Arts/Culture

The Hill Family

Ever optimistic actor activist Lorna C. Hill, who founded Ujima, the longest continuing running theater company in Buffalo, succumbed to cancer, while COVID-19 claimed Broadway star Nick Cordero. In other pandemic related news, Actor's Equity has schedule two shows in August in The Berkshires under very strict protocols, Spree magazine's July issue cover what's what, and Shea's has moved the touring (non-Equity, opening in Buffalo) production of TOOTSIE back? up? to December 1, 2020! Keep your season tickets!


WBFO file photo

The doors are open again on a limited basis at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown. The center opened Friday for the first time since the start of COVID-19 pandemic, doing so at 25-percent capacity. "This is about the National Comedy Center being a national-scale cultural institution that has mission-based work that is important," said Executive Director Journey Gunderson.


Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Tourist attractions are now opening, after closing for 100 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Hill family

The founder of Buffalo's Ujima Theater Company, Lorna C. Hill, died on Tuesday. WBFO's Anthony Chase enjoyed a long relationship with Hill and the two sat down for an interview on June 2nd. It turned out to be the last interview for Lorna C. Hill. A portion of that conversation aired Thursday morning as a special edition of WBFO's Theater Talk and is posted here.


The Hill Family

The local theater community is mourning the loss of one of its greatest contributors. Lorna C. Hill passed away Tuesday, just a few days after her 69th birthday. Anthony Chase, the co-host of WBFO's Theater Talk, offered this remembrance.

Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

There is good news and bad news for arts and culturals today regarding pandemic reopenings.

secondgenerationtheatre.com

Little by little, theater companies are getting better at zooming around the web, because, if it ain't online, it ain't. Period. The Antonyo Awards honoring black Broadway actors, etc. can still be seen. Visit Playbill.com for Mart Crowley's THE MEN FROM THE BOYS, tonight at 7 p.m., a sequel to THE BOYS IN THE BAND. Also tonight, at 8 p.m., "That's Shawbiz" features various Shawfest actors with very slick use of Zoom technology. On Sunday, at 7 p.m., SGT will offer PAGE TO STAGE: MISCAST where a number of favorite


Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center

Local artists have painted a new Black Lives Matter mural meant to spark conversation about racial inequality. 

Dudney Joseph on Instagram

The show can't go on (it's not just venue concerns, but rehearsals, tech, etc.), yet the fundraising must! Second Generation Theatre has elected to damn the coronavirus and go full speed ahead with a virtual version of  "Page to Stage: Miscast" in which some of Buffalo's most talented performers tackle material that is entirely inappropriate for them, online on Sunday, June 28, 2020 at 7 p.m. For online entertainment, Broadway Black's inaugural Antonyo Awards airs tonight, June 19, at 7 p.m.

Monique Carboni in Playbill.com

June is Pride Month and while COVID-19 may have curtailed the parade, Playbill.com/PridePlays announces a performance of Donja R. Love's "one in two" (about being HIV Positive, Black, and Queer) tonight at 7pm. Watch, then vote before midnight for the first ever "Antonyo Awards" (the "just for fun" presentations will be on Juneteenth) which promise to be "hilarious, uplifting, and unapoligetically black." Then read "We See You, White American Theater."


Facebook

As the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic continue to affect all in Western New York, the news regarding flattening of the curve, the number of hospitalizations and fatalities has been hopeful and given us reason to be cautiously optimistic. That optimism extends to the film industry in Western New York, as Buffalo Niagara Film Commissioner Tim Clark explains to WBFO’s Pat Feldballe.

Sara Kurlwich in The New York Times

Playwright (THE NORMAL HEART), novelist, in-your-face AIDS activist Larry Kramer, described as "one of America's most valuable troublemakers" passed away last week. During the 1980s he criticized Ronald Reagan, Dr. Anthony Fauci (they later became friends), as well as gay culture and behavior. He was a major influence on Tony Kushner to write ANGELS IN AMERICA. In other AIDS related news


Shakespeare in Delaware Park Facebook page

Shakespeare in Delaware Park announced the cancellation of its entire summer season.  Online is where the action is and SIDP has one of the busiest Facebook pages. Visit here for their 30th anniversary online celebration (CHANGED TO Saturday 5/30) and Road Less Traveled to hear a podcast with Anthony and Peter Palmisano. Tonight (Friday) you can go to BroadwayCares.org/Chita at 8pm to see some legendary performers.


Live music returns, just pull up your vehicle

May 27, 2020
Aaron Winters

Perhaps the vehicle to lead us out of the coronavirus pandemic will be our cars. The car. In which we are hermetically sealed. Unless we roll down the windows, which is bound to happen as summer arrives. One thing COVID-19 cannot stop.

Alleyway.com

"Changing... it keeps changing" wrote Sondheim and it's now official. Neal Radice and his wife Joyce Stilson have handed over the venerable 40 year old Alleyway Theatre (over 150 productions to date not including 29 years of "Buffalo Quickies") to the next generation although "Buffalo Quickies" continue live on YouTube for the next two Sunday mornings at 11am.  We also note the passing of Joey Giambra and Lori McDonald, two longtime Buffalo theater notables. 


