Interview: FIRST LOOK WITH BOB RUSCH – Broadway World | Region & Cash

What does buffalo need? Buffalo needs more theater.

No, I’m not being sarcastic.

Buffalo can never get enough theater.

We must accept and welcome all newcomers. It should be more about the art than the ego.

Luckily I don’t know of any theater companies that want others to fail.

Bravo Buffalo for teaching the art world.

It sounds cheesy, but it’s a true statement…as far as I know…and I’m cheesy.

If you want to see a musical, drama, comedy, absurd or whatever.

Buffalo, New York has it!

I’ve only been in the theater for twenty-five years and I’ve seen many stages go dark.

It’s a sad thing to see.

It’s also a great thing for a new venture to replace the dark stage with bright lights and talent!

Which brings us to a very busy guy, and he’s everywhere.

Bob Rusch is covering this town like a Buffalo blizzard.

He’s not new to theater, but he has a new theater company and venue.

Bob also made this interview very easy.

He knows how to promote himself and his company.

Let’s talk to Bob Rusch:

MCL: How did you first get involved with theatre?

BR: Actually on a gamble lol. In 5th grade, my neighbor bragged to my girlfriend and I that he was cast in the high school production of Peter Pan. We tried to be cool and said we could do it too. He said we couldn’t, and that was enough for us to go to school and ask the principal if we could do the play. We were both tall for our ages, so he said yes and made us pirates. When our neighbor came and saw us rehearsing he wasn’t pleased to say the least lol. My mother saw that I was really enjoying the experience, so next year she enrolled me in acting classes. She always wanted to be an actress herself, so she was very encouraging. Actually, both my parents were.

MCL: What are some of your past theater highlights that you’d like to brag about?

BR: I’ve been fortunate to have worked with some really great people throughout my career. I was a member of the world famous Trap Door Theater Companyy in Chicago. I also attended the first Ensemble Project training program Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago, which had some big names as founders, such as Gary Sinise, John Malkovich and Laurie Matcalf. I was one of eighteen out of over five hundred who applied to be accepted. My performance as Mountain McClintock in “Requiem for a heavyweightDirected by Rod Serling in Los Angeles received rave reviews from both the LA Times and LA Reader. Trained extensively and studied character to play him, an aging boxer who is being forced into retirement. Very proud of the work.

MCL: Please tell us all about your first theater company?

BR: I am the founder and former artistic director of SkyPilot Theater Company in Los Angeles. You’re still doing great without me. You currently have a production. Very proud of it. I ran this company for ten years and have had some really great productions, including many world premieres, which is what we’re going to do with First Look Buffalo.

MCL: You are starting your second company. What is it’s name?

BR: It’s called First look at the Buffalo Theater Company. My co-founder, John Patrick Patti, came up with the name, which is perfect because we will only be producing new tracks. We will be working with members of our playwright wing, nine playwrights from across the country, including two from Buffalo, who have been personally invited to work with us. Each year they will submit a new play for a scenic reading, which will be professionally shot and recorded. That’s how we will choose our shows going forward, but it’s also a chance for them to further develop their work and hopefully have their play produced by another theater if not by us. We also have a 35-strong cast and a seven-strong directors wing and board of directors to oversee the business aspects and guide our not-for-profit corporation. Our first season will feature two East Coast premieres, a world premiere and a short one-act festival featuring all the new tracks. And yes, they will all be a first look for Buffalo.

MCL: Why a second company? What inspired you to do this?

BR: When I left Los Angeles and moved back to WNY in 2015, I was really burned out from running SkyPilot. I said to myself “never again”. But as Michael Corleone said, “every time I try to get out, they pull me back in!” Lol. I love theater and I love acting. Can not help me. So in 2019 I decided to just produce a play I had seen years earlier in Los Angeles called “police officers and friends of the police by Ron Klier. John Patrick Patti and I decided to produce it under the name First Look Buffalo Stage Productions with the idea that maybe in the future we would produce more shows and only produce plays that had never been performed in Buffalo before. Just something to help us stand out. That was in January 2020. During Covid two friends of mine, Pandora Kew and Vanessa Shevat asked if they could produce a play called First Look. I suggested an all-female monologue piece I had produced in Los Angeles called “to The NEW girl” By Samantha Macher. They loved the play and we produced it last Fall 2021. During that time I asked some non-actor friends who are professionals who like theater if they would join a board if we did it wanted to First look buffalo a real theater company and not for profit. They agreed and so here we are.

MCL: Do you have a board of directors? What is the role of each individual on the board? Do you have one or more business partners?

BR:Yes we do. Knowing that we needed to raise money and that I wanted the artists to focus on the work on stage, the first thing I did was assemble a board of professionals who could help run the company. They focus on raising money and supporting the artists. We couldn’t do this without them. We just ran a successful bingo fundraiser and have more planned for the future. We are currently looking for sponsors for the season. That is our goal this summer until our fall production. We offer many perks with marketing and tickets for our sponsors. I personally speak to some of my real estate connections.

MCL: What is the mission of this new theater company?

BR:Simply develop and produce new games. We think it is extremely important to keep the creative pipeline full of new works so that this great genre of live theater can have a prosperous future. I see many of the same plays being performed, sometimes just a handful of years apart. We think our local WNY audience would like to see something new.

MCL: Why do you think new and original tracks are so important as your main goal?

BR:Because without them, theater as we know it will eventually die. We all love classic cars, maybe a late ’60s Camaro for nostalgia reasons. But if Chevy stopped introducing new Camaros every year, that brand would have ended years ago. The same goes for plays and entertainment in general. People crave new things.

MCL: When does your first season start? What shows are you doing?

BR: We open from October 7th to 29th, 2022 FUTURE WARS: A SCI-FI DOUBLE FEATUREE, which contained two one-act plays, both East Coast premieres. RESET TO DEFAULT by Samantha Macher and OVERLAY by Adam Hahn. Then we will produce our first this winter ONE ACT/ONE POSITION Production of 9 short one-act plays, all set in the same place. We haven’t decided on the setting yet. I’m excited to see what our playwrights come up with. Then next spring it will be the world premiere of FURSONA NOT FREE by Jeff Goode. A play I’ve wanted to produce for ten years. It is the first full-length play production about furries and people who live the furry lifestyle. Google it! lol

MCL: Tell us about the actual theater. Please describe it.

BR: We live at the park school in Amherst. They have a beautiful flexible space with a traditional proscenium and a sliding stage in the foreground. They also have a state of the art light panel and instruments. We are very happy to work with them.

MCL: How do you think you fit into the Buffalo theater scene?

BR: Not really sure. We’re definitely the new kids on the block, but we’re not going anywhere anytime soon, so hopefully viewers will be excited by our mission statement of producing new tracks. It’s our job to pick great pieces and then make sure we perform them on stage. I’m very confident that we can do it.

MCL: All theaters need volunteers. Who and how would you contact to set this up?

BR: Just send an email to

MCL: If a person is new to theatre, would your theater be the place to start?

BR: Not for actors or writers, but we always need help with set building and marketing.

MCL: What sets your theater apart for these loyal theatergoers?

BR: If you want to see something new and exciting with fresh faces, you’ll love what we’re about to bring you. Our goal is to make Buffalo NY a hub for new game development for the rest of the world. All Buffalonias can be proud of that.

MCL: Time to do even more publicity… What would you like people to know about you and your business that we haven’t discussed and need to know?

BR: Our scenic readings are FREE to the public. Please go to and sign up for our mailing list or follow us on Facebook for appointments! They start in September!


Please go to and sign up for the First Look mailing list or follow them on Facebook for appointments! They start in September!

Volunteers Just email

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