24th-26th, followed by NU Players’ all student-production of Sylvia, by A. R. Gurney (February 28th - March 3rd). Braddock directs Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing (Mar. 26-Apr. 5), and Doug Zschiegner directs the final show of the season, the popular musical Pippin (Apr. 9th – May 10th).

O'Connell & Company will provide entertainment for The National Women's Hall of Fame Awards Luncheon on September 14th. The cast will feature Mary Craig, Melissa Leventhal, Katy Miner, Mary Kate O'Connell, and Cherie Messore. The event will take place at Del Lago Resort & Casino in the birthplace of the Women’s Rights Movement in the U.S.

Dramatists Play Service has published Robert Waterhouse’s adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s novel All Quiet on the Western Front. Directed by Waterhouse, the play premiered at the New Phoenix in September 2014, starring Geoff Pictor, Nick Lama, Jimi Konidis, and the late Guy Wagner. The show also featured puppets by Michele Costa, sound by Tom Makar, and set by the late Michael Lodick. The Dramatists catalogue also quotes from the Buffalo News review “[the play]  is a frightening, senseless, gory chronicle… a potent reminder of man’s inhumanity to man.”  The review was written by the late Ted Hadley.  The play should be a popular choice for producers: flexible set, 5 men (doubling, flexible casting), and $100.00 per performance.

Road Less Traveled Productions’ annual fundraiser Buffalo Stories will honor Robert Gioia, President of The John R. Oishei Foundation in 2020.  The event will take place on Saturday May 30th. 2020. Tickets are on-sale and available through advance purchase only, call 716-629-3069. Buffalo Stories celebrates the life of a local Buffalo personality by presenting a one-night only musical written about the guest of honor’s life. Past honorees include Anthony Masiello, Thurman Thomas, Russell Salvatore, and Shelley Drake. By the way, this season you can enjoy complimentary valet parking at the Hilton Garden Inn (right across from the theater) by showing your Road Less Traveled Theater ticket/proof of purchase to the parking attendant.


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