Stealing Buffalo

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Craig Ricci Shaynak and Vern Urich in “Stealing Buffalo.”

The theme and underlying truth of Hollywood is that ambition left unchecked can build careers, yet destroy friendships. The trades are full of sordid stories of those who may have signed a bond in blood only to have it disintegrate with three simple words: “We want you…” “Stealing Buffalo” captures the essence of the desperation that so many experience, the sacrifice of everything held dear for a signature, an agreement, for the ecstatic moment of finally making it.

Our story sets place at Stu Thomas’s (Craig Ricci Shaynak) apartment. It could definitely use a woman’s touch. Stu and pal Jed Timmons (Vern Urich) plan to produce David Mamet’s “American Buffalo.” However, the infamous scribe nixes their attempt. Due to either stubbornness or reckless abandon, they scheme an alternative: produce the play without consent. It is risky. With risk comes conflict, and subsequently, the show’s premise: what is the real cost of our dreams?

Both Shaynak and Urich collaborated on the script. It captures the frightening reality of how time can force Hollywood camaraderie into Machiavellian intrigue. It is also hilarious. The jest is pointed at us, and the many who still cling to the dreams of stardom. Director Michael C. Kelly allows a naturalistic approach to the acting, and there is a brilliant background screen displaying visuals with some very interesting celebrity trivia. Who knew that entertainment could be so educational?

Recommended.

“Stealing Buffalo” runs through March 6 at the Lonny Chapman Theatre located at 10900 Burbank Blvd. in North Hollywood. For ticket information, call (818) 700-4878 or visit www.thegrouprep.com

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