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

Theatre Talk:

Mar 2, 2012

Theatre Talks Jim Santella and Anthony Chase are back this week for their full review of theatre around Buffalo Niagara.

They give us a glimpse of Les Mis at Shea's an  When The Rainbow Was Enuf at Ujima Company.

Photo from video

A Niagara Falls, New York native was among Sunday night's Academy Awards. 

Mark Bridges, who grew up in Niagara Falls, won an Oscar for his Costume Design work on the silent film, "The Artist."

 “I'm just a kid from Niagara Falls who dreamed, ate and slept movies" said Bridges as he accepted his Oscar on stage Sunday night.

Bridges is a 1978 graduate of LaSalle Senior High School in Niagara Falls.

Photo from Buffalo United Artists Website

Jim Santella and Anthony Chase give us highlights of of what's on stage across the area. 

This week WBFO's Theatre Talk guys give a shout out to Wendy Hall who will be featured in Friday night's opening of a Cabaret Series at the Buffalo United Artists Theatre.

BUA’s Cabaret Series returns this season with three new shows.  On February 24th, Wendy Hall brings her own show to the BUA stage, accompanied by Chuck Basil.  

WBFO News photo

WBFO'S Theatre Talk guys roll up their chairs to the studio microphones to give their round robin review of what's happening and what's to come in the local theatre scene. 

Jim Santella and Anthony Chase tell us to get ready for Ragtime at this season's Shaw Festival. The Paul Robeson Theatre in Buffalo continues with "Every Tongue Confess" and at the Jewish Repertory Theatre "The Jewish Wife & Duck Variations" is now on stage! 

Photo from Paul Robeson Theatre Website

WBFO's Jim Santella and Anthony Chase open this week's Theatre Talk with a brief chat about the new television series called "Smash" about behind the scenes of staged musicals.

"The theatre is a metaphor for all our lives," said Chase.   

They also discuss  Every Tongue Confess, a drama now on stage at the Paul Robeson Theatre on Masten Avenue in Buffalo, directed by Laverne Clay.       


Springville Center for the Arts opens "Guys on Ice"

Feb 9, 2012
WBFO News photo by Marian Hetherly

Springville is home to thriving arts community that is only about a half-hour south of Buffalo. 

In this small rural town, the Springville Center for the Arts is leading a renaissance of sorts.  The mostly volunteer-run Center went from an initial annual budget of $5,000 to today undertaking a two-point-one-million-dollar capital campaign to renovate the church it now owns outright and calls home.

Thursday night  the Center opens with "Guys on Ice".   WBFO'S Marian Hetherly took a ride down Route 219 to check out a recent rehearsal and produced an audio postcard:

Photo provided by Bruce Fox, Coordinator of Photography and Graphics Instructional Resources Buffalo State College

A powerful docudrama opens Wednesday evening at the Burchfield Penney Art Center auditorium.

The Buffalo State Theatre Department will present The Laramie Project written by Moises Kaufman.   It portrays the 1998-murder of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, deemed a hate crime motivated by homophobia. 

WBFO'S Eileen Buckley talks with Buff State Theatre professor Joseph Price.  He is co-directing the play with Buffalo State senior Samantha Penziul.

WBFO News photo

This week's Theatre Talk focuses on productions in full swing. 

St. Nicholas is on stage at Road Less Traveled Productions at 639 Main Street, Buffalo,  True West is being performed by the Kaleidoscope Theatre Productions at Medaille College and Avenue Q continues at MusicalFare Theatre on Main Street in Amherst.   
That's part of this week's roundup with Jim Santella and Anthony Chase. 

Photo from Buffalo United Artisits

It's Friday and that means it is time for our exclusive, weekly rundown of what's happen in local theatre around the community. 

Jim Santella and Anthony Chase begin their discussion with AVow on stage at Buffalo United Artists Theatre on Chippewa.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

35-area individuals and organizations were honored in downtown Buffalo Thursday by the National Federation for Just Communities. 

