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Life of Thurman Thomas will be told on stage

Dress up in your best Buffalo Bills red, white, and blue. The life of Thurman Thomas is about to unfold on the stage.

In June, for its second annual "Buffalo Stories" fundraiser, Road Less Traveled Productions will celebrate the life and career of pro football Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas. The musical extravaganza will be revisiting Thomas' high school and college athletic accomplishments, as well as his fabled exploits in the role of Bills running back. It will also explore Thomas' life as a husband, father and Buffalo booster.

Thomas' prominence in Buffalo does not end with football. Two years ago, with his wife, Patti, he founded the 3480 Group, a construction and telecommunications firm. He wrote about that adventure recently in The News, quipping: "Even after those years on the gridiron, I have learned a lot of new lessons."

Road Less Traveled Productions has been interviewing Thomas in depth in order to create a multi-faceted view of the man. It describes the production, which is still being developed, as "full of comedy, music, romance and NFL triumph."

Thomas will be portrayed on stage by Dudney Joseph Jr., a 6-foot-1, 250-pound actor familiar to local musical theater fans. Joseph's roles have included Enoch Snow in "Carousel" and Collins in "Rent."

The Thurman Thomas-themed fundraiser will be a change of pace for him.

"We adapt songs that people know. We add new lyrics," said Gina Gandolfo-Lopez, managing director of Road Less Traveled Productions. "It's not a roast, but it presents a whole background of his life."

The theater company began its "Buffalo Stories" fundraisers in 2016 with the idea that each year would spotlight a different well-known Buffalonian. Last year's production focused on former Mayor Anthony Masiello. That show, a one-night-only performance, sold out.

Masiello attended the musical about his life, and Gandolfo-Lopez said Thomas will, too.

"He's a guest of honor at both performances," she said. "He is totally on board."

Gandolfo-Lopez said Thomas is exactly the kind of celebrity Road Less Traveled had in mind when it began its "Buffalo Stories" event. The idea of spotlighting the football legend struck a chord particularly with the theater's executive director, Scott Behrend, a Bills fan who followed the team closely in the 1990s.

"Thurman Thomas is someone I believe we always looked up to," she said. "In terms of creating this event, we wanted to bring community-focused people who really are pro-Buffalo back into the spotlight."

The curtain rises on "Buffalo Stories: The Life of Thurman Thomas" at 8 p.m. June 2 and 3.  The event begins with a 7 p.m. receptions with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Post-show receptions will follow.

Seating is limited. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. March 1 and are available in advance only. Tickets are $300, or $550 per couple and proceeds benefit Road Less Traveled Productions. Call 629-3069 or visit the Road Less Traveled website.



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