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.

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.

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.

dialoguesondiversity.com

A unique community discussion will take place in the Science Hall Commons on the Canisius College Main Street campus Wednesday at 7 p.m. To say it is on the topic of race relations and diversity would be an oversimplification, of what is expected to include improv, puppets, a game show, role playing, audience participation and probably a few other theatrical surprises. It is also free. WBFO's Marian Hetherly talked with the creators of the national social justice production of "The Black-Jew Dialogues."

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The national tour of Finding Neverland opens with a preview performance Friday evening at Shea's Performing Arts Center. The tour is actually premiering in  Buffalo and that is a first for Shea's. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley attended a 'sneak-peek' and talked to some of the members of the show.


WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

A Buffalo musician, who once met 'The King of Swing', Benny Goodman, will perform a tribute show Friday and Saturday at Kleinhan's Music Hall.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley talked with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's Sal Andolina about his show, Benny and Me, in which he performs with the BPO Big Band.

aaccbuffalo.org

Michael Murphy, formerly of the prestigious the Old Globe in San Diego picked up the reins this week from Tony Conte who left the organization in great financial shape and with three viable venues - Shea's PAC, the Smith theatre, and Shea's 710 Main.

Rare Shakespeare folios united at downtown library

Oct 5, 2016
Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Two sets of rare folios featuring the works of Sir William Shakespeare are now resting side-by-side in downtown Buffalo. It's a first-of-a-kind merger of the sets and part of an ongoing commemoration of the Bard's death 400 years ago.


Google Maps

The Muslim community in Niagara Falls will soon have a brand new mosque. The $1 million project was approved by the city’s planning board at a meeting this past week.

photo courtesy of Jim Bush

Red Thread Theatre's presentation of Robert Waterhouse's LOUISIANA BACCHAE, based on the Euripides play, sets the Greek classic in the mysterious bayou backwaters, the land of gris gris and voodoo with a very sensual depiction of Dionysus (played by Greg Howze) and his Bacchae cult.

WBFO's Mike Desmond

With cash in hand years earlier than expected, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is moving ahead on the public process of designing its new space.

The racial tensions in Tulsa have deep roots

Sep 26, 2016

The city of Tulsa looks all too familiar this month. Protesters are demanding justice for yet another police shooting of an unarmed black man.

A series of disturbing videos show a Tulsa police officer killing 40-year-old Terence Crutcher after his vehicle broke down on his way home from a class at Tulsa Community College. The white officer who shot him, Betty Jo Shelby, 42, was charged Thursday with first-degree manslaughter.

Mike Desmond/wbfo news

On  Saturday  the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor hosted a watch party to view the opening day celebration of the Smithsonian's new National Museum of African American Heritage and Culture in Washington, DC.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

doubleline.com

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery has announced what it is calling the largest single private donation to a cultural institution in Buffalo's history. It is a $42.5 million challenge grant from Buffalo-born billionaire Jeffrey Gundlach.

Richard Lambert

What is a dramatic comedy? Well, it's a drama that tackles serious issues, but has a healthy dose of laughs to keep things moving along. LIPS TOGETHER, TEETH APART deals with social isolation, suicide, and AIDS, but, there ARE laughs, in a fine production with a stunning set by 2016 Artie Award winning Paul Bostaph. Meanwhile, Ujima Theatre and Buffalo United Artists collaborate on a story of a white playwright pretending to be black in THE SUBMISSION. And the Irish Classical Theatre presents Tennessee Williams' SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH, about a gigolo/drifter in the company of a faded movie star attempting to win back the love of his youth. DEAR LYDIA, at the Alleyway, a new play about a house-bound advice columnist, is also mentioned this week.

The Buffalo Zoo

On a perfect weather day, the Buffalo Zoo reported Monday it has been given another five-year accreditation by the prestigious Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

The Buffalo Connection: Shep Gordon

Sep 19, 2016
Derek Gee

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 legendary talent manager Shep Gordon. For decades, the University at Buffalo graduate has shaped reality around well-known celebrities, and is now continuing to work on his own.


Happy Curiosity Day, Curious George

Sep 17, 2016

Today is Curiosity Day — the 75th anniversary of the creation of Curious George.

That seems like a good time to talk about the backstory of the mischievous monkey and his illustrious career of curiosity.

Curious George was born of the imaginations of Hans and Margret Rey, a husband and wife duo originally from Hamburg, Germany. Hans drew George, and Margret brought him to life with her narratives.

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