Theater Talk: Two superb openings - THE THIN PLACE at RLTP and CLUE at LOH
This week Anthony's theater-going experience is fraught with program problems. At one, the QR code takes you to... nothing! And at Kleinhans, an officious usher told him that there were no more programs (there were) and that was that! And, at another, there was a major typo, but at least there was a program!
(Kudos, on the other hand) to MusicalFare which has figured out a way to hand out cost-cutting and tree-saving printed "mini-playbills" with a lot of detail and QR codes that go to an extensive website if you need to know more.)
So, high praise for THE THIN PLACE at Road Less Traveled Productions as well as CLUE at the Lancaster Opera House, both plays well-produced with spectacular casts (see listings below).
Read Anthony's reviews here.
And be sure to subscribe to Anthony's (free) blog "TheaterTalkBuffalo" here.
And, Anthony's back on stage at the Bittersweet Piano Lounge for another performance of "Anthony Chase: My Life in the Audience." For more click here.
Theater Talk extends condolences for the fire fighter who lost his life in the Theatre District fire this past week. For WBFO coverage, click here.
LOCAL LISTINGS ARE PRESENTED AS FOLLOWS: CLOSINGS (last chances to see these plays), then OPENINGS, then CONTINUING, then OPENINGS LATER IN MARCH.
CLOSINGS (alphabetically by title)
THE ALEPH COMPLEX, a play by Deborah Yarchun, directed by Robyn Lee Horn, presented by the Alleyway Theatre, starring Caroline Kolasny, Sara Kow-Falcone, and Josh Wilde. February 10 - March 4, Thursdays - Saturdays at 7:30 at the Alleyway Theatre, 1 Curtain Up Alley (between Pearl and Main north of Shea's). 716-852-2600 alleyway.com
NOTE: Afternoon Matinee: February 25 at 3:30
THE ALEPH COMPLEX BLURB: To save herself from her chronically incessant thoughts, Nicky converts them into sounds so she can fall asleep to the sound of rain. This works until, during a bout of crippling social anxiety at college, a thought about her mother turns into a vicious storm. Nicky outruns the storm all the way home, where she returns to her old job at the Container Store and to Mom… who hasn’t left the apartment in five years. While searching for self-help books at the Last Borders Bookstore on the Planet, she meets Borders Guy, the Last Borders Employee on the Planet, who introduces her to the mysterious Aleph, a Borges-inspired point of overwhelming omniscience he guards in the back of the store. Through a chain of “self-help” both comic and poignant, Nicky, her mother, and Borders Guy struggle to smash down the walls that enclose their lives. A fantastical new drama about the power of human connection, THE ALEPH COMPLEX is the 2020 Maxim Mazumdar New Play Award Winner.
Read Peter's review here.
OPENINGS (alphabetically by title)
EVERY BRILLIANT THING, a play by Duncan MacMillan with Jonny Donahoe, presented by Second Generation Theatre (SGT), directed By Charmagne Chi, starring Kevin Craig. March 3 - 19, Fridays at 7:30, Saturdays at 8:00, Sundays at 2:00 at Shea's Smith Theatre 654 Main Street, Buffalo NY 14202 716-847-1410 sheas.org/smith-theatre
This one-man show is a beautiful and unique experience. The Narrator takes the audience through his life and his ongoing list of “every brilliant thing” worth living for. A hilarious and heartbreaking look at life, loss, and how we move on... where the audience becomes a key player!SGT is thrilled to present the regional premiere of this heart-wrenching, hilarious one-person play. This 70-minute piece explores the resilience of the human spirit, the importance of human connection, and the ability to find joy in the everyday.
A NOTE FROM CRISIS SERVICES: "Although the play balances the struggles of life while celebrating all that is "truly brilliant" in living each day, EVERY BRILLINAT THING contains descriptions of depression, self-harm, and suicide.... Crisis Services recommends only audience members 14+ attend and reminds audiences to attend this program with their personal experiences in mind. As always, if you or somebody you know is struggling, call 988 for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline."
THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG, a play by Henry Lewis, Henry Shields, and Jonathan Sayer, directed by Michael Galante & Adriano Gatto, presented by D'Youville University's Kavinoky Theatre, starring Brian Mysliwy, Kelly Meg Brennan, Steve Copps, Alexandria Watts, Afrim Gjonbalaj, Jacob Albarella, Don Gervasi, and Kodi James. March 2 - March 19, Thursdays - Saturdays at 7:30, also Saturdays at 3:30, and Sundays at 2:00 at the Kavinoky, 320 Porter Ave, Buffalo, NY 14201 716-829-7668 kavinokytheatre.com
THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG BLURB: This long-running West End and Off-Broadway hit follows the antics of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, who are trying their very best to stage a production of a 1920s murder mystery called The Murder at Haversham Manor. As the show's title might suggest, this is not as easy as it sounds with everything that can go wrong doing just that as things quickly go from bad to disastrous. Part Monty Python, part Sherlock Holmes, this Olivier Award-winning comedy is a global phenomenon.
SECRET SOLDIERS: HEROINES IN DISGUISE By Wendy Lement, directed by Megan Callahan, presented by Theatre of Youth (TOY) March 4 - 26, Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 (no performance March 19). Recommended for Ages 8+
SECRET SOLDIERS: HEROINES IN DISGUISE BLURB: The secret history of women who fought as men in the civil war is revealed in this engrossing production. Several stories are uncovered in an interlocking set of true tales of battlefront women, with a focus on soldier Private Lyons Wakeman (a.k.a Sarah Wakeman) whose letters were discovered by her nephew in an attic years after her death.
In this unique production, the audience is enlisted to be medical officers who will decide the fate of Lyons Wakeman: whether the medical record will reflect this individual’s birth gender (and thus be denied a pension), or keep history hidden and receive all the benefits of military service. This play tells the true stories of women who fought in the Civil War as men.
CONTINUING (alphabetically by title)
CLUE, a play written by Sandy Rustin, adapted from the screenplay by Jonathan Lynn, with additional material by Hunter Foster and Eric Price, Original Music composed by Michael Holland, directed by, presented by Lancaster Opera House, February 24 - March 12, Friday - Saturday at 7:30, Sudnay at 2:30 at the Opera House, 21 Central Avenue, Lancaster, NY 14086 (716) 683-1776 lancasteropera.org
CLUE BLURB: Based on the iconic 1985 Paramount movie which was inspired by the classic Hasbro game, Clue is a hilarious farce-meets-murder mystery. The tale begins at a remote mansion, where six mysterious guests assemble for an unusual dinner party where murder and blackmail are on the menu. It's a dark and stormy night, and you've been invited to a very unusual dinner party. Each of the guests has an alias, the butler offers a variety of weapons, and the host is, well . . . dead. So whodunnit? Join the iconic oddballs known as Scarlet, Plum, White, Green, Peacock, and Mustard as they race to find the murderer in Boddy Manor before the body count stacks up. Based on the cult classic film and the popular board game, Clue is a madcap comedy that will keep you guessing until the final twist.
IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY, a play by Ray Cooney ("Britain's Master of Comedy/Farce"), directed by Jay Desiderio, presented by Desiderio's Dinner Theatre at Bobby J's, starring Dave Marciniak, Lisa Hinca, Dan Greer, Lisa Vitrano, Margo Davis, Jeremy Kreuzer, Brendan Cunningham, Len Mendez, Bill Baldwin, Katherine Parker, and Bob Lohr. Through March 12, shows run most Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and some Wednesdays Sundays fluctuate between matinee or evening performances). Dinner at 6:00 with the show at 7:30 - Matinees dinner at 1:00 with the show at 2:30. Desiderio's Dinner Theatre is in the back of Bobby J's Italian American Grille 204 Como Park Blvd. Cheektowaga, 14227.
716.395.3207 or visit mybobbyjs.com/desiderio-dinner-theatre
IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY BLURB: Dr. Mortimore is up for a huge promotion as he prepares to deliver the most important speech of his life when an ex-girlfriend, a punkish son (whom he never knew he had), his wife, a cop, and other all appear on the scene wreaking havoc at St. Andres Hospital.
Read Peter's review here.
MERCY SEAT, plays by various local writers, inspired by the music of Nick Cave, directed by various directors, presented by American Repertory Theatre, starring Andrew Zuccari, Paige Batt, Adam Batt, Madeline Allard -Dugan, Quentin Gray, and Cassidy Granchelli. February 16 - March 11 at the Compass Performing Arts Center (formerly Theatre Loft), 545 Elmwood Avenue. (716) 697-0837 artofwny.org
MERCY SEAT BLURB: Throughout the past 15 seasons, ART/WNY has highlighted local playwrights through a one-act showcase in which works submitted were influenced by a specific musician or a band. These works are incorporated into a broader narrative that weaves these one-acts together. MERCY SEAT now follows the same artistic vision by highlighting the music of Nick Cave through well-crafted works submitted by regional artists.