TornSpaceTheater.com

Torn Space Theater is adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic. "We can't have the same large-scale performances that we're used to," said Artistic Director Dan Shanahan. Starting this Friday and running through  May 31, Torn Space presents an online "personal-performance piece" called "Passage." Assembled by sound designer Justin Rowland, the production is intended for solitary listening.

Avery Schneider / WBFO News

The Artie Awards (Buffalo's version of Broadway's Tony Awards) are important in recognizing outstanding work, but if theater people are anything, they are are people who need people. Yet, because of schedules the WNED|WBFO Artie Awards is the one night of the year when everybody can party. And if they can't kiss-kiss, hug-hug, squeeze one more into a selfie, then we'll wait until they can! 


When Jerry Stiller told his father he wanted to become an actor, his father offered an alternate plan. He said, "Why don't you be a stagehand — that's like being on the stage — at least you'll be working every night," Stiller told Fresh Air in 1993.

Updated at 7:13 p.m. ET

Little Richard, the self-described "king and queen" of rock and roll and an outsize influence on everyone from David Bowie to Prince, died Saturday in Tullahoma, Tenn. He was 87 years old.

Bill Sobel, a lawyer for Little Richard, tells NPR that the cause of death was bone cancer. Rolling Stone was the first to report on Little Richard's death.

Marc J. Franklin in Playbill.com

And the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for drama goes to.... a musical! (the 10th in Pulitzer history) A STRANGE LOOP, by  Michael R. Jackson, about a black, queer writer working as an usher writing a musical about a black, queer writer working as an usher writing a musical about (see above). While most spring and summer theater workshops and programs remain cancelled, a rich resource for parents is Playbill.com's "Online Resources for kids and families to get you through COVID-19" including Disney and Lincoln Center activities.


Broadwayworld.com

Last week Shakespeare in Delaware Park's first show was cancelled then Antoni Cimolino cancelled the entire Stratford (Shakespeare) Festival. Shawfest is rehearsing via Zoom and may have some shows later in the summer. The good news is that suddenly major Chita Rivera level stars are available to collaborate online, for example at Stephen Sondheim's 90th Birthday tribute ("The Ladies Who Lunch" from COMPANY begins at 1:58:34.)  The 12th annual August Wilson Monologue Competition National Finals will be held online May 2–3. 

Dawne Hoeg

With Western New York still in the grasp of the coronavirus pandemic, a newly-resettled refugee family is getting into the spirit of the City of Good Neighbors. For Buffalo Toronto Public Media’s Making Buffalo Home initiative, WBFO’s Kyle Mackie reports on how an Afghan couple sparked a business venture that’s making face masks and generating income for refugee women.


WBFO Photo/Rich Kellman

Volunteers from Amherst Helping Hands are handing out homemade face masks at the Islamic Society of Niagara Frontier 's Masjid An-Noor mosque at 745 Heim Road in Getzville.

Alleyway.com

Anthony recalls a time when, as a high schooler, Broadway was a bit out of reach, so he read everything he could about the theater. Now, when theaters are dark, he finds reading a comfort. Even though social distancing rules might be relaxed by summer, so much work takes place long before opening night that Shakespeare in Delaware Park can't just "flip a switch" on June 18 and put on a show. Sadly, AS YOU LIKE IT has been canceled. Meanwhile, the Alleyway Theatre's "Buffalo Quickies" air live Sunday mornings at 11am on YouTube.


In their tiny apartment just outside Minneapolis, Sarah Alfaham directs her husband Mohamed Ahmed to hold up the gold curtains she picked up at Walmart.

She takes a look.

"I like it," she says.

With thumbtacks, string and dowels, Alfaham fashions a canopy in the corner of their living room with a homemade navy blue and gold "Ramadan Mubarak" sign underneath. On the floor is a prayer rug.

"It's just really creating a mosque feel inside your house in a sense. I don't know how else to do it," she says with a laugh.

MGM publicity still, Public Domain, courtesy of Wikipedia

In the 5th week of social distancing, electronic media is becoming a bigger part of our lives as we try to stay connected and entertained or both. This Sunday at 11 a.m., the Alleyway Theater will have a socially distant but live theatrical event via YouTube. And with no theaters to attend, Anthony has discovered, or re-discovered, binge-watching streamed television shows and is delighted to see how many follow the 19th century model, proposed by Eugene Scribe, of "the well made play." 


Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Who: Ani DiFranco

Where: New Orleans, La.

Recommendation: Staying informed and immersing yourself in activity

File photo

It's spring in Ontario's Niagara-on-the-Lake, usually a time when the flow of tourist buses increases, hotel reservations flow and the performers of the Shaw Festival move quickly between rehearsals and the first preview performances of the 2020 season. Except, they aren't, with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

hhcinstitute.org

This is a tough time for organizations raising money for projects like the $10 million Hispanic Heritage Cultural Institute. 

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