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Theater Talk: GUARDS AT THE TAJ at Road Less Traveled and ALADDIN at Shea's both thrill audiences in such different ways

GUARDS AT THE TAJ L-R Afrim Gjonbalaj & Darryl Semira.jpg
Gina Gandolfo




/
Road Less Traveled Productions
GUARDS AT THE TAJ packs humor and drama with L-R Afrim Gjonbalaj & Darryl Semira

Anthony's show ANTHONY CHASE: MY LIFE IN THE AUDIENCE opened on Sunday night as many people were finally able to dig out by then to drive downtown to the Hotel Lafayette. It was sweet and funny and a chance to learn more about the man who founded "Theater Talk" 30 years ago this month. Good news! New shows have been added to this sold-out event, see listings below.

But not all shows dodged the snow. MISERY at D'Youville's Kavinoky Theatre saw their final weekend canceled but they have ADDED TWO PERFORMANCES ONLY Saturday, November 26th @ 3:30 pm AND Sunday, November 27th @ 2 pm. And GREAT EXPECTATIONS at the Irish Classical Theatre had its opening canceled, but will open this weekend. TITUS XX produced by the Brazen Faced Varlets had its final shows canceled as did TONI STONE at Ujima, but Ujima may be able to reschedule those at a later date. THE BOYS NEXT DOOR (Inclusive Theater) had a limited run that was completely snowed out.

However, Disney's ALADDIN had impeccable timing, missing the snow to open on Tuesday, November 22 at Shea's Buffalo Theatre where it will run through November 27 (see listings below), with three (3!) matinees (for the children). And a few blocks south on Main Street at Road Less Traveled Productions, GUARDS AT THE TAJ thrills audiences in a show that couldn't be more different, yet addressing the very same themes of honesty, loyalty, friendship, and being true to one's self, regardless of the personal cost.

OPENINGS:

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, by Charles M. Schulz, based on the television special by Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson, stage adaptation by Eric Schaeffer, by special arrangement with Arthur Whitelaw and Ruby Persson, directed by Doug Weyand, November 25 - 26, Friday at 7:30, Saturday at both 12:30 and 7:30, then from December 3 - 18, only Saturday and Sunday matinees at 12:30 (each 30 minutes long) followed by a meet and greet with Santa Claus. At the New O'Connell & Company Theater, 4110 Bailey Avenue, Amherst, NY 14226. 716-848-0800 oconnellandcompany.com

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS BLURB: A 30-minute stage adaptation of the classic animated TV special featuring Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, and the gang discovering the true meaning of Christmas. Followed by a meet and greet with Santa Claus and special holiday crafts.

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Disney's ALADDIN, the Broadway tour, with music by Alan Menken; lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, and Chad Beguelin; book by Chad Beguelin, opened Tuesday and runs Friday November 25 at both 1:00 and 7:30, Saturday at 2:00 and 8:00, Sunday at 1:00 (no evening performance) at Shea's Buffalo Theatre, 646 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14202. (716) 847-1410 sheas.org

ALADDIN BLURB: Discover a whole new world at Disney’s ALADDIN, the Broadway musical with favorite characters including the Genie, Jafar, Iago, and, of course, Aladdin and Jasmine. WARNING - ALADDIN is intended for guests 6 and up. Children under the age of 2 will not be admitted. All guests must have a ticket. Note: visit sheas.org for access to a digital playbill.

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GREAT EXPECTATIONS by Charles Dickens, adapted by Neil Bartlett, directed by Chris Kelly, starring R.J. Voltz and Lissette DeJesus, with an ensemble, had its opening delayed, and runs through December 11, 2022, Fridays - Saturdays at 7:30, Saturdays at 3:00, Sundays at 2:00. Presented by the Irish Classical Theatre 625 Main Street, Buffalo NY 14203

716-853-4282, irishclassical.com

Special events/considerations: ASL/Open Captioned Performance: Thursday, December 8, 2022, at 7:30 pm. Free post-show TALK BACKS with cast members are offered each Thursday evening. YOUNG PROFESSIONALS NIGHT: Thursday, December 1, 6:30 pm Happy Hour, followed by the show, with a Talk Back afterward. INDUSTRY NIGHT, also Thursday, December 1, 7:30 pm, followed by a TalkBack. And there will be a Community Matinee on Wednesday, December 7 at 10 am designed to be "A performance with accommodations for people who would benefit from a more relaxed theatre-going experience. We encourage attendees from school groups, community care, and day habilitation centers to come, be themselves, and experience a live performance. For tickets, contact the Box Office at 716-853-4282, or email BoxOffice@irishclassical.com.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS BLURB: Charles Dickens’ classic coming-of-age tale, adapted for the stage by Neil Bartlett, follows the story of orphan Pip as he navigates a strange and difficult childhood to become a distinguished gentleman in London with the help of an anonymous benefactor. ICTC Associate Director Chris Kelly directs an energetic ensemble, led by R.J. Voltz and Lissette DeJesus, in this powerful journey exploring the human experience.

