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Stagefright

The fabulous Ellen Burstyn (pictured above), who turned 80 this past December, is back on Broadway starring in the revival of William Inge’s Picnic (through February 24). Winner of the 1975 Tony award for her performance in Same Time, Next Year, Burstyn’s recent three Broadway outings had very short runs. In 2003, her one-woman show Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All opened and closed on the same day. In 1995, Sacrilege played 21 performances, and in 1992 Shimada played four performances. Her performance in Picnic has been widely acclaimed.

Speaking of Broadway revivals, these have been plentiful and successful this season. In addition to Picnic, we have had The Heiress, Golden Boy, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, as well as the upcoming The Big Knife and Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful, which will star Cicely Tyson, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Vanessa Williams.

Kristin Bentley will play Lucinda, Arin Lee Dandes will play Little Red Riding Hood, and Kelly Jakiel will play Cinderella in Sondheim’s musical Into the Woods. All three talented actresses have formed Second Generation Theatre, a new theater company which will make its debut with this musical in June at the New Phoenix Theatre. Directed by Chris Kelly, with musical direction by Allan Paglia and choreography by Bobby Cooke (who will also play the Baker), the show will also star Steve Copps as Cinderella’s Prince and Loraine O’Donnell as the Witch.

Matthew LaChiusa will take over the direction for his brother Michael John LaChiusa’s chamber musical First Lady Suite, which opens on March 1 at American Repertory Theatre of WNY under the musical direction of Michael Hake. Michael John will be a special guest the weekend of March 16.

Richard Lambert, Victor Morales, and Andrea Andolina will star in the upcoming On the Waterfront, a co-production by the New Phoenix and Subversive Theatre. The play, written by Budd Schulberg, adapted from his much lauded screenplay, had its world premiere at the Cleveland Play House. The play had a short Broadway run in 1995, starring James Gandolfini of The Sopranos fame. Gandolfini returned to Broadway in 2009 in Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage.

Director Roman Polanski, who directed Carnage, the film adaptation of God of Carnage, is also directing Venus in Fur, the film adaptation of David Ives’s 2012 Tony Award-nominated play. The two-character play had a very successful run off-Broadway before moving to Broadway. The New Phoenix plans to do the play for Curtain Up this year. Speaking of Carnage, marvelous Jodie Foster, one of the movie’s stars (pictured right), just publicly announced that she is single. So are many of my closest friends.

After 20 years, the hilarious comedy Noises Off returns to the Kavinoky for a third time, now with an all-new cast. Directed by David Lamb, the production will star Guy Balotine, Christian Brandjes, Kevin Craig, Josie DiVincenzo, Jessica Ferraday, John Fredo, Lisa Ludwig, Peter Palmisano, and Michele Marie Roberts. The show opens February 15.

A. R. Gurney’s newly revised version of his play The Old Boy opens February 12 at the Clurman Theatre, off-Broadway. The original production opened in 1991 starring Buffalonian Lizbeth Mackay, who is now the standby for Ellen Burstyn in Picnic, and also plays one of the off-stage voices.

Directed by Buffalo’s Ruben Santiago-Hudson and starring Buffalo’s Roslyn Ruff (both pictured below) August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson just completed a wildly successful run in New York, closing last week after several extensions. Talk of Broadway or London transfer?