Arts/Culture

The WBFO Arts & Culture News Desk is co-funded by Arts Services Initiative of Western New York and the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site.

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.

Photo from Michele Ragusa's website

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's Pop series will feature a 'first-ever' celebration Saturday night of songs considered everyone's favorite titled Buffalo Sings.  The stage at Kleinhans Music Hall will be filled with musical talent.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says it will feature Buffalo-to-Broadway's Michele Ragusa.

Tim Johnson

Living in a rural community can feel detached from the major art scene of urban centers. But in small college towns such as Alfred in Allegany County and Olean in Cattaraugus, area residents can often see top artists that the universities bring in for faculty, students, and the surrounding communities. And that can have a life-long impact on young audiences and aspiring artists. WBFO Arts & Culture Desk producer Scott Sackett recently attended a dance performance at St. Bonaventure University that was a Western New York homecoming for a dancer from the Town of Alfred.


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.

YAWNY.org

Founded in 1962, Young Audiences of Western New York's mission is to make the arts a part of young people's lives, primarily through work with the schools located throughout the region's eight counties. "If we had to take art out of our schools, I think they would lose an energy and a life that brings kids alive," said Michael Weidrich, the agency's recently-named Executive Director.


MIke Desmond / WBFO News

The table was filled with round pieces of vinyl, familiar to older generations of music listeners and a mystery to others. Those "45s" are now a major display by the Black Radio History Collective and WUFO-AM 1080.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

For more than 30-years a family has been creating a special Easter tradition at the Broadway Market. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley learned how real eggs are made into a 'work of art'.

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.

Albright-Knox Art Gallery

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery is offering a week of free admission starting Thursday through April 5.

Camrynn Mansare

Western New York is home to more than 20 professional theater companies that are helping to drive the local arts economy. And there’s a ripple effect that can be seen in some area schools. WBFO Arts & Culture Desk producer Scott Sackett visited one school district that is investing heavily in the theater arts. And, as he discovered, the results are dramatic.


WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

It is called the Radical Women's Night Out, a special event highlighting black arts.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley talked to organizers about how it celebrates women. 

The Buffalo Connection: James Foley

Mar 26, 2018
Universal Pictures

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 University at Buffalo graduate and well-credited Hollywood director James Foley. Foley’s work has seen the extreme ends of acclaim in recent years, but he’s still seeking the thrill of pleasing audiences.


dramatistsguild.com

Crossword enthusiasts from across the country are converging on Stamford, Connecticut this weekend for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.

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.

Nick Lippa WBFO

Shea's Performing Arts Center unveiled its 2018-19 M&T Bank Broadway Series Tuesday night. This season will include Disney’s Aladdin, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Miss Saigon, and others including the internationally renowned musical Hamilton.

The art galleries at the University at Buffalo and the Albright-Knox and have teamed up to mount the first large-scale survey devoted to the works of Tony Conrad. The Buffalo-based artist was a professor of media study at UB from 1976 until his death in 2016. He was also a founder of Squeaky Wheel Film and Media Art Center and a frequent collaborator with Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center and the Burchfield Penney Art Center. Those organizations are partners in a community-wide exhibition called Introducing Tony Conrad: A Retrospective. WBFO Arts & Culture Desk producer Scott Sackett looks at why this influential artist needs an introduction.


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).

Acclaimed author Margaret Atwood to appear at UB

Mar 9, 2018
courtesy University at Buffalo

She has spun tales of dystopia through her many works of speculative fiction, some of which have found new life in recent television productions. Canadian author Margaret Atwood, best known for her 1985 classic The Handmaid's Tale, will appear at the University at Buffalo Friday evening for its program, "Humanities to the Rescue."


WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

A local theater company is celebrating women’s history month. WBFO’s senior reporter Eileen Buckley says O’Connell and Company has created a special ‘Diva by Diva’ performance to mark the 100th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage in New York.

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). 

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The founder of LehrerDance recently fired by his board of directors is rehearsing for an international tour.  As we reported last week, the board terminated Jon Lehrer and shut down the contemporary dance company. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley caught up with Lehrer 'exclusively' while rehearsing dancers inside the Burchfield Penney Art Center auditorium Wednesday.  


Mike Desmond / WBFO News

In his lifetime, journalist and author Roland Martin says African Americans have made a lot of progress, but there remains a long way to go. Martin spoke at Canisius College Tuesday at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Afro-American society.

Though it doesn't open until August, the reputation of  Jamestown's National Comedy Center is spreading throughout the entertainment industry. With the recent donation of the archive of the late Shelley Berman, and the previously-acquired George Carlin archive, the facility is generating interest among fans, comics and scholars.


Equal Rights Center to open alongside Tubman, Seward

Feb 23, 2018
City of Auburn

Construction is underway on a $10 million Equal Rights Heritage Center in Auburn, NY. The goal of the facility is to highlight New York's history of promoting social and equal rights.

WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

The LehrerDance Board of Directors broke their silence on the abrupt shutdown of the contemporary dance company. The board issued a statement Thursday evening in response to the closing. 

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.

WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

A local contemporary dance company has quietly shut-down with no explanation.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says no one is talking about what happened to LehrerDance.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Next month, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra will be hitting the road, and leaving the country for its first international tour in three decades. The BPO are invited guests to headline concerts in Poland, including Warsaw's prestigious Beethoven Easter Festival.


Pages