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Kenan Center launches much-awaited theater revival

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Tue, Apr 18th 2017 02:55 pm

Gurney favorite to feature stage veterans

The Kenan Center's Taylor Theater in Lockport is embarking on an eagerly anticipated revival of live theater, starting with the April production of "Love Letters" by Buffalo playwright A. R. Gurney.

Performance times are 7:30 p.m. April 21 and 22, and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 23, at the Taylor Theater, 433 Locust St., Lockport. Tickets are $20 general admission or $15 for Kenan members, and can be purchased online through Ticketleap or at the Kenan Center business office. To charge by phone, call 716-433-2617.

Gurney's "staged reading" is a story of love that lasts a lifetime. It centers on two characters, Melissa Gardner and Andrew Ladd III, who meet as children. They share a correspondence that begins with a thank you notes and summer camp postcards and evolves into an exchange of letters in which they share the most important milestones of their lives.

The production is presented as a joint effort of the Kenan Center and The Carriage House Players, a partnership of two theater veterans: Peg Merrill, who directs, and Kathleen Rooney, who plays the role of Melissa. Geoff Koplas, another well-known face on the local stage, plays the part of Andrew.

Background on Taylor Theater

Since its dedication in 1969, following the renovation of a carriage house on the Kenan property, the 153-seat Taylor Theater has enjoyed a noteworthy history. In 1971, it became the home of the NOW Theatre Co., under the direction of Gerald L. Miller. An innovative company that focused on physical theater, NOW was called, "Buffalo's second professional theater," by the Courier-Express (1972), which hailed the Taylor Theater as "the prettiest little stage this side of the world." Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the theater hosted a variety of productions, including dramas and comedies by popular American playwrights, Shakespeare, children's productions, and musicals such as "Promises, Promises," "Godspell," "Pippin" and "Cabaret."

Since that time, the Kenan Center has utilized the intimate Taylor Theater for its popular Family Performance Series, presenting artists from around the world, theater enrichment programs for children, and an annual visit by the Niagara University Repertory Theatre (N.U.R.T.). It has also served as a popular venue for community theater groups and other entertainment, including Defiant Monkey Improv, music recitals, guest lecturers as part of the Kenan Speaker Series, and a new jazz concert series co-produced with The Carriage House Players in celebration of the Kenan Center's 50th anniversary.

Organizers said that, with the new production of "Love Letters" and the formation of The Carriage House Players, the Kenan Center looks forward to serving as a vital performing arts venue where audiences can enjoy the best of Western New York's theater and entertainment offerings.

For more information, visit kenancenter.org.

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