Art/Theater

The Theater community is really hitting its stride as we head into spring with a number of very fine performances. With two short runs, closing this Sunday, which include two very different “look backs” at the mid-20th century, we also have a number of plays continuing into late March and early April including three excellent offerings by our local amateur theaters at the Roycroft, Ellicott Creek, and the Woodbox Theatre in Niagara Falls.

You don’t have to be an expert on World War II or the Holocaust to enjoy a one man play which opens tonight at 710 Main Theater. WISENTHAL is suitable for ages 12+. The play runs 90 minutes without intermission. WBFO Theater Talk co-host Peter Hall spoke with the playwright.

The musical "Beautiful" tells the inspiring true story of Carole King who began life as Carol Klein from Brooklyn, a girl who broke into the record business as a teenager, ultimately writing hits for the biggest acts in rock ‘n’ roll. During her years cranking out those hits in NYC's Brill Building, Carole King and her partner Gerry Goffin were best friends and also competitors with another song writing team, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.

Shea’s Performing Arts Center and Albert Nocciolino have announced their 2016-2017 season including FINDING NEVERLAND, AN AMERICAN IN PARIS and A CHRISTMAS STORY. Meanwhile, at Shea’s, the Carole King musical opens on Tuesday, a play about a comedian turned Nazi hunter opens on Thursday, and two shows open tonight -a play about bullying at Road Less Traveled, and Theater of Youth presents a stage version of a classic children’s novel.

WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

Buffalo will be the launch for the first national tour of "Finding Neverland." The tour will open October 11 at Shea's Performing Arts Center. Other big name shows like "42nd Street," "Wicked," and "the Sound of Music" are among the highlights of the 2016-2017 Broadway Series at Shea's.  

Dixie Longate comes up from Mobile and returns to Shea's Smith with her southern-style humor, a little biting (a la Joan Rivers) at times; the Irish (well, one actor, but when it's Bosco Hogan that's all you need) take over Canisius; and FINALLY, the American Repertory Theatre is in their new home on Amherst Street, ready for a March 10th opening night with a play by John Guare.

An idea that was hatched years ago by NPR to highlight independent musicians from around the country has inspired a promoter to stage an event in downtown Buffalo.

'The Boss' rocks sold out First Niagara Center

Feb 26, 2016
Nick Lippa

"The Boss" was back, and the sold-out crowd at First Niagara Center couldn't have been more pleased that a four-decade-long music tradition continued Thursday night.

Three openings this week include THE CITY OF CONVERSATION, a play about politics by Anthony Giardina at the Kavinoky, CHILDREN OF EDEN, a musical by Stephen Schwartz at the Lancaster Opera House, and NEVER WEAR A TUBE TOP WHILE RIDING A MECHANICAL BULL, a comedy in drag starring “Dixie Longate” (of “Tupperware” fame).

Opening tonight, THE SHIPMENT, deals with multiculturalism and cultural identity while EL HAJJ MALIK concerns the life of Malcolm X. Both of these plays will appeal to audiences of BAD JEWS and FETCH CLAY, MAKE MAN. Meanwhile, LOAD MORE GUYS deals with on-line gay hook-ups, a topic in the news recently.

Audio Pending...

Two plays, both running through Sunday, February 28, deal with the emotions that cultural identity stirs up, as well as culture versus stereotypes. BAD JEWS presented by Jewish Repertory Theatre, directed by Steve Vaughan, asks questions about Jewish identity while FETCH CLAY, MAKE MAN presented by Paul Robeson Theatre, directed by Laverne Clay, presents a late-in-life friendship between boxer Muhammad Ali and Hollywood actor Steppin' Fetchit.

Just as three plays close this weekend - Irish Classical's ALL MY SONS, Subversive Theatre's  KEELY AND DU, and Second Generation's VANYA AND SONIA AND MASH AND SPIKE - we have four openings - Theatre in the Mist's ALICE IN WONDERLAND, Paul Robeson's FETCH CLAY, MAKE MAN, Theatre of Youth's NUMBER THE STARS and Jewish Rep's BAD JEWS, about a family argument over who's more worthy of a family heirloom.

