Stephen Sondheim’s beloved cult classic, MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG is seeing its regional premiere at the Shea’s Smith! A fable about friendship told in reverse, MERRILY contains some of Sondheim’s classic songs: Not A Day Goes By, Good Thing Going, and Old Friends.
SGT’s second show of the season is a world premiere comedy developed in our free reading series! Pete is attractive, single, and on a blind date… in a bowling alley. Will his misfit bowling team come between him and the girl of his dreams?
The Color Purple is a musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel spotlights Celie, a downtrodden young woman whose personal awakening over the course of 40 years forms the arc of this epic story. With a joyous score featuring jazz, ragtime, gospel, African music and blues, THE COLOR PURPLE is a story of hope, a testament to the healing power of love, and a celebration of life.
WARNING – This play contains themes of violence, abuse, rape and sexuality. Parents should use discretion about what is age appropriate for their children. Should you or anyone you know need assistance, The Color Purple team has partnered with Family Justice Center of Erie County, who provides free services and support to individuals and the community on breaking the cycle of abuse.
MONDAY June 12 @ 7:00 pm, join us at the Shea’s Smith Theatre for a free reading of THE CAKE!
Stick around after to share a slice of cake from our subscriber perks partner, Buffalo Cake Pops. In the meantime, MEET THE CAST starting with Jen Mysliwy and Bob Mazierski. Read on and then register HERE!
JEN MYSLIWY: Della
SGT: What’s your favorite kind of cake ?
JM: Carrot Cake…but it must be super moist and have cream cheese frosting and I’ve hit the cake lottery jackpot if it has raisins and/or pineapple.
JM: “The Cake” is a heartfelt and thought-provoking play that explores the complexities of love, faith, acceptance, and personal beliefs.
SGT: What character do you relate to most/why?
JM: While NO ONE will be asking me to star in any sort of baking show, I did identify with Della. Relating to a character doesn’t mean you have to agree with all their actions or beliefs. It’s about understanding their humanity and connecting with their struggles and emotions.
SGT: Why should people come and see THE CAKE?
JM: Because it’s delicious. Also, in witnessing “The Cake,” audiences can gain new insights, broaden their perspectives, and engage in meaningful discussions about social issues. This piece is a wonderful catalyst for empathy, understanding, and personal growth, making it a valuable theatrical experience for people from all walks of life.
BOB MAZIERSKI: Tim
SGT: What’s your favorite kind of cake ?
BM: This will be an affront to all the real bakers (and most humans possibly) out there……but my fav cake is all about what we served in my youth on a “family of 5” budget — the Pepperidge Farm Coconut Layer cake. It’s a memory thing but I love it 🙂
SGT: Do you bake?
BM: Strictly box cake but capable 🙂
SGT: Describe THE CAKE in 1 sentence.
BM: THE CAKE tells a story we’ve all heard in the news, but in a personal and multi-dimensional way that explores all the shades of grey in a world that people at times still want to be black and white.
SGT: Why should people come and see THE CAKE?
BM: People should see THE CAKE to see a topical and poignant story told in an interesting and sometimes irreverent way…..and you get to eat cake!
The career of Jonathan Larson is tantalizing. All the accolades that were heaped upon him, including three Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize, came after his death. He died abruptly and unexpectedly of aortic dissection the day before the first off-Broadway preview of his musical, “Rent.”
He is known only for “Rent,” and for an earlier musical, “Boho Days,” which was adapted by others into the three-person musical, “Tick, Tick … Boom!” after his death. Second Generation Theatre has just opened an exquisite production of “Tick, Tick … Boom!” at Shea’s Smith Theatre.
Larson’s early death gives his musicals, all about youthful hope and fear, a haunting quality. The material is both timeless and very much of the AIDS era. Younger and older audiences are likely to respond to “Tick, Tick … Boom!” very differently. The name of the stigmatized disease is not even mentioned in the script, and it is possible that younger audiences will not understand exactly what is being said.
I think that an uncontrollable groan of emotion might have escaped from my choked-up throat when Jon, the central character, vows to be with a friend who has AIDS at the time of his death. Life teaches us that such promises are not always possible to keep.
The quality of the material, which was recently made into a film, directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda and released on Netflix, is clear. Happily, this production, meticulously directed by Lou Colaiacovo and joyfully choreographed by Elizabeth Polito, with music direction by Joe Isgar, is excellent. The production moves beautifully and sounds terrific. It is also imbued with great wit and penetrating insight.
