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Law & Order Criminal Intent star Kathryn Erbe (pictured above) is back on the New York stage portraying Pat Nixon opposite Anthony LaPaglia’s Richard Nixon in the new drama Checkers, directed by ex-husband Terry Kinney. As a member of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Erbe made her Broadway debut in the company’s 1990 production of The Grapes of Wrath. She made a guest appearance a couple of weeks ago in Law & Order SVU, recreating her Criminal Intent character, Detective Alexandra Earnes.

Road Less Traveled Productions will present RAICES, a play-reading series consisting of four plays written by Latin playwrights and dealing with the Latin experience. The series kicks off on November 18 at 6pm with Carmen Rivera’s La Gringa, directed by Sheila Lopez, starring Sarielys Matos, Rolando Gomez, Victoria Pérez, Jose Rivera, Smirna Mercedes Pérez, and Dewel Pérez. Admission is $5.

Up next for Brazen-Faced Varlets, Radio TBS, a play by Mark Landon Smith that satirizes small-town Southern life (TBS stands for Trailer Park Broadcasting Scandals). Co-produced with Subversive Theatre, the show will run November 29-December 15 at the Manny Fried Playhouse. The play will be directed by Kelly Beuth, starring Kate Olena, Brittany Kucala, Jenny Gembka, Kerry Alsheimer, Jane Cudmore, Lara D. Haberberger, Diane McNamara, Diane DiBernardo, Theresa DiMuro-Wilber, and Amelia Scinta. It is the story of 10 women who are busy preparing for their annual drive-by Nativity scene, A Tribute to the Kings—those being Jesus and Elvis.

As part of the Sunday in the Cemetery Concert & Lecture Series, Forest Lawn will present its annual holiday event, It WAS a Wonderful Life!, this year written, directed, and starring Joseph Demerly (is there no end to that man’s talent?), with music direction by Michael Hake, who has written an original song for the occasion. Demerly will play John Lay (the first person to take up residence in Forest Lawn in 1850) who will introduce several of the cemetery’s permanent residents reminiscing about Christmases past. The production will feature Loraine O’Donnell, Margo Davis, Gerry Maher, Chris Standart, Timothy Finnegan, James Heffron, and Lydia Baines. The show runs November 23-January 5, matinees at 11am and 2pm. For tickets and information, call 885-1600. Incidentally, Irving Berlin’s first wife Dorothy Goetz (who will be played by Mary Ryan) was buried at Forest Lawn in 1912.

Speaking of Berlin, the musical stage version of his White Christmas arrives at Shea’s on December 4. The national tour kicked off this week in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The national touring website features a picture of the original 2008 Broadway production that starred Buffalo’s Jeffry Denman.

Denman will be back in Buffalo next spring to direct and choreograph UB’s Department of Theatre & Dance production of the musical Urinetown, with music direction by Nathan Matthews. The show will run April 24-28. Next week the Department will open Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera, directed by Vincent O’Neill, also with music direction by Matthews. Proven to be a popular choice, Niagara University Theatre will present Urinetown December 6-16, directed by Steven Braddock.

On March 20, 2013, BUA will present a reading of Oscar winner screenwriter Dustin Lance Black’s stage drama 8, chronicling California’s anti-gay marriage legislation Prop. 8. The play uses the original transcripts from the 2010 case, which sought to overturn the 2008 voter-approved Prop. 8 legislation that denied same-sex couples the right to marry. Director and cast to be announced.

Considering that Mary Martin was almost 50 when she stopped playing Maria Von Trapp in the original Broadway production of The Sound of Music, it might not be too late for Loraine O’Donnell, who turned 50 this week (happy birthday!) to reprise the part and reclaim her wholesome image (think Hedwig). O’Donnell played Maria back in 1993, pictured below with the Von Trapp kids. Recognize Lona Geiser, David Bondrow, and Leah Prentiss?