by Anthony Chase
A brief look at three local productions
Beau Jest is a sweet family comedy about a Jewish girl so concerned to please her parents that she hires an actor to pretend to be her Jewish boyfriend and embarks on a zany escapade of well-intentioned deception. I saw this play many years ago in a production that played like a sit-com. At Jewish Rep, under the direction of Steve Vaughan, they’ve gone for something far more charming. Lines that formerly landed with perfunctory yuks, now advance an unexpected romance. Adding to the pleasure of the evening, is the casting of real life father and daughter, Saul Elkin and Rebecca Elkin-Young as the father and daughter in the play. Both are excellent. In addition, Brian Mysliwy gives an engaging performance as the boyfriend for hire. Darleen Pickering Hummert is delightful as the well meaning, if overbearing mother. Matt Snyder brings sweet earnestness to the gentile boyfriend left out in the cold. And Adam Yellen gives a winning performance as the cynical and dry-witted son. Performances continue through March 1.
BUDDY: THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY
MusicalFare revisits the Buddy Holly story with a youthful cast lead by Zak Ward in the title role. This is a happy excuse to hear some favorite 1950s rock tunes from the astonishing, if brief, career of Buddy Holly, leading up to his final concert. The emphasis is on the joy of living and the realization that all lives are brief. In addition to Mr. Ward’s performance as Buddy, Jake Albarella portrays the Big Bopper, and Michael Dentico plays Ritchie Valens, both with energy and pleasing musicality. The world of Buddy has been populated with a strong cast of young performers, notably LauRen Nicole Alaimo who plays Buddy’s wife Maria Elena, and Ceclia Snow who impressed in Ain’t Misbehavin’ earlier this season and is featured here as the Apollo Singer. Philip Farugia does double duty as record producer Norman Petty and as the musical director for this show, which has been directed by Paschal Frisina III. Buddy continues through March 8.
THE MYSTERY OF THE
An evening of dopey comedy and a mean-spirited audience that gets to determine the direction of our hero’s ill-fated journey has seldom provided so many good-hearted laughs. The set-up is dumb and the execution is ridiculous, but the result is hilarious. John Kaczorowski plays a guy, perpetually unlucky with women, who inherits a magic silver chalice from his grandfather. Unknown to him, the vessel contains the very genie (played by Ray Boucher) who helped grandpa connect with grandma and live happily ever after. On this night the same genie, with the assistance of his celestial helpers—the audience equipped with electronic voting devices—will help guide our hero towards love. The show is written and directed by Taylor Doherty, and presented by Buffalo Laboratory Theatre in conjunction with Shea’s Performing Arts Center on the stage at 710 Main. The show is peppered with local references, and on the night I saw it, some of the best laughs were provided when our lovelorn hero was sent on a date to a parody of the Irish Classical Theatre. This happy romp continues through February 22.
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