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THE SOUND OF MUSIC, by Rodgers and Hammerstein, directed by David Bondrow, had its opening delayed, but now runs through December 4, Fridays - Saturdays at 7:30, Sundays at 2:30. Note: Saturday, December 3 two shows are offered at both 2:30 and 7:30. Presented by the Lancaster Opera House 21 Central Ave Lancaster NY 14086. 716-683-1776 lancasteropera.org

THE SOUND OF MUSIC BLURB: The threat of Nazism growing ever larger on the horizon, this story of tenderness and identity overcoming habit has transcended musical theater to become part of our cultural consciousness. Book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, Music by Richard Rodgers, Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, suggested by the book "The Trapp Family Singers" by Maria Augusta Trapp.

CONTINUING:

ANTHONY CHASE: MY LIFE IN THE AUDIENCE is a one-man show featuring Anthony Chase (with Philip Farugia at the piano) at the Bittersweet Piano Lounge in the Lafayette Hotel, 391 Washington St, Buffalo, NY 14203 (enter off Washington). Sunday evening November 27 at 8:00 is sold out, but two shows have been added: Sunday, December 11 and Monday December 12, both at 8:00. Check out brownpapertickets.com And... remember to sign up for Anthony's blog theatertalkbuffalo.com. Subscribe and you won't miss out on a lot of useful theater news as well as great reviews.

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BEEHIVE: The 60s Musical, by Larry Gallagher, directed & choreographed by Carlos R.A. Jones, presented by MusicalFare Theatre, November 9th – December 11th, Wednesdays - Thursdays at 7:00 pm, Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 3:30 pm and 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2:00 pm. On the campus of Daemen College, MusicalFare Theatre is located at 4380 Main Street in Amherst, NY (tip: enter off Getzville Road). Meet-the-cast talkbacks take place after all Wednesday performances. 716-839-8540 www.musicalfare.com

BEEHIVE BLURB: Starring Brittany Bassett-Baran, Stevie Jackson, Lily Jones, Sabrina Kahwaty, Kristen-Marie Lopez and Timiyah Love, six women sing the rock-n-roll music of the 1960s in a night of non-stop song and dance! Featuring a fantastic showcase of songs like "My Boyfriend's Back," "It's My Party," "Natural Woman," "Me & Bobby McGee" and many more! Assistant Choreographed by Robin Barker, Music Direction by Philip Farugia, Set, Lighting & Sound Design is by Chris Cavanagh, Costume Design is by Kari Drozd and Hair, Wig & Make-up Design is by Susan Drozd.

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GUARDS AT THE TAJ, a play by Rajiv Joseph, directed by Katie Mallinson, starring Afrim Gjonbalaj & Darryl Semira, continues through December 11, Thursdays - Saturdays at 7:30, Sundays at 2:00, at Road Less Traveled Productions, 456 Main Street Buffalo, NY 14202. (716) 629-3069 roadlesstraveledproductions.org.

Special events / considerations: There will be an "Off-book: Zoom discussion" on Wednesday, December 7 at 7 pm (visit the website for a Zoom link).

GUARDS AT THE TAJ BLURB: Winner of the 2016 Obie Award for Best New Play and the 2016 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play, GUARDS AT THE TAJ is set in India…1648…and as the sun rises, two imperial guards are assigned to protect the unveiling of the just-completed Taj Mahal. When ordered to perform the most unthinkable task, friendship is tested and broken by brutal circumstances. Bold, darkly funny, and deeply moving, GUARDS AT THE TAJ addresses friendship and faith in God surrounded by beauty, carnage, and duty at one of the most famous wonders of the world.

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MISERY HAS TWO ADDED PERFORMANCES

MISERY, a play by William Goldman adapted from Stephen King, directed by Brian Cavanagh, starring Adriano Gatto as Paul, Steven Brachmann as Buster (the sheriff), and Kavinoky Artistic Director Loraine O’Donnell as Annie (aka "the Kathy Bates role") Saturday, November 26th @ 3:30 pm AND Sunday, November 27th @ 2:00 pm at D’Youville's Kavinoky Theatre, (716) 829-7668. kavinokytheatre.com

MISERY BLURB: The play version of the beloved Stephen King classic movie follows successful romance novelist Paul Sheldon, who is rescued from a car crash by his “Number One Fan,” Annie Wilkes, and wakes up captive in her secluded home. Annie forces Paul to write a new “Misery” novel, and he quickly realizes Annie has no intention of letting him go anywhere.

FUN (?) FACT: Adriano Gatto lies in the very same bed and Loraine O'Donnell swings the very same sledgehammer used by Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalf in the 2015 Broadway production of MISERY.

