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Two New Theater Companies: Raices and Buffalo Public

Two new theater companies in residence at established theaters open shows this week. Raíces, Buffalo’s new Latino theater company, premiers with La Ginga by Carmen Rivera, “the story of a young woman born and raised in NYC in search of her Puerto Rican roots,” in residence at Road Less Traveled theater. Buffalo Public Theatre, in association with Ujima Company, Inc., is opening The Wizard of Oz at TheaterLoft.

The Wizard of Oz arrives concurrent with the 75th anniversary of the beloved MGM film version of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Buffalo Public Theatre is a collaboration of Buffalo theater veterans Kelli Bocock-Natale and Loraine O’Donnell. While the group promises a faithful rendering of Baum’s familiar story of a girl named Dorothy swept away from Kansas to a magical land called Oz, Bocock-Natale is well known for her theatrical flights of invention. She previously worked her magic with an enchanting retelling of J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan at the New Phoenix three years ago. The Wizard of Oz features costumes and sets by O’Donnell and lights and sound by Chris Cavanaugh. The cast features Cecelia Barone as Dorothy, Brian Riggs as the Scarecrow, Bobby Cooke as the Tin Man, Eric Rawski as the Cowardly Lion, and O’Donnell as the Wicked Witch of the West.

Those who can’t get enough of The Wizard of Oz might also like to know that the downtown library is currently featuring exhibitions related to the book and film. The rare book room has 14 original editions from L. Frank Baum’s Oz series on display—including the 1900 classic, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The library is also exhibiting books and memorabilia related to the place of the story in popular culture—from the life and career of Judy Garland to the Broadway musical Wicked—in Circle of Knowledge on the main floor of the library.

Meanwhile, Raíces is a company co-founded by popular Buffalo actors Victoria Pérez and Rolando Martin Gomez. With La Gringa, they promise “a beautiful poetic journey in a celebration of our Latino ancestors’ culture.” In the play, “Maria Elena Garcia goes to visit her family in Puerto Rico during the Christmas holidays and arrives with plans to connect with her homeland. Once in Puerto Rico, she realizes that Puerto Rico does not welcome her with open arms. If she’s a Puerto Rican in the United States and an American in Puerto Rico, she concludes that she is nobody anywhere.”

Directed by Sheila M. López, La Gringa stars Sarielys Matos, Rolando Martin Gómez, Smirna Mercedes-Pérez, Dewel Pérez, José A. Rivera, and Victoria Pérez, and will be performed at Road Less Traveled Theater inside the Market Arcade Film & Arts Centre. For more, visit

The Wizard of Oz runs December 6-22 and will take place at Theatre Loft. For more, visit or call 716-883-0380.