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  • Richard Lambert


BUFFALO, NY: The New Phoenix Theatre on the Park announces the first offering of a Sunday showcase series entitled, “New Works at New Phoenix”, with the staged reading of the new play, “A Pitch from Satchel Paige”, written by Loren and Jim Keller, on Sunday, October 13th, at 3:00.

“New Works at New Phoenix” will showcase area artists - playwrights, actors, musicians, writers, and poets. The “Pay-What-You- Can” program has been developed to make new WNY arts programming accessible to all. “A Pitch from Satchel Paige” focuses on the life of the legendary professional baseball pitcher who was born in the early 1900’s in Mobile, Alabama. After years of playing in Negro baseball leagues, even though Satchel Paige was the star player, he had to watch young Jackie Robinson break the color barrier by being allowed to enter the major league.

Both playwrights are baseball fans: Loren Keller is a renowned WNY poet, educator and actor and his son Jim Keller, is a graduate of Buffalo State College and former journalist for the Jamestown Post-Journal. The play won first place at the New Works Festival in NYC in the fall of 2018. The “New Works at New Phoenix” event will be a WNY premier reading of the full play.

The Kellers’ play is a one man show, featuring Russell Holt, who portrays Paige recounting his life, where he is reputed to have pitched a total of 2,500 games during his nearly 30-year career, winning 2,000 of them. Paige was also a showman, with a memorable personality, and the Kellers’ story is filled with comedy and wit. The director for the reading is Verneice Turner, who will also be performing live music from the era.

Russell Holt is a Lackawanna actor who has been recently featured in various local theater companies, most recently including Inclusive Theater of WNY, Shakespeare in the Parking Lot: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Carriage House Players’ Production of “Art”. Buffalo native Verneice Turner, director, is a performance artist, Artie award winning actor. She has performed in numerous productions in WNY as well as in New York City and Washington, D.C. as an actor, singer, dancer and poet. She ran the art space Buffalo East from 2009 to 2013.

“A Pitch from Satchel Paige” will take place at the New Phoenix Theatre Sunday, October 13, at 3:00 PM. The New Phoenix Theatre is located at 95 Johnson Park in Buffalo, NY. Admission is “Pay-What-You-Can”. There will be a meet and greet with the playwrights.

The New Phoenix Theatre’s mission is to present both classical and contemporary plays in ways that speak to our community, to rediscover the theatrical experience through the spirit of collaboration, and to revitalize the neighborhood in which our theater stands. The theatre is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

The Historic Home of The New Phoenix Theatre was built in 1884, on land deeded to Buffalo by Ebenezer Johnson, Buffalo’s first mayor, and originally served as a lecture hall for the Buffalo Seminary, a “séance house,” a vaudeville house, and finally a soup kitchen, until New Phoenix founder Richard A. Lambert restored the space, with the assistance of many grants over the years from NYSCA, Erie County, The City of Buffalo, the Rupp Foundation, M & T Bank, the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation, and the Golden-Goldman Foundation.

For further information call 716-853-1334 or visit

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