Peter Hall

Theater Talk host

Peter Hall wears many hats. He is the afternoon drive host on WBFO’s “sister station,” Classical 94.5 / WNED. where he also produces and hosts “Buffalo Philharmonic Live,” which broadcasts BPO performances conducted by JoAnn Falletta Sundays at 5 p.m. repeating Tuesdays at 11 p.m. Over the years he has produced over 1,000 radio interviews with musical artists. Around town he is emcee for the Buffalo Chamber Music Society "pre-concert chats with the artists" and the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition. If you see him at a play or musical with a pen in his hand, he’s probably getting ready to co-host “Theater Talk” with Anthony Chase (heard Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO) or writing a review for www.buffalorising.com. He is also a member of the "Artie Awards" committee (think “Tony Awards for Buffalo theaters”). 

Peter feels fortunate to have worked for some of the most trusted brands in Western New York. In past lives he has been a Director of Membership for Western New York Public Broadcasting, the Director of Marketing for Canisius College, and before that was a Director of Marketing for Fisher-Price. Growing up in the Amherst school system, music, the arts, theater, literature, outdoor activities, and teaching were important in his family. His grandfather, the painter W.J. Schwanekamp, has works on display at the Burchfield-Penney. His father was a high school English teacher and his mother was a librarian. In high school, in addition to running track and cross country and being in the ski club, Peter played various instruments in the orchestra, had leading roles in the plays, and was an editor of the high school newspaper.

Peter holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from SUNY at Buffalo. For over twenty years he has taught undergraduate and graduate classes at Canisius College’s Richard J. Wehle School of Business. Depending on the season, on weekends he might be seen riding with the Niagara Frontier Bicycle Club or teaching downhill skiing at Kissing Bridge.

Kavinoky Theatre Facebook page

PHANTOM UNMASKED, a benefit concert and part of the fundraising efforts of the WNED/WBFO Artie Awards to benefit ECMC’s HIV/AIDS Immunodeficiency Services, ($20 donation minimum) featuring cast members from the touring company of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, “singing songs they’re totally not right for from their favorite 1990s Broadway musicals” is up one night only, April 30 at 7:30 p.m. at the Alleyway Theatre, One Curtain Up Alley (852-2600).  Tonight's openings are THE CHRISTIANS at Road Less Traveled, THE FOREIGNER at the Kavinoky, and of course PHANTOM at Shea's, while last night it was WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN (another Yazbek musical) at UB.

www.uchicago.edu

Polish-American playwright Martyna Majok just won the  2018 Pulitzer for Drama with her COST OF LIVING. She's in excellent company. The past four winners have been: SWEAT, by Lynn Nottage; HAMILTON, by Lin-Manuel Miranda; BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY, by Stephen Adly Guirgis; and DISGRACED, by Ayad Akhtar. Gratulacje Martyna!

Subversive Theatre Collective

The Subversive Theatre's tradition of exposing life's inequalities continues with THE FULL MONTY, opening tonight, based on the 1997 movie. It follows six unemployed men, four of them former steel workers, who decide to form a male striptease act that will be better than The Chippendales because they will go "the fully monty" (strip all the way). The Subversive Theatre connection is that it deals with serious subjects such as unemployment, fathers' rights, depression, working class culture, and suicide. But it IS a comedy.

Shea's Performing Arts Center

All three Shea's venues are busy, busy,busy. Andrew Lloyd Webber's new (2017) Broadway musical SCHOOL OF ROCK is on tour at SPAC;  Anthony remembers when Buffalo's Suzy Benzinger was an intern at the old Studio Arena, now Shea's 710, where Buffalo Opera Unlimited is presenting a Bernstein Tribute tonight; and Shea's Smith Theater is the venue for LIT 401: A School Shooting in One Act (a reaction to the Virginia Tech slayings) a play still relevant which opens on Thursday. It turns out there's quite a story behind the fabulous bridal gowns on stage during SIGNIFICANT OTHER (BUA at the Alleyway) and Peter finally got out to Desiderio's Dinner Theatre.

It was a shock to the theater community when we learned of the passing of Michael Lodick, beloved member of the Buffalo theater community, director and designer associated with the New Phoenix, American Repertory and Subversive theaters, who died of an apparent heart attack on Friday at the age of 68. He will be missed. But, "the show must go on" and meanwhile, the Alleyway stage is chock full of talented young people putting on a zany, high energy show called SIGNIFICANT OTHER, wonderfully directed by Chris Kelly. Then another troupe of even younger performers will be at Shea's for Andrew Lloyd Webber's SCHOOL OF ROCK (based on the movie starring Jack Black) which opens on Tuesday.

