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Must-see theater: spring stage highlights in the Theater District

Get ready to cheer, Buffalo -- there's good stuff coming to local theaters.

blog by Ben Kirst  • 

We often hear about how the greatness of the Buffalo theater scene. Yet at the same time, we rarely hear about the local theater companies turning away crowds at the door because all of their performances are booked.

If we want to have a nationally-respected artistic community, we need to keep supporting the arts— so if you aren’t already hitting up a show or two every few months, you need to start carrying your weight, pal. Here are some productions slated to run within Buffalo city limits that are entertaining, accessible and will give you something to talk about besides the NFL draft because man, does that get old fast.

Clean Break (Road Less Traveled Productions, March 9 - April 1): The author of War Room (2007 Artie Award winner for Best New Play) and the actor/director team that brought you The Goat; Or, Who Is Sylvia? (2010 Artie Award winner for Outstanding Production of a Play) join forces for this gripping high stakes drama. An inveterate gambler and his estranged daughter roll the dice one final time—for the future of their relationship. Now that’s hardcore, friends.

A Delicate Balance (Irish Classical Theatre Company, April 19 - May 13):  Meet Agnes, Tobias and Agnes’ alcoholic sister, Claire—housemates who are visited by their friends, Harry and Edna, a duo on the run from something really, really awful (but what?).  And look who’s home—it’s Julia, the daughter of Agnes and Tobias, who’s now recovering from her fourth divorce! Things are going to get pretty hairy. This masterful drama has won a wheelbarrow full of awards since its 1966 inception by legendary American playwright Edward Albee.

The Marvelous Wonderettes (O’Connell and Company, April 19 - May 13): This show is actually going to be held outside of Buffalo at Erie Community College’s North Campus, but I am willing to make an exception because I’m a sucker for anything that has to do with the 1950s.

Described as a “...cotton candy-colored, non-stop musical blast from the past featuring your favorite songs from the 50′s and 60′s,” the show is set at the 1958 Springfield High School Prom. “The Wonderettes”—Betty Jean, Cindy Lou, Missy and Suzy—express their teenage yearning via early rock ‘n’ roll songs like a“Lollipop,” “Dream Lover,” “Stupid Cupid,” “Lipstick on Your Collar,” “It’s My Party,” “It’s In His Kiss(The Shoop, Shoop Song)” and more.

Let’s be realistic—the audience will probably include a lot of grandparents. But if you want to build your retro credibility, young folks, you should really check out this show.

Blithe Spirit (Kavinoky Theater, April 27 - May 20): Playwright Noel Coward had, according to Time Magazine, “...a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise.” I think that’s how we all want to be described at some point in our lives. Coward’s Blithe Spirit is a sharp comedy about an ill-conceived cocktail party séance that brings one man’s ex-wife back from the dead, resulting in a supernatural cat fight with the new lady in this gentleman’s life. Sophisticated and genuinely amusing without being silly—my God, that’s also how we’d all want to be described, isn’t it?

South Pacific (Shea’s Performing Arts Center, May 1 - May 6): War! Romance! Racism! Death! Catchy song-and-dance numbers! South Pacific was one of the most powerful musical productions of the 20th century, and any culture junkie worth their weight in back issues of Vanity Fair should have a working knowledge of this amazing work by songwriters Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. You know that this fantastic traveling production is going to hit Shea’s with the force of a typhoon.

Photo from Flickr / Princess Theater.

TAGGED: irish classical theatre company, kavinoky theatre, road less traveled productions, shea's performing arts center, south pacific, the marvelous wonderettes, theater

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