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Last act Alleyway celebration notes accomplishments of director and actor

"A Celebration of the Life of Ellen Opiela" will take place in Alleyway Theatre, 672 Main St., beginning at 6:30 p.m. Sunday. The event will honor the late Buffalo director and actor, whose work as artistic director of Pandora's Box Theatre Company was met with wide acclaim.

"We want this to be a celebration," said Alleyway's Joyce Stilson. "That's the way Ellen wanted it."

Opiela died at 43 on Sept. 2. She appeared in many Pandora's Box productions, among them "Waiting for Godot," "A Piece of My Heart," "Five Women Wearing the Same Dress" and "The Girlhood of Shakespeare's Heroines." As a director, she was applauded for a zesty and poignant "The Vagina Monologues 2001." "The Maids" was a superb directorial effort that made the grim Jean Genet tale memorable.

Opiela appeared on other area stages, including Studio Arena Theatre, Buffalo United Artists and the Kavinoky Theatre. She also appeared as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival. "Escaping the Box," the popular annual festival of short works held at Alleyway, was her creation.

The event will be an opportunity for friends, relatives and admirers to share stories and photographs. There will be refreshments and musical performances. Opiela loved funky purses, dresses and hats, and participants are encouraged to dress in "Opiela style."

e-mail: rhuntington@buffnews.com

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