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David Mamet's political transformation

This article on the political transformation of playwright David Mamet, originally from London's Financial Times and reprinted on Slate, has been stirring up plenty of conversation in theater circles (and political circles) since it came out on Friday.

In it, Mamet, once a bleeding-heart and now something of a neo-con, describes his political realignment under some tough questioning from journalist John Gapper. It's well worth a read, and will help to put his plays into some context (the Jewish Repertory Theatre will mount a production of Mamet's 1972 play "The Duck Variations" next season).

--Colin Dabkowski

Mr. Big reunites at the Town Ballroom

The original Mr. Big,   featuring Billy Sheehan, reunites for a show at 7 p.m. Aug. 19 in the Town Ballroom (681 Main St.).

Tickets are $28 advance, $32 day of show and go on sale at noon June 17 through the box office, online at or charge by phone at (888) 223-6000.

For more information, visit or call 852-3900.

Elvis vs. Elvis

The bad news is, the pictures of Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Principal Bassoonist Glenn Einschlag dressed up as Elvis Presley arrived too late to put them into the paper.

The good news is, there is always The Gusto Blog.

The other day, The News ran a story I loved putting together, about two Elvises in town. One of them was Kraig Parker, who entertained a packed house at Kleinhans Music Hall on Friday in a two-hour tribute to the King. The other was Einschlag, who played a piece by Michael Daugherty called "Dead Elvis" with the Buffalo Chamber Players.

Above is Kraig Parker as Elvis.

And now what the world has been waiting for: our own Glenn Einschlag as Elvis!


Another view.


Rock on, Mr. Einschlag!

Missed the performance? You can hear and see "Dead Elvis" here, performed by a different bassoonist, also dressed as Elvis. The composer asks that the soloist in the piece dress as Elvis.

Contemporary music -- you could not make it up!

-- Mary Kunz Goldman


Baez, Madigan to perform at Kleinhans

Comedian Kathleen Madigan and music legend Joan Baez are heading to Kleinhans Music Hall.

Madigan appears at 8 p.m. Sept. 9 in the Mary Seaton Room of Kleinhans Music Hall (Symphony Circle). Tickets are $25 advance, $30 door and go on sale at 9 a.m. June 18.

Spend an evening with Baez when she performs at 8 p.m. Nov. 4 in Kleinhans Music Hall. Tickets are $35, $45, $55 and $65 VIP and go on sale at 9 a.m. June 24.

Tickets for both shows are available by calling 885-5000 or visit

A Tony Awards top-five recap

APTOPIX 2011 Tony Awards Show
Host Neil Patrick Harris performs during the 65th annual Tony Awards, Sunday, June 12, 2011 in New York. (AP Photo/Jeff Christensen)

Last night's 65th annual Tony Awards, which bestowed nine awards on Matt Stone and Trey Parker's "The Book of Mormon" and crowned the British drama "War Horse" as best play, was, to my ears and eyes, one of the most entertaining in recent memory.

It featured an almost breathless procession of excellent performances, punctuated by some lovely speeches and surprisingly on-target comic bits, all overseen by the capable and charming Neil Patrick Harris. It was, when you get down to it, exactly what an awards show ought to be: earnest but not too self-serious, glitzy but not wildly pretentious and shameless in all the right ways.

I could make a pretty long list of my favorite moments from the telecast, but for the sake of a challenge, I'm going to try to narrow it down to five. Here goes:

1. The risqué, wildly funny and oh-my-God-I-can't-believe-the-censors-allowed-this-on-primetime opening number, performed by Harris and an energetic ensemble:

2011 Tony Awards Show

(AP Photo/Jeff Christensen)

2. Nikki M. James (above), who won a Tony for featured actress in a musical, gave a wild, peripatetic and completely earnest speech, in which she compared herself to a bumblebee and actually thanked "the wind." Sadly, there is not yet a video of the speech online, but look for it. It's a speech for the ages.