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COMING IN DECEMBER, 2022:

ALL IS CALM, The Christmas Truce of 1914 musical, presented by MusicalFare Theatre, December 1 - 18, Thursday - Friday at 7:30, Saturday at 8:00, Sunday at 2:00 at Shea's 710 Theatre (710 Main Street at the corner of Tupper). 716-847-1410 sheas.org

ALL IS CALM takes place on The Western Front, during Christmas of 1914. Out of the violence a silence, then a song. Thus begins an extraordinary night of camaraderie, music, and peace. A remarkable true story told in the words and songs of the men who lived it. 1 hour, 10 minutes - NO INTERMISSION

WARNING - Flashing Lights, sounds of gunfire and explosions, and atmospheric effects are used in this production.

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BIG BAND CHRISTMAS MEMORIES, written and directed by Mary Kate O'Connell

featuring The George Scott Big Band from The Colored Musicians Club. December 2 - 18, Fridays - Saturdays at 7:30, Sundays at 3:00. On the mainstage of the New O'Connell & Company Theater, 4110 Bailey Avenue, Amherst, NY 14226. 716-848-0800 oconnellandcompany.com

BIG BAND CHRISTMAS MEMORIES BLURB: As the old cliché goes, Christmas comes just once a year – but it has inspired a truly timeless selection of memorable songs. Big Band Christmas Memories will make your season come alive with this perfect mix of music, dance, humor, and a treasure trove of classic holiday tunes and traditions! Perfect for the entire family.

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CADILLAC CREW, play by Tori Sampson, directed by Linda Barr, presented by the Paul Robeson Theatre, December 2 - 18, Thursday - Saturday at 7:30, Sunday at 4:00 in the African American Cultural Center, 350 Masten Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14209 716-884-2013 paulrobesontheatre.org

CADILLAC CREW BLURB: Set in 1963, Cadillac Crew follows the stories of four women who must confront their individual identities while coming together to fight for liberation and equality. This play is part of the 2022-2023 "season of celebrating women who lead."

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THE NUTCRACKER, ballet, presented by Neglia Ballet, directed by Heidi Halt and Sergio Neglia with music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Saturday December 3 at 7:00, Sunday December 4 at 1:00, at Shea's Performing Arts Center, 716-847-0850 sheas.org

THE NUTCRACKER BLURB: The annual favorite is back at Shea's with the story of Marie and her Christmas gift of a wooden nutcracker which becomes alive, battles the Mouse King, and wins her heart. Chock full of favorite melodies including "The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies."

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THE BIRTH OF SANTA, a play by Justin Karcher & Eric Mowery, directed by Eric Mowery, featuring Andrew Zuccari, David Wysocki, Daniel Burning, Eric Mowery, Ian Michalski, and Rick Lattimer, December 1 -23, Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30, Saturdays at 5:00 at American Repertory Theater, 545 Elmwood Avenue. (716) 697-0837 artofwny.org

THE BIRTH OF SANTA BLURB: A reimagining of A Christmas Carol. An artist, famous for their Christmas-themed paintings, tries something different and has a show during the holiday season. It is not well-received. They fall into a tailspin heading back into their studio hoping to discover the true spirit of joy. They are visited by three artists of the Christmas spirit, including Norman Rockwell, Little Drummer Boy, and Brutus the robot.

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UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, an opera by Giuseppe Verdi, conducted by Nick DelBello, directed by Joseph Spann, and presented by Buffalo Opera Unlimited, has two shows, Friday, December 2 at 7:30 and Sunday, December 4 at 2:30, in Buffalo State College’s Rockwell Hall, 1300 Elmwood Avenue (716-878-3005 buffalooperaunlimited.org

UN BALLO IN MASCHERA BLURB: Politics, prophecy, and passion take centerstage in Verdi’s UN BALLO IN MASCHERA (A Masked Ball) – an opera so sensitive . . . so potent . . . that censors once tried to keep it from ever being produced!

Buffalo Opera Unlimited is producing "Un Ballo" anyway! Verdi's thrilling 1859 drama was originally set in Sweden and told the story of the 1792 assassination of King Gustav III. When met with resistance from Italian censors, Verdi chose to keep the storyline but move the setting to early-America Boston. (It's true!) "Un Ballo" weaves a love triangle between Riccardo, Governor of Boston, his friend and secretary Renato, and Renato's wife, Amelia, all against the backdrop of an assassination plot at a masked ball. The opera will be sung in Italian with projected English surtitles.