 The NFJC held its annual Community Leader awards ceremony at the Buffalo Convention Center.  

Among some of the categories individuals were recognized from included business, education, health care and interfaith communities.  

WBFO News photo

 Theatre Talk hosts Jim Santella and Anthony Chase delivery their weekly review of area theatre.  They begin this week with the Irish Classical Theatre's "The Hostage" on stage until February 5.

This week's Theatre Talk review also offers a quick  a rundown of other shows;  A Vow to open at Friday at Buffalo United Artists, The Gin Game at the American Rep Theater at Black Tie at the Kavinoky Theatre.

Local actress says role has transformed her life

Jan 17, 2012
Photo from Alt theatre in Buffalo

A local actress says her latest role has helped to transformed her life. 

Loraine O'Donnell is staring in Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Alt theatre in Buffalo.  O'Donnell says she has found herself as she portrays  Hedwig -- a  transgender East German singer. 

O'Donnell talks with WBFO News contributor Christina Abt about how this role has changed her life.

Photo from Buffalo State College

WBFO salutes Theatre Talk co-host Anthony Chase.  He is being honored by the National Federation For Just Communities.  He is among more than 30 individuals and organizations to be honored at the 2012 Community Leader Awards Luncheon will be held on Thursday, January 19, 2012 at the Buffalo Convention Center. 

Center for the Arts Web photo

Friday means Theatre Talk on WBFO.  A weekly roundup of theatre around the region with Jim Santella and Anthony Chase.

This week they open their 2012 review with a preview chat about The Return of Alec Baldwin at Center for the Arts Mainstage Theatre on Friday,  January 27.

Buffalo United Artists Website

WBFO's Theatre Talk talk team of Jim Santella and Anthony Chase deliver their final 2011 review of the theatre world as they gear up for 2012.  

Listen as they talk about singer and Tony winner Barbara Cook, who was recently honored by the Kennedy Center. 

And Santella chats with Chase about the Buffalo United Artists January production of Jeffrey - a Staged Reading with the Original Cast as it celebrates its 20th year in 2012.    


Photo from Buffalo Philharmoic Website

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra has just released a new compact disc that celebrates the works of four Polish composers. 

WBFO's Michael Mroziak has listened to the CD and spoke with the BPO's conductor JoAnne Falleta  to find out more about the music.

WNY native to judge 2012 Tournament of Rose Parade

Dec 27, 2011

A native of Western New York has been appointed one of the judges for the 2012 Tournament of Rose Parade.  

Bryan Wittman of Buffalo is Vice President of Global Special Events for Disney Park.  He visited our WBFO studios and met Jim Pastrick to talk about about this special event.

Wittman will be one of the three judges of the 2012 Rose Parade in Pasadena.   The parade will be held Monday, January 2nd. 

Theatre Talk: Broadway and more

Dec 23, 2011
File Photo / WBFO News

Theatre Critics Jim Santella and Anthony Chase take a trip to Broadway.  They also note the closing night of the acclaimed production of "Peter Pan" at the New Phoenix Theatre. 

Historic V for Victory from Kleinhan's Music Hall

Dec 23, 2011
File Photo / WBFO News

Music has  the power to touch the heart, to move you, to make memories that can last a lifetime. Nobody knows that better than Gene Setel of Buffalo. As a teenager, he was an usher at Kleinhans Music Hall. That was a long time ago. He started at age 12, but he was 16 when he ushered for a concert event that he will never forget.  “Never seen anything like that night,” he says. “It was just overwhelming


It was may eighth, 1945. Hitler was dead. The Japanese had yet to surrender. But it was the beginning of the end of the Second World War. British Prime Minister Winston

Eileen Buckley / WBFO News

Holiday music is practically inescapable and many songs commercialize the true meaning of Christmas.  

But one song  was actually written in England in 1780 as a catechism lesson to teach young Catholics about their faith.

