Curtain Up! 2010
by Anthony Chase
For the 29th time, the theater community celebrates the opening of a new season
Curtain Up!, Buffalo’s annual celebration of theater in our community, is an event unique to our city. For the 29th consecutive year, the night is upon us, Friday, September 10.
Act I begins with cocktails and dinner at 5pm in the Shea’s Grand Lobby. This is open to the general public and features a cash bar. (The black-tie dinner, which requires tickets, is on the Shea’s stage.)
Act II is the theatrical performances themselves, and this year’s Curtain Up offers an unusually abundant lineup of shows.
At Alleyway Theatre, which specializes in brand new plays, it’s Mookie Cranks a Tater! by Joseph Palka. “Cast off the curse of normalcy,” the producers say, “and join the Callahan family as they test every boundary in sight.”
ALT Performance Group offers Cheapjack Shakespeare: the Non-musical by Shaun McLaughlin, based on his graphic novel. This is a comedy in the Animal House mode “that follows the adventures of a college Shakespeare Company as it falls apart over a summer.”
South of the city, Buffalo Laboratory Theatre presents Ted Tally’s play, Terra Nova, about an ill-fated Antarctic expedition.
Buffalo United Artists presents Kerrykate Abel and Chuck Basil in a cabaret show, Basil and the Broad.
• The Irish Classical Theatre offers an new play, The Cant, by Shay Linehan. Winner of the lucrative McGuire International Playwriting Competition, The Cant is “a raucous…comedy-drama that weaves together the stories of family members separated by the cruel hand of fate.”
• Kaleidoscope Theatre Productions presents the murder mystery Art of Murder by Joe DiPietro.
• It’s a musical revue at the Kavinoky Theatre, Forever Plaid, featuring such pop hits of yesteryear as “Three Coins in the Fountain,” “Cry,” and “Moments to Remember.”
• Heading north to the Lancaster Opera House, it’s The Fantasticks, the enduring off-Broadway classic by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones. (This is the team that also wrote 110 in the Shade and I Do! I Do!)
• MusicalFare Theatre offers abundant female musical talent with Shout! The Mod Musical by Phillip George, David Lowenstein, and Peter Charles Morris, a musical tour of 1960s England that “tracks five groovy gals through a non-stop journey of infectious and soulful pop anthems and ballads such as “To Sir With Love,” “Son of a Preacher Man,” “Goldfinger,” and “Downtown.”
• New Phoenix Theatre on the Park gives us Neal LaBute’s psychological drama In a Dark Dark House, in which we find “two estranged brothers attempting to illuminate a shared and shadowy past.”
• O’Connell and Company offers the musical revue, Working, wherein we explore the “hopes, dreams, joys and concerns of the average working American,” on Studs Terkel’s best-selling book of interviews with American workers.
• Road Less Traveled gives us a New Play Workshop selection, The Couple Next Door by Donna Hoke: “What happens on Grand Island doesn’t always stay on Grand Island…[w]hen suburbanites Sadie and Vance try to remedy their marriage by hooking up with the swinging-savvy Janet and Rich.”
• Buffalo’s Eclectic Improv Company will perform at Shea’s Smith Theatre.
• Subversive Theatre Collective explores the life of union activist Mother Jones with the musical, The Furies of Mother Jones, by Maxine Klein.
• Theatre of Youth has a special grown up offering with Frank & Ella: Together Again, featuring Paul Maisano and Joyce Carolyn as Frank Sinatra and “The First Lady of Song,” Ella Fitzgerald.
• Theatre Plus, a theater dedicated to plays by and about women, presents Bring on the Men! by Todd Warfield, “a gender-bending evening of fun.”
If you’re hoping for tickets to any of these productions, make reservations at once. Curtain Up! shows sell out fast.
The Theatre District Association of Western New York has brought Buffalonian actor-director Stephen McKinley Henderson in as the honorary chair of this year’s gala. Henderson was most recently nominated for a Tony Award for his Supporting Actor performance opposite Denzel Washington in the Broadway revival of August Wilson’s 1987 Pulitzer Prize-winning play Fences. His stage credits also include the Broadway production of Dracula, the Musical; Drowning Crow, and the revival of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, with Charles Dutton and Whoopi Goldberg. Those credits serve as a reminder of the kind of theatrical quality that Buffalo encourages.
While seeing a show is the point of Curtain Up!, it is certainly possible to join in the festivities by booking a table at a nice downtown restaurant and taking part in the post-show entertainment. The ACT III Street Party, 10pm-1am, features the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus; Theresa Quinn & Friends; 12/8 Path Band; Latin Jazz Project; Time Pirates; Barbara Levy Daniels; Ron Lee Zedeco; The Vault Art & Music; Adam Michael Magic; Zach Haumesser Puppets; Swing Dancers; Life Is a Drag; selections from Evil Dead the Musical; Kerrykate Abel; Tango Dancers; Lancaster Regional Players; Mark Winsick—and that’s all free!
Featured vendors include Rust Belt Bistro; Bavarian Nut company; Ron’s Catering Cart; Prima Pizza; Chow Chocolate; Delish Dessert; and Coffee Culture.
Artvoice celebrates Curtain Up! with the return of Javier’s Stagefright column in this issue.
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