Anthony had great fun at the red-carpet opening of the Jimmy Buffet musical ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE and some fun (but wanted more laughs) at Ken Ludwig's adaptation of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS in Hartford. Also a tip: When in NYC, visit "Feinstein's 54 Below" for performances by Broadway's greats. Back home Peter was impressed by Pulitzer prize winning THAT CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON (lots of testosterone over at the New Phoenix) as well as Theatre of Youth's latest Junie B. Jones adventure, and both Anthony and Peter are looking forward to BUA's production of SIGNIFICANT OTHER with a younger cast, as the script demands, at The Alleyway (opens tonight).

Local theaters large and small are hitting their stride this March, with exquisite productions of dramatic works, including some one acts that begin innocently and then augur down into deep despair, such as DISGRACED at Road Less Traveled and 'NIGHT MOTHER (Brazen-Faced Varlets). Even the musicals have endings that, while we know what's coming, are still tragic, including the wait-listed JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR at American Repertory and SPRING AWAKENING at Shea's 710. But no matter where you go, you will be impressed with the productions.

Buffalo Challenger

The Paul Robeson Theatre's 50th anniversary season continues with Mikki Grant’s 1970’s musical revue DON'T BOTHER ME, I CAN'T COPE on stage through March 25, 2018 (note that several shows are already sold out).  It's a particularly fine month for theater in Buffalo with excellent ensemble performances from the Robeson, to the Kavinoky (BEN BUTLER), to the Irish Classical (THE NIGHT ALIVE), to Shea's (Anthony found the touring production of SOMETHING ROTTEN much more engaging than the original Broadway show).

Public Radio WBUR, Boston

S-M-L describes the stages mounting musicals (which take us back in time) discussed on this week's Theater Talk. There's the smallish but always intense Paul Robeson Theatre's DON'T BOTHER ME, I CAN'T COPE, created by Micki Grant in the turbulent early '70s; the medium sized Musicalfare Theatre's SMOKEY JOE'S CAFE with songs from the '50s by Lieber and Stoller, and the large Shea's Performing Arts Center's SOMETHING ROTTEN, about the first musical created in the '90s (the 1590s). 

A widower, Roland, played by David Hayes at the Alleyway isn't in touch with his feelings, but he's feeling something bad as he's BEGINNING AGAIN in a brand new play by David Alan Brown. Disturbing and confusing, but it will stay with you for days and days, FAR AWAY's dystopian world at war with itself allows director Dan Shanahan and Scenographer Kristina Siegel to really spread their wings at Torn Space Theater. And JITTERS, a bit like NOISES OFF, is hilarious dinner theater in the "if it can go wrong it will go wrong" tradition at Desiderio's Dinner Theater.  Sue Toomey stars. Anthony had the chicken.

www.shawfest.com
David Cooper

The three openings this week are BEGINNING AGAIN ("sounds existential") at the Alleyway Theatre, FAR AWAY ("creepy") at Torn Space, and MASTER HAROLD...AND THE BOYS ("a very short run") at Shea's 710 Theatre. And, Anthony reports on stars on and off Broadway: Mark Rylance, Uma Thurman, Blair Brown, Marsha Mason, Donna Murphy, and Buffalo's own Roslyn Ruff.


Joan Marcus

Marital infidelity is central to the plots of the two big theater offerings on Main Street, but the doctor-waitress affair is steamy at Shea's in WAITRESS while the infidelity in THE CONSTANT WIFE at the Irish Classical seems to lack any passion. For a good "family drama" drop in on the four employees at a soon-to-close auto plant as they balance self-interest with concern for their break-room "family" in the very powerful SKELETON CREW at the Paul Robeson Theatre. For more on WAITRESS, listen to a story by WBFO's Eileen Buckley about the character "LuLu" played by two local girls.

While things slowed down considerably over the holidays, the theater community came back with a one-two punch and a number of thought provoking dramas about uncomfortable subjects, many written by and directed by women.

In Hollywood, female screenwriters and directors may be "news," but here in Western New York this month it's clear that a woman's place is in the theater, especially when it comes to handling "difficult" subjects. As part of the International Women's Voices Theater Festival, Lara D. Haberberger is directing one acts, Kelly Beuth directs Paul Vogel's HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE, Katie Mallinson directs Jennifer Haley's THE NETHER,  Paulette D. Harris directs Dominique Morisseau's SKELETON CREW, and Lynne Kurdziel -Formato directs MAMMA MIA!

Young Simon's life is way over-scheduled while The Boy at the Edge of Everything is bored. Their lives intersect at Theatre of Youth. And, while the wife may be constant at Irish Classical, her husband is anything but. Coinciding with the #MeToo movement, Paula Vogel's tale of predatory older man/younger woman opens at Subversive Theatre with "How I Learned to Drive", and in the netherworld of VR and avatars, if they're not "real," are heinous crimes and misdemeanors of any consequence?

After directing a fabulous THE PRODUCERS at the Kavinoky, Lynne Kurdziel-Formato brings her talents to MAMMA MIA!, the 1999 juke-box musical set to songs by ABBA, now extended through February 3! Across town, at O'Connell & Company, Victoria Perez has directed AN ACT OF GOD.  And (see listings below) both The Shaw Festival and The Stratford Festival have announced their 2018 seasons.