3. Andrew Rannells' performance of what is probably the tamest number from "Book of Mormon" made me want to see the show even more than I did before the Tonys. Which I didn't quite believe was possible.

4. Sutton Foster's performance of the title song from the ongoing revival of "Anything Goes" (which won for best revival), was lovely. (But still not as good as this performance of the same song, from the opening sequence of "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," despite the fact that it features the dismal Kate Capshaw.).

5. Neil Patrick Harris' final wrap-up rap, written on the spot by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Tommy Kail:

--Colin Dabkowski

Minnelli tops fall lineup at Seneca Casinos

Liza Minnelli, Gordon Lightfoot, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Soul Asylum, the Zombies and Starship are among the fall concerts announced for the Seneca Casinos.

The legendary Minnelli will perform at 8 p.m. Sept. 30 in the Seneca Niagara Events Center in Niagara Falls. Tickets for the show start at $55 and go on sale at noon July 11.

Canadian folk-artist Lightfoot will perform at 8 p.m. Sept. 10 in the Seneca Allegany Events Center in Salamanca. Tickets start at $25 and go on sale at noon June 24.

A second show has been added at 3 p.m. July 16 for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy in the Bear's Den at the Seneca Niagara Casino. Tickets starting at $35 are currently available.

Three new concerts at the Bear's Den are Soul Asylum at 8 p.m. Sept. 2 (tickets start at $55 and go on sale at noon July 1), English rockers the Zombies at 8 p.m. Sept. 10 (tickets start at $50 and go on sale at noon July 13) and Starship with lead vocalist Mickey Thomas, at 8 p.m. Sept. 24 (tickets start at $50 and go on sale at noon July 18).

All tickets are available through the casino store, online at or charge by phone at (800) 745-3000.

For more information, visit or


Catherine Linder Spencer and Polly Little at Indigo gallery

Dual exhibitions of work by local painter Polly Little and photographer Catherine Linder Spencer will open tonight in Allentown's Indigo art gallery, a compact art space on a busy stretch of Allen Street. Spencer will show a series of photographs take in the late 1970s in Mali, while Little will exhibit paintings of animals. Here are a pair of images from the show:

Linder Spencer - Au Coeur Du Mali

A photograph from Catherine Linder Spencer's series "Au Couer Du Mali."

Polly Little - Oasis

"Oasis," a painting by Polly Little.

--Colin Dabkowski

Miers on Music live chat at noon

Thursday Theater Roundup

The local section of this week's Thursday Theater Roundup is a bit light, as we await the openings of Kaleidoscope Theatre Productions' "Black Comedy" and a Sunday night production of "Not Not Not Not Not Enough Oxygen" by Caryl Churchill in the Irish Classical Theatre Company's Andrews Theatre, co-produced by Torn Space Theater. But the theater scene is certainly jumping just over the border at the Shaw Festival, where our reviewers recommend plenty of offerings (and one more to come next Friday). Take a look:

"Laughter on the 23rd Floor," through June 11 in an American Repertory Theatre of Western New York production in Buffalo East. From the review: "American Repertory Theater of WNY has a labor-of-love version of 'Laughter' at its Buffalo East home, directed skillfully by Thomas LaChiusa. There’s a great cast: Jacob Albarella, David Bondrow, Gary Darling, Ronald J. Leonardi, Sean Kelly, Lisa Dee, Andrea Andolina, the superb David Mitchell — part Brooks, part Allen, he’s neurotic, moody and hilarious — and Jeffrey Coyle, over-the-top manic in the unpredictable role of the Caesaresque Max Prince. Coyle and Mitchell, both crazed, make the night work." --Ted Hadley

At the Shaw Festival:

Gray Powell as Brick, Jim Mezon as Big Daddy and Corrine Koslo as Big Mama in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." Photo by Emily Cooper.

"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," through Oct. 23 in the Royal George Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. in a Shaw Festival production. From the review: "Jim Mezon, the actor who plays Big Daddy, imbues his character with a special mix