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Curtain Rises: Mamet ‘Buffalo’ at Northampton Community College

The Northampton Community College Theatre Department opens 2023 with the Lehigh Valley premiere of David Mamet’s dark comedy “American Buffalo,” Jan. 26 - 29 at the Bethlehem Township campus.

William Mutimer, head of the NCC Theatre Department, directs the production in the Norman R. Roberts Lab Theatre.

Mamet’s drama is about three small-time hustlers who want a bigger cut of the American Dream. The setting is a Chicago junk shop. The trio of crooks plot to rob a man of his coin collection, the centerpiece of which is a valuable Buffalo nickel.

The grifters fancy themselves businessmen pursuing legitimate free enterprise but are actually pawns caught up in their own game of last-chance, dead-end, empty pipe-dreams.

The three-character play features NCC students Justin Ferguson, Andy Van Antwerp and Max Wetherhold.

Ferguson is Donny, the oafish junk shop owner, who has a degree of authority over the other characters and acts as a parental figure to the young and inexperienced Bobby.

Ferguson, an NCC theater major, played the role of The Proprietor in the NCC fall 2022 production of “Assassins.” He also appeared in “Nollywood Dreams” at The Pennsylvania Playhouse, Bethlehem.

Van Antwerp plays Bobby, a young drug addict who Donny has taken under his wing. Bobby serves Donny in the dual capacities of coffee-fetcher and surrogate son.

Van Antwerp, a media production major, played the role of James Blaine in “Assassins” and in the roles of Harry and Cathy in NCC’s “Cloud 9.” He was the stage manager for the Playhouse’s “Nollywood Dreams.”

Max Wetherhold portrays Teach, a violently paranoid braggart who has little clue of what to do.

Wetherhold, a theater major, played the role of John Wilkes Booth in “Assassins.” He was assistant director for NCC’s “Jeffrey.”

“American Buffalo” premiered on Broadway in 1977 and was nominated for two Tony Awards. The play was revived three times on Broadway, in 1983, 2008 and 2022. The revivals received a total of five Tony nominations. The play was adapted for a 1996 film, starring Dennis Franz, Dustin Hoffman and Sean Nelson.

The play is recommended for mature audiences.

“American Buffalo,” 7:30 p.m. Jan. 26 - 28; 2 p.m. Jan. 29. Tickets: 484-484-3412; www. cctix.org

Staged reading at Muhlenberg:

The Muhlenberg College Department of Theatre & Dance will present a staged reading of a new play “(&Medea),” Jan. 27 - 29, Paul C. Empie Theater, Baker Center for the Arts, 2400 Chew St., Allentown.

“(&Medea)” is a poetic-retelling of the classic Greek myth made famous by the ancient tragedy written by Euripides, which follows the story of former princess Medea and Jason, the Greek hero who retrieved the Golden Fleece.

The play was conceived by Arlo Howard; written and developed by Jess Shoemaker and is directed by Jamie McKittrick.

The production includes adult language and non-graphic depictions of violence, sexual situations, and miscarriage.

There will be a talk-back with the playwright and director following each performance.

“(&Medea),” 8 p.m. Jan. 27-28; 2 p.m. Jan. 29. Tickets: 484-664-3333; https://www.muhlenberg.edu

“Curtain Rises” is a column about the theater, stage shows, the actors in them and the directors and artists who make them happen. To request coverage, email: Paul Willistein, Focus editor, pwillistein@tnonline.com.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS: NCC From left: Justin Ferguson (Don), Andy Van Antwerp (Bobby), Max Weatherhold (Teach), “American Buffalo,” Northampton Community College.