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The fabulous Renee Fleming (pictured above) spent part of her summer at the Williamstown Theatre Festival where she made her legitimate stage debut in the comedy Living on Love by Joe DiPietro. The play is an adaptation of Garson Kanin’s Pecadillo, and Fleming played an egotistical opera diva who is writing her memoirs. Audiences were delighted to discover that Fleming is a marvelous comic actress. She will sing at the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s season-opening gala this coming Saturday.

Also over the summer, Buffalo playwright James Marzo’s Cyrano of Borough Park had its world-premiere production at the Thespis Theater Festival in New York city, starring Bonnie Jean Taylor, Steve Brachmann, Tim Goehrig, and Victoria Perez. The play was developed at the Emanuel Fried New Play Workshop from Road Less Traveled in 2013.

It’s a good year for Buffalo’s A.R. Gurney. The Signature Theatre in New York City is featuring two of his plays as part to the Residency One program. Now running (just extended through October 5th), his 1977 play The Wayside Motor Inn starring Buffalo’s own Lizbeth Mackay. Coming up in May, his 1982 play What I Did Last Summer. Gurney’s very popular Love Letters is back on Broadway and will star a rotating cast beginning this week with Brian Dennehy and Mia Farrow. Also scheduled to appear are Carol Burnett, Alan Alda, Candice Bergen, Stacy Keach, Diana Rigg, Anjelica Huston, and Martin Sheen.

And back in Buffalo, the Kavinoky will present the WNY premiere of Gurney’s 2013 play Family Furniture, January 9th—February 1st, directed by Peter Palmisano and starring Lisa Ludwig. Set in a summer community near Buffalo, the play explores the struggles of a younger generation trying to come to terms with the values of its elders. Both Palmisano and Ludwig are now starring in the court drama Nuts at Desiderio’s.

Robert Waterhouse is stepping down as Artistic Director of the New Phoenix Theatre, a post he has held for thirteen years. Waterhouse will still serve in the company’s board of directors and will remain in the artistic staff as Director in Residence. His fall projects include the World War I dramas All Quiet on the Western Front, and Journey’s End. He is also working on a revue of WWI poems, letters, and music for Red Thread Theatre Company.

Tyler Brown, Joyce Stilson, Guy Tomassi, David Mitchell, Eliza Vann, Jamie Nablo, and David Haefner will join Constance Caldwell’s Mrs. Robinson in the stage version of the popular film The Graduate, which opens January 22nd at the Alleyway, directed by Todd Warfield. Kathleen Turner was the original Mrs. Robinson on Broadway, followed by Lorraine Bracco, and Linda Gray.

Musicalfare will be back at 710 Main Theatre this season with Lombardi, a play about Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, which was a hit in the 2010-11 Broadway season. Matt Witten will portray the legendary coach. No news yet as to who will play his wife, a kick ass part which got Judith Light a Tony nomination. The local production is sponsored by the Buffalo Bills. It will run November 13th—23rd.

Coming up for the holidays: Marc Sacco stars in The Santaland Diaries at Road Less Traveled directed by Doug Weyand; Tim Finnegan stars in Santa Comes Out of the Closet at BUA, directed by Chris Standart.

The legendary comedian Joan Rivers (pictured below) died a week ago, on September 4th. Rivers made several appearances in Buffalo during her illustrious career, including at Kleinhans, Shea’s, and Melody Fair. After the Broadway League offended just about everyone by announcing that the lights of Broadway would not be dimmed in her honor, an outpouring of objection and the defection of several theaters prompted a reversal; the lights were dimmed on September 9th after all. Rivers was outstanding as Linda Lavin’s replacement in the original production of Neil Simon’s Broadway Bound, and received a Tony nomination in 1994 for her performance in Sally Marr…and her Escorts, a play she wrote about the mother of Lenny Bruce. She was always very generous to her fans. I will miss her.