WBFO Arts & Culture Desk

WBFO's Arts & Culture Desk is funded by the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site.


When will theaters re-open? Broadway shows (including national tours at Shea's) require 100% use of capacity. Per Playbill, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that Broadway shows would reopen at that capacity beginning Sept. 14. However, without a crystal ball, the governor did not specify in his remarks exactly which shows are planning to operate on this timeline.

WNY remembers Hall of Fame Talas rocker Phil Naro

May 5, 2021
Phil Naro / Facebook

Western New York is mourning the death of legendary rocker and composer Phil Naro.

provided by the artist

The contemporary play FOXFINDER by British playwright Dawn King is available to stream from New Phoenix Theatre and is the dystopian story of paranoia and fear of an unseen enemy. Actor Rick Lattimer sees strong parallels with the Q-Anon phenomenon which fueled the paranoia which led to the January 6th storming of the U.S. Capitol.

Buffalo-based mental health advocate Karl Shallowhorn has launched a new podcast dedicated to discussing the relationship music has with mental health. He spoke with his first guest, his daughter Sarah Shallowhorn, to kick off season one of ‘Mental Health Verses’.



Back in March, with a hit show (HAND TO GOD) in his theater, Road Less Traveled Productions' Artistic and Executive Director Scott Behrend moved swiftly and decisively to shut it down due to COVID, and now, just as swiftly and decisively, has announced a full season starting on November 4, 2021.

Nick Lippa / WBFO

Buffalo’s North Park Theatre opens April 22 for the first time since November. Even if restrictions continue to be lifted, North Park Program Director Ray Barker says they will take their time returning to the maximum allowed capacity.


Parkside Luthern Church / YouTube

A Celebration of Life service has been announced for Hall of Fame "Distinguished Broadcaster" Ron Arnold. He died of complications from COVID-19 on Christmas Eve at age 87.


Shea’s Performing Arts Center Broadway Season Partner-Producer Albert Nocciolino and Shea's President Michael G. Murphy announced Shea's new Broadway season dates, starting with Disney's FROZEN on September 10. We had questions. Al Nocciolino had answers.

Max Morse for TechCrunch / Wikipedia Commons

Georgia may no longer be on their mind, but perhaps New York is.

Shea's plans to reopen in the fall at 100% capacity

Apr 14, 2021
Actors of Hamilton stand on a stage pointing at the sky.
Provided by Shea's

It’s been a long time since anyone took to the stage at Shea’s Performing Arts Center. But on Tuesday, the theater announced plans to reopen its doors in September.

Nusantara Arts

Nusantara Arts, Buffalo's first Javanese gamelan orchestra, is receiving additional funding moving forward to purchase new instruments and expand their reach. 


Anne Beatts, Buffalo native, SNL writer, dies at 74

Apr 9, 2021

Buffalo native Anne Beatts, an Emmy-winning comedy writer who helped launch “Saturday Night Live,” died Wednesday at her home in West Hollywood. She was 74.

2019 Joseph Marzullo/WENN appearing in Playbill.com

Andre De Shields is always in demand, even during Covid, but found time to talk to Theater Talk about his Buffalo connections, why playing "Hermes" in HADESTOWN was so important to him (above and beyond the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical), and how racism helped forge his personal philosophy (see below). Ever elegant, wearing bespoke (custom made) clothing even during a Zoom call, Andre De Shields answered several questions about HADESTOWN, will it be back, will it tour, and if it does, will he be in the tour?

Avery Schneider / WBFO News

The pandemic’s impact has been felt particularly hard by the live music industry, but on Thursday, a grant program meant to help venue owners opened the application process for such relief.

Irish Classical Theatre

In 2007, American social critic and novelist Joan Didion adapted her Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiography, THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING, into a Broadway play starring Vanessa Redgrave. It's a tale of love and loss of both Didion's husband and later her daughter. A one-woman show directed by Kyle LoConti starring Victoria Pérez, the play is available to stream from April 9-25, 2021. For tickets, click here.

Tom Rettig / Chautauqua Institution

When the Chautauqua Institution opens another summer season during COVID soon, there will be a major change very close to the top.

Shakespeare in Delaware Park

With one play, BEAU JEST, about to wrap up its virtual access on March 31 and another, EXQUISITE POTENTIAL, to be available through the JRT on YouTube from April 8-28, Adam Yellen is acting, he's directing, he's reaching out to talk with other JCCs, he's providing interviews with playwrights, and even when we're all back in the theaters, he sees how some lessons learned in response to the pandemic will be very usefull in years to come.

National Comedy Center

The National Comedy Center has acquired the extensive career archives of legendary comedian and actor Carl Reiner, who died in June at age 98.

The Carr Center

Losing the founder and Artistic Director of a theater company to cancer would be bad enough, but in the time of COVID-19, there has been particular pressure on the Ujima Theatre Company, Incorporated to stay in the game. Although founding member Sarah Norat-Phillips has been out of state for a few decades working in media management, she had been in constant contact with Ms. Hill and agreed to stepped in as Interim Artistic Director for Ujima, which has a number of virtual projects, including BIOP-see.

WBFO file photo

It was a year ago Monday that Erie County declared a state of emergency over COVID-19. The ensuing sickness, death and shutdowns has changed life as we knew it. Here’s a look from the WBFO staff at the lingering effects the pandemic has had on Western New York.

Photo by @Eileen Elibol WNED PBS

While on-stage roles have shut down, some theaters (including Jewish Repertory with BEAU JEST as well as Theatre of Youth with THE OUTSIDERS)  are producing shows to be viewed online. But actors of every type should consider commerical work, for example advertising, industrial videos, or movies. You probably won't get the job through the traditional audition process. Instead, a resume with professional headshot, solid resume, and perhaps a well edited video reel are what producers are looking for, according to Darleen Pickering Hummert, a pioneer agent here in Buffalo.

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.

Several arts-based groups have faced financial challenges navigating a full year of the pandemic. Starting this month, Erie County arts and cultural organizations can apply for grant funds for the 2022 calendar year.


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.

WBFO news file

How do you approach writing a modern alma mater? SUNY Buffalo State will soon find out. The college is holding a competition to rewrite the lyrics of their 60-year-old song for the 150th anniversary of the college.


Cheyenne Ketter-Franklin / The Buffalo History Museum

Construction at the Buffalo History Museum begins this week on their lower level gallery. It’s the second phase of a $2 million project that focuses on guest amenities, including new restrooms and an HVAC system.

The Kenan Center has been one of several Western New York art galleries navigating through COVID the past year. For the next month, they are opening their doors by appointment, showing works from Starlight Studio and Art Gallery, a group that supports adult artists with disabilities.



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.