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Now you see him now you don’t. Stage and screen star Nathan Lane (pictured above) will depart the Broadway production of It’s Only a Play on January 4, 2015 (the production’s original closing date) to prepare for his upcoming role in The Iceman Cometh at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. It’s Only a Play has been extended through March 29th. Martin Short will take over for Lane. The rest of the cast, including Matthew Broderick, Stockard Channing, and Megan Mullally, will play the extension.

Tickets are already on sale for the touring production of The Phantom of the Opera which will play Shea’s March 18th–29th. It was in May 1999 (fifteen years ago!) that another national tour of Phantom played for the first time in Shea’s newly renovated and expanded main stage. That extensive $14.5 million renovation made it possible for Shea’s to present the larger scale touring productions which were becoming the norm at that time. The original Broadway production is still going strong. It opened in January 1988.

Coming up for TOY, the American premiere of The Night Before Christmas by Charles Ray. Directed by Meg Quinn, the production will star Gian Carlo Gioia, Marisa Caruso, Adam Yellen, Tammy Hayes McGovern, Tm Newell, and Priscilla Young Anker. The play, set in London during WWII, premiered in the UK in 2001. The TOY production runs December 5th–21st. This production will also have 10am shows on the second and third Saturday of its run.

Raíces Theatre Company moves to Ujima’s TheaterLoft to present an all-Spanish production of La Luz de un Cigarrillo (Ashes of Light) by Dominican-American playwright Marco Antonio Rodríguez. Directed by Victoria Pérez, the production stars Ingrid Córdova, Josué Rosario Cáliz, Mariana Cole-River, and Smirna Mercedes-Pérez. La Luz will run December 4th-7th. The company’s Voces Latinas Reading Series continues on January 25th with Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue by Quiara Alegria Hudes, directed by Scott Behrend. Alegria Hudes won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play Water by the Spoonful. That play will be presented by Road Less Traveled in May under the direction of Behrend, and starring Victoria Pérez.

Kelli Bocock Natale is the newly appointed Artistic Director of The New Phoenix Theatre. Natale will direct the company’s April production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In the meantime, she will once again portray Sophie Tucker at Musicalfare’s Premier Center Cabaret January 17th & 18th.

Gail Golden will direct Lanford Wilson’s 1983 Tony-nominated play Angels Fall for The New Phoenix, March 12th-April 4th. The production is set to star Richard Lambert, Pamela Rose Mangus, Mike Randall, Candice Kogut, Lucas Lloyd, and Justin Fiordaliso. Wilson, who died in 2011, received two other Tony nominations: Talley’s Folley in 1980, and Fifth of July in 1981. Golden goes to New York next week to appear as Mrs. Claus in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This will be her ninth year playing Mrs. Claus and you can always see her at the very end of the parade sitting and waving at the crowds on Santa’s float.

Speaking of Mrs. Claus, she wouldn’t be too happy about what is revealed in Santa Claus is Coming Out, BUA’s upcoming one-man play directed by Christopher Standart, starring Tim Finnegan with the fabulous Chuck Basil at the piano. The production runs December 5th-20th at the Main Street Cabaret.

It WAS a Wonderful Life returns to Forest Lawn Cemetery’s Chapel on November 29th, starring Joe Demerly, Loraine O’Donnell, Kevin Kennedy, Shayna Raichilson, and Chris Standart.

Second Generation Theatre’s first annual Ugly Sweater Holiday Party will be held on Thursday December 4th from 6 to 9pm at Pettibones Grille. The event features food, open bar, live music from Lady Lush and The Vinyls, Tim Britt, Chuck Basil, plus access to several local vendors for Christmas shopping. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. For tickets go to

Theater tickets make wonderful holiday presents. The Theatre Alliance of Buffalo (TAB) is selling Theatre Bucks in $25.00 denominations which are redeemable at all TAB theaters. Theatre Bucks are available online at or in person at Visit Buffalo Niagara Visitor Center, in the Brisbane Building (corner of Washington and Clinton Sts.)