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Theater Talk: COVID prompts Buffalo's TOY and OCC to hire swings/standbys/understudies similar to Broadway

PUFFS cast L-R Nathanial Higgins, Jenn Stafford, David Wysocki, Sabrina Kahwaty, Nicholas Lama, Kris Bartolommeo, Gabrielle Nunzio.jpg
O'Connell & Company
PUFFS cast L-R Nathanial Higgins, Jenn Stafford, David Wysocki, Sabrina Kahwaty, Nicholas Lama, Kris Bartolommeo, and Gabrielle Nunzio

Two weeks ago, Theater Talk was all about Understudies, Swings, and Standbys who are the extra on-stage personnel that Broadway uses to avoid cancelling shows. Here in Buffalo, with shorter runs and smaller budgets, if someone in a production gets sick, then usually the show is postponed. Sometimes for a week, sometimes for a whole season.

But some shows have too much invested to risk a cancellation, and so, during the pandemic, both Theater of Youth's Executive Director, Tracy Snyder, and O'Connell & Company's Executive Director, Mary Kate O'Connell, have decided to hire extra personnel "just in case." TOY's production of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST will run from April 17 to May 8, but O'Connell & Company's PUFFS, or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic runs from January 28 to February 13 in a rented theater (Shea's Smith) with costumes and sets and so cancellations or postponements are just not economically feasible. To cancel would cost much more than to hire extra actors.

PUFFS or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic by Matt Cox with Original Music Composed by Brian Hoes, Directed by Joey Bucheker will star (in alphabetical order)

Kris Bartolomeo, Mike Benoit, Marissa Biondolillo, Nathanial Higgins, Christian Hines, Sabrina Kahwaty, Nicholas Lama, Daniel Lendzian, Gabrielle Nunzio, Jenn Stafford, and David Wysocki.

AND HERE'S THE NEWS - THERE WILL BE Standby/Swings: Vincent Murphy and Stefanie Warnick ready to jump in at a moment's notice.

Presented at Shea’s Smith Theatre by O'Connell & Co. PUFFS will run January 28 to February 13, 2022. For tickets, call 716-847-0850 or visit Sheas.org

And, in case you were wondering "Is this legit?" PUFFS is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc.

But make no mistake, we are not "post-pandemic." In fact, after substituting a Mozart concert next weekend for the Mozart opera that was planned next weekend, the Buffalo Philharmonic just announced that this Friday morning's and Saturday night's (1/14, 1/15) concerts were cancelled.

Some takeaways:

1. Check in with the theater or venue before you go. Below you can find a website address and a telephone number for every venue.

2. You're not alone. As disappointed as you may be when your highly anticipated show is postponed or cancelled, many others are in your same situation.

3. It takes a lot of people to put on a show, not just the actors we see on stage. There are many, many unseen hands needed. So, mask up, encourage your friends and family to get vaccinated, and then let's support live theater!



WAITING FOR GODOT, a play by Samuel Beckett, directed by Kate LoConti Alcocer, starring Brian Mysliwy as Estragon and Vincent O’Neill as Vladimir, also featuring Todd Benzin, Ben Michael Moran, Jackson Snodgrass and Teddy Hibbard. Jan 21 – Feb 20, Wednesdays - Fridays at 7:30, Saturdays at 3, Sundays at 2 at The Irish Classical Theatre Company at The Andrews Theatre, 625 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14203 (716-853-ICTC) (716-853-4282) irishclassical.com/

Masks required as is proof of COVID-19 Vaccination OR Proof of Negative COVID-19 PCR Test within 72 hours of Performance Time. ASL Interpreted and Open Captioned Performance: Wed, February 9, 7:30 pm Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination OR Proof of Negative COVID-19 PCR Test within 72 hours of performance time

"GODOT" BLURB (per Britannica): WAITING FOR GODOT was a true innovation in drama and the Theatre of the Absurd's first theatrical success. ... The play consists of conversations between Vladimir and Estragon, who are waiting for the arrival of the mysterious Godot, who continually sends word that he will appear but who never does.



THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT, a play by by Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell & Gordon Farrell, based on the book by John D’Agata & Jim Fingal, presented by D'Youville Kavinoky Theatre, directed by Kyle LoConti, June 10th - 26th Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30, Saturdays at 3:30 and 7:30, and Sundays at 2. D’Youville Kavinoky Theatre, 320 Porter Ave. (716-829-7668) kavinokytheatre.com.

"LIFESPAN" BLURB: A famed essayist is put to the test in this topical comedy when an over-zealous fact-checker finds most of his groundbreaking story is fabricated.



TRIBES will open March 3 and run through March 27. BREADCRUMBS by Jennifer Haley, originally scheduled March 3 – 27, is now canceled from the 2021-2022 season.

