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Alleyway Theatre founder retiring, transition plan announced

Alleyway Theatre
Chris J. Handley (l) will step into the role of Executive Artistic Director, as Alleyway Theatre founder Neal Radice has decided to retire.

Yet another local theater is starting the transition from a founder to a new generation of leadership.

Neal Radice has been running the Alleyway Theatre for 40 years, doing everything from writing musicals to building sets and converting a one-time Greyhound bus station and then-police station into a theater complex with a main stage and a cabaret space. He has also been active in a variety of theater community activities, like running the season-opening Curtain Up! several times.

Now, he is leaving his executive and artistic director post. Speaking to a crowd of actors, company managers and staff Monday night, Radice explained why.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

"About 2 1/2 years ago, I notified my Board of Directors that it was my intention to retire as of May 2020," Radice said. "My health is fine. I'm certainly not retiring from theater, not at all, but from the executive director position here at Alleyway. After 40 years leading Alleyway, I felt it was time to set a transition in motion."

Associate Artistic Director Chris J. Handley will work with Radice over the next year, getting ready to take full control. Handley said he is excited to take the job because he always wanted to run a theater.

"New plays are the future," Handley said. "Every 'Oklahoma' was once a new play. Every Edward Albee was once a new playwright. Every Lynn Nottage, every Gordon Farrell was once a new playwright and how exciting it must have been to be in the room when those productions were happening. That's what we do here."

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

The Alleyway is also adding a playwright-in-residence, Gordon Farrell. Several of his plays were produced by Alleyway in the past and his "Lifespan of a Fact" just closed on Broadway, starring Daniel Radcliffe.

Farrell's "Girls Who Walked on Glass" opens in the Alleyway next week and his "Navigators" opens the season September 12 for Curtain Up!

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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