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Theater Talk: DAMN YANKEES at both Shaw and O'Connell and AIN'T TOO PROUD at Shea's

DAMN YANKEES at Shawfest
Michael Cooper coopershoots.com/Michael Cooper
/
The Shaw Festival
Jay Turvey as Van Buren and the cast of Damn Yankees (Shaw Festival, 2022). Photo by Michael Cooper.

Anthony scored a double with two DAMN YANKEES performances, one currently at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-On-The-Lake in Canada and the other closing this Sunday at O'Connell and Company at 3200 Elmwood Avenue Kenmore. At the Shaw Festival, his 22 theater students, all avid musical fans, were so excited that afterward the Festival had actor James Daly ("You're so hot!" as one student shouted at the curtain call) stop by for a visit. And, if you don't know, crossing the border is very easy (just download ArriveCAN on your smartphone before you go). The show is in previews until May 28, so Anthony is constrained from reviewing it, but he CAN report that his students loved it. For a list of plays and musicals at the Shaw Festival this summer, see below or just visit shawfest.com.

DAMN YANKEES at O'Connell and Company.jpg
Mary Kate O'Connell
DAMN YANKEES at O'Connell and Company, 3200 Elmwood Avenue, closes this weekend (see listings below)

Anthony was also very happy at our local O'Connell and Company's version, where their formula of a mix of professional and community theater actors seems to be the secret of success. But you have only three more days to catch that (see local listings below).

AIN'T TOO PROUD, the touring Broadway musical with book by Dominique Morriseau also wraps up its current run at Shea's this Sunday. Anthony reports that it wasn't quite as crisp a performance as he'd seen on Broadway. People often ask him "Are the shows that tour as good as the Broadway originals?" and he usually says yes, they are, and sometimes they're even better. But not quite the case here. Still, the music is divine.

Speaking of musicals, if your child, especially your son, is going to have any shot at the big time, he has to dance (and of course, act and sing) and that's where Neglia Ballet has excelled in teaching over the years. Their annual fund raising event will be May 21 at the Nichols School's Flickinger Center. Visit negliaballet.org/event/spring-gala/.

On the COVID front, the Kavinoky's PEOPLE, PLACES, AND THINGS opened and then immediately paused out of an abundance of caution but it's back up this Sunday afternoon and hopefully going forward (see listings below).

Unfortunately, WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF has been canceled entirely at The New Phoenix Theatre.

The Awards Ceremony (think Tony Awards for Buffalo) will take place Monday night, June 6, 2022, at Shea's 710 Theatre, sponsored by Buffalo Toronto Public Media.

The 75th Annual Tony Award Nominations were announced on Monday, May 9 on the Tony Awards official YouTube channel. Visit tonyawards.com for the complete listings. The 2022 Tony Awards is still on for June 12th at Radio City Music Hall to be hosted by West Side Story's Ariana DeBose.

The THEATER LISTINGS below are accurate as of this Friday morning, May 13, but check with the venue frequently. Pro Tip: Visit the websites to buy tickets but check with Facebook as well which will often have the most up-to-the-minute information on cancellations and postponements. And bring a mask. Several venues are requiring audiences to be masked.

OPENINGS THIS WEEK:

MODERN ORTHODOX by Daniel Goldfarb, directed by Steve Vaughan, May 12 (NEW) - 29, Thursdays at 7:30, Saturdays at 3:30 and 7:30, Sundays at 2, presented by Jewish Repertory in the Maxine and Robert Seller Theater, 2640 N Forest Rd, Buffalo, NY 14228. 716.688.4114 ext. 309 www.jccbuffalo.org/jrt/

MODERN ORTHODOX BLURB: This hilarious and heartfelt comedy tells the story of Ben Jacobson, an Upper West Side financial consultant ready to propose to his long-time girlfriend Hannah, and Herschel Klein, an Orthodox diamond dealer tasked with selling Ben an engagement ring. After a fateful first meeting Herschel becomes entangled in the lives of Ben and Hannah for better and worse. Initially Ben and Herschel’s differing views on their shared religions divides them, but as both men struggle with romantic relationships and faith an unexpected bond is forged between them in their pursuit of love.