Featuring 716 playwrights, THE MERCY SEAT features an evening of theatrical presentations inspired by this prolific musician. One-acts include j. Snodgrass' "What You Done", Ellen Catherine Falank's "Go Tell the Men (We're Leaving)", "Where Do We Go Now But Nowhere?" by Samantha Marchant, "The Church of the Noninterventionism" by Michael Fanelli, Justin Pope's "The Anti Curse", with monologues by Matthew Boyle ("Weighing of Truth") and Matthew LaChiusa ("People Ain't No Good"), and a featured dance piece by ART/WNY's choreographer Suzanne Hibbard entitled "To Be By Your Side".
The background of MERCY SEAT is a tent revival in which souls entering the revival seek redemption, forgiveness, understanding, and all other elements found in Nick Cave's narrative and lyrical music. Works must be geared to interact with other pieces submitted including intro & outros of the scene. Leading the revival will be a wild-eyed, brimstone and fire Preacher who, with his choir, will determine the outcome of each poor soul.
Music Director Susan King leads the Mercy Singing Choir featuring Lanie Shannon, Ian Michalski, Ashleigh Chrisena Recci, Danette Pawlowski, complemented by actors Andrew Zuccari, Paige Batt, Adam Batt, Madeline Allard -Dugan, Quentin Gray, Cassidy Granchelli, and all under the direction of Michael Breen, Catherine Burkhart, Mariangela Mecurio, Justin Pope, Suzanne Hibbard, and Matthew LaChiusa.
TELL ME ON A SUNDAY, a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black, directed by Doug Weyand, presented by MusicalFare Theatre, starring Leah Berst, who is understudied by Maria Pedro. It runs through March 19, Wednesdays - Thursdays at 7:00, Fridays at 7:30, Saturdays at 3:30 & 7:30, Sundays at 2:00, on the MusicalFare Theatre mainstage, c/o Daemen College 4380 Main Street, Suite 123, Amherst, NY 14226 (716) 839-8540 musicalfare.com
Meet-the-cast talkbacks take place after all Wednesday performances.
TELL ME ON A SUNDAY BLURB: One of Andrew Lloyd Webber's (CATS, EVITA, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA) earliest hits with music by Webber and lyrics by Don Black. A one-woman show, this one-act song cycle tells the story of an ordinary English girl from Muswell Hill, who journeys to the United States. Her romantic misadventures begin in New York City, lead her to Hollywood, and eventually take her back to Manhattan. Brimming with optimism, she sets out to seek companionship and success, But as she weaves her way through her own anxieties, frustrations, and heartaches, she begins to wonder whether she’s been looking for love in all the wrong places.
Set, Lighting & Sound Design is by Chris Cavanagh; Costume Design is by Kari Drozd; and Hair, Wig & Make-up Design is by Susan Drozd.
Read Peter's review here.
THE THIN PLACE, a play by Lucas Hnath, directed by Scott Behrend, presented by Road Less Traveled Productions, starring Renee Landrigan, Margaret Massman, Kristen Tripp Kelley, and David Mitchell. February 23 - March 26 Thursdays - Saturdays at 7:30, Sundays at 2:00 at the RLTP theatre, 456 Main Street, Buffalo 14202 (716) 629-3069 roadlesstraveledproductions.org
THE THIN PLACE BLURB: Everyone who ever died is still here, just in a different part of here. Linda can communicate with them. And if you believe, she can make you hear them, too — in the thin place, the fragile boundary between our world and the other one. With acuity, relentless curiosity, and a bit of magic, Lucas Hnath’s play transforms the theater into an intimate séance, crafting an unnerving testament to the power of the mind, which has a mind of its own.
Hnath was Tony Award-nominated for his play A DOLL'S HOUSE, Part 2 in 2017. He is also the writer of THE CHRISTIANS (produced at RLTP in 2018 (and later at Chautauqua), A PUBLIC READING OF AN UNPRODUCED SCREENPLAY ABOUT THE DEATH OF WALT DISNEY (which was, actually, produced at RLTP in 2015), and ISAAC'S EYE. Awards include the Whiting Award, Guggenheim Fellowship, Kesselring Prize, Outer Critics Circle Award for Best New Play, Obie Award for Playwriting, Steinberg Playwright Award, and the Windham-Campbell Literary Prize.
