Fast-paced 'Buffalo' heats up Theatre Factory stage
Daily Photo Galleries
Theater Arts Photo Galleries
Looking for a cure for the winter blues? Director F.J. Hartland says that Theatre Factory's latest production, “Moon Over Buffalo,” will do the trick.
“If anyone is feeling down or going crazy with cabin fever, this show is good for what ails you. It's just laugh-out-loud funny,” he says.
Ken Ludwig's farce that starred Carol Burnett on Broadway nearly two decades ago centers on a famous acting duo, George and Charlotte Hay, who are performing two plays in repertory, “Cyrano de Bergerac” and “Private Lives.” They receive news that famous director Frank Capra is planning to attend a performance and possibly offer them starring roles in his movie, “The Scarlet Pimpernel.”
What follows is a parade of mistaken identities, misunderstandings, humorous situations and a necessary ingredient of the best farces, plenty of opening and closing doors.
The combination keeps Hartland on his toes.
“With a farce, pacing is everything. It must go at a break-neck rate. Those doors also have to keep slamming,” the director says. “The extra challenge in ‘Moon Over Buffalo' is a kind of play-within-a-play. We not only have the challenge of doing a farce, but also re-creating the style of those other two plays. Then, there's also the sword fighting.”
Hartland says his job is made a lot easier by an experienced cast that includes veteran funny woman Barbara Russell, best known as the former comedy partner of the late Pittsburgh comedian Don Brockett. She portrays wise-cracking grandma Ethel and says she was happy to join the cast of the Theatre Factory production.
“Let's face it, there are fewer and fewer roles for the older woman anywhere,” Russell says, “so when there is a show that has such a role and the theater has a good reputation for doing shows in a professional manner — and if they are able to offer an Equity contract — I'm interested.”
At 79, Russell says she has had the good fortune to play several “great ladies” in stage productions — from Mrs. Hardcastle in “She Stoops to Conquer” and Mrs. Malaprop in “The Rivals” for the Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre, to Lady Bracknell in “The Importance of Being Earnest” and Foncia Dorsey in “The Gin Game.”
Her “dream job” is to do voice-over work as a character in an animated movie. But until that comes along, she is content working as a teaching artist for Gateway to the Arts, showing preschool teachers how to integrate drama techniques in their lessons.
Hartland's credits include directing the musical “tick...tick...BOOM” for 12 Peers Theatre, Pittsburgh, and portraying Owen Musser in “The Foreigner” at St. Vincent Summer Theatre. Also a playwright, his play “Smoke and Fire” was performed last fall in the Pittsburgh New Works Festival. This spring, he will direct a new play, “Becoming Ruth,” at Off The Wall in Carnegie.
Actor Bill Crean plays Richard Maynard, a role he describes as “the squarest character on a stage filled with well-rounded characters.” He says he wanted to audition for “Moon Over Buffalo” because of the venue and people involved with the show.
“I think F.J. has put together a great cast. The audience is in for a fun ride,” he says.
Candy Williams is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ex-Penguins defenseman Niskanen still miffed by coaches’ firings
- Penguins’ Sutter, Downie, Greiss being tested for mumps, out tonight
- Steelers’ Beachum, Williams hurting but could play vs. Bengals
- Rossi: Steelers rising fast in mediocre AFC
- Early morning crash injures two in Marshall
- Pirates win bidding for Korean infielder
- Rex Energy spills flowback on Butler County wellpad, says DEP
- Economy police release sketch of woman whose embalmed head was found in wooded area
- Toast of the Town: Explore Lawrenceville’s many watering holes
- Heyward, swarming defense get best of Chiefs in Steelers’ win
- Steelers offense learning to slam door