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OREGON TRAIL, by Bekah Brunstetter, May 12 (NEW) - 28, directed by Chris J. Handley, presented by the Alleyway Theatre, Thursdays - Saturdays at 7:30, at One Curtain Up Alley (between Pearl and Main along the back wall of Shea's) Buffalo NY 14202 alleyway.com 716.852.2600

OREGON TRAIL BLURB: It’s 1996 and Jane is trapped in her middle school computer lab playing “The Oregon Trail.” Suddenly the game comes to life and whisks us back to 1848 to travel covered-wagon style with Jane’s great-great-grandmother. As the game moves us (and Jane) back and forth in time, Jane forms a bond with her ancestors while navigating the complexities of a modern life. This comedy about depression from the EMMY-nominated writer of “This Is Us” is a must for anyone who grew up trying not to die of dysentery.

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PLAY ON! presented by SHAKESPEARE IN DELAWARE PARK One performance only, Sunday, May 15 at 5 pm described as "A Nomadic Evening of Live Music and Theater" featuring the celebrated Buffalo Chamber Players, Shakespeare in Delaware Park actors, and the Vocalis Chamber Choir for an evening of strings, acting, and choral singing. The artists will perform works crossing a range of genres as the audience, in groups, moves throughout the venue to different locations. Email mgmt@shakespeareindelawarepark.org or call (716) 856-4533.

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SPUNK, by George C. Wolfe, adapted for the stage from Zora Neale Hurston stories, directed by Sarah Norat-Phillips, May 13 (NEW) - 29, Fridays-Saturdays at 7:30, Sundays at 4 pm, presented by Ujima Theatre, 429 Plymouth Avenue, Buffalo, NY, 14213 716-281-0092 boxoffice@ujimacoinc.org

SPUNK BLURB: Using the blues, choral narrative and dance, the three tales focus on men and women, trapped inside the "laughin' kind of lovin' kind of hurtin' kind of pain, that comes from being human. Based on three short stories of Zora Neale Hurston (Their Eyes Were Watching God) and adapted by George C. Wolfe. SPUNK sets the human ability to endure to the strums of a guitar in a stirring musical fable. An unearthly Guitar Man and Blues Speak Woman tantalizingly interweave three tales of the early 20th century African American experience, from the fierce determination of a resilient washerwoman to the zoot suit struts of 1940s Harlem, to the bittersweet innocence of young married love. Glowing with wit, humor and energy, three tales of survival are told in the key of the blues.

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THE PARADIGM BOMB, by Matthew LaChiusa, 5/19 (NEW) - 6/4, Thursdays - Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 5:00 pm, at Compass Performing Arts Center, 545 Elmwood Avenue (the old TheatreLoft). 716-697-0837 artofwny@msn.com

THE PARADIGM BOMB BLURB: Per the playwright: "Ted Kaczynski, Timothy McVeigh, the faceless thousands behind the Janauary 6th Capital storming, we know of their deeds, but do we ever know what was the first sparks that led to their actions? This piece looks closely at the humanity behind terrorist and insurrectional acts". This is not a political play, but a narrative about the human condition placed in a contemporary political and social environment. It's a piece about the hunger to be heard, and the extremes one takes to be".

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CLOSINGS THIS WEEKEND:

AIN'T TOO PROUD – The Life and Times of the Temptations, book by Dominique Morriseau, music by, well... The Temptations!!! Broadway musical tour, May 10 - 15, Tuesday - Friday at 7:30 pm, Saturday at 2 and 8, Sunday at 1 and 6:30 at Shea's Buffalo Theatre, 646 Main Street, 716-847-0850 sheas.org Runtime: 2 hours, 45 minutes

AIN'T TOO PROUD BLURB: Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations is the electrifying new smash-hit Broadway musical that follows The Temptations’ extraordinary journey from the streets of Detroit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Winner of the 2019 Tony Award for Best Choreography, it’s a thrilling story of brotherhood, family, loyalty, and betrayal during a decade of civil unrest in America. Set to the beat of the group’s treasured hits, including “My Girl,” “Just My Imagination,” “Get Ready,” “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” Ain’t Too Proud tells the unforgettable story of the legendary quintet that Billboard Magazine named the greatest R&B group of all time. The Production uses an onstage smoke effect. Recommended ages 12+ (some language, and adult content)

