It wasn’t long ago that Jimmy Janowski was prowling across the stage of the Buffalo United Artists Theatre as the infamous actress Joan Crawford, dispensing venomous bon mots and occasionally beating the actor playing Crawford’s young daughter with a wire clothes hanger. Last August’s “Mommie Queerest,” one of the campier offerings in the theater company’s camp-laden history, was a triumph. Janowski has also played Tippi Hedren in his own adaptation of Alfred Hitchcocks’ “The Birds” and plenty of other famous actresses and personalities of decades past.
So on Friday night, Janowski will return to the BUA stage to portray yet another legendary actress – the gifted leading lady Lana Turner. “L’Imitation of Life,” adapted by Ricky Graham and members of the New Orleans theater company Running With Scissors from a script by Bruce McNally, explores a particularly volatile time in Turner’s life. It takes its title, and much of its action, from the sprawling 1959 film “Imitation of Life,” in which Turner plays an aspiring actor struggling to pursue her career and care for her young daughter. Turner’s appearance in the film immediately followed a grisly episode in her own life, in which Turner’s daughter stabbed and killed her lover.
Janowski will be joined on stage by Maria Droz, Luther Nelson and Bebe Bvulgari. – Colin Dabkowski
“L’Imitation of Life” – When: 8 p.m. Friday through April 6. Where: Buffalo United Artists Theatre, 119 Chippewa St. Tickets: $15-$25. Info: 886-9239 or visit www.buffalobua.org.