Arts/Culture

National Women's Hall of Fame

The National Women’s Hall of Fame has announced the 9 women who will be inducted this fall and among them is Michelle Obama.   

Yao Kahlil Newkirk

The Paul Robeson Theatre of the African American Cultural Center at 350 Masten Ave. in Buffalo has a new Artistic Director, Yao Kahlil Newkirk, with a vision to continue offering traditional stage plays by noted black playwrights such as Lorraine Hansberry, August Wilson or Dominique Morisseau, while adding a new element of installations.

Daemen College

Radio remains an essential part of the communications spectrum, offering everything from news to education to culture. That was the message one of the founders of NPR brought to Daemen College Monday evening.

ew.com

You might think journalist and film critic Mark Harris's new best selling biography Mike Nichols: A Life could be either pedantic or Hollywood tell-all fluff. You'll find it is neither as you get pulled along reading about a director who, while you were laughing, was changing the shape of stand-up, theater, and movies. Isolated and walled-off from bad experiences as an immigrant, ultimately comedienne Elaine May's style synched so perfectly (see links below) with Nichols' that many of his rougher edges would now become comedic gold.


National Comedy Center

In its brief time in existence, the National Comedy Center in Jamestown has quickly earned a reputation for its many exhibits focused on famous comedians. Now, the center is entering a another realm with an exhibit about a comic puppet, or more specifically, a Muppet: Fozzie Bear.

@_jonathanyoung

So it's 2017. You graduate with a BFA from Baldwin Wallace College's prestigious Music Theatre program. You go to New York, do the showcase, take meetings, get an agent and then... THUD! It's COVID! Insert your platitude of choice about when the going gets tough or lemons to lemonade, then listen to Buffalo native Jonathan Young who started improving his cartoons and now is a regular content provider on MSNBC's "The Week with Joshua Johnson."

Buffalo String Works

After-school music program Buffalo String Works, who currently serves immigrants and refugees on Buffalo’s West Side, plan to expand their operations in the coming years. In an effort to raise funds, the non-profit is announcing their 2021 Spring Benefit Concert will include internationally-renowned musicians and an original composition created for the community.

  

Artie Awards

Second Generation Theatre (SGT) and Theatre of Youth (TOY) have created an interactive digital theatrical experience (parental participation required) for young patrons ages 5 to 12. ONCE UPON A TIME was written by Philip Farugia, Kelly Copps, and Amy Jakiel with some new angles on familiar fairy tale characters. The 40-minute original musical will be streamed via ZOOM February 13 to 21 from the TOY stage. As writer / Zoom stage manager Amy Jakiel explains, young viewers will learn about inner strength and becoming the heroes of their own stories during this upbeat, high energy, show.

wallofcelebrities

With a string of television credits as long as your arm, Emmy and Tony nominated Veanne Cox has played Calliope in Disney's live action Cinderella (and can still do the laugh-snort!) also has done PRIVATE LIVES at the Guthrie Theatre, and is working on a version of that play called ELYOT & AMANDA for Playhouse on Park which opens Wednesday, Feb. 10. Yes, Covid has turned everyone's world upside down, even major stars.

theatertalkbuffalo.com

Playwright Tom Dudzik remembers Buffalo actress Jeanne Hebborn Cairns who originated the role of "Sister Clarissa" in his play OVER THE TAVERN. She went on to perform it in a variety of cities and her style became iconic.

Tyrone Dukes, The New York Times

Eric Bentley (1916-2020) wrote almost a dozen books of theater criticsm, was a friend of and expert on playwright Bertolt Brecht, wrote plays, revues and songs himself, and taught at UCLA, Harvard, Columbia and UB, where he became friends of Neal Radice, now retired from the Alleyway Theatre, who shared some memories of Bentley, a self-promoter (isn't everyone in theater?) who cared deeply about his words.

sheas.org

Impresario Michael Shea, a "larger than life" character in the history of theater, opened "The Wonder Theater" on Jan. 16, 1926 (95 years ago Saturday) to bring vaudeville and Hollywood silent movies (accompanied by a mighty Wurlitzer organ) to 4,000 patrons at a time. Saved from the wrecking ball in the 1970s by concerned citizens led by Kurt Mangel and expanded later to handle large Broadway touring shows, it's constantly under renovation supervised by Doris Collins. Michael Murphy, president of Shea's Performing Arts Center, spoke with Theater Talk.

WBFO file photo

Perhaps no sector has been hurt more by the COVID-19 pandemic than the arts. During the second in a series of State of the State addresses, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a new initiative that could bring back outdoor performances, and perhaps even indoor performances. WBFO’s Tom Dinki got reaction from those in the Buffalo arts scene.

  

Jerry Seawood

The very happy Alexandria ("Alex") Watts, Co-President of ARTA (the Association of Regional Theater Artists) has graced almost every major stage in WNY as a Green Monster, a "Squirrelle," a flying bat, and a pinkie-up tea drinking Jane Austen herione ("Miss Bennet") among many others. She chats about the mission of ARTA to provide "Community, Advocacy, Education, and Opportunity" for local actors. And, of course, her laughter provides a much needed antidote to all the stresses of our times.


Buffalo Kwanzaa 2020 / Facebook

Wednesday is the fifth day of Kwanzaa, known as Nia or purpose. That’s what founder Maulana Karenga talked about Tuesday night in a satellite feed to the area’s virtual celebration.

WBFO file

For the first time in over three decades, crowds will not be gathering at Roosevelt Plaza in downtown Buffalo to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. The countdown will take place virtually, with coverage on WKBW-TV.