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DAMN YANKEES, musical by Jerry Ross and Richard Adler, directed by Joey Bucheker, presented by O'Connell & Co. through May 15 (original closing date). Opening Night will be Friday, May 6th at 8pm and performances continue through May 15, 2022. The venue has added a few “double headers” to their updated show lineup. SHOWTIMES:

Friday, May 6 - 8:00pm; Saturday, May 7 - 2 pm and 8 pm; Sunday, May 8 - 2 pm; Friday, May 13 - 8:00pm; Saturday, May 14 - 2pm and 8:00pm; Sunday, May 15 - 2:00pm and 8pm Friday- Saturday at 8, Saturday- Sunday at 2, on their main stage 3200 Elmwood Avenue, Kenmore, NY 14217 716.848.0800 oconnellandcompany.com/

DAMN YANKEES BLURB: Light, fast-paced and devilishly clever. Based on the novel, "The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant," this classic Tony and Oscar Award-winning musical comedy is a captivating tale of devotion, deception, dancing, the Devil, and Major League Baseball.

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JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, through May 15 at the Lancaster Opera House, 21 Central Avenue, Lancaster, NY 14086. Fridays-Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays-Sundays at 2:30 pm. 716.683.1776 lancasteropera.org

JOSEPH...DREAMCOAT BLURB: One of the most enduring shows of all time, this gem from Andrew Lloyd Webber (the composer of The Phantom of the Opera and Jesus Christ Superstar among many others) uses the biblical story of Joseph—and a handful of popular song types, from Elvis to calypso—to tell a universal story of dreamers: people from broken families who struggle to make the best of what they have, to trust in themselves, and most importantly, to see courage in forgiveness.

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PROOF, by David Auburn, directed by Jennifer Simpson, through May 15, Saturday at 7:30 pm, Sunday at 2pm, starring Sarah Emmerling, Joe Sciammarella, Tammy Dobe, and Connor Caso as Catherine, Robert, Claire, and Hal, presented by the Carriage House Players at the Taylor Theater in Lockport’s Kenan Center, 433 Locust Street, Lockport, NY 14094 kenancenter.org/carriage-house-players 716-433-2617

PROOF BLURB: Catherine, a woman in her late twenties, is strongly devoted to her father Robert, a brilliant well-known mathematician whose grip on reality is beginning to slip away. The play explores Catherine’s fear of following in her father’s footsteps after his death both mathematically and mentally. When Robert’s work reveals a mathematical proof of potentially historic proportions, it sets off shock waves in more ways than one. The play won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play. “Proof” is presented during Mental Health Awareness Month, which has been observed in the United States during the month May since 1949.

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*CANCELLED* WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF, the play by Edward Albees was to be the final presentation by New Phoenix Theatre on the Park, 95 Johnson Park Buffalo, NY 14201 716-853-1334 newphnxtheatre@aol.com NOTE: This play was delayed, but now it has been completely cancelled.

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CONTINUING:

ANTON IN SHOW BUSINESS by Jane Martin, directed by Lara D. Haberberger, starring Rachael Buchanan, Heather Fangsrud, Corey Gorski, Kaeli McGinnis, Davida Tolbert, Alyssa Walsh, Stefanie Warnick, through May 22, Fridays-Saturdays at 7:30, One Sunday show 2pm May 22, at the Alleyway Cabaret 716-598-1586 or visit brazenfacedvarlets.org or on Facebook or For www.brownpapertickets.com/event/5425950

ANTON IN SHOW BUSINESS BLURB:This madcap comedy follows three actresses across the footlights, down the rabbit hole, and into a strangely familiar Wonderland that looks a lot like American theatre – the resemblance is uncanny! As these women pursue their dream of performing Chekhov in Texas, they’re whisked through a maelstrom of “good ideas” that offer unique solutions to the Three Sisters’ need to have life’s deeper purpose revealed. In the tradition of great backstage comedies, Anton in Show Business conveys the joys, pains, and absurdities of “putting on a play” at the turn of the century.

