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Movie and TV star Jerry O’Connell (pictured left) is currently making his Broadway debut in Theresa Rebeck’s new play Seminar, which also stars Harry Potter’s Alan Rickman. Rebeck has many plays to her credit, including Mauritius, which was produced at the Kavinoky a couple of years ago. In a strong season for legit plays on Broadway, Seminar might be a contender for the Tony award, together with Other Desert Cities, Chinglish, The Mountaintop, and Stick Fly, which stars Buffalo’s Ruben Santiago-Hudson.

The feminist troupe Brazen-Faced Varlets has been awarded a grant from the Pro-Choice Foundation to produce the area premiere of Words of Choice!, a piece conceived by Cindy Cooper, consisting of excerpts of works from several reproductive freedom advocates. Directed by Kelly Beuth, the production will star Diane DiBernardo, Wendy Hall, Paul McGinnis, Brittany Kucala, Kate Olena, Amelia Scinta, Jennifer Arroyo, Jenny Gembka, Theresa DiMuro Wilber, and Amy Wrzos. Words of Choice! will run for three performances only, January 21-23 at 7:30pm, at Hallwalls. Coincidentally, January 22 is the anniversary of the decision in Roe v. Wade.

American Repertory Theatre of WNY (ART) will continue its season with the comedy The Gin Game, directed by Mike Lodick, starring Joy Scime and Mark Donahue, as an elderly couple who forge an unlikely bond of friendship at a retirement home while playing gin rummy. The production will run January 20-February 11 at the company’s regular performance space, Buffalo East on Main Street near Utica. Later in the season, ART will perform at the Lancaster Opera House, presenting the hilarious comedy about small town life, Greater Tuna, under the direction of Tom Dooney, starring Christopher Standart and Timothy Finnegan.

On February 24, the Irish Classical Theatre will hold its annual fundraiser The Wake (The Party to Die for Lives On!). The event begins at 7pm at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, at 453 Porter Avenue. There is complimentary food, wine, and beer all night, and entertainment featuring Celtic rock by Poor Ould Goat and Stone Row. For tickets, call 853-ICTC.

As part of its 2012 summer season, Chautauqua Theater Company (CTC) will present the classic comedy The Philadelphia Story, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and Fifty Ways, a world premiere by Kate Fodor. CTC artistic director Ethan McSweeny directed Fodors’s 100 Saints You Should Know as part of the company’s new play workshop a few years ago, and is currently directing the premiere of her new play, Rx, which opens at the end of the month at Primary Stages in New York. McSweeny will direct The Pirates of Penzance for the Stratford Festival this summer.

Diane Curley has joined the cast of Avow, which opens January 20th at Buffalo United Artists (BUA). First produced in 2001 by BUA, this will be a premiere of the revised version by playwright Bill C. Davis. Original cast members Joe Natale, Tess Spangler, and Kathleen Betsko Yale will join Danny Beason, Kevin Keleher, and Michael Seitz. By the way, BUA celebrates its 20th anniversary with a staged reading of one of its all-time hits, Paul Rudnick’s Jeffrey, one night only, January 31, starring original cast members Chris Kelly, Franklin Aquilina, Dr. Anne Hartley Pfohl, Dr. Anthony Chase, Sam D’Amato, and Paul LaDuca, joined by John Buscaglia, Tim Finnegan, and Ray Ganoe. The first production opened in January 1995 (see picture below).