Sean Ryan plays Jon, a character based on Larson, who is struggling to have a career writing musicals but is beginning to doubt his prospects. A talented actor, singer and dancer, Ryan’s good looks make him a quadruple threat. His performance is by turns thrilling and emotionally powerful. He simply exudes talent and charisma.
Leah Berst plays Susan, Jon’s girlfriend, as well as many other characters. She previously appeared in “Rent” for Starring Buffalo and has a large and lush voice that’s made for Larson’s music. She is wonderful.
Joe Russi alternately makes us bust out laughing and wrecks us with emotion as Michael, Jon’s friend who abandoned the theater to become hugely successful in marketing. This is the latest in a litany of fabulous performances from Russi.
For me, “Tick, Tick … Boom!” provided a wistful and contemplative look backward. Twentysomethings, emerging from a pandemic and wondering what the hell to do with their lives, are likely to respond very differently but just as powerfully. The production is first-rate.
Info: Presented by Second Generation Theatre through June 6 at Shea’s Smith Theatre, 658 Main St. For tickets, visit sheas.org.
We’ve all been there. We’re facing a landmark birthday and our BFF is on a new path and our significant other has expectations and we’re staring down a crossroads riddled with self-doubt, anticipation, enthusiasm, and fear. What are you supposed to do? What should you do? Is it ever too late?
That’s the essence of Tick, Tick…BOOM! magnificently performed at Shea’s Smith Theatre by Second Generation Theatre. It’s a three hander with a lot going on. With Sean Ryan as Jon, Leah Berst, and Joe Russi play multiple roles in the life of this aspiring composer who is facing down the days leading up to his 30th birthday. Created by the late Jonathan Larson, it’s semi-autobiographical and wasn’t fully staged until after his way-to-early death at age 36, the day before his seminal work Rent was to open off-Broadway.
Jon is plugging away, getting ready to workshop his latest work. His girlfriend Susan is a dancer who is teaching ballet on the side. His best bud Michael, after trying his hand at acting, is a marketing executive with a BMW, fancy new digs, a corporate wardrobe and apparently few regrets about leaving the stage behind. Berst is also Jon’s mom, his agent, Karessa the ingenue in his workshop, making minor wardrobe and prop switches to emphasize her character changes. It’s her force of personality, command of her voice, and body language that put us there, though. It’s breathtaking. Equally powerful is Russi’s flexes from slick business guy to the deli clerk, and Jon’s pipe smoking dad.
Whew. Everything about the production is spot on. I couldn’t imagine a better SGT-selected cast. Ryan commands the stage, cleverly designed by Chris Cavanagh to suggest Jon’s less grand SoHo apartment, the subway, his buddy Michael’s uptown place, other places. It takes some theatre of the mind to get there, but the storytelling is so vivid, your mind’s eye doesn’t have to struggle. The score is a winner: standouts are “Therapy,” a Jon and Susan duet as they gently explore the minefield of a dysfunctional relationship. It’s comic, and charming, and sad all at the same time; “30/90,” Jon’s ruminations on his impending birthday, Michael’s “Real Life” reflection on the choices he made that are working for him; Karessa the ingenue’s “Come To Your Senses” ballad; and Jon’s “Why” as he reflects on choices. Music director Joe Isgar and his quartet play the dickens out of this powerful music. Lou Colaiacovo’s direction makes great use of the two tier stage and the storytellers upon it.
Can I say it again? Whew. There’s more going on with this story, but I’m not about the spoil it for you. Just see it. And book your tickets now. This is the show to see as the theatre season is winding down.
Tick, Tick…BOOM! is performed in one glorious, 90-minute act. Fill your sippy cup in the lobby before you go in and then hunker in for one heck of a ride. Get tickets at www.sheas.org.
This one-man show is a beautiful and unique experience. The Narrator (Kevin Craig, AEA) takes the audience through his life and his on-going list of “every brilliant thing” there is to live for. A hilarious and heart-breaking look at life, loss, and how we move on. Directed by Charmagne Chi
CONTENT WARNING– Although the play balances the struggles of life while celebrating all that is “truly brilliant” in living each day, Every Brilliant Thing contains descriptions of depression, self-harm, and suicide. The show briefly describes a character’s attempted suicides and her death by suicide. Crisis Services recommends only audience members 14+ attend, and reminds audiences to attend this program with their personal experiences in mind. As always, if you or somebody you know is struggling, call 988 for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.