Arts/Culture

After the holidays, the theater scene takes a moment to get back in gear, but this weekend, BANG!, we're back and running with seven, count 'em, seven openings. We have a play with incidental music (AMADEUS), an operetta ("PIRATES"), and an actual modern musical (42nd STREET). We have a scary play, familiar because of the Hitchcock movie, (DIAL M FOR MURDER) and scary play familiar because of many, many movies (FRANKENSTEIN), as well as a not-so-familiar drama about a family's coming apart (MARIELA IN THE DESERT). And we have a play about something that scares us all.... getting older, less vital, and more marginalized, with STEVE, presented as part of the Buffalo United Artist's 25th anniversary year. For a conversation between Theater Talk's Peter Hall and Irish Classical's Vincent O'Neill and Fortunato Pezzimenti, click here.

Johanna Fogle / haydenfogle.com

Hayden Fogle demonstrated his prodigious blues guitar skills at age 12, performing on stage at the UB Center for the Arts with blues guitar legend Buddy Guy. Now at age 16, he has teamed up with guitarist and singer Vince De Rosa. The duo will perform at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee in late January.  WBFO Blues host Pat Feldballe recently spoke to the pair.


In FRANKENSTEIN, on stage from January 20th through February 12th Director David Oliver has adapted Mary Shelley's classic gothic novel to the turn of the twentieth century, where the conflicts of "child vs. parent", "God vs Man", and "man vs. machine" take on new meaning. Meanwhile, over at the Kavinoky the unnamed "Pilot" in GROUNDED, staring at a computer screen, starts to blur the boundaries of "woman vs. machine" as modern drone warfare has its affect on her psyche.

This week marked the 50th anniversary of the death of visionary American landscape painter Charles Burchfield. WBFO Arts and Culture Desk reporter Scott Sackett recently visited the Hamlet of Gardenville, the place that inspired many of Burchfield's works, for a look at his legacy.


Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News

The Kavinoky Theatre is the first out of the gate for 2017 with an opening tonight, an intense 90-minute one woman play written by George Brant, GROUNDED, directed by Kristen Tripp Kelley, starring Aleks Malejs [say "malaise"] as an Air Force jet fighter pilot who is grounded due to pregnancy and spends her days in a windowless trailer piloting drones. And the Kavinoky has announced the opening of their 2017-2018 season with THE PRODUCERS starring Brian Myslivy and Norm Sham (as Leo Bloom and Max Bialystock, characters brought to the big screen by Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane).

African American playwright August Wilson wrote a series of 10 plays, one for each decade of the 20th century, and finally one of them has become a major motion picture, schedule for wide release on December 25.

CSA Images/Printstock Collection / Getty Images

It's hard to imagine a time when red and green weren't synonymous with Christmas, but they haven't always been the holiday's go-to colors. Arielle Eckstut, co-author of Secret Language of Color, attributes the palette's rise to two things: holly and Coca-Cola.

If it's on stage this week, it's a holiday show, for sure, but some are better than others.

Whether you've lived in Western New York all your life, arrived recently, or only visit for the holidays, there's probably something for you in Right Here, Right Now: The Buffalo Anthology. The book takes a wide-ranging look at the community and the good and bad of its past. WBFO's Mike Desmond spoke with Jody Biehl, director of UB's Journalism Program and the editor of the new anthology.


As the president-elect continues to make nominations to his cabinet, we’re getting a clearer picture of how Donald Trump will govern. But how will the Trump administration affect arts and culture in the United States?

Moving from the East Side (the African American Cultural Center) to the West Side of Main Street (at Shea's 710 Main Theatre) the Paul Robeson Theatre opened CHRISTMAS IS COMIN' UPTOWN, a musical based on "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. Scrooge is now a Harlem slumlord about to foreclose an apartment house, a recreation center and a church when his late partner and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future take him on their rounds. There's one addition to the classic tale-- a rousing gospel number in a baptist church.

Derek Gee

Tim O’Shei of The Buffalo News has been traveling around the country visiting Western New Yorkers who’ve had a big impact on pop culture. His latest feature in The Buffalo Connection series – which hit print yesterday – is a profile on Bob Kinkel, co-founder of the global music phenomenon Trans-Siberian Orchestra. For more than three decades, the Williamsville native has been sharing his music with the world, and his career is coming full circle.


WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

For the first time ever, eminent classical composer Krysztof Penderecki of Poland will be performing with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Saturday and Sunday. The concert is titled "Poland's Maestro." WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley had a chance to meet with him to discuss his work.     

It turns out that magic and the supernatural, not to mention dark themes, often the basis for children's stories, inform a number of holiday offerings on our stages.


This week Peter and Anthony discuss a recent social media flap over HAMILTON, the uses of theater as a political weapon, the opening of BUFFALO PINOCCHIO set in a dystopian Buffalo of the future at the New Phoenix Theatre, two runs of the ballet THE NUTCRACKER, this weekend at Shea's Performing Arts Center (Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.) and next weekend at UB Center for the Arts, and, for Shakespeare fans (sort of) A MIDSUMMER DYKE'S CHRISTMAS (in celebration of the 400 years since Shakespeare and the 10th anniversary of the lesbian troupe Brazen-Faced Varlets) has all sorts of funny references.

Superb performances make for a "must see" at MusicalFare (TENDERLY up through December 4), HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS AND THEN KILL THEM at ART, 330 Amherst Street, closing this Saturday night, and TRUE WEST with  outstanding performances by David Mitchell and Matt Witten (at Road Less Traveled, 500 Pearl, but only thorough Sunday at 2 p.m.).

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery's ambitious fundraising campaign to support its expansion plan got a financial boost Wednesday morning, when they officially announced a gift from the foundation named for the late founder and original owner of the Buffalo Bills.