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

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

and

DEAR EVAN HANSEN June 20-25, 2023 (a "special engagement")

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”).
Latest Episodes
  • For 30 years, Theater Talk has been appointment listening on WBFO, featuring the insights of theater critic and historian, Anthony Chase, who joins Peter Hall for a five-minute weekly broadcast at 6:45 and 8:45 Friday mornings on 88.7 WBFO with a podcast available on wbfo.org. As part of BTPM (Buffalo Toronto Public Media), their beat is primarily Buffalo theater, but Broadway, The Shaw Festival, The Stratford Festival, are covered as other relevant art forms are touched on, including ballet and opera.
  • For 30 years, Theater Talk has been appointment listening on WBFO, featuring the insights of theater critic and historian, Anthony Chase, who joins Peter Hall for a five-minute weekly broadcast at 6:45 and 8:45 Friday mornings on 88.7 WBFO with a podcast available on wbfo.org. As part of BTPM (Buffalo Toronto Public Media), their beat is primarily Buffalo theater, but Broadway, The Shaw Festival, The Stratford Festival, are covered as other relevant art forms are touched on, including ballet and opera.
  • For 30 years, Theater Talk has been appointment listening on WBFO, featuring the insights of theater critic and historian, Anthony Chase, who joins Peter Hall for a five-minute weekly broadcast at 6:45 and 8:45 Friday mornings on 88.7 WBFO with a podcast available on wbfo.org. As part of BTPM (Buffalo Toronto Public Media), their beat is primarily Buffalo theater, but Broadway, The Shaw Festival, The Stratford Festival, are covered as other relevant art forms are touched on, including ballet and opera.
  • For 30 years, Theater Talk has been appointment listening on WBFO, featuring the insights of theater critic and historian, Anthony Chase, who joins Peter Hall for a five-minute weekly broadcast at 6:45 and 8:45 Friday mornings on 88.7 WBFO with a podcast available on wbfo.org. As part of BTPM (Buffalo Toronto Public Media), their beat is primarily Buffalo theater, but Broadway, The Shaw Festival, The Stratford Festival, are covered as other relevant art forms are touched on, including ballet and opera.
  • For 30 years, Theater Talk has been appointment listening on WBFO, featuring the insights of theater critic and historian, Anthony Chase, who joins Peter Hall for a five-minute weekly broadcast at 6:45 and 8:45 Friday mornings on 88.7 WBFO with a podcast available on wbfo.org. As part of BTPM (Buffalo Toronto Public Media), their beat is primarily Buffalo theater, but Broadway, The Shaw Festival, The Stratford Festival, are covered as other relevant art forms are touched on, including ballet and opera.
  • For 30 years, Theater Talk has been appointment listening on WBFO, featuring the insights of theater critic and historian, Anthony Chase, who joins Peter Hall for a five-minute weekly broadcast at 6:45 and 8:45 Friday mornings on 88.7 WBFO with a podcast available on wbfo.org. As part of BTPM (Buffalo Toronto Public Media), their beat is primarily Buffalo theater, but Broadway, The Shaw Festival, The Stratford Festival, are covered as other relevant art forms are touched on, including ballet and opera.
  • For 30 years, Theater Talk has been appointment listening on WBFO, featuring the insights of theater critic and historian, Anthony Chase, who joins Peter Hall for a five-minute weekly broadcast at 6:45 and 8:45 Friday mornings on 88.7 WBFO with a podcast available on wbfo.org. As part of BTPM (Buffalo Toronto Public Media), their beat is primarily Buffalo theater, but Broadway, The Shaw Festival, The Stratford Festival, are covered as other relevant art forms are touched on, including ballet and opera.
  • For 30 years, Theater Talk has been appointment listening on WBFO, featuring the insights of theater critic and historian, Anthony Chase, who joins Peter Hall for a five-minute weekly broadcast at 6:45 and 8:45 Friday mornings on 88.7 WBFO with a podcast available on wbfo.org. As part of BTPM (Buffalo Toronto Public Media), their beat is primarily Buffalo theater, but Broadway, The Shaw Festival, The Stratford Festival, are covered as other relevant art forms are touched on, including ballet and opera.
  • For 30 years, Theater Talk has been appointment listening on WBFO, featuring the insights of theater critic and historian, Anthony Chase, who joins Peter Hall for a five-minute weekly broadcast at 6:45 and 8:45 Friday mornings on 88.7 WBFO with a podcast available on wbfo.org. As part of BTPM (Buffalo Toronto Public Media), their beat is primarily Buffalo theater, but Broadway, The Shaw Festival, The Stratford Festival, are covered as other relevant art forms are touched on, including ballet and opera.
  • For 30 years, Theater Talk has been appointment listening on WBFO, featuring the insights of theater critic and historian, Anthony Chase, who joins Peter Hall for a five-minute weekly broadcast at 6:45 and 8:45 Friday mornings on 88.7 WBFO with a podcast available on wbfo.org. As part of BTPM (Buffalo Toronto Public Media), their beat is primarily Buffalo theater, but Broadway, The Shaw Festival, The Stratford Festival, are covered as other relevant art forms are touched on, including ballet and opera.