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.

Dixie Longate comes up from Mobile and returns to Shea's Smith with her southern-style humor, a little biting (a la Joan Rivers) at times; the Irish (well, one actor, but when it's Bosco Hogan that's all you need) take over Canisius; and FINALLY, the American Repertory Theatre is in their new home on Amherst Street, ready for a March 10th opening night with a play by John Guare.

Buffalo History.org

On Sunday, the Buffalo History Museum will host a conversation with Western New York native and celebrated actor William Fichtner. Prior to his return, Fichtner shared some time with WBFO.


An idea that was hatched years ago by NPR to highlight independent musicians from around the country has inspired a promoter to stage an event in downtown Buffalo.

Craig Windham, a voice familiar to many NPR listeners, died unexpectedly last night of a pulmonary embolism. He was 66.

Windham was an award-winning journalist who covered presidential campaigns, hurricanes, earthquakes and the first Persian Gulf War. More recently, he focused on anchoring and reporting for NPR's Newscasts. In less than 40 seconds, Windham could explain the intricacies of a complicated bill or capture the glory of a space shuttle flying over the nation's capital.

'The Boss' rocks sold out First Niagara Center

Feb 26, 2016
Nick Lippa

"The Boss" was back, and the sold-out crowd at First Niagara Center couldn't have been more pleased that a four-decade-long music tradition continued Thursday night.

Three openings this week include THE CITY OF CONVERSATION, a play about politics by Anthony Giardina at the Kavinoky, CHILDREN OF EDEN, a musical by Stephen Schwartz at the Lancaster Opera House, and NEVER WEAR A TUBE TOP WHILE RIDING A MECHANICAL BULL, a comedy in drag starring “Dixie Longate” (of “Tupperware” fame).

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Canisius College hosted a civil and human rights leader at its annual Black History Month celebration in downtown Buffalo today. Former NAACP president Benjamin Jealous was the keynote speaker at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. 

Motorists on the Thruway are seeing signs near the site of the Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn in an initiative that pays tribute to an icon in African-American history.

Opening tonight, THE SHIPMENT, deals with multiculturalism and cultural identity while EL HAJJ MALIK concerns the life of Malcolm X. Both of these plays will appeal to audiences of BAD JEWS and FETCH CLAY, MAKE MAN. Meanwhile, LOAD MORE GUYS deals with on-line gay hook-ups, a topic in the news recently.

WBFO file photo

You might say that late local music legend Lance Diamond is getting his own "way" on Elmwood Avenue.

Two plays, both running through Sunday, February 28, deal with the emotions that cultural identity stirs up, as well as culture versus stereotypes. BAD JEWS presented by Jewish Repertory Theatre, directed by Steve Vaughan, asks questions about Jewish identity while FETCH CLAY, MAKE MAN presented by Paul Robeson Theatre, directed by Laverne Clay, presents a late-in-life friendship between boxer Muhammad Ali and Hollywood actor Steppin' Fetchit.

On this first week of Black History Month, the bureau that promotes tourism locally is looking to stress the importance of Buffalo’s African American heritage.

Just as three plays close this weekend - Irish Classical's ALL MY SONS, Subversive Theatre's  KEELY AND DU, and Second Generation's VANYA AND SONIA AND MASH AND SPIKE - we have four openings - Theatre in the Mist's ALICE IN WONDERLAND, Paul Robeson's FETCH CLAY, MAKE MAN, Theatre of Youth's NUMBER THE STARS and Jewish Rep's BAD JEWS, about a family argument over who's more worthy of a family heirloom.

Changes to state law lifting distillers' spirits

Feb 3, 2016
Wendy Guild Swearingen

You may have noticed more and more distilleries opening in recent years in the Buffalo area. One reason is a recent change in state law that's allowed local distillers to run more lucrative operations. WBFO contributor Wendy Guild Swearingen, an editor with Buffalo Spree magazine, visited some local distilleries to learn about some of the unique spirits being concocted in the Queen City.