WBFO'S Eileen Buckley talks with Father Czeslaw Krysa, director of Worship for the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and rector of St. Casimir's Oratory.  He takes us through what Roman Catholics believe are the origins of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

 The leader of MusicalFare Theatre is looking forward to the leadership change in County government. The 2012 county budget has restored much of the arts and cultural funding previously cut by outgoing County Executive Chris Collins. County executive-elect Mark Poloncarz, in addition to being open-minded to arts funding, has also included a member of the theatre community on his transition team.

WBFO'S Eileen Buckley talked to MusicalFare's artistic and executive director Randal Krammer at the theatre's recent "Unsilent Night" holiday fundraiser.

Photos from Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, NY. Photography by John Koegel

With the  holiday season in full swing, many of the area theatres are featuring Christmas performances. 
This week Jim Santella and Anthony Chase offer reviews of few of the special holiday shows, including It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play wrapping up this weekend at the The Kavinoky Theatre in Buffalo. The Holiday Guys continues on stage at MusicalFare Theatre, starring Jeffry Denman and Marc Kudisch, and Eyewitness News weather man Mike Randall continues his holiday tradition as Charles Dickens Presents: A Christmas Carol.

Photo from O'Connell and Company's Website

A local theatre company is featuring a holiday celebration --  Once Upon a Celtic Christmas -- continues at the O'Connell and Company Theatre at ECC's North Campus through this Sunday. 

WBFO'S Eileen Buckley met in studio with the theatre's artistic and executive director Mary Kate O'Connell.  She says her holiday performances are a blend of music, song, dance and stories mixed with Irish traditions.

You can find out more about the holiday performance at O'Connell and Company's Website at

WBFO'S Theatre Talk guys discuss the Addam's Family, a comedy musical now on stage at Shea's Performing Arts Center in Buffalo.

Check out Jim Santella and Anthony Chase as they chat about local theatre, exclusively on WBFO!

At 85-years-old, pianist Boyd Lee Dunlop has been playing music locally nearly all of his life, but only now is he releasing his first album -- and the debut project is getting national attention. The idea for a cd came after a meeting between Dunlop and photographer Brendan Bannon, who was on assignment at the nursing facility where Dunlop lives. WBFO's Chris Jamele went to see Dunlop as well, to learn about the recording and the pianist's decades-long career. Though Dunlop's voice has weakened through the years, his music has grown only stronger. 

WBFO News file photo

The Erie County Legislature approved the 2012 County budget and it restores funding to many smaller cultural and arts agencies.

The spending plan restores more than $900,000 to smaller arts organizations, including area theatres, galleries and other cultural organizations.  Funding to those groups had been cut by outgoing Erie County Executive Chris Collins in favor of dedicating resources to what he had identified as 10 regionally significant organizations.  

Photos by Erica L. Eichelkraut

For years --- vacant storefronts line the 500-block of Main Street leaving a section of downtown Buffalo looking abandoned.  But as WBFO'S Eileen Buckley reports,  thanks to a local artists -- things are looking a little brighter.

Musician Al Stewart's view from the bandstand

Nov 15, 2011

Musician-photographer Al Stewart played trumpet with Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong and many other big-band greats, and documented his 60 years in show business with photos shot from his seat on the bandstand.  WBFO News contributor and WGRZ-TV senior correspondent Rich Kellman has the story.

Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1956. © 2010 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS)

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery is launching a new exhibition to celebrate a big anniversary.

The exhibition is called "The Long Curve: 150 Years of Visionary Collecting", and will feature works by dozens of artists dating back to the late 1800s, including some pieces that were deemed daring and controversial when first released.  

Gallery director Louis Grachos said the exhibition kicks off a landmark year for the history of the Gallery.

Musicalfare Theatre photo

WBFO's theatre critics, Jim Santella and Anthony Chase join us each Friday morning for a rundown of area theatre. 

This week they begin with a chat about A Class Act on stage at Musicalfare Theatre.