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‘COUNTERGIRLS’ to be read in Hamburg before hitting Broadway

ORDER UP — Pictured is Brenda Mikolajczak, a Hamburg resident and frequent performer for Hamburg Theatre Under the Stars, who will star as Betty Ruth in The Drama Circle’s presentation of “COUNTERGIRLS.” Photo submitted by Tony Baksa.
HAMBURG — Michael Russell submitted his play “COUNTERGIRLS” to Hamburg’s theater collective, The Drama Circle, and since then, it has been picked up to become a Broadway production.

“He still wants us to do it,” said the group’s director, Tony Baksa. A one-night-only staged reading of that comedic play will take place at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 17 at Connections Café in Hamburg, courtesy of the United Methodist Church of Hamburg.

“COUNTERGIRLS” has previously been performed in places such as Tennessee, Texas, Connecticut and Oregon. As Russell rewrites the play, in preparation for the Big Apple, The Drama Circle players will play a part in the process, by presenting this staged reading.

“This new venture and my mission of assisting playwrights in the development of their plays is something special to add to the cultural life of this great town,” Baksa said.

The play is set in the 1990s at a lunch counter of an F.W. Woolworth’s in Clarksville, Tenn. It is the story of “four feisty women who have a lot of opinions. They’re very loving people, but they quip with each other,” Baksa said. “It’s got a lot of heart to it. It’s beautifully written; the cast is just great.”

He said that fans of shows such as “The Golden Girls” or “Steel Magnolias” will love “COUNTERGIRLS.”

To create an authentic setting, Baksa has set the play to be performed at Connections Café, allowing actors to legitimately perform behind a counter. The audience will sit among café tables.

Baksa said he was “looking for an unconventional venue, rather than just doing it in the theater.”

Local actors include Hamburg residents Brenda Mikolajczak and PJ Tighe. In addition, Anna Luce, of Buffalo; Michaelene LaNave, of Tonawanda; Maria Marinaccio, of Orchard Park and Buffalo residents Martin Penkala and David Beckert will appear.

“COUNTERGIRLS” is directed by Hamburg resident Baksa, with assistance from Chris Cummings of South Buffalo and the company manager Glenn Kajioka of Hamburg.

Admission for the event is free. Baksa said, “Everything that we do, we’re committed to keep it free.” He added that the Drama Circle players have done fundraising to take care of costs for production.

“It’s just, as they say, a win-win situation for everybody,” Baksa said.

No reservations are required. The Connections Café is located at 107 Main St. in the village of Hamburg. For more information, call 648-6963.

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2014-05-18 | 16:26:41
I loved working with Brenda in "You Can't Take It With You" She is not only a great actress but a great Mother as well.
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