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BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, the Disney Broadway musical, runs through May 22, presented by Theatre of Youth, Saturdays at 2 pm and 7 pm, Sundays at 2 pm, also Friday, May 13 at 7, at the Allendale Theatre, 203 Allen Street, Buffalo, NY 14210. 716.884.4400 theatreofyouth.org Masks are required. Runtime: 2-1/2 hours including one intermission.

BLURB: Be swept away by Broadway’s classic musical as TOY proudly presents Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. A tale as old as time, the spirited Belle, a prince-turned-beast, and a gaggle of enchanted friends discover there’s more than meets the eye as they look beyond what we see to discover that beauty comes from within.

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LITTLE WOMEN...NOW, a world-premiere adaptation by Donna Hoke, directed by Doug Weyand, starring Lisa Vitrano, Brittany Bassett, Alexandria Watts, Heather Gervasi, Sabrina Kahwaty, Jake Hayes and Ricky Needham, through May 22, Thursdays - Saturdays at 7:30, Sundays at 2. Presented by Road Less Traveled Productions. 456 Main Street Buffalo NY 14202 Box Office 716.629.3069 roadlesstraveledproductions.org

LITTLE WOMEN NOW BLURB: Little Women… Now brings the beloved March sisters to life in this contemporary adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic story by RLTP Ensemble member Donna Hoke. Follow Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth as they navigate the challenges of love, loss, and family on the road from childhood to adulthood in the 21st century. With fresh perspective and charm, this world premiere production captures the spirit and sensibility of the original for a modern audience.

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PEOPLE, PLACES, AND THINGS, a play by Duncan MacMillan, directed by Katie Mallinson, through May 22, Thursdays - Saturdays at 7:30, Saturdays 3:30, Sundays 2, presented by D'Youville's Kavinoky Theatre, 320 Porter Ave, Buffalo, NY 14201. 716.829.7668 kavinokytheatre.com *NOTE* DUE TO ILLNESS, Thursday, Friday and Saturday (May 12, 13, & 14) performances ARE CANCELLED, but SUNDAY, May 15th at 2pm is still on. And, NEW SHOWS HAVE BEEN ADDED: Sunday, May 15th at 7pm and Wednesday, May 18th at 7:30 pm.

PEOPLE, PLACES, AND THINGS BLURB: Emma was having the time of her life. Now she’s in rehab. An inventively dramatic tale of addiction, recovery, and everything that happens in between. NOTE: For the production of PEOPLE, PLACES, AND THINGS the D’Youville Kavinoky Theatre is proud to partner with Save the Michaels of the World. On Thursday nights of the run (May 12 & 19) there will be panel discussions with the cast, people with lived experience, professionals from Save the Michaels of the World, and other support organizations. We want to create a safe space for dialogue and questions surrounding the current Substance Use Disorder crisis. On those nights, the bar will be alcohol free. Those “Talk-Back/Panel discussions” are free of charge and take place AFTER each Thursday performance.

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THE OTHER JOSH COHEN, a musical comedy, by David Rossmer and Steve Rosen, directed by Randall Kramer, presented by MusicalFare. Through May 22 Wednesdays - Thursdays at 7pm, Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 3:30 pm and 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2 pm at MusicalFare Theatre on the Daemen College campus, 4380 Main Street, Amherst, NY 14226 (pro tip: enter off Getzville Road). 716.839.8540 musicalfare.com

THE OTHER JOSH COHEN BLURB: Josh Cohen just can't get a break. He's single, broke and to top it all off, his apartment's been robbed of everything but a Neil Diamond CD. Broke and alone, all hope seems lost – until a mysterious letter arrives that changes his life forever. Thus begins the hilarious and quirky romantic comedy about a good guy caught in a lifelong battle with bad luck. It features a six member ensemble with two actors who play the same hapless-yet-warmhearted title character – one eventful year apart – in a 90-minute life-changing laughfest for the whole family that will leave you feeling better about the world!