Read Anthony's review here.
Read Peter's review here.
CANCELLED: THE NICETIES, a play by Eleanor Burgess, was to be directed by Yao Kahlil Newkirk, and presented by the Paul Robeson Theatre, in March at the African American Cultural Center. For the complete background on this, visit Anthony's blog "theatertalkbuffalo.com" or click here.
OPENING IN MARCH (listed alphabetically by title):
BEETLEJUICE Mar 21-26, 2023, part of the M&T Broadway series at Shea's
BUFFALO QUICKIES, short plays by Shawn Adiletta, Thomas Bellavigna, Rosa Fernandez, Justin Karcher, Bella Poynton, and Chris Woodworth, directed by Richard Satterwhite, presented by the Alleyway Theatre, Kate Powers, Festival Director, March 9 - 19, Wednesday - Saturday at 7:30, Sundays at 2:00, one Saturday matinee, March 18 at 3:30 (Preview is March 9). 1 Curtain Up Alley, Buffalo, NY 14202 716-852-2600 alleyway.com
BUFFALO QUICKIES BLURB: We're flipping this annual festival on its head in a reimagined production. Local playwrights, directors, and performers will have just one week to write, rehearse, design, and perform totally original new short plays all centered on a single topic... You won't want to miss the 32nd installment of one of Alleyway's hallmark traditions.
CHOIR BOY, a play with music, by Tarell Alvin McCraney, directed by Karen Saxon, who also arranged the music, starring Brian J. Brown, with Joshua Garrett, Justin Garrett, Cordell Hopkins, Paris Glenn; Gerald Ramsey and Ross Hewitt. March 16 - April 2, Thursdays and Saturdays at 7:30 (there are no Friday performances) and Sundays at 6:00 in the Lorna C. Hill Theatre, 429 Plymouth Street, Buffalo, NY www.ujimacoinc.org
CHOIR BOY BLURB: This life-affirming “play with music,” is a coming-of-age story about a group of boys approaching adulthood in prestigious all-Black boys prep school. Director Karen Saxon wrote “Choir Boy is a raw, compelling, controversial and compassionate story, pregnant with the juxtaposition of faith and doubt. The playwright does a masterful job of presenting each character as fully human, faults and all. McRaney’s poignant script is filled with deft observations on class, race and sexuality. It is a story about responses to human differences, to identity, to sexuality, and to bullying. The young actors become an ensemble of multifaceted characters whose lives are held together by the Gospel music they sing beautifully and the humanity that they, and we, all share."
MEDIOCRE HETEROSEXUAL SEX by Madison Wetzel directed by Mia LaMarco presented by Buffalo United Artists (BUA) starring Stefanie Warnick, Blaise Mercedes, Ben Caldwell, Sean Patrick Ryan, and Katie Gaisser. March 17 - April 8 Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 pm at the Compass Performing Arts Center located at 545 Elmwood Ave. (the old TheaterLoft). Tickets available at: https://mediocreheterosexualsex.bpt.me/ or
Walk-Up Purchases at the Door: CASH ONLY
NOTE: No One Under 18 Years Old Admitted – Content Warning: Nudity and Simulated Sex
MEDIOCRE HETEROSEXUAL SEX BLURB:
Four hours after her girlfriend dumps her, Erin switches her Tinder setting to dudes because she hates herself. She quickly meets Aaron, who is straight, conveniently nearby, and only too happy to indulge her masochistic fantasies. To translate this deeply ambivalent first heterosexual experience, Erin seeks the advice of the only straight people she knows, Violet and Jeremy, a couple in a Dominant/submissive relationship.
MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS presented by All4One Productions, March 16 to April 2 at Shea's 710 Theatre
THE RINK presented by O'Connell & Co. March 17 - April 2
THURGOOD presented by Irish Classical Theatre Company March 31 - April 16
And, the rest of the M&T Broadway series at Shea's for 2022-2023 includes:
SIX Apr 25-May 7, 2023
JAGGED LITTLE PILL Jun 6-11, 2023
DEAR EVAN HANSEN June 20-25, 2023 (a "special engagement")