With five venues, settled in a quaint town with plenty of walk-to attractions, the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, continues to attract a sizeable audience from Buffalo. Anthony Chase reports in during the intermission of "Peter and the Starcatcher" at the Royal George Theatre which is attracting a large number of younger audience members (suitable for 8+) who react audibly to the imaginative plot - the "prequel" to "Peter Pan."

The 25th Annual Artie Awards, Buffalo's celebration of local theater, will be held on Monday, June 1 at 710 Main for the first time. The event will be hosted by actors Charmagne Chi, recently seen in "Carousel," and Amy Jakiel, recently in "She Loves Me," with Artvoice theater editor and Theater Talk co-host Anthony Chase.  Doors (and bar) at 710 Main will open at 7 p.m.; the Artie Awards show begins at 8 p.m.  The modest admission fee helps support the Immunodeficiency Clinic at ECMC.

710 Main Theatre looking to build on past success

May 19, 2015

In preparing the 2015-2016 schedule for 710 Main Theatre,  it's apparent that Shea's President Anthony Conte considered a wide array of possibilities.

Kelli Bocock-Natale is two for two (her previous Macbeth was a knockout) as a winning director of Shakespeare at the New Phoenix Theatre.  Bringing Shakespeare's inventive language to 21st century ears demands every ounce of love and attention that a director can muster, and aided by an eye-catching (though minimal) set from Paul Bustaph and an appropriately magical, mystical soundscape by Tom Makar, Bocock-Natale "brings it" (including a new twist on the ending) to "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (through May 23).

With so many regional stages it's bound to happen that some productions are uneven, and this week while "Carousel" (MusicalFare thorugh May 17) was generally disappointing, "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" (Irish Classical through May 17) was helped by Kristen Tripp Kelley.  Anthony enjoyed "Rust Belt Grotesque" (ART InTheBox through May 23) and the musical "She Loves Me" (Kavinoky through May 24).  And Theater Talk is very much looking forward to Kelli Bocock-Natale's direction of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (New Phoenix Theatre through May 23).

The 69th annual Tony Award nominations were announced Tuesday morning by co-hosts Mary-Louise Parker, past Tony winner, and Bruce Willis (yes, since you just asked yourself, he's going to make his Broadway debut in the upcoming "Misery"). The awards will be handed out on June 7th in a live telecast from Radio City Music Hall, co-hosted by Kristen Chenoweth and Alan Cumming.

The 2015 Pulitzer Prizes were announced early this week and "Between Riverside and Crazy" by Stephen Adly Guirgis won for drama, a work written with Buffalo actor and UB teacher Stephen McKinley Henderson in mind.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The Tony Award winning Broadway show Kinky Boots opened this week at Shea's. The lead producer is a 25-year veteran in Broadway shows and a four-time Tony Award winner. As WBFO's Eileen Buckley reports, the producer says he is thrilled to bring Kinky Boots to a Buffalo audience.

Photo provided by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orhcestra

It's been more than 70 years since the death of Glenn Miller. But his music, popularized during World War II, lives on in modern times. The Glenn Miller Orchestra performs Friday morning and Saturday evening with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra at Kleinhan's Music Hall. WBFO's Eileen Buckley spoke to the music director and vocalist Nick Hilscher. 

This week Anthony interviewed Steven McKinley Henderson in an "Inside the Actor's Studio" format and enjoyed Henderson's memories about Broadway, Hollywood, The Regional Theater Movement, The Black Arts Movement, and August Wilson. 

If you are a Downton Abbey fan you might want to check out a comedy theater production in Buffalo.  America's Got Downton plays Friday and Saturday evenings, April 10th & 11th, at 7:30 at 710-Main Theatre downtown. WBFO'S Eileen Buckley sat down with London actor and impressionist Luke Kempner who performs a one-man show featuring his comedic take on more 30 Downton characters. 

Two actors with Buffalo roots who "made it big" will share with acting students next week. Roslyn Ruff, Broadway star active on TV and in film (The Help) comes back to Buff State on Monday, April 13 at 4 p.m. to conduct a workshop in The Flexible Theatre for young actors in any medium. Roslyn will then engage in a discussion with the general public at 5:30 p.m. 

At the end of this year The Lennon Sisters will mark their 60th year in the entertainment business. They will be performing Friday, April 10 at the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda. They first made their debut on the Lawrence Welk Show in December of 1955. WBFO's Eileen Buckley had a chance to speak with Kathy Lennon about their legacy and success.

Theater Talk: Meetings in the Alleyway

Apr 3, 2015

This week Anthony returns from the American Theater Critics Association Annual Conference, which this year was in New Orleans, to report that regional and community theater artistic directors all have the same concerns, whether the city is a tourist mecca or "just Buffalo."  One concern that everyone has is getting works by a variety of playwrights actually produced. 

Photo from The New Phoenix Theatre program.

A play written by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Lanford Wilson continues on stage at the New Phoenix Theater in Buffalo. As WBFO's Eileen Buckley reports, it features a local television meteorologist who portrays a priest in 'Angels Fall.'

