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Mary Wilson

One of the original Supremes, the fabulous Mary Wilson still stays very active on the concert circuit and will soon be embarking on a Russian tour to promote her DVD Live From San Francisco. Although she has appeared in a couple of stage shows (Beehive, Grandma Sylvia’s Funeral), her biggest theater dream never came true: to appear in the musical Dreamgirls. Loosely based on the real rise to fame of Diana Ross and the Supremes, the musical became an instant classic when it opened on Broadway in 1981, directed and choreographed by legendary Buffalonian Michael Bennett. If you haven’t had a chance to see this magical musical on stage, the touring production will play Shea’s December 14-19. Tickets are already on sale.

Buffalo’s Jeffry Denman was a finalist for this year’s Joe Callaway Award for choreography, presented by the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation in New York. Denman was cited for his work in the musical Yank!, which also got a citation for its director, Igor Goldin. Back in the days when Upstage performed at Park School in Amherst, where Denman got his start, Goldin performed there under the name Igor Milich.

American Repertory Theater of WNY will no longer be involved with the production of Murder Squared by Gary Earl Ross, which was set to open this week at TheaterLoft. Now presented by Ujima Company alone, the production will open November 26. Ross has assumed direction of two of the vignettes that were previously being directed by Matthew LaChiusa. Chris Standart, who was playing Alfred Hitchcock, has also left the production and the part will go back to being the Host, to be played by the playwright himself.

Kelli Bocock-Natale has left Red Thread Theatre in order to dedicate her energies to open a theater space at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf. She and Loraine O’Donnell will be working together to open a 100-seat black box theater that will present productions for the deaf community. Congratulations! In the meantime, O’Donnell heads back to the directorial chair in the upcoming ALT production, Gutenberg!: The Musical!

It’s baaack! Little Shop of Horrors is coming back, this time to the ALT Theatre in the spring. Directed by Bret Runyon, with choreography by Amy Taravella, and musical direction by Theresa Quinn, the production will star Susana Breese and Matt Mooney. It is scheduled to open on March 24.

MusicalFare kicks off its Community Conversations today November 18 at 9:30pm, following the performance of its current production of Cabaret. Co-panelists Shawn Kelley, chair of the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Daemen, and Mark Sommer of the Buffalo News, moderated by Randall Kramer, will be discussing Cabaret and its implications in today’s world.

Road Less Traveled continues with its Stories From the Road storytelling series on December 1 at 7pm with It’s A Wonderful Life (?), featuring Kathleen Betsko Yale, Gary Earl Ross, C. Frances Fallon, Justin Karcher, and Jon Elston.

Jill Clayburgh

I was deeply saddened by the passing away of Jill Clayburgh who died November 5 at the age of 66. I vividly remember her Broadway performance in Design for Living, in which she starred with the late Raul Julia back in 1984. She came back to the New York stage with a vengeance in 2005, appearing in A Naked Girl on the Appian Way, Barefoot in the Park, The Clean House, and The Busy World Is Hushed, giving remarkable performances in each. An avid theater-goer herself, whenever my companion and I saw her in the audience of a theater, she would greet us as “the theater guys from Buffalo.” Clayburgh was very proud of her daughter, actress Lily Rabe, and would always urge us to “Go see her!” Rabe has just received rave reviews for her appearance in The Merchant of Venice on Broadway with Al Pacino and Buffalo’s Jesse Martin.

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