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Cloris Leachman

The fabulous Cloris Leachman, who gained renewed popularity for her appearances on the TV show Dancing with the Stars, spent a very busy summer working on her one-woman show, Cloris! I’m Eighty F*ing Four & Still Going Strong! Leachman appeared at the Rrazz Room in San Francisco and at the Lewis Family Playhouse outside Los Angeles. Now she will be starring in Raising Hope, a comedy series which premieres September 21 on Fox TV, following the premiere of Glee. Did you know that she was the understudy and eventually replaced Mary Martin as Ensign Nellie Forbush in the original Broadway production of South Pacific back in 1949?

Ujima Company will kick off its 32nd season on September 17 with Lynn Nottage’s Ruined. Adapted from Brecht’s Mother Courage and set in war-torn Congo, the play won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for drama. The production, directed by Lorna C. Hill, stars, among others: Annette Daniels Taylor, Zoe Viola Scruggs, Shanntina Moore, Carlton Franklin, Hugh Davis, and Willie Judson. On September 25th, the company will be holding a “Still Standing Birthday Party. For details check out and click on “Gala.” Incidentally, Ruined was just awarded the newly established Horton Foote Prize in New York.

Besides sporting a new look on the outside, the New Phoenix Theatre will also open the Keith Waterhouse Memorial Bar, which was designed and built by David King, The formal opening of the bar will coincide with the American premiere of Our Song by the late English writer and wit, Keith Waterhouse, best known as the author of Billy Liar. Directed by his son, Robert Waterhouse, the production will star Richard Lambert, Kelly Meg Brennan, Pamela Rose Mangus, and Jeff Coyle. Our Song runs November 18-December 11.

Michele Ragusa returns to her alma mater, Niagara University, to perform Songs I Wish I Were Cast to Sing, an alumni cabaret running November 12 and 13. Over the summer Ragusa starred in Titanic at the MUNY in St. Louis, and most recently in the new musical Radio Girl at Goodspeed, co-starring with Lee Meriwether. By the way, as part of its season, Niagara University Theatre will present David Lindsay-Abaire’s hilarious comedy Wonder of the World, which is set in Niagara Falls, New York.

Congratulations to Rebecca Elkin and Chris Young

Speaking of the Falls, Michael John LaChiusa’s new musical, Queen of the Mist, will have a developmental production in the fall prior to its full production next year in New York. The musical is about Annie Edson Taylor, the first person to survive a spill over the falls in a barrel. Back in 1991 the Alleyway produced a play about Taylor, Over the Falls by Arlene Brent Fanale. Ten years later, the company produced a musical version, with music and lyrics by Neal Radice. Mary Loftus originated the part in the play and Pamela Rose Mangus played the singing Annie.

Due to budget cuts, the Alleyway has canceled its Saturday matinees. Productions will now run three times a week, Thursday through Saturday evenings.

Saul Elkin and Eileen Dugan will share the stage again in the Kavinoky’s production of Third, Wendy Wasserstein’s last play, which was presented at Lincoln Center shortly before her death in January 2006. Directed by Peter Palmisano, the production will also star Patrick Cameron and Anne Roaldi.

Congratulations to actors Rebecca Elkin and Chris Young, who got married this past Labor Day weekend in a beachfront ceremony on Cape Cod.

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