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Previews & Reviews

The company of Fiddler on the Roof, at Shea's through November 22.

We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay!

Italian playwright and clown Dario Fo and his partner Franca Rame have created some of the most interesting and engaging political theater of our time. We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay!, an early farce by Fo, opens this week at Subversive Theatre Collective under the direction of Donn Youngstrom. This was the first play by Fo to be produced in Britain in 1978 at the Half Moon Theatre. Dario Fo has achieved international fame unusual for a contemporary playwright, and has even been honored with a Nobel Prize.

Youngstrom notes that “even though the play was written in 1975, it resonates today with downsizing, families trying to make ends meet—unable to pay bills, and a political party (in this case the Communist Party that is out of touch and corrupt. Giovanni emerges by end chucking the ‘right’ way of doing things and realizing that he and others can’t sit back and expect things to get better but have to go out and fight to make things better. The script is also very reminiscent of ‘I Love Lucy’ and ‘The Honeymooners.’”

Megan Townsend and Rolando Gomez play Antonia and Giovanni; Chrissy Golab and Dan Morris play the younger couple, Margherita and Luigi, with Stephen Busch playing all the other parts.

Mary Stout, who plays Yente the matchmaker in Fiddler on the Roof.

The Incomparable Mary Stout in Fiddler on the Roof

In addition to seeing the remarkable John Preece, who has replaced an ailing Topol in the national tour of Fiddler on the Roof at Shea’s this week, those who take in the show will have the chance to see one of the great Broadway musical character actresses of our time. Mary Stout is playing Yente the matchmaker.

Yes, Preece is a lovable Tevye—more like Buffalo’s Saul Elkin in his interpretation than like the actor he replaces—a loving father seeking to do his best despite doubt and hardship. He is, to be sure, one of an elite group of actors who has played this iconic role more than 1,000 times! But do not ignore the stellar character work by Miss Stout.

On Broadway she was Aunt Sadie (who dons her wedding dress, explaining that she only wore it once before) in My Favorite Year; she was the Duchess in Me and My Girl; she was Mrs. Fairfax, the housekeeper, in Jane Eyre. She has also toured extensively in such shows as Beauty and the Beast, Nine, The Pirates of Penzance, and has even played Mrs. Claus in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. She first caught my eye in A Change in the Heir, a short-lived 1990 musical at the old Edison Theatre on Broadway—I remember her every look and gesture from that production and from everything else she’s done.

If you’re looking for a first-rate character woman, Mary Stout is your gal. Seeing her in Buffalo is a rare privilege.

For more in theater, check out Stagefright, this week's special Theater Feature, and On The Boards for complete listings.