TRIBES, a play by Nina Raine, directed by Doug Zschiegner, starring David Marciniak, Margaret Massman, Anna Krempholtz, Johnny Barden, Dave Wantuck and Melinda Capeles. Mar 3 - Mar 27, Thursdays - Saturdays at 7:30, Sundays at 2. Road Less Traveled Productions, 456 Main Street Buffalo NY 14202

(716-629-3069) roadlesstraveledproductions.org CONTENT ADVISORY:

Tribes contains explicit language and profanity. Students under 17 not permitted. Proof of vaccination required.

TRIBES BLURB: Billy is the only Deaf member of a loving yet dysfunctional family who raised him as part of the hearing world. When Billy meets Sylvia, a young woman on the brink of deafness, he finally starts to learn what it means to be heard. With insight, humor, and an eclectic cast of characters, the award-winning Tribes questions how we define community, family, and belonging.



Nickel City Opera Postpones RIGOLETTO to June 2022

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra postpones THE MAGIC FLUTE to the 2022-2023 season

Nickel City Opera is postponing their part of the upcoming Opera Marathone, the January 22nd and January 23rd, 2022 production of Verdi's opera RIGOLETTO, opting for summer performances on Saturday, June 25th at 7:00pm and Sunday, June 26th at 4pm at Nichols Flickinger Center for the Performing Arts, 1250 Amherst Street, Buffalo.

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra has postponed Mozart's THE MAGIC FLUTE, their half of the January 2022 Opera Marathon Weekend as they "hope to be able to present Mozart's MAGIC FLUTE as part of the 2022-2023 concert season. Stay tuned for announcements soon.

The BPO's revised program, "Magnificent Mozart," on Saturday/Sunday January 22/23 will continue the celebration of Mozart's birthday with BPO principal clarinetist, William Amsel, performing Mozart's Clarinet Concerto, plus his Overture to THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO, his "Hafffner” Symphony, and Tchaikovsky’s “Mozartiana,” a devoted tribute to the composer Tchaikovsky adored above all others.

Tickets purchased on Eventbrite can be exchanged, donated or fully refunded by contacting NCO at valopera@gmail.com. Tickets purchased at the BPO Box Office can be exchanged, donated or fully refunded by contacting the Box Office at 3 Symphony Circle or by calling 716-885-5000. Tickets for the June 25th & 26th performances can also be purchased at the BPO Box Office. For details visit bpo.org



PUFFS, or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic, a play by Matt Cox, directed by Joey Bucheker, starring Kris Bartolomeo, Mike Benoit, Marissa Biondolillo, Nathanial Higgins, Christian Hines, Sabrina Kahwaty, Nicholas Lama, Daniel Lendzian, Gabrielle Nunzio, Jenn Stafford, and David Wysocki. Jan 28 - Feb 13, presented by O'Connell & Co at Shea’s Smith Theatre, 654 Main Street, Buffalo NY 14202 (716-847-0850) sheas.org/smith-theatre/ OR facebook.com/OConnellandCompany/

PUFFS BLURB: "For seven years a certain boy wizard went to a certain Wizard School and conquered evil. This, however, is not his story. This is the story of the Puffs... who just happened to be there too. A tale for anyone who has never been destined to save the world....PUFFS is a stage play written by Matt Cox as a transformative & transfigured work under the magic that is US Fair Use laws. Puffs is not authorized, sanctioned, licensed, or endorsed by J.K Rowling, Warner Bros., or any person or company associated with the Harry Potter books, films or play.


NUNSENSATIONS: The Nunsense Vegas Revue, a musical with book, music, and lyrics by Dan Goggins, presented by Lancaster Opera House. Jan 28 - Feb 13, Fridays - Saturdays at 7:30, Sundays at 2:30. The Lancaster Opera House 21 Central Avenue, Lancaster, NY 14086 (716-683-1776) lancasteropera.org

NUNSENSATIONS BLURB: When a parishioner volunteers to donate $10,000 to the Little Sisters of Hoboken’s school if they will perform in a club in Las Vegas, Mother Superior is hesitant to accept. After being convinced by the other sisters that “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” she agrees. Naughty nun hijinks ensue in this Vegas-themed Nunsense sequel.


THE SIEGEL, a romantic comedy by Michael Mitnick. directed by Lucas Lloyd, starring Mike Mack, Lisa Vitrano, David Mitchell, Amanda Borowsk, Elliot Fox, and Phoebe Wright, presented by a new company in town, The Lightbulb Project, Jan 28 - Feb 20, Thursdays - Sundays at 8, at The Alleyway Theatre, 1 Curtain Up Alley, lightbulbprojectonstage.com (716-324-5776)

THE SIEGEL BLURB: Ethan Siegel is in love. Tonight, he's going to ask Alice's parents for permission to marry her. There's just one hitch. Ethan and Alice broke up two years ago -- and she's in a serious relationship with someone else. An irresistible comedy about modern love and the need to go back in order to move forward.


