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Stagefright

Broadway star Norm Lewis (pictured left) will be making history this coming May when he becomes the first African-American actor to play the title role The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. (Robert Guillaume played the role in Los Angeles in 1990.) Lewis was nominated for a Tony in 2012 for his performance as Porgy in The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess. He has worked regularly on Broadway (including Michael John La Chiusa’s The Wild Party) since his debut in The Who’s Tommy in 1993. The Phantom has been running since January 1988. A touring production will hit Shea’s next season.

Jewish Repertory Theatre of WNY concludes its 11th season with Body Awareness (May 8-June 1), a play by Annie Baker, directed by Saul Elkin, starring Eileen Dugan, Kristen Tripp Kelley, Tim Newell, and Adam Yellen. Baker was just awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for The Flick, which premiered March 2013 at Playwrights Horizons in New York. Her play Circle Mirror Transformation also premiered there in October 2009. Circle Mirror was presented locally by Road Less Traveled in February 2013 as the inaugural production at 710 Main. For 2014-15, the Jewish Rep will present a season of Jewish comedy beginning with the recent off-Broadway hit Old Jews Telling Jokes in October, followed by the hilarious Beau Jest in February and the classic Neil Simon comedy The Odd Couple in April. The company has also obtained the rights to the beloved Chaim Potok play My Name is Asher Lev, which were held back last May when the show extended its successful New York run. Asher Lev will open in Fall 2015 as part of the 13th (bar mitzvah) season.

Road Less Traveled culminates its 10th anniversary season with its second annual summer event, this year with a new title, BLUE: New York’s West Coast Party. It will be held June 25, 5:30-10pm, at The Shores Waterfront Restaurant on Tonawanda Island. Live entertainment will be provided by Joyride. Tickets are $20 in advance, food included. Call 629-3069.

Megan Callahan returns to direct at Torn Space with the production of Frank Wedekind’s Lulu. The play was the basis for the silent film Pandora’s Box that starred Louise Brooks. Lulu runs September 18-October 12 at the Adam Mickiewicz Dramatic Circle. In the meantime, artistic director Dan Shanahan will present another site specific spectacle, Storehouse, August 22-24 at Silo City.

2014 is shaping up to be a good year for Arthur Miller in Buffalo. Subversive is presenting a very engaging production of A View from the Bridge, directed by Kurt Schneiderman, starring Lisa Vitrano and Tom LaChiusa. Both actors will reunite for ART’s October production of The Crucible, playing Elizabeth and John, directed by Drew McCabe. That production will also star Sara Marioles-Mitch as Abigail, and Chris Standart as Danforth. And in November, Irish Classical Theatre will present Death of a Salesman, to be directed by Greg Natale.

Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez died last week at the age of 87. He had a brief encounter with Broadway in 1995. Based on his 1981 novel, the musical Chronicle of a Death Foretold opened on May 18 of that year. Conceived, directed, and choreographed by Graciela Daniele, the musical had additional material by Michael John LaChiusa. Daniele and LaChiusa have been frequent collaborators. She has directed his musicals Marie Christine, Bernarda Alba, Little Fish, and Hello Again (to be seen in Buffalo at ART next season, directed by Jeff Coyle). Earlier this month, Daniele staged a private reading of LaChiusa’s latest work, Nine Fathers of Ariel.

After its current production of Blanche Survives Katrina… at the Main Street Cabaret, BUA and Alleyway have an agreement until May 2015, wherein BUA will become a resident company using both the Alleyway’s 99-seat main stage and the smaller cabaret stage, and its rehearsal, meeting, office, and support spaces. BUA continues its lineup with the comedy Cock at the Cabaret, May 16-June 17. In July, the company returns to the main stage with Poseidon! An Upside Down Musical!, a musical parody of the 1972 film The Poseidon Adventure. Directed by Todd Warfield, with music direction by Chuck Basil, the production will star Jeff Coyle, Bebe Bvlgari, Maria Droz, Kerrykate Abel, Eric Rawski, Tim Finnegan, Joey Bucheker, Michael Seitz, Tyler Brown, Chris Standart, and Jimmy Janowski (pictured right with Blanche playwright Mark Sam Rosenthal). Blanche closes this weekend.