When “Moon Over Buffalo” opened at Funky Little Theater Company, it was the first show for the troupe in 18 months with a cast larger than one.
And director and Funky founder Chris Medina has a singular hope.
“My No. 1 goal as a theater creator is to give people the opportunity to laugh,” Medina said. “It’s like being a waiter — you’ve got to read your table. What do people want to see? People have been locked up, they’re stir crazy, they haven’t been able to see live theater. I want to bring some joy to this world.”
The show runs through Oct. 2 at Westside Community Center.
At the heart of playwright Ken Ludwig’s 1995 comedy, set in the 1950s in Buffalo, N.Y., are George and Charlotte Hay, a husband and wife living the community theater life and wobbling on the edge of a breakup after George’s extramarital extravaganza with a young actress.
As the couple stars in productions of “Private Lives” and “Cyrano De Bergerac,” they hear famous director Frank Capra, of “It’s a Wonderful Life” fame, is headed to town to watch them perform and possibly cast them in a movie. Life is suddenly looking up, and then disaster strikes in the form of their daughter’s clueless fiancé and Charlotte’s elderly mother, who loathes George.
“...this play is a high-energy farce with all of the required elements: over-the-top characters, improbable situations, mistaken identity, physical pratfalls, rapid entrances and exits, and the slamming of every single door. It’s hard to know how the cast has the energy for their final bows at the end of the performance,” wrote critic E.H. Reiter in a 2019 review on the website Broadwayworld.com.
Funky did Ludwig’s 1986 comedy, “Lend Me a Tenor,” in early 2020, making it their last production with a full cast before the pandemic flung its pall on theater. The company did stage “Apples in Winter,” a one-woman show, in the fall, but were only able to do a few shows before in-person productions were again shut down.
“It’s (“Moon Over Buffalo”) a love letter to theater and it’s a love letter to classic Hollywood,” Medina said. “It’s mistaken identities and comedic timing.”
Funky has faced the same struggle as many performing arts organizations — staying alive in the face of the pandemic.
The company has a second show, a musical comedy, planned for November, and it has returned to offering improv classes.
‘We’ve been laying low,” Medina said. “Hopefully this will let us make enough to pay rent into the new year.”
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