AN EVENING WITH C.S. LEWIS, written by and starring David Payne playing the famous author, Saturday, January 29 at 4 and 8. Shea's 710 Theatre (formerly Studio Arena), 710 Main Street at Tupper, Buffalo, NY 14202. (716-847-1410) sheas.org

LEWIS BLURB: An Evening with C.S. Lewis – written by and starring David Payne – is a one-man show written by David Payne which brings the legendary author to life through monologues. The format is a captivating evening set in 1963 where C.S. Lewis hosts a group of American writers at his home near Oxford. Throughout the evening he recalls the people and events that inspired his thought and shaped his life; of his friendship with J.R.R. Tolkien; why he nearly abandoned the Narnia Chronicles; how he came to embrace Christianity and of the American woman who turned his life upside down.


THE TREASURER at Jewish Repertory Theatre in Getzville (2/3-27)

BUFFALO QUICKIES at the Alleyway Theatre downtown (2/10-3/5)

TENDERLY, The Rosemary Clooney Musical,directed by Richard Lambert at O’Connell & Company's main stage at Ken-Ton Elmwood Commons, 3200 Elmwood Avenue, Kenmore (2/11-27) Performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays (except where noted). Proof of vaccination upon entry.

TENDERLY BLURB: A personal and poignant celebration of the woman whose musical talent and charismatic personality made her a legend.

OKLAHOMA!, musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein, North American Tour, part of the Shea's Broadway Series (2/15 - 2/20), Tuesday - Friday at 7:30, Saturday at 2 and 8, Sunday at 1 and 6:30. Shea's Buffalo Theatre, 646 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14202. WARNINGS: There are two prolonged periods of complete darkness. Guns are displayed prominently on the set and there are several gun shots fired during the show, including one that is accompanied by the firing of a blood cannon on the actors.

OKLAHOMA! BLURB: “How is it that the coolest new show on Broadway is a 1943 musical?” says The New York Times. This is OKLAHOMA! as you’ve never seen or heard it before—reimagined for the 21st century, and now the Tony Award Winner for Best Revival of a Musical. Funny and sexy, dark and jolting.

AMERICAN RHAPSODY presented by MusicalFare February 23 — March 27, 2022 Wed and Thu at 7pm, Fri at 7:30, Sat at 3:30 and 7:30, Sun at 2. Visit www.musicalfare.com

AMERICAN RHAPSODY BLURB: What begins as a conversation between a white classical pianist and a black jazz pianist about interpreting George Gershwin’s RHAPSODY IN BLUE transforms through incredible music and exhilarating dance into a dynamic and inspiring exploration of the often ignored cultural and historical context that inspired Gershwin to create this seminal work.

ALLEY OF THE DOLLS, camp send-up, directed by Chris Kelly, starring Jimmy Janowski as "Helen Lawson," with Chris Standart, Michael Seitz, and Bebe Bvulgary, presented by BUA (Buffalo United Artists) at the Alleyway Theatre, 1 Curtain Up Alley (along Shea's northen wall) (716-886-9239) buffalounitedartists.org.

ALLEY OF THE DOLLS BLURB: "The bitch is back! BUA is turning 30 in 2022. And to celebrate, in grand style, Jimmy Janowski will be playing the Helen Lawson character in an adaptation of the camp film classic Valley of the Dolls, re-titled ALLEY OF THE DOLLS (it will be at the Alleyway, get it?)"
Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is scheduled by Theatre of Youth to run from April 17 to May 8, 2022 at the theater 203 Allen Street, Buffalo, NY 14201 For tickets and information call (716) 884-4400 or visit www.theatreofyouth.org/

Some of this information first appeared in "Stagefright" by Javier Bustillos, a regular feature of Anthony's blog "Theater Talk Buffalo" (theatertalkbuffalo.com/) Subscribe for free here https://www.theatertalkbuffalo.com/subscribe

Listen for Theater Talk, Friday morning at 6:45 and 8:45 during Morning Edition.
Even though "semi-retired," Peter Hall continues to wear many hats. He is the Sunday afternoon host on WBFO’s “sister station,” Classical 94.5 / WNED where he has produced over 1,000 radio interviews with musical artists. If you see him at a theater with a pen in his hand, he’s probably getting ready to co-host “Theater Talk” with Anthony Chase (heard Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO) or to write a review for www.buffalorising.com. He is also a member of the "Artie Awards" committee (think “Tony Awards for Buffalo theaters”).
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