Theatre Review: ‘An Act Of God’ by O’Connell & Company at Shea’s Smith Theatre

For one weekend only, Buffalonians can bask in the almighty presence and supreme glory of God himself. Well, in a manner of speaking. He doesn’t look like God, act like God, and he certainly knows a lot more dirty jokes than God. He is in fact Joey Bucheker, the well-known Buffalo stage presence of “Betsy Carmichael” fame, and while he may not be able to absolve you of all your sins, he can certainly give you 90 minutes of sinful belly laughs.

. . .hilarious. . .

“An Act of God,” written by David Javerbaum and directed by Victoria Perez, is a mildly sacrilegious retelling of the book of Genesis, the Ten Commandments, and the creation of the universe, as told by God himself (Joey Bucheker) with the assistance of his two archangels Gabriel (Dan Morris) and Michael (Daniel Lendzian). Acting as his own autobiographer, God takes us through his greatest hits, his biggest pet peeves, and his pivotal role in the major events of mankind, as well as putting his own comedic twists on well known Biblical hits like Adam & Even, the Garden of Eden, Noah’s Ark, and Sodom and Gomorrah. Most importantly, God rewrites the Ten Commandments for a modern day audience, with spin like “Thous shalt not tell me what to do.”

The weight of “Act of God” rests almost entirely on the shoulders of Joey Bucheker, whose mile-a-minute witticisms are coupled with the pizzazz and showmanship of a game show or Broadway kickline. With the pace of a one-man show and almost nonstop zingers, “An Act of God” is a real comedic workout for Bucheker who—with only a few tongue-tied moments—proves up to the task, bringing the Betsy Carmichael energy that he’s known for to this new almighty calling.

Lendzian and Morris also act as fun additions to this God-dominated performance, popping in-and-out to take questions from the audience and assist God in his storytelling. A particularly funny moment comes when Gabriel gets a little too mouthy and God strikes one of his wings off, only to have Gabriel return to the stage moments later looking ashamed and hawking “An Act of God” merch.

Despite a couple flubbed lines, easily chalked up to opening-night jitters, “An Act of God” is a hilarious night at the theatre, perfect for date night or a night out with friends. It’s playing tonight and tomorrow at the Shea’s Smith Theatre. For tickets and more information, click here.

Theatre Review: ‘An Act Of God’ at O’Connell & Company

David Javerbaum gives theatergoers the chance of a lifetime. An intimate, 90-minute talk with the Big Guy. No, I’m not taking about Santa Claus, I’m talking about God. Him. The Almighty. Well, a depiction of him, let’s say. God himself, as we learn early on in this comical show, takes many forms, and he is presenting himself in the form of the beloved local character actor, Joey Bucheker.

. . .full of hoots, hollers, and uproarious laugher.

What does God have to say that is so important, that he took 90-minutes out of his day to come to the Park School of Buffalo, and meet with a live audience? Well, you’d be surprised. God, wanted to cut out the middle man, and deliver his new “10 Commandments” to us directly, so that there wasn’t any question about the meaning of these. . .new Heavenly laws. Prayer, sporting events, national disasters, technology, pop culture, and even some audience participation come along for this Heavenly ride of new-found enlightenment. Accompanied by Gabriel (Dan Morris) and Michael The Archangel (Jake Hayes), this comic trio gives the audience a performance that is full of hoots, hollers, and uproarious laughter.

Bucheker does a wonderful job delivering the word of God in this production. He has a great personality for the character, and is able to be ridiculously goofy, and heartfelt, at the turn of a dime. Bucheker gets laugh after laugh as he shares his wisdom with the audience, especially when he let’s us all in on a little secret, that God’s favorite human emotions are awe and panic. He does not disappoint. 

Dan Morris and Jake Hayes do a great job portraying God’s sidekicks in this comedy, and pull out all the stops when it comes to taking creative risks, and getting the laughs. They compliment Bucheker’s style, often grounding him at times, which balances out the performance nicely.

Overall, this show is an enjoyable night out. It does get a little preachy toward the end  (pun intended at no extra charge to you) but it does not take away from the charm and heart that it possesses. Director Victoria Perez-Maggiolo has mounted a hit. Go see this show!

Running Time: 90-Minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.

Advisory: Some adult language and suggestive content.

“An Act Of God” runs until February 11, 2018 and is presented at O’Connell & Company. For more information, click here.

First Look: ‘An Act of God’ at O’Connell & Company

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According to playwright David Javerbaum, if you  prayed to God for a Buffalo Bills win on Sunday, don’t blame Him. Javerbaum’s take on God means that God doesn’t control sporting events. “Except on the rare occasions when it affects the spread,” God says in Javerbaum’s “An Act of God,” on stage at O’Connell & Company January 11 to February 11.

The show had a brief Broadway run in 2015 with Jim Parsons in the leading role, repeated in 2016 with Sean Hayes as God. O’Connell & Company cast Joey Bucheker as the Almighty under the directon of Victoria Perez-Maggiolo.

The script is God’s running monologue as He observes contemporary humanity and makes some revisions to the 10 Commandments and His original vision for humanity on Earth.

Sacrilegious?  Not to most. Hilarious?  Pretty much.  But these are jokes with a purpose. And it’s Bucheker’s irreverent onstage personality that made him the perfect choice for the Almighty role.

“I wanted to bring Joey to God and God to Joey,” Perez-Maggiolo says.  “I had to take those things that are enduring and controversial at the same time and find the commonalities. And we’re letting the funny happen.”

The story is more than that. Perez-Maggiolo says, “The jokes are nonstop and then it hits you in a way that says ‘Oh, so that’s what we’re talking about.’ “

It’s a powerful way to script a show and send home a message.

For Bucheker , “It’s the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. So many words! It’s very smart. Any time you do something modern with religion, it can either be smart or smartass. I didn’t want to do it smartass.”

He’s also sensitive to how the audience may react, but is pragmatic about interpretation. “It’s not an anti-religion point of view. The Bible is open to wide interpretation. The reality is none of us know what it really was: there can be many interpretations.”

Bucheker is quick to say that he’s a comedic character actor and not a comedian. He’s not poking fun at the Bible, God’s word, or religion. He’s interpreting God, as though He has come to Earth, sharing His memoirs,  and has theatrical aspirations. “It’s a very sophisticated take on spiritual comedy.”

Even if the concept of God laughing at life while reflecting and revising along the way is disconcerting, Perez-Maggiolo has her own insight. “ What I want to tell people,” she says, is “ to stick around, it’s worth it, and it’s going to make sense.  There are lots of questions, and these are all questions that should be asked. “

Amen.

“An Act of God” is onstage at O’Connell & Company in residence at The Park School of Buffalo from January 11 – February 11, 2018. For information and tickets call 848-0800 or click here.

Promotional Consideration Paid For By The Theatre Alliance Of Buffalo