With all the interest in the revitalization of downtown Buffalo, home of "THE theater district," we sometimes forget about great theater in the suburbs, including Lancaster, where a family drama inspired by Chekhov is at the Lancaster Opera House.

WBFO file photo by Eileen Buckley

Buffalo's premier ballet company is about to make a major announcement.  WBFO's Eileen Buckley has learned that Neglia Ballet Artists is preparing a big change for its long-time ballet company and conservatory. The announcement will be made Thursday evening at the Tri-Main Building.

North Delta Duo Facebook page

The North Delta Duo is a new Buffalo Blues ensemble, headed to this week’s International Blues Challenge. WBFO Blues host Pat Feldballe talked with them about their upcoming journey and the music they make.

PIPPIN, the story of the knight in search of meaning and truth, comes to Shea's on Tuesday, January 26 and runs through Sunday, January 31. After the Buffalo tour, the great Priscilla Lopez (from the original A CHORUS LINE) will leave the show. Also on stage, John Rubinstein, the original Pippin, now takes on the role of King Charles (Charlemagne). So it's a chance to see "Broadway Royalty" but only for six days.

Theater (and movie) goers were saddened to hear of the passing of Brian Bedford, 80, a staple of Stratford; William Needles, the iron man of Canadian theater, 97; and Alan Rickman, 69, star of Broadway and Hollywood (Die Hard, Harry Potter).

David Bowie, An Icon Who Wrote Anthems For The Alienated

Jan 11, 2016

Legendary rock musician David Bowie, who influenced generations of musicians and fans, died on Sunday, two days after his 69th birthday.

For the holidays, Manhattan sparkles and Broadway adds extra shows. In Buffalo, theaters go dark for two to three weeks. But, starting tonight, live theater is back with the openings of END OF THE RAINBOW at the Kavinoky and OF MICE AND MEN at the Lancaster Opera House.

Photo from the Chautauqua Institution website

The president of the Chautauqua Institution has announced that he will be retiring at the end of this year. Thomas Becker issued a letter outlying his decision to leave.

Why go to New York City for a Broadway show? Production values are the highest, you might see the "original" cast, and you might catch a star.


Mike Desmond/wbfo news

The celebration of Kwanzaa is in full swing. Monday is day three, know as Ujima or collective work and responsibility.


While Christmas in New York City is a time to add performances to the schedule, here in Western New York theaters shut down for the Christmas holiday. And so, locally, with the exception of IT WAS A WONDERFUL LIFE, this is your last weekend in 2015 to take in a Buffalo show.

Poinsettias a perfect plant for the holidays

Dec 16, 2015
Elizabeth Licata

When you think of holiday plants this time of year, a few things probably come to mind: holly, mistletoe and poinsettias. Buffalo Spree editor-in-chief Elizabeth Licata, a WBFO contributor, visited Mischler's Florist and Greenhouses in Williamsville to learn more about the decorative plant, a favorite of many during the Christmas season.

Anthony Conte
WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Anthony Conte, the president of Shea's Performing Arts Center in Buffalo, has announced his retirement.

A fixture in the Buffalo theater community, Michael Hake was the music director for dozens of productions and trouper that he was, wrapped up a performance of Musicalfare's PAGEANT and then passed away very quickly a few hours later from heart complications, surrounded by friends. He will be missed.

If you're a longtime listener of WBFO, you may remember the Heart & Soul commentaries of writer Christina Abt. Once a month, Christina joined us with essays -- some of them very personal, others commenting on the news of the day. She also wrote essays for the Hamburg Sun. Christina has compiled these essays into a new book titled, Heart & Soul: The Best Years of My Op-Ed Life.

A number of plays and musicals were held over during Thanksgiving week so audiences have one final opportunity to see, for example, NORA at Torn Space Theatre, STOMPIN' AT THE SAVOY at the Paul Robeson Theatre, or BOTH YOUR HOUSES at the Kavinoky Theatre, all discussed on this week's Theater Talk.

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