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Props for Stephen McKinley Henderson, Buffalo's August Wilson expert

Fences016 Troy & Bono
Denzel Washington and Buffalo-based actor Stephen McKinley Henderson star in the current Broadway revival of August Wilson's "Fences."

Patrick Healy has a touching profile of Buffalo-based actor Stephen McKinley Henderson in today's New York Times. Henderson, who teaches theater at the University at Buffalo, is up for a Tony Award on Sunday for best featured actor in a play for his acclaimed performance in the current Broadway revival of "Fences." He's perhaps the most seasoned interpreter of the August Wilson canon, having appeared in 16 productions of the late playwright's work.

Look for our own profile on Henderson later this week.

-Colin Dabkowski

Biennial envy: Torontonians look south

A week ago, The Toronto Star ran a piece by art critic Murray White about Toronto's long talked-about plans for a biennial exhibition that would highlight the city's many talented but under-appreciated artists. Albright-Knox Art Gallery Director Louis Grachos, who White interviewed, told me about the story at Art Alive over the weekend, reflecting happily on the fact that Buffalo's upcoming "Beyond/In Western New York" exhibition is drawing increased attention from north of the border.

This year's version of "Beyond/In" promises to be the most ambitious and wide-ranging collaborative art exhibition ever attempted in the region, and is expected to draw significant international attention, even more so than the 2007 version. In addition to scores of regional artists, it will feature such internationally known artists as Didier Pasquette, who will be walking on a tightrope across a Western New York landmark and Andy Goldsworthy, the British sculptor known for his environmentally themed pieces and earthworks. The show will also draw about a third of its participants from Toronto, hence the attention from our Canadian compadres.

Continue reading "Biennial envy: Torontonians look south" »

Review Roundup: Country, 'Cats' and Concerto Competition

Taste of Country 50

Headliner Billy Currington plays one of his many hits as the rain falls on the crowd at the WYRK's Taste of Country concert at Coca-Cola Field. Photo by Robert Kirkham / Buffalo News

There was a little of everything on the entertainment calendar last night in Buffalo. If you stayed home, here's what you missed:

WYRK's Taste of Country show -- an early-summer tradition -- packed Coca-Cola Field. News Staff Photographer Robert Kirkham has tons of great photos from throughout the show in this photo gallery. Here's what News Pop Music Critic Jeff Miers had to say in his review of the show:

The crowd on Friday was more than simply pleased with what was on offer -- it was audibly enthused by the whole gig. Whether it was opener Trailer Choir digging into its every-man’s anthem, “Rockin’ That Beer Gut,” or Rodney Atkins putting his baritone-based soul into “If You’re Going Through Hell,” Taste of Country spoke directly to its audience. The hoots and hollers came when they should have, and the button-pushing -- mostly of the patriotic variety -- met with its intended response.

More importantly, the music came damn close to astounding throughout the evening.

Today caps a busy -- and diverse -- three-day stretch at Coca-Cola Field (beginning with the minor-league finale of Stephen Strasburg) as Kiss the Summer Hello brings a packed pop lineup to the ballpark beginning at 5 p.m.

•Over at Shea's Performing Arts Center, "Cats" began its three-day run. News Arts Writer Colin Dabkowski gave the performance two and a half stars:

There is no question that this musical -- which seems to be about the fact that cats have personalities, are vaguely menacing and eventually ascend to cat heaven in a tire -- helped to turn a large portion of Broadway into the Saturday morning cartoon it is today.

But sections of this performance were, in a word, spellbinding. Not because they reached any stratospheric level of musical theatrical brilliance or even authenticity, but because its performers were so utterly committed to the material at hand. There’s a special thrill that comes from watching gifted actors and singers who, for reasons of fate but no shortage of heart and ambition, have found themselves in a national tour of “Cats.”

•Not to be outdone, Kleinhans Music Hall was busy with the conclusion of the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition, which was won by Artyom Dervoed. Look for a complete review Sunday in print editions of The News and on buffalonews.com.

From live action to the silver screen, it's worth mentioning a movie review that came in late yesterday: News Arts Editor Jeff Simon on "Killers" starring Ashton Kutcher. (The first sentence of the review describes the movie as "altogether awful.")

It's Thursday theater roundup time. Off we go:

THE EXONERATED 

The cast of "The Exonerated," which runs through June 13 in Ujima Theatre's TheatreLoft.

"The Exonerated" through June 13 in TheatreLoft, in a production by Ujima Theatre. From the review: "As strong an indictment of the American criminal justice system as has ever been produced for the stage... Ujima and director Lorna C. Hill are to be applauded for honoring this gravely important topic with a production that simply sings." --Colin Dabkowski

  • 6a00d83451b85a69e2013481429f27970c-800wi"From Door to Door" through June 6 in the Alleyway Theatre, in a production by the Jewish Repertory Theatre. From the review: "At times veering close to melodrama, or, as we call it in the old country, “shmaltz,” the play comes up balanced, and ultimately packs a rewarding emotional experience. It is satisfying not in its resolution of huge issues, but in the ongoing rhythms of life; the patterns that we encounter, maybe try to break, and frequently come full circle to inevitably embrace." --Jana Eisenberg


--Colin Dabkowski

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