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To Kill A Mockingbird at Studio Arena: A Masterfully Cast Masterpiece

02.04.2008 @ 2:10 PM in Lifestream
TKAM_1.jpg Studio Arena presents to you -- produced by Road Less Travelled Productions -- To Kill a Mockingbird, running from February 2nd, till Sunday the 24th.
  • The story, based on the best selling, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel contains some of the most memorable characters in American literature – Atticus Finch, Boo Radley, and the children – Jem, Dill and Scout. This compelling piece speaks to the very heart of American integrity, while raising questions about racism and prejudice. The story, told through the eyes of a young girl is filled with moments of discovery as she uncovers the secrets that her neighbors and community hide. This production stars Doug Zschiegner as Atticus Finch and Dee La Monte Perry as Tom Robinson. It is directed by Scott Behrend, Founder and Artistic Director of Road Less Traveled Productions.
Opening night brought forth one of the longest and most deserving standing ovations I've ever seen at Studio Arena. Why we clapped so hard, hooting and hollering like Cher was on stage? its easy: the cast gave everything into their roles. This was a hard production to pull off because the story is so common; everyone has their own idea of what the characters look and sound like. TKAM_2.jpg Every character was cast with perfection. I wondered how they managed to find a child so small to play Dill, till I realized that Joseph Westphal ("Dill") is a Lukemia survivor. Amazing talent was also seen from Doug Zchneigner ("Atticus"), whose furrowed brow and upright stature accurately portrayed the conviction that Finch lived his life with every day. TKAM_3.jpg Tickets are on sale now, priced $25-65.00.

Indian Blood: Buffalo History Lesson for Christmas.

12.10.2007 @ 3:14 PM in Buffalo
Indian Blood
  • This story is set in Buffalo, on December 25, 1946. INDIAN BLOOD takes you back to a time when bad manners were a catastrophe and foul language was unheard of coming from a young boy’s mouth. A warm and delightful comedy that is both heartwarming and funny, INDIAN BLOOD centers on an incident in the lives of two cousins who cause trouble at The Nichols School. They blame their “Indian blood” for the mischief that they cause. Packed with references to Buffalo-area points of interest, this show will surely delight local audiences. 
You need an imagination to enjoy this show. That sounds snarky, but really; 50% of each scene is invisible, placed only by the thorough description of young Eddie, who has to jump put of character in order to exposit.  Thank God for the upstanding and charismatic performance of Ronald Wendschuh as "Grandfather," who swept in at the perfect moments to revitalize the air and keep me awake for the rest of the show. Indian Blood I hope the first paragraph is enough to satisfy those in search of a real structured review of Indian Blood, because I can't really give one. I liked it, I didn't love it, but I'd tell anyone to go. It's a Buffalo play, set in Buffalo, writ by a Buffalonian, and riddled with enough references to make any out of towner feel like a local. I dare a group of friends to play Buffalo Buzzword Bingo, just hold your victory shout to a nudge, lest the aisle-nazis get you. 3.jpg Despite the slow start, give the show a chance, and perhaps you'll catch what makes this play a great addition to the holiday spirit: "Indian Blood shows that no matter what the heyday of Buffalo was, families were still fucked up, Poles have always been funny, and family is the absolute strongest thing anyone can have in this city."

Bat Boy: the Musical

11.12.2007 @ 10:10 AM in Buffalo
I'm an idiot on three parts:
  1. I forget that despite my claims to being counter-culture to the queer norm, I really am a big homo who enjoys musical theater.
  2. I drudgingly walk past Studio Arena on my way to work at Marcella's. I neglect to realize that a robust theater community has made their home in Buffalo.
  3. I waited till the end to see "Bat Boy: the Musical." - Out of my disdain for supermarket tabloids, poorly photoshopped "anomalies," and pop culture kitchfests, I didn't give it a fair chance... until the lights went out and the opening number blew me the fuck away.
Bat Boy in its regional premiere came to Studio Arena by way of Musicalfare, and sadly is no longer playing. I saw it in its closing weekend, last Friday. If Mike [Sawicz] had told me of the handsome bearish actors, or about the "woodland orgy," I'd have been there opening night. batboy_1.jpg To say the show was hilarious is disrespectful. "Bat Boy" was a genius concoction of witty storyline, spot on casting, and clever props, blended together by a powerful rock score.
“Ripped from the headlines of The Weekly World News, Bat Boy The Musical is a classic love story with a serious bite. This delicious twist on the modern day musical comedy tells the amazing story of a strange boy with pointy ears, his struggle to find a place in a world that shuns him, and the love that can create both miracles and madness.” --from www.batboy.co.uk
The story wasn't original, I've seen a million shows and movies, after school specials highlighting the importance of being accepted for who you are. What makes "Bat Boy" so remarkable is that it was told with as much spoof and absurdity as humanly possible. Edgar, a mysterious boy with pointed ears and fanged teeth, found in a cave in West Virginia, and taken in by the town's veterinarian family, much to the dissaproval of the town. In "My Fair Lady Fashion," Edgar learns to speak and is cultured, thanks to BBC tapes, and soon longs for the respect of the town. What he doesn't know is his twisted past, a past that some are eager to keep covered up; even if it means killing a few people. I have to say, the woodland orgy scene was one of the most fulfilling moments of the show, and my evening. I actually missed parts of the scene as I was too busy oggling the handsome and talented Philip Farugia (shame he's married, but god what a voice he has) in sweaty wifebeater, fur kilt, and bear mask getting it on with a badger and a deer. It was also good to see the equally talented Marc Sacco, who I've only heard of and had yet to see him in action. As for the rest of the performers, I had no idea that Buffalo had so many great voices. I can't single out anyone else (I'm new to this, remember?), and it would be biased to filter out just the handsome bears in the cast. Perhaps when I see a few more shows I can get specific. I'm really hoping the success of "Bat Boy: the Musical" brings it to stage once more. It was a refreshing bite of cult-culture [new phrase, so bite it grammar nazi's] I've been missing out on.