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Linda Lavin

The fabulous Linda Lavin, best known to TV audiences for her long run as Alice in the show of the same name, is back off-Broadway. She opened this week with over-the-top rave reviews for her performance in Nicky Silver’s new play The Lyons. Lavin, who turns 75 this week, starred earlier this year in the off-Broadway production of Jon Robin Baitz’s Other Desert Cities and in the Kennedy Center production of Follies. Those shows are now on Broadway; Lavin turned them both down in order to play the irresistible role in the Nicky Silver play—his best since The Food Chain, according to the New York Times. Her CD, Possibilities, hits the stores in November.

After a successful run last year, Pulitzer Prize-winner Ruined returns to Ujima to open the company’s 2011-12 season on October 14. Directed by Lorna C. Hill, the production stars, among others, Annette Daniels-Taylor, Hugh Davis, Zoe Viola Scruggs, Shanntina Moore, and Willie Judson. Ujima’s season will also include the now classic For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Was Enuf and the world premiere of The Scavenger’s Daughter by Gary Earl Ross.

After making a big splash on Broadway with his epic play August: Osage County in the 2007-08 season (Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner), Tracy Letts returned to the Great White Way with his less ambitious Superior Donuts in 2009. The play was produced in several regional theaters last season and now Road Less Traveled Productions will present the Western New York premiere, beginning November 11 (the play is slated for Rochester’s Geva Theatre in April). Directed by Scott Behrend, the production will star Steve Jakiel, Barry Williams, Gerry Maher, Victoria Perez, Carlton Franklin, Jermain Cooper, Stan Klimecko, and Aaron Krygier.

Speaking of Letts, his first play, Killer Joe, will be presented by American Repertory Theater of WNY beginning April 13. And on October 14, 7-11pm, the company will host its first OktoberfreakFest, featuring music acts and improvisational comedy. ART performs at Buffalo East, 1410 Main Street, corner of Utica.

It was 10 years ago this month that BUA presented the world premiere of Confessions by Matthew Crehan Higgins. Now, three of its original cast members, Higgins, Brant Adamczyk, and Paul Kenjarski, will join Gary Andrews and Matthew Mooney for a one-night only reading of the play on October 20 at 8pm. The event is part of BUA’s 20th Anniversary Celebration and will also be a fund-raiser for the Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. Tickets are $25. Call 886-9239,

Shakespeare in Delaware Park’s Sixth Annual Fall Fundraiser will held on Sunday, November 6 at the Buffalo Seminary beginning at 6pm. This year the company will present a staged reading of one of Shakespeare’s rarely produced plays, King John. Directed by Anthony Chase, the reading will star Todd Benzin as King John, Barbara Link LaRou as Eleanor of Aquitaine, Saul Elkin as King Philip, Adriano Gatto as the Bastard, and Neil Garvey as Cardinal Pandolf, with Tim Newell, Eileen Dugan, Marie Hassleback Costa, Kristen Tripp-Kelly, John Kaczorowski, Anthony Alcocer, Matt Witten, Jay Young, and Lisa Ludwig. For tickets, call 856-4533.

The musical Billy Elliot (based on the 2000 British film) will close on Broadway on January 8 after running for over three years. The national tour is still going on and it will play Rochester’s Auditorium Theatre November 29-December 11.

Michele Ragusa

Buffalo’s Conrad John Schuck is starring in the world premiere of the musical Grumpy Old Men, now playing at the Manitoba Theatre Center in Winnipeg. The musical is yet another on the ever growing list of shows based on films with hopes to move to Broadway. Ghost, The Musical (based on the 1990 film starring Patrick Swayze) will open on Broadway in the spring. Newsies (based on a 1992 Disney film), now playing in New Jersey, is rumored for a Broadway transfer.

And the fabulous Michele Ragusa just finished the run of the new musical For the Boys at the Marriott Lincolnshire in Chicago. The musical is based on the 1991 film starring Bette Midler. Coincidentally, Ragusa was featured at one of the developmental readings of Grumpy Old Men back in 2008, together with Schuck, F. Murray Abraham, and Marilu Henner.