Road Less Traveled Productions was founded by Artistic Director Scott Behrend with Resident Playwright Jon Elston in 2002. Project by Jon Elston was the company’s debut presentation, which world-premiered in February 2003 and garnered four Artie Award nominations, including Best New Play, Best Supporting Actor (Phil Knoerzer), Best Ensemble of a Play, and Best Direction of a Play (Scott Behrend). Project was accepted into the 2004 NYC International Fringe Festival and ran for six performances in New York City. Jon Elston’s Interrogation Room premiered in November 2003 at the Theaterloft. It was nominated for three Artie Awards including Best New Play, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Direction of a Play.
Interrogation Room won Best New Play and Best Supporting Actor. Interrogation Room was also the recipient of the 2003 National Literary Prize from the Source Theater in Washington, DC. It was read at the Kennedy Center as part of their New Works Series and later received a staged reading at Circle-In-The-Square Theater (Broadway, NYC), directed by Ted Mann. RLTP then enjoyed two seasons as Theatre Company-In-Residence at the New Phoenix Theater with World Premiere presentations of Private Viewing, by Jon Elston; Two To The Head, by Darryl Schneider; The Peddler’s Bones, by Jon Elston; and The Good Thief, by Conor McPherson’s one-man show.
2006 saw RLTP renovate and open their own permanent performance space, the Road Less Traveled Theater, in the Market Arcade Film and Arts Centre. Renovations began in July of 2006 and the theater opened on September 8th, 2006.
Following the landmark Evening With Alec Baldwin in July 2006, in which Mr. Baldwin read Yasmina Reza’s Art to benefit the company, RLTP launched its ’06-’07 season in its own permanent performance space: the Road Less Traveled Theater, in the Market Arcade Film and Arts Centre. The season included a critically acclaimed production of Emmanuel Fried’s The Dodo Bird; Darryl Schneider’s War Room (2007 Artie Award for Best New Play); and Jon Elston’s Buffalo Movie.
RLTP’s ’07/’08 Season opened with the WNY Premiere of Emanuel Fried’s Boilermakers & Martinis and two World Premieres developed in the New Play Workshop: Eric Appleton’s Homeland and Melody Von Smith’s Bonegrinders (nominated for the 2008 Artie Award for Best New Play). RLTP also produced To Kill A Mockingbird at Studio Arena Theater (2008 Artie Award for Best Supporting Actress (Verneice Turner) and premiered its first American Theatre Masters Series selection: Eric Bogosian’s Humpty Dumpty.
Humpty Dumpty won the Artie Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor (Phil Knoerzer) and was nominated for Outstanding Set Design (Matt Farmer), Outstanding Ensemble in a Play, and Outstanding Production of a Play. Eric Bogosian appeared in person at the 2008 Spring Gala and spoke about his work in film, television, and the theatre.
2008-2009 was another year of growth for RLTP, opening with the world premiere of Annette Daniels-Taylor’s Artie Award winning A Little Bit Of Paradise and the sleeper hit of the season, Triangles, an evening of three plays by August Strindberg, Emanuel Fried, and Jon Elston. This season also saw the return of Darryl Schneider to the RLTT stage with his first comedy, Twice Around, and finally, RLTP’s extremely popular and well-received American Theater Master selection: Arthur Miller’s The Man Who Had All The Luck. Actor James Rebhorn (star of the Broadway revival) was named 2009′s American Theatre Master and visited RLTP’s Spring Gala during the run of The Man Who Had All The Luck…; and two longtime RLTP stalwarts, Director Scott Behrend and Lighting Designer John Rickus, were finally recognized with Artie Awards for their work on the show.
The 2009-2010 season began with an exotic bang as RLTP presented the prestigious world premiere of Neil Wechsler’s magical Grenadine, hand-selected for the 2008 Yale Drama Prize by legendary playwright Edward Albee. RLTP continued to break new ground for itself by developing and producing its very first musical: American Deal, by Tom Naples and Jon Elston, nominated for a record-shattering seven Artie Awards (including 2010 Artie Award Winner Kyle LoConti, recognized for her Outstanding Direction). The holiday season ushered in a new RLTP tradition: A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Music Of Vince Guaraldi; and the new year saw the launch of RLTP’s new A.R. Gurney cycle with the smash hit WNY premiere of A Light Lunch. But the best was saved for last: 2010 American Theatre Master Edward Albee was RLTP’s Guest of Honor at the 2010 Spring Gala, during the run of his masterpiece The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia? On May 8th, 2010, Mr. Albee spoke to local playwrights and artists at the RLTT for an astonishing and priceless two and a half hours, then thoroughly enjoyed the performance of his play that evening. He was not alone; The Goat played to sold-out houses and garnered the 2010 Artie Award for Outstanding Production Of A Play, as well as four other nominations.
