In 2001, the Buffalo Ensemble Theatre presented the premiere of Mark Humphrey’s play “Mister Benny” in the New Phoenix Theatre. It starred Tim Newell, whose gifts run from top-shelf Shakespearean villainy to the well-placed delivery of chuckle-worthy punch lines, as the late beloved comedian. And audiences ate it up. There was much praise at the time for Newell’s performance of the famous funnyman. Contributing reviewer Tony Lewis wrote Newell captured Jack Benny’s many trademark looks and gestures.
Now, the Jewish Repertory Theatre, newly ensconced in its home in the Maxine and Robert Seller Theatre in Getzville’s Jewish Community Center, is bringing Benny – via Newell – back to life once again. Its production of Humphrey’s one-man piece, directed by Jewish Repertory Theatre co-founder Saul Elkin, opens Thursday and runs through March 3.
Tickets are $14 to $36, and more information – delivered by Mister Benny himself – is at 688-4033, Ext. 391, or at www.jewishrepertorytheatre.com.
Here, Elkin discusses his memories of Benny and how Newell "channels" the comedian:
– Colin Dabkowski