Nick Lippa / WBFO

What will the theater-going experience look like in a post-pandemic United States? Movie lovers across the country still don’t know. And as is the case in many locales, local screen owners in Western New York are continuing to adapt week to week.


Back in the 1980s, when many of today's performers (including Michele Ragusa!) were starting professional careers in Buffalo, Marc-Jon Filippone was a major figure, devoted to musicals, at all sorts of venues, from Ruben's Backstage on Pearl Street to the Lancaster Opera House to his own kitchen for after-show impromptu cabarets. Here Shakespeare in Delaware Park's Lisa Ludwig shares some memories, as does Paula Makar and Michael Lo Rocca.


Artist: G. Peter Jemison; Photo: Kevin Vickers

Buffalo is now home to one of the first Native American-owned art galleries in the United States and perhaps the only commercial gallery to exclusively showcase contemporary Native art.

danielmertzlufft.com

Daniel Mertzlufft graduated from Lancaster High School in 2011 and headed off to the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam intending to become a music teacher, but as things turned out, he ended up in NYC composing and then one day made a Tik Tok sendup/homage to a typical end-of-act-one Broadway musical big finish number called "The Grocery Store" and now his phone rings off the hook. And when James Cordon of The Late Late Show calls, it's a LOUD ring. More on Mertzlufft below, but don't forget your ticket(s) for tomorrow night for Artpark's TAYLOR MAC'S HOLIDAY SAUCE...PANDEMIC! in support of local Pride groups with virtual after-party hosted by Anthony Chase and Javier Bustillos in honor of local artist Ari Moore.


taylormac.org

MacArthur "Genius" Taylor Mac and world-wide friends, including Music Director Matt Ray and producers Pomegranate Arts, join together to put the fun in holiday dysfunction.  Mac promises that HOLIDAY SAUCE...PANDEMIC! blending live and recorded music, film, burlesque and "random acts of fabulousness" will reframe the songs you love and the holidays you hate. The show streams at 7 p.m. Saturday December 12 and it's also a fundraiser for Artpark (where Mac was artist in residence), the Pride Center of Western New York, and Niagara Pride Inc.

Eileen Buckley, WBFO Archive Photo, 2012

Anthony and Peter adopt an attitude of gratitude for many things, including (so far) good health, the ability to work while socially distant, and for a theater community standing up to the challenge while artistic directors reexamine their missions.  Anthony is particularly  grateful that since Hollywood mostly shut down, his sister who worked for Warner Bros. was now free to move her family to Buffalo! So these days Anthony-the-arch-critic's raised eyebrow and his Grinch-like glare have softened into a big grin.


IBDB

MYSTERY BOX, by Tom Alan Robbins, a LIVE benefit reading ONE NIGHT ONLY Saturday, November 21 at 8 p.m. to support Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, ECMC's Immunodeficiency Clinic and Alleyway's new play programming, stars Broadway's Mary Testa (3x Tony Nominee for Oklahoma!, Wicked), Wesley Taylor (Indoor Boys, Spongebob Squarepants), Dakin Matthews (Waitress, Gilmore Girls), and Helen Cespedes (Cripple of Inishmaan).  Visit Alleyway.com for details.


D'Youville College on Twitter

Big doings on Buffalo's diverse West Side on the D'Youville College campus, with a major emphasis on a health professions hub, more acting jobs in the "Simulated Patient Program," and repurposing Holy Angels Church with all sorts of promising arts ideas floated, including a second theatrical space, and the Kavinoky possibly becoming an Actors Equity house. As the college drops their old "Spartans" mascot and embraces the more appropriate "Saints" ("Never refuse to serve") two new campus residents are St. Bernard puppies, Maggie and Saint, seen in a promotional video here.


Nick Lippa / WBFO

A multimedia art installation centered around Love Canal runs through the end of November at the Burchfield Penney Art Center. ‘UNSEEN’ appeals to the senses while showcasing the lasting consequences of the toxic waste that destroyed Niagara Falls neighborhoods more than 40 years ago. Artist Chantal Calato explained to WBFO’s Nick Lippa how the work came to be.


donnahoke.com

Buffalo-based playwright Donna Hoke's work has been seen in 47 states and on five continents. And while theaters have been in lockdown now for eight months and shows are not being produced on stage, they are being written. Some are Zoom readings, others are finished solo works, some are autonomous works, such as novels or radio plays. Donna Hoke, published author of dozens of full length as well as 10-minute plays, talks about her recent activity as a playwright and blogger during the pandemic.


Alleyway.com

Chris Handley, the Alleyway Theatre's new Executive Artistic Director, along with Robyn Lee Horn, the new Managing Director, decided to drop the entrance fee to enter the annual Maxim Mazumdar new play competition and that expanded the pool with so much good material, they decided to offer a Digital Theatre Festival from November 6 through the 22nd. Visit the website for details.


Michael Mroziak, WBFO

A Western New York native who worked two decades writing and producing numerous Hollywood-based television shows is leading an effort to construct a production facility on a 27-acre plot in Buffalo's Riverbend area.

Drea D'Nur

Friday morning, Buffalo artist, singer and songwriter Drea D’Nur released her latest album This Love Thing, which is co-executive produced with Chicago songwriter, Doctor Rami Nashashibi.


Eileen Buckley, WBFO Archive Photo

While theaters are dark, theater companies are busy, including Chautauqua with a play filmed at and airing on WNED-TV (airdate: Monday, October 26, starting at 8). And airing on your device of choice will be TEA FOR THREE, filmed at the TR Inaugural site in Buffalo, about three First Ladies. Meet Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, and Betty Ford, a charming antidote to the politics of today, as explained by Mary Kate O'Connell. 


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