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Dancers ranging in age of five to 65 will perform the classical ballet story of Cinderella Saturday evening.  The Greater Buffalo Youth Ballet performs at UB's Center for the Arts. WBFO'S Eileen Buckley says the classic tale features over 60-dancers.  

As the nomination period for the Tony Awards draws close, Anthony ventures to Broadway to take in the musical "On the 20th Century" with Kristen Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher, "The Audience" with Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II, and "Disgraced" presenting the real lives of Disney princesses - and it's NOT for children (just those who once were).  Meanwhile, both stages at the Alleyway Theatre Complex are busy.

Our western tradition of theater began with the Greeks, and for them, theater was community theater.  When Sophocles, Euripides, or Aeschylus saw their plays, it was a community  effort.  To this day, Greek philosophy, politics, religion, ethics, medicine, and, of course, community theater, are an integral part of who we are.  This week Theater Talk notes several community offerings including "The Boys Next Door" presented by both the Lancaster Regional Players at the Lancaster Opera House and The Western Door Playhouse at the Woodbox Theatre in Niagara Falls,  "The Odd Couple" presented by

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Two Buffalo artists have created new paintings and sculptures and their work is inspired by some of the greatest artists of all time.  WBFO's Focus on Education reporter Eileen Buckley says the artwork is on display at the Dolce Valvo Art Center on the Niagara College Community Campus in Sanborn and will share some artist advice with students. 

Pre-dating the TV show "Seinfeld" ("the show about nothing") by 100 years, Oscar Wilde's most popular (and unfortunately last) play "The Importance of Being Earnest" moved one contemporary critic to write that he had enjoyed the play but found it empty of meaning.  Nobody cares when you have delightful verbal fencing written by a master with lines such as:  “To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up,” “All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does, and that is his”  and "I hate people who are not serious about meals.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Two Buffalo artists set out on a photography journey in a remote village in Honoduras. They work is now on display at CEPA Gallery in downtown Buffalo. WBFO'S Eileen Buckley met with the artists to learn about their photos that portray Honduras children from impoverished lives. 

The play has been blocked, lit, rehearsed and now all we need is an audience this coming Thursday, March 12th for the opening of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" at Buff State where Theater Talk co-host reverses roles in more ways than one. Now Anthony Chase will be on stage, not in the audience, playing "Lady Bracknell" in high heels, wig, and very stylish clothes.  "Arrivals and Departures" by Alan Ayckbourn opened at the Kavinoky, and the other two openings were Nobel prize winning playwright Eugene O'Neill's "The Hairy Ape" at Torn Space and Steve Martin's "Picasso at the Lapin Agile" at ART In The Box on Linwood Avenue.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

One of the region's oldest cultural organizations is celebrating its Centennial Year.  The Buffalo Silver Band has been entertaining local audiences for 100-years. WBFO'S Eileen Buckley talked with some members of the brass band about their legacy.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

If you're looking to shake off the winter blues with some laughter Mommy's Martini Hour 2: The Hangover hits the stage Friday evening as Buffalo United Artists presents the show at the Alleyway on Main Street.  WBFO'S Eileen Buckley talked with Loriane O'Donnell and KerryKate Abel -- who considered themselves Buffalo's theater divas. O'Donnell and Abel are offering the cabaret-style, adult only show this weekend.

Two plays discussed in this week's Theater Talk re-imagine two classics. "After Miss Julie" takes Swedish playwright August Strindberg's very dark "Miss Julie" and moves it to Britain in 1945 after a Labor Party Victory.  In both plays Julie has a one night affair with a man from a lower class and ultimately sees suicide as the only way to move forward.  That opened last night at the Irish Classical Theatre and runs through March 22.

By coincidence, a number of theaters this weekend feature mothers and mother figures (all with varying levels of dysfunction).  Having Tyne Daly pass up the chance to spend a winter in Buffalo (go figure!) that opened the door for local talent Anne Hartley Pfohl to star in Terrence McNally's "Mothers and Sons" at the Alleyway Theatre.  (The address is One Curtain Up Alley in the shadow of Shea's huge backstage.)

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The Tony award winning Broadway hit Chicago opened on stage this week at Shea's Performing Arts Center.  It stars an actor who is best known for his role in Seinfeld.  John O'Hurley performs as lawyer Billy Flynn.  WBFO'S Eileen Buckley talked with O'Hurley about his Chicago performances and his famous Seinfeld character. 

Just back from the Kennedy Center in our nation's capitol, Anthony reports that while the cast of Lerner & Lowe's "Gigi" is first rate, the direction is not.  They've got a month to fix things before opening on Broadway.

Openings this week include "The Mystery of the Silver Chalice" - a play at 710 Main where the audience directs the plot - "Beau Jest" at Jewish Repertory in which a Jewish girl hires an actor to play her boyfriend when she goes home to see the parents and "Million Dollar Quartet" which looks at the birth of rock'n'roll. It's at Shea's but for two days only.

Photo from BPO website.

Legendary and multi-talented entertainer Ben Vereen appears Saturday evening with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for the Pop Series. Vereen, well known for his Broadway work, brings his star power to Kleinhan's Music Hall. WBFO's Eileen Buckley had a chance to speak with Vereen ahead of Saturday's performance.