Charmagne Chi

Charmagne Chi makes her directorial debut.

Opens March 3

Shea’s Smith Theatre, 508-SGT0

By: Duncan MacMillian

Director: Charmagne Chi

Starring: Kevin Craig

Artie Award-winning actor, comedienne, and cabaret performer Charmagne Chi makes her directing debut with Second Generation Theatre’s Every Brilliant Thing, a solo show opening this month at Smith Theatre. 

Every Brilliant Thing is a show about moving through tragedy and the complexities of life, family, and love by focusing on the joyful details that bombard us every day, if only we’re willing to see them,” Chi says. “My favorite line from the show is ‘I have some advice for anyone who has been contemplating suicide. It’s really simple advice. It’s this: Don’t do it. Things get better. They might not always get brilliant. But they get better.’ It is so simple, so powerful, and really gets to the heart of the story we’re telling.”

Chi immediately fell in love with Every Brilliant Thing because it’s funny, heartwarming, relatable, and immersive. “The community element, when the audience and the performers are really in this crazy moment together, is one of my favorite experiences as an audience member, so I was especially excited about this piece because even though Kevin Craig is the only cast member, the audience plays every other part.”

Craig, recently returned to Buffalo after receiving his acting MFA at Michigan State University, “is painfully talented, but more than that, charming as heck,” Chi says. “The audience will find it extremely challenging to not fall in love with Kevin Craig. They’ll care about him, root for him, and of course be blown away by how effortlessly he carries this piece. He makes it look easy, but don’t let that fool you. He has worked so hard and been so thoughtful about every moment.”

If Craig is the right actor for the piece, Chi says she is the right director because “Every Brilliant Thing deals with some heavy topics but still manages to be hopeful and so, so funny. Finding the lightness and comedy, even when we’re in crisis, is something I excel at,” she explains. “But even more than that, laughter is necessary when things are bleakest. It can literally be a life raft. Hope and laughter are central to this piece and for better or for worse I will squeeze every bit of comedy out of a moment. It’s what I’ve spent my entire Buffalo theatrical career doing.”

Chi has directed readings and a Zoom “production” during lockdown, but this is her first full production live directing gig. “Directing a solo show is the absolute most perfect directorial debut life could have gifted me,” she says. “There are exponentially fewer moving pieces than if SGT had chosen me to direct Les Mis or something massive. I’m getting my feet wet in a completely manageable way. It’s been so fun throwing Kevin all the curve balls and he’s so ready for what makes this show a once-in-a-lifetime theatrical event.”

Because if it wasn’t clear earlier, Chi says, “Congratulations! You’ve been cast! And this is a dream role for you because your scene partner is excellent. I’d never have the lips to just not show up for the entire rehearsal process, but do you, audience, which is a total flex. Also, you’re in charge of props so bring your favorite book.”

Every Brilliant Thing opens March 3 at Shea’s Smith Theatre (, 508-SGT0)


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