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SHAW FESTIVAL LIST OF SUMMER PLAYS:

(Note, visit shawfest.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/2022Calendar_print.pdf for a printable calendar with days, dates, and times)

FESTIVAL THEATRE

DAMN YANKEES

Words and Music by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross

Book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST

By Oscar Wilde

THE DOCTOR’S DILEMMA

By Bernard Shaw

ROYAL GEORGE THEATRE

CYRANO DE BERGERAC

By Edmond Rostand

Translated and adapted for the stage by Kate Hennig

GASLIGHT

By Johnna Wright and Patty Jamieson

Based on the play Angel Street by Patrick Hamilton

CHITRA (Lunchtime One-Act)

By Rabindranath Tagore

JUST TO GET MARRIED

By Cicely Hamilton

JACKIE MAXWELL STUDIO THEATRE

THIS IS HOW WE GOT HERE

By Keith Barker

Produced by Native Earth Performing Arts

Presented by the Shaw Festival

TOO TRUE TO BE GOOD

By Bernard Shaw

EVERYBODY

By Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

AUGUST WILSON’S

GEM OF THE OCEAN

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JUNE EVENTS IN BUFFALO:

ISLEÑA (Islander), a one-woman play by Victoria Pérez and María Pérez Gómez, featuring Victoria Pérez, directed by María Pérez Gómez, presented by Raíces Theatre runs from June 17 to July 3 at Road Less Traveled (the new home of Raíces) 456 Main Street Buffalo NY 14202

Box Office (716) 629-3069 roadlesstraveledproductions.org

ISLEÑA BLURB: Isleña (Islander) is a memorable story of an island girl’s journey from Puerto Rico to Buffalo ¡Nos vemos en el teatro! (See you at the theater!) (716) 629-3069 roadlesstraveled.org

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SHAKESPEARE IN DELAWARE PARK presents AS YOU LIKE IT, directed by Steve Vaughan, June 23 - July 17 on "Shakespeare Hill" in Delaware Park near Marcy Casino and The Rose Garden.

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SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, semi-staged production by Starring Buffalo, June 10 - 11, Friday - Saturday at 7:30 pm, Saturday at 2:00 pm at Shea's 710 Theatre. Visit Shea's Box Office at Sheas.org or starringbuffalo.org.

SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE BLURB: Starring Buffalo returnS to Shea’s 710 with SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Pulitzer prize-winning masterpiece. Inspired by the painting, "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" by Georges Seurat, SUNDAY merges past and present into a beautiful and poignant parable about love and the creation of art. One of the most acclaimed musicals of all time, SUNDAY was nominated for an incredible ten Tony Awards.

Performed in Starring Buffalo’s signature staged concert format, the cast features Tony Award nominee Josh Young (Jesus Christ Superstar, Amazing Grace, Evita) as George, five-time Broadway actress Emily Padgett (Side Show, Grease, Bright Star) as Dot, and Buffalo star Karen Saxon (Ujima Theater Company) as The Lady, performing alongside an ensemble of Buffalo’s best including Keith Ersing, Jake Hayes, Matthew Iwanski-Jackson, Jetaun Louie, Michele Marie Roberts, Sara States, Andrea Todaro, and Josh Wilde, as well as dozens of Western New York singers, dancers, and musicians.

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JULY EVENTS IN BUFFALO:

ALLEY OF THE DOLLS, directed by Chris Kelly, as Buffalo United Artists continues their "Summer Camp" series, July 9 - July 31, starring Jimmy Janowski, Renee Landrigan, Matt Refermat, Christopher Standart, Michael Blasdell (Bebe), Michael Seitz… and more! at The Alleyway Theater, One Curtain Up Alley.

AND IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

The M&T Broadway series at Shea's for 2022-2023 includes:

THE PROM Sep 27-Oct 2, 2022

TINA: THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL Nov 8-13, 2022

COME FROM AWAY Dec 13-18, 2022

HADESTOWN Feb 21-26, 2023

BEETLEJUICE Mar 21-26, 2023

SIX Apr 25-May 7, 2023

JAGGED LITTLE PILL Jun 6-11, 2023

with two "special engagements"

Disney's ALADDIN Nov 22-27, 2022 and

DEAR EVAN HANSEN June 20-25, 2023.

Lead photo Jay Turvey as Van Buren and the cast of Damn Yankees (Shaw Festival, 2022). Photo by Michael Cooper.

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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