But nothing to date has matched RLTP’s sensational success in 2010-2011. RLTP blazed even more new trails in Summer ’10, producing the world premiere of Ibn Shabazz’ highly combustible (yet crowd-pleasing!) thriller Insidious, which enjoyed a three week run of houses sold to capacity, with eager patrons turned away from each performance. The unprecedented phenomenon of Insidious was followed fast by the smash hit world premiere of Donna Hoke’s sexy comedy The Couple Next Door. RLTP then settled into a season of plays for all tastes: a new, modern, and very controversial adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Antony & Cleopatra; the revival of 2009 family favorite A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Music Of Vince Guaraldi; the unveiling of Resident Actress Lisa Vitrano’s biographical one-woman show, Bitch Bares All; and a well-received second year of the A.R. Gurney retrospective in the form of his political satire Screen Play. The best, however, was yet to come: RLTP’s monumental production of The Last Days Of Judas Iscariot, featuring an ensemble cast of unmatched diversity and power, animating the explosive and profound text of 2011 American Theatre Master Stephen Adly Guirgis. Guirgis and original Off-Broadway co-star Stephen McKinley Henderson were Guests of Honor at RLTP’s 2011 Spring Gala, and the ultra-challenging, three-hour long Judas managed to win over the WNY theatergoing public, becoming the second highest-grossing production in RLTP’s entire history (surpassed only by the permanent box office supremacy of Boilermakers & Martinis). RLTP was proud to receive 13 Artie Award nominations in 2011, and took home two: for David Butler’s Judas Iscariot set design, and (in a category dominated by plays developed by RLTP) the Best New Play award for Ibn Shabazz’ Insidious. Capping off a triumphant season: the summer revival of Insidious and breaking news that Insidious would see a second production in 2012 at the Black Actors Rep of St. Louis – the largest professional African-American repertory company in the U.S.
RLTP, predictable? Never! The Theater segued from searing quasi-historical melodrama to quirky counterculture romantic comedy when it booted up its 2011-2012 season with the World Premiere of Shaun McLaughlin’s nerd-centric farce Internal Continuity. This light, entertaining romp was an ideal warm-up for the similarly funny but also deeply resonant second slot production of Tracy Letts’ Superior Donuts, an urban ensemble piece that struck a deep chord with critics and audiences alike, receiving three 2012 Artie nominations for its cast (including Outstanding Ensemble) and breaking new records at RLTP’s box office. Another benchmark was achieved in early 2012 when theatre legend Vincent O’Neill made his first onstage appearance at the Road Less Traveled Theater, mesmerizing audiences in Conor McPherson’s one-man supernatural opus, St. Nicholas. Yet another highlight in a year of gems was the World Premiere production of Resident Playwright Darryl Schneider’s Clean Break, an uncompromising character study brought to life by actor John Fredo and director Derek Campbell, reunited for the first time since 2010′s The Goat; Or, Who Is Sylvia? Darryl’s tireless seven year-long development of Clean Break was rewarded by enthusiastic repeat audiences and an Artie Award for Outstanding New Play – his second following the Artie for his play War Room back in 2007. RLTP’s ’11-’12 season closed with Ancestral Voices, the culmination of its three-year A.R. Gurney Retrospective. The production was graced with the presence of popular actors from the previous two years of the Retrospective (as well as a couple of new additions to RLTT stage) and blessed with a visit by the author, 2012 American Theatre Master A.R. Gurney, who had a great time celebrating his career with local playwrights, theatre artists, and patrons at RLTP’s 2012 Spring Gala. But though the season proper was over at the Road Less Traveled Theater, there was one more theatre treat in store for Road Less Traveled Productions: members of the staff and Board traveled to St. Louis, MO, in May of 2012 to support playwright Ibn Shabazz for opening week of Insidious at the Black Rep of St. Louis. This was a great fulfillment of RLTP’s Mission and a nice first step in what is sure to be a long and fruitful life for Insidious.