Stage and screen star Courtney B. Vance (pictured above) who is playing defense attorney Johnny Cochran in FX’s The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, was the victim of an internet death hoax this week. Rumors of his death spread quickly on the internet over the weekend but on Monday his reps confirmed that Vance was alive and well. Best known to TV audiences for his role in Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Vance made his Broadway debut in 1987 in August Wilson’s play Fences for which he received a Tony nomination. He eventually won a Tony in 2013 for his performance in Nora Ephron’s play Lucky Guy, which starred Tom Hanks. He was also nominated in 1991 for his role in John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation. Vance turns 56 on March 12th.
Speaking of Guare, Robert “Ernie” Insana has joined the cast of The House of Blue Leaves which is being presented by American Repertory Theatre of WNY in its new home at 330 Amherst St. Directed by Drew McCabe the production will also star Diane DiBernardo Blenk, Robert Ernie Insana, Scot A Kaitanowski, Maura Nolan, Mara Morris, Rick Lattimer, Virginia Brannon, Erica Lorenzetti, and Lisa Semper. The play will run March 10th-April 2nd.
Alleyway Theatre’s Buffalo Quickies, the annual festival of short plays, turns 25 this year. All featured plays this year are by local playwrights: Black Friday by Jennifer Tromble, The Only Easy Day was Yesterday by Matthew Boyle, Bogie and Harold by Anna Kay France, Jack Pork by Donna Hoke, Swans in Winter by Mark C. Lloyd, Shirley vs. the Squirrels by Camilla Maxwell, Shoot the Weatherman by Mike Randall, and Wrath! by Winifred Storms & Jon Elston. Black Friday is the winner of this year’s Maxim Mazumdar new play competition. Directed by Joyce Stilson, the cast will feature Mike Starzynski, Timothy Patrick Finnegan, Tyler Brown, Edith Grossman, Bethany Sparacio and Stephanie Bax. The production will run March 24th – April 9th.
BUA will present a series of staged readings of new plays beginning Monday, March 28th at Alleyway’s Main Street Cabaret. The series will include Hoarding Hope by Kerrykate Abel, Open and Shut by Donna Hoke, and Emile and Benny by James Marzo.
Up next for O’Connell & Company, Irene O’Garden’s Women on Fire, a collection of twelve monologues. When the play was originally produced in New York, it was presented as a one-woman show starring Judith Ivey. The local production will star Mary Kate O’Connell, Christina Rausa, Elizabeth Oddy, Sandra Gilliam, and Sara Kow Falcone, directed by James Ivey. The show opens on April 7th. O’Connell & Company will kick off the 2016-17 season with Breast in Show, a musical about breast cancer written by Lisa Hayes with music and lyrics by Joan Cushing. The season will also include the comedy The Cemetery Club and the musical It Shoulda Been You.
Musicalfare will kick off its 2016-17 season with one of the best musicals of all time, Gypsy, to be directed by Chris Kelly. The company first produced the musical in the 1994-95 season. Before that, the company will present one of the great Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals, Evita with Marc Sacco as Che, John Fredo as Peron, and Michele Roberts in the title role.
The Kavinoky Theatre has decided to postpone their production of Quartet until next year. Instead, in the April 29 - May 22 slot, they will stage the classic Frederick Knott thriller, Wait Until Dark.
Don’t forget The Irish Classical Theatre Company’s annual fundraiser The Wake will take place on Friday March 4th from 7 to 10:30 p.m. at a new location, D’Arcy McGee’s Irish Pub. Next season ICTC will present Bryan Delaney’s The Seedbed, a family drama set in Ireland. Delaney scored great success when the company presented his play The Cobbler in 2005.
Ellen Horst is making her Geva Theatre Center debut in Rochester appearing in Christopher Sergel’s adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, which is playing now through March 20th. The production also features Robert Rutland. By the way, Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of the classic novel is headed to Broadway and will open in the 2017-18 season. Sorkin’s previous Broadway plays include A Few Good Men and The Farnsworth Invention.
Brian “Kato” Kaelin (pictured below) was staying at O.J. Simpson’s guesthouse the night of the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. He was a witness for the state during the 1994-95 Simpson murder trial. Billy Magnussen (Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike on Broadway and Rapunzel’s Prince in the film of Into the Woods) plays Kaelin in FX’s The People v. O.J. Simpson. After several attempts at an acting career, the soon to turn 57 Kaelin has his own clothing line, Slacker Wear.
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