Buffalo stages will be quite busy this coming weekend, with classics like the Irish Classical Theatre Company's "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" to relative rarities like American Repertory Theatre of Western New York's production of Sam Shepard and Patti Smith's "Cowboy Mouth," which opens Friday in Buffalo East.
Tomorrow's Gusto cover story takes a look at some shows to watch out for over the next few months. But for now, here's a glimpse at what our critics recommend this week:
"Anita Bryant Died For Your Sins," through Feb. 12 in the Buffalo United Artists Theatre. From the review (coming in Friday's Gusto): "Playwright Brian Christopher Williams has made a valiant and at points successful attempt to evoke the joys and frustrations of growing up gay in a small town before the advent of AIDS. The charm of the script -- thanks to excellent performances by Justin Ryan and the rest of this gifted cast and Chris Kelly's ever-savvy direction -- can't help but shine through." --Colin Dabkowski
Diane Curley and Neal Moeller in the Irish Classical Theatre Company's "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."
"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," through Feb. 6 in the Irish Classical Theatre Company's Andrews Theatre. From the review: "The brilliance of the play’s construction and its crackling dialogue, in order to have their full and devastating effect, have to be matched by the director and cast. For the most part, director Greg Natale and his actors deliver. [Neal] Moeller visibly seethes with disdain for everyone — including himself. It is a thrill to watch him go ego-to-ego with [Dan] Walker’s Big Daddy, who spouts his own peculiar brand of disgust. But while Curley, as Maggie, does catty quite well, she refuses to allow even a spark of warmth or vulnerability through the veneer. But with Natale’s keen attention to detail, the show’s natural pacing and the talents of the cast and production team, this “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” is itself far too rare to be normal." --Colin Dabkowski
"Gutenberg! The Musical!" through Feb. 5 in the Alt Theatre. From the review: "No profound truths were uncovered, no shocking insights into the human condition revealed, no conceptual depths plumbed. The show is simply two straight hours of the most low-brow, crass and depraved theater we’ve seen in Buffalo for some time. For all those reasons and more, it was wonderful." --Colin Dabkowski
"Third," through Feb. 6 in the Kavinoky Theatre. From the review (coming Friday): " The production is solid, moving at a quick pace with a short intermission and it's over before you look twice at your watch. Wasserstein died of cancer at age 55, not long after finishing this play, and you can't help making assumptions of how her illness may have affected her writing. [Protagnoist] Laurie has a 'therapy session' monologue to help anchor the play, but other scenes seem out of place, even unnecessary -- especially a feel-good ending that could be excised with no harm done at all. But the actors carry it off splendidly, handling the smart dialogue with finesse, although everyone does sound a lot like Wasserstein." --Melinda Miller
"I Am a Man," through Feb. 5 in Subversive Theatre's Manny Fried Playhouse. From the review: "Annette Daniels-Taylor’s direction captures the integrity of these men’s stories, employing a number of theatrical devices that collectively work in harmony. In other hands, these dramatic layers might have appeared thrown together or disconnected, but here they complement not only each other, but also the text." --Ben Siegel