With all the interest in the revitalization of downtown Buffalo, home of "THE theater district," we sometimes forget about great theater in the suburbs, including Lancaster, where a family drama inspired by Chekhov is at the Lancaster Opera House.

WBFO file photo by Eileen Buckley

Buffalo's premier ballet company is about to make a major announcement.  WBFO's Eileen Buckley has learned that Neglia Ballet Artists is preparing a big change for its long-time ballet company and conservatory. The announcement will be made Thursday evening at the Tri-Main Building.

North Delta Duo Facebook page

The North Delta Duo is a new Buffalo Blues ensemble, headed to this week’s International Blues Challenge. WBFO Blues host Pat Feldballe talked with them about their upcoming journey and the music they make.

PIPPIN, the story of the knight in search of meaning and truth, comes to Shea's on Tuesday, January 26 and runs through Sunday, January 31. After the Buffalo tour, the great Priscilla Lopez (from the original A CHORUS LINE) will leave the show. Also on stage, John Rubinstein, the original Pippin, now takes on the role of King Charles (Charlemagne). So it's a chance to see "Broadway Royalty" but only for six days.

Theater (and movie) goers were saddened to hear of the passing of Brian Bedford, 80, a staple of Stratford; William Needles, the iron man of Canadian theater, 97; and Alan Rickman, 69, star of Broadway and Hollywood (Die Hard, Harry Potter).

For the holidays, Manhattan sparkles and Broadway adds extra shows. In Buffalo, theaters go dark for two to three weeks. But, starting tonight, live theater is back with the openings of END OF THE RAINBOW at the Kavinoky and OF MICE AND MEN at the Lancaster Opera House.

Why go to New York City for a Broadway show? Production values are the highest, you might see the "original" cast, and you might catch a star.


While Christmas in New York City is a time to add performances to the schedule, here in Western New York theaters shut down for the Christmas holiday. And so, locally, with the exception of IT WAS A WONDERFUL LIFE, this is your last weekend in 2015 to take in a Buffalo show.

Anthony Conte
WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Anthony Conte, the president of Shea's Performing Arts Center in Buffalo, has announced his retirement.

A fixture in the Buffalo theater community, Michael Hake was the music director for dozens of productions and trouper that he was, wrapped up a performance of Musicalfare's PAGEANT and then passed away very quickly a few hours later from heart complications, surrounded by friends. He will be missed.

A number of plays and musicals were held over during Thanksgiving week so audiences have one final opportunity to see, for example, NORA at Torn Space Theatre, STOMPIN' AT THE SAVOY at the Paul Robeson Theatre, or BOTH YOUR HOUSES at the Kavinoky Theatre, all discussed on this week's Theater Talk.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Neglia Ballet Artists and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra kick off the holiday season Saturday evening at Shea's Buffalo with The Nutcracker. WBFO's Eileen Buckley says Neglia has invited two dancers from the American Ballet Theatre in New York City to dance in this holiday classic.

The month of November may end soon, but many local productions will be up through Sunday, December 6, so if your entertainment plans were curtailed by Thanksgiving "busy-ness" you still have time.

Opera Sacra

The curtain will fall this weekend on a 40-year theatrical enterprise that bills itself as the longest continually-producing opera company in Western New York.

Anthony visits The Big Apple and enjoys FIRST DAUGHTER SUITE by Western New York native son Michael John LaChiusa as well as ON YOUR FEET celebrating the careers of Emilio and Gloria Estefan. Laurie Metcalf (remember the TV show Roseanne?) is superb in MISERY.

Chris Caya/WBFO News

A homecoming of sorts gets underway at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery this weekend. A new exhibit titled "Monet and the Impressionist Revolution" opens to the public Sunday.

Nora's departure from her marriage at the end of 19th century Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen's A DOLL'S HOUSE marked the beginning of the modern age of theater, but apparently, 20th century Swedish director Ingmar Bergman felt that Ibsen didn't go far enough. Enter NORA which opened last night.

We have two musicals with somewhat different target audiences this week - PAGEANT: THE MUSICAL and MATILDA THE MUSICAL.

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