Gregory Costanzo

As one year closes and another begins, we look back on whom we have "lost" the previous year, but did we really "lose" folks? Truly, their legacy continues to inform us, educate us, and entertain us. 2017 saw the passing of local actor, director, and impresario Tom Dooney, as well as co-founder of the Theatre of Youth, Rosalind Cramer, and one of Buffalo's favorite sons, playwright A.R. "Pete" Gurney.


The same economic, cultural and social forces that affect society affect the theater scene, including more use of social media and less face-to-face social interaction in the theater community.


There are still very good shows to catch, with both A CHRISTMAS CAROLs wrapping up Saturday, December 23; MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM going to Sunday, Christmas Eve, and, at Shea's THE LION KING with all of its swirling movement goes until January 7th in the New Year.


As Buffalo continues to welcome immigrant communities, it needs more theater diversity, but right now we do have two established organizations: the younger Raices Theatre for Puerto Rican and other Latino cultures (currently showing DESDE EL PUENTE: CHRISTMAS EDITION) and the more established Paul Robeson Theatre, Buffalo's oldest continuing theater, part of Buffalo's African American Cultural Center, currently offering MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM through Christmas Eve.


RCM Photography

This week's topics include the A CHARLIES BROWN CHRISTMAS, HELLCAB, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY, and Raices Theatre's DESDE EL PUENTE features 10 short plays with Latino themes, but you don't have to speak Spanish to enjoy this Christmas show.


Road Less Traveled Productions

The Christmas Season continues to provide dozens of  area productions, with several yet to open, from the high art of Mozart' s MAGIC FLUTE to the dark comedy of HELLCAB and three (3!) takes on IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, from the one night only SHOW UP at Nietzsche's, to performances of A CHRISTMAS CAROL at both the Alleyway and the Shaw, right up through "Christmas Eve Eve" (December 23).

New Phoenix Theatre

This week Peter and Anthony talk about the February 24th trip to Toronto to see KING CHARLES III,  the flights of fancy in CINDERELLA, the appeal for children (of all ages) of THE NUTCRACKER, and Anthony reflects on the theatrical career of David Cassidy.

This week Peter and Anthony discuss three plays still up this weekend: THE CRUCIBLE with stellar performances by Adriano Gatto and Aleks Malaise at the Kavinoky Theatre; MINDING FRANKIE, a heartwarming, funny play (but take a tissue, too!) with Kristen Tripp Kelley and Christian Brandjes, and PAINTING CHURCHES at O'Connell & Company with many themes, including "you can't go home again."

Eileen Elibol, WNED|WBFO

The 25th anniversary celebration for Theater Talk at the WNED|WBFO studios was a huge success Monday as hundreds attended to enjoy various stars of local stages perform songs and skits to honor Anthony Chase and his long-time co-host Jim Santella.  Around town, THE CRUCIBLE at the Kavinoky moves beyond the same old (remember reading it in high school?) into powerful "adult" territory and VIOLET perfectly fits the MusicalFare space with a stunning cast.

WNED|WBFO is celebrating 25 years of Theater Talk and you're invited! Join members of the theater community as we congratulate Anthony Chase on a a quarter century of showcasing Western New York theater. For reservations visit wbfo.org or call 1-800-678-1873. On this program, Peter and Anthony discuss STRAIGHT which is closing this weekend, STUPID * BIRD at A.R.T. and Road Less Traveled's GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS.


There are almost too many choices, again! for Buffalo audiences. THE BODYGUARD at Shea's has excellent singing and dancing, but for an intimate two-hander, VISITING MR. GREEN at Jewish Rep has Saul Elkin back on stage with a very warm, human presence.

Toronto born Deborah Cox has a voice and personality big enough to fill Shea's Performing Arts Center, which you can enjoy starting next Tuesday in THE BODYGUARD. Meanwhile, over at the very tiny (18 seat?) Rust Belt Books performing space, three women with personality - Jeni Arroyo, Caroline Parzy-Sanders, and Stefanie Warnick - present a different view of Shakespeare's play OTHELLO.

BUA

In Shakespeare's OTHELLO Desdemona is the frail victim of false accusation, but Pulitzer Prize winning Paula Vogel puts her in charge, sleeping with the Othello's entire encampment, in DESDEMONA: A Play About a Handkerchief which Brazen Faced Varlets opened at Rust Belt Books.

TOY

WNED | WBFO is celebrating 25 years of Theater Talk! The evening will include musical performances, reminiscences from well-known area performers, a look back at 25 years of Theater Talk, and a heartfelt salute to host, Anthony Chase, Monday, November 6 at 7 p.m. in the WNED TV Studios. Tickets are only $25. This week, Theatre of Youth opened BUNNICULA, O'Connell & Company opened Jerry Herman's musical DEAR WORLD and Subversive closes IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE this Saturday night.


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