It was forty years ago (April 16th 1975), that A Chorus Line had its world premiere at the Public Theatre in New York. The show transferred to Broadway that July where it ran through April 1990. The fabulous Donna McKechnie (pictured above), the original Cassie, became a bona fide Broadway star and won a Tony Award for her performance. Prior to A Chorus Line, McKechnie had been featured in the original casts of How to Succeed..., Promises, Promises, and Company. Though she has worked regularly in theaters and concerts around the US and in England for the past forty years, her only other Broadway show was the 1996 production of State Fair. Now, she is back on Broadway (sort of) as the standby for another Broadway legend, Chita Rivera, in the new Kander & Ebb musical The Visit, which opens this week.
Speaking of new musicals, Neal Radice has written book, music and lyrics for Granny Bird, a musical based on a play by Robin Rice Lichtig. Directed by Radice, the show will open on September 10th starring David Poole, Terry Braunstein, Allison Barsi and Shawn Calmes. According to the author’s notes: “Something magical and musical happens when the prospect of sending Granny to a senior care facility prompts an escape to a tree house where the winds of freedom carry her even beyond this earthly plane!”
O’Connell and Company’s 2015-16 season will include a couple of musicals (Ordinary Days, directed by Victoria Perez and Sondheim’s Company, directed by Roger Paolini); a play with some music (Uh Oh! Here Comes Christmas, directed by Joey Bucheker), and two one-woman plays. The season will open on September 17th with 10 Days to Happiness, an introspective comedy about a silent meditation retreat, directed by Anne Gayley. Women on Fire, directed by James Paul Ivey, will go up in April. The latter was a critical success off-Broadway in 2003 with the great Judith Ivey playing twelve different women over the course of 90 minutes.
One person shows will be quite popular next season (why not, right? Less expensive and, usually, a tour-de-force for the actor, read Artie nomination). Irish Classical Theatre has plans for Fully Committed a one-man show following a day in the life of an out-of-work actor who mans a reservation line at a fancy Manhattan restaurant. The fondly remembered Michael Karr played the part at the Kavinoky many years ago. In September, BUA will present the WNY premiere of Buyer & Cellar, Jonathan Tolins’ hit comedy about a struggling actor in Los Angeles who takes a job working in the Malibu basement “shopping mall” of Barbra. Directed by Doug Weyand, the show will star Kurt Erb.
Theatre of Youth’s 2015-16 season will see the return of several favorites beginning with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, opening on October 9th. This will be followed by A Little House Christmas, Number the Stars, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and the musical The True Story of The 3 Little Pigs.
Richard Lambert will play the lead (the Jimmy Stewart part) in Mary Chase’s classic comedy Harvey, to be directed by Tom Makar at the New Phoenix in November. The company also plans to present Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.
Michael John LaChiusa’s new musical Rain will have its world premiere at the Old Globe in San Diego in March 2016. Based on the Somerset Maugham short story that was also the basis for the play Sadie Thompson, the musical’s book is by Sybille Pearson, who previously worked with LaChiuda on Giant. Pearson also wrote the book for Shire and Maltby’s Baby.
Red Thread Theatre continues its current season with the Pulitzer Prize winning play Talley’s Folly by Lanford Wilson. Directed by Eileen Dugan, the production will star James Cichocki and Rebecca Runge. The show runs May 14th-June 7th in the Marie Maday Theatre, at Canisius College.
UB’s President Satish K. Tripathi (left) hosted a dinner for actor and UB faculty member Stephen McKinley Henderson (right), the honoree for the University’s annual “Signature Series,” recognizing accomplishments in Arts and Letters. Steve is fresh from his star turn off Broadway in Between Riverside and Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirgis. Just this week, it was announced that Henderson has been nominated for an Outer Critics Circle and Drama League Awards (more award nominations probably coming soon). In addition, on Monday it was announced that Between Riverside and Crazy, which Guirgis wrote specifically for Henderson, has won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Congratulations!
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