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.

Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News

The Botanical Garden's stinky flower is starting to bloom. Morty, the so-called corpse flower, last bloomed four years ago. It usually does so once every 6-10 years.

Zach Anderson

The sound of beating drums and wailing guitars can be heard echoing through the streets in the quiet village of East Aurora.


Michael Mroziak, WBFO

From Memorial Day weekend through Labor day weekend, guests of the Buffalo Zoo will have a chance to interact with birds originating from Australia. The seasonal exhibit, Boomerang Island, will give patrons a chance to truly get up close to these feathered guests.


If you missed the Facebook Live coverage announcing the 2018 Artie Award nominations featuring Anthony Chase, Charmagne Chi and Amy Jakiel (who will be your on-stage emcees at the WNED|WBFO Artie Awards, Monday, June 4, 2018, red carpet at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m.), then you can watch here. You can see the list of nominations here or scroll down this post.


Fifty years after his LOVE painting made Robert Indiana a sensation, the artist has died at the age of 89.

Indiana's two-row rendering of the word, with its tilted "O," became one of the most recognizable works of modern art in the world. The famous design emerged from deep influences in Indiana's life, from his early exposure to religion to his father's career.

Clay Davies

With pleasant weather in the forecast organizers are expecting another solid crowd of cyclists tonight for the third Slow Roll Buffalo of the season. Co-founder Seamus Gallivan sees the effort as "a way to come together. We need that in Buffalo and we really feel like the bike is the best vehicle to do it."  Tonight's event begins at 6:30 at West Side Community Services on Vermont Street. Forest Avenue and Connecticut, West Ferry and Grant Streets make up part of the ten-mile course.


VIDEO: 2018 Artie Awards nominations announced

May 21, 2018

This year's Artie Awards nominations were announced Monday. The Arties began in 1991 and are held each year to celebrate Western New York's theatre community.

Nickle City Con

What do a shark, a UFO and a music teacher have in common?  Answer: Richard Dreyfuss. The Academy Award-winning actor from Jaws, Goodbye Girl, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, American Graffiti and Mr. Holland’s Opus will be among the celebrities appearing Friday-Sunday at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center for Nickel City Con.

MusicalFare

Audiences love being "in on the joke." Sometimes a character "breaks the fourth wall" and speaks directly to us. Another "meta-theatrical" device is the "play within a play" where actors take on roles as, well, actors putting on a play. A superb example is Sara Ruhl's hilarious STAGE KISS currently at The Shaw Festival's Royal George Theatre. And then there's something else, where the jokes come from the fact that everyone is aware that it's a play but nobody openly acknowledges that. It tickles something fierce in BASKERVILLE, a comedic re-telling of the Sherlock Holmes story, with only five players taking on dozens of roles.

In a career that spanned more than half a century, Tom Wolfe wrote fiction and nonfiction best-sellers including The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and The Bonfire of the Vanities. Along the way, he created a new type of journalism and coined phrases that became part of the American lexicon. Wolfe died Monday in Manhattan. He was 88.

Wolfe didn't start a novel with a character or a plot, but rather, with an idea. In 1987, wearing his signature white suit, Wolfe told me how he began his first novel, a panoramic story of New York Society:

Buffalo Rising

On Saturday, city homeowners and businesses will open their porches to local bands for Buffalo Porchfest. While the event offers music lovers a wide variety of options, it also serves as a celebration of the symbolic value of the porch. "Porches offer a sense of community," said Newell Nussbaumer of Buffalo Rising during WBFO's Press Pass. The event and the sense of community it inspires, Nussbaumer says, have prompted many homeowners to rebuild their porches and, in a greater sense, restore their city.


Road Less Traveled Productions

If you think that theological discussions are a bore, wait until you see THE CHRISTIANS where the debate on the question - "Is there a hell?"  - will keep you in your seat. WBFO reporter Jay Moran had a conversation with director Scott Behrend. And actors Dave Hayes as the pastor, Lisa Vitrano as his long suffering wife, Aaron Moss as the young minister, Steve Jakiel as the elder, and Victoria Perez as the congregant with big concerns will get you thinking. For something a little more soap opera/melodramatic try BLACKBERRY DAZE at the Robeson, for zany comedy try the Kavinoky's THE FOREIGNER, and for a swirl of graceful aerial charm, try STELLALUNA at Theatre of Youth.

MusicalFare

PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at Shea's features the stellar designs of the late, great Maria Bjornson. In between shows many cast members went next door to the Alleyway Theatre for a revue to raise money for the WNED|WBFO Artie Awards' favorite charity, the ECMC HIV/AIDS and Immunodeficiency Services. The Tony Awards nominations are out and there are some surprises. And ONCE, at MusicalFare, blossoms on a smaller stage, just the size for which it was originally intended. Renee Landrigan as "Girl" and Amy Jakiel as "Reza" are outstanding in a very talented cast.

Road Less Traveled Productions

When he read Lucas Hnath's "The Christians," Scott Behrend, executive director of Road Less Traveled Productions, knew his company needed to tackle the play. "What drew me to this play was, of course, the central argument, which is, Is there a hell?" With a cast of Dave Hayes, Lisa Vitrano, Aaron Moss, Steve Jakiel and Victoria Perez, "The Christians" runs through May 20.


World Video Game Hall of Fame

Some popular video games are being recognized for their impact on the multibillion-dollar industry.

Kavinoky Theatre Facebook page

PHANTOM UNMASKED, a benefit concert and part of the fundraising efforts of the WNED/WBFO Artie Awards to benefit ECMC’s HIV/AIDS Immunodeficiency Services, ($20 donation minimum) featuring cast members from the touring company of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, “singing songs they’re totally not right for from their favorite 1990s Broadway musicals” is up one night only, April 30 at 7:30 p.m. at the Alleyway Theatre, One Curtain Up Alley (852-2600).  Tonight's openings are THE CHRISTIANS at Road Less Traveled, THE FOREIGNER at the Kavinoky, and of course PHANTOM at Shea's, while last night it was WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN (another Yazbek musical) at UB.

A federal government study says New York State's arts and cultural industries pump more than $114 billion into the state economy.

Eileen Koteras Elibol

The spring 2018 edition of WBFO's Buffalo Blues Bash was held Saturday, April 21 in the WNED | WBFO Studios. A sold-out crowd was treated to performances by headliner The Keeshea Pratt Band and opener Willie May Band. WNED | WBFO photographer Eileen Koteras Elibol captured the energy and spirit of the night in this photo gallery.

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. 

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