Kelly Meg Brennan holds the eerily lit venue at 44 17th Street in Buffalo for 80 ripping minutes as she portrays over 20 characters in a one-woman monologue portraying the last night of Jack the Ripper's final victim, Mary Jane Kelly. Speaking to an unseen person (Jack, himself?) she describes her life and the circumstances that brought her to her present situation, an "unfortunate" as the Victoria press called sex workers. It's not about Jack, though. It's about Mary and Ms. Brennan has the audience wrapped around her little finger in wrapt attention. If they don't extend the run, it will close on Saturday.  Meanwhile, on Main Street three first rate productions keep audiences in their seats.  MRS. WARREN'S PROFESSION takes on the topic of sex workers and presents various ethical points of view at Shea's 710 Theatre,  EQUUS presents repressed sexuality at Irish Classical, and AN AMERICAN IN PARIS beautifully weaves the music of George Gershwin through the Broadway musical with stunning sets at Shea's. And, for an evening of nostalgia with a few surprises, treat yourself to Debbie Pappas's beautiful voice in TENDERLY: THE ROSEMARY CLOONEY MUSICAL.

Chautauqua Institution

The Chautauqua Institution has found a successor to long-time President Tom Becker. Michael E. Hill will take over the role at the end of the year. WBFO's Avery Schneider spoke with Hill about his background, his goals, and bridging the divide between the Institution's past and its future in the wake of recent debates.


This last week 4000 MILES opened at Jewish Rep, the first of three Amy Herzog plays, in a delightful production, but strong productions abound at WNY theaters, including EQUUS at Irish Classical with a very, very strong supporting cast (e.g. Vincent O'Neill, Greg Gjurich, Wendy Hall) surrounding PJ Tighe as the troubled young man Alan Strang, and TRUE WEST at Road Less Traveled pits David Mitchell and Matt Witten as two brothers in a love/hate relationship. All the above deal with adult subjects, but even darker, perhaps, are THE UNFORTUNATES about Jack the Ripper's victims at Red Thread Theatre (on 17th Street) and HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS AND THEN KILL THEM  which is, actually, a comedy presented by ART of WNY at 330 Amherst Street.

Photo from Travis Widrick Argentine Tango School of Buffalo, photo by by Don Nieman.

Not all learning takes place in a classroom especially when it comes to dance lessons.  While on the "Education Beat", WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley explores a traveling tango school where lessons often come directly to the public.    

Wikipedia

Kim Simmonds has led the band Savoy Brown since the mid 1960’s.  He’s been an active member of the British and American Blues scene and has known or played with a number of iconic blues and rock figures over that period.  WBFO Blues Host Pat Feldballe talks with Kim Simmonds ahead of his upcoming appearance in Western New York.


Shaw Festival

It's another big week for openings in Western New York. The Jewish Repertory Theatre opened 4,000 MILES by Amy Herzog (whose plays will be featured all this season). Tonight's openings include TRUE WEST by Sam Shepard at Road Less Traveled Productions (500 Pearl Street) and EQUUS by Peter Shaffer at the Irish Classical Theatre. Next week, the Shaw sends down MRS. WARREN'S PROFESSION for a run at Shea's 710 Main Theatre. Anthony recalls speaking with Nicole Underhay who plays Mrs. Kitty Warren.

The Buffalo Connection: Marguerite Derricks

Oct 24, 2016
Ronda Churchill

Tim O’Shei of The Buffalo News has been traveling around the country visiting Western New Yorkers who’ve made it to the highest levels of show business and pop culture. Sunday's paper included his latest feature, with a profile of Buffalo native turned Hollywood and Vegas choreographer, Marguerite Derricks. For more than 35 years, Derricks has been dancing her way to the top.

www.ny.gov/programs/lgbt-memorial-commission

A call has gone out to artists who are interested in helping create an LGBT memorial for New York State.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, which is moving forward with an ambitious expansion plan known as AK360, got a fiscal boost for the project Thursday from members of the New York State Assembly. Speaker Carl Heastie joined local delegates in Buffalo to make the announcement.


This week's Theater Talk conversation starts with GIVE 'EM HELL, HARRY (originated by Buffalo's own James Whitmore) these days starring David Lundy at the New Phoenix Theatre, but only through October 29. Meanwhile, CHRISTMAS IN JULY at the Alleyway concerns a group of gay men who meet at a summer resort and become fast friends. The playwright, Matthew Crehan Higgins, is director of Buffalo's Pride Center, and the cast is all gay, but interestingly, the director is not, it's Lisa Ludwig, and Anthony has some thoughts on why that is. And there's also a story or two about Sophie Tucker, the last of the "red hot mamas" whose career is, basically, a history of 20th century entertainment, from an Edison wax cylinder through vaudeville to television.

The Buffalo Zoo

The Buffalo Zoo is conducting a national search for its next leader, with president Donna Fernandes on Thursday announcing her retirement in spring 2017.

FINDING NEVERLAND's national touring opening at Shea's was a long time coming, starting back in the 1990s when outgoing President of Shea's, Anthony Conte, and producer Albert Nocciolino, raised the money to build a backstage large enough to handle touring Broadway shows. Another piece of the puzzle was getting state tax relief for producers willing to technically rehearse their shows in NY State. Then, it helped that the producer of FINDING NEVERLAND (based on a Miramax film) was UB graduate Harvey Weinstein. Add in award winning director Diane Paulus who has a wonderful, creative and critical eye for spectacle, and pretty soon you've got magic, fairy dust, and all. It's a very good night at the theater.

Buffalo Zoo

Monica is leaving the Buffalo Zoo. The Indian rhinoceros born at the zoo two years ago is moving to San Diego.

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