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.

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.


Buffalo Rising

Jessica Marinelli of Buffalo Rising is effusive in her praise of Torn Space Theater. "If you haven't been there, you should go." On WBFO's Press Pass, Marinelli highlights Torn Space's recent production of  "Far Away," and the theater company's home, the historic Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle. "It's a gem on the East Side."


www.shawfest.com
David Cooper

The three openings this week are BEGINNING AGAIN ("sounds existential") at the Alleyway Theatre, FAR AWAY ("creepy") at Torn Space, and MASTER HAROLD...AND THE BOYS ("a very short run") at Shea's 710 Theatre. And, Anthony reports on stars on and off Broadway: Mark Rylance, Uma Thurman, Blair Brown, Marsha Mason, Donna Murphy, and Buffalo's own Roslyn Ruff.


Nick Lippa WBFO

From the theater to a Kenmore East classroom, film scores are helping special needs students learn about classical music.

Joan Marcus

Marital infidelity is central to the plots of the two big theater offerings on Main Street, but the doctor-waitress affair is steamy at Shea's in WAITRESS while the infidelity in THE CONSTANT WIFE at the Irish Classical seems to lack any passion. For a good "family drama" drop in on the four employees at a soon-to-close auto plant as they balance self-interest with concern for their break-room "family" in the very powerful SKELETON CREW at the Paul Robeson Theatre. For more on WAITRESS, listen to a story by WBFO's Eileen Buckley about the character "LuLu" played by two local girls.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Two young local students will be making their debut in the Tony nominated musical WAITRESS. The show opens Tuesday night at Shea's Performing Arts Center in Buffalo. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley had a chance to speak with the young actresses about clinching the audition for the role of Lulu. 

The Buffalo Zoo has seen millions of dollars put into new and renovated exhibits in recent years - and not just because it is such a familiar site for locals to visit.

While things slowed down considerably over the holidays, the theater community came back with a one-two punch and a number of thought provoking dramas about uncomfortable subjects, many written by and directed by women.

Kendrick Lamar.com

Kendrick Lamar's rise through the music industry could reach another level during Sunday's 60th annual Grammy Awards. A nominee for Record of the Year and Album of the Year,  Lamar is in line for two of the most prestigious awards. "He is really what the Grammys should be all about," said Jeff Miers, music critic for the Buffalo News.  "He became immensely popular, but he's also doing something that's really bold and new and forward-looking."


In Hollywood, female screenwriters and directors may be "news," but here in Western New York this month it's clear that a woman's place is in the theater, especially when it comes to handling "difficult" subjects. As part of the International Women's Voices Theater Festival, Lara D. Haberberger is directing one acts, Kelly Beuth directs Paul Vogel's HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE, Katie Mallinson directs Jennifer Haley's THE NETHER,  Paulette D. Harris directs Dominique Morisseau's SKELETON CREW, and Lynne Kurdziel -Formato directs MAMMA MIA!

Investigation: For some who lived in it, Keillor's world wasn't funny

Jan 25, 2018
Nate Ryan / MPR News File Photo

When Minnesota Public Radio abruptly severed ties with Garrison Keillor in November, the sole explanation offered by the company was "inappropriate behavior" with a female colleague. For his part, the creator and longtime host of A Prairie Home Companion described his offense as nothing more than having placed his hand on a woman's back to console her. An investigation by MPR News, however, has learned of a years-long pattern of behavior that left several women who worked for Keillor feeling mistreated, sexualized or belittled.

The Buffalo Connection: Fern Mallis

Jan 22, 2018
David Handschuh

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 Fashion Week co-founder Fern Mallis. Mallis has been working hard in the fashion industry for much of her life, and now she’s looking for a change of pace.


Iconic Rochester artist Wendell Castle dies at 85

Jan 22, 2018
WXXI-TV

An iconic figure in the art world, both in Rochester and around the world has died. Wendell Castle died in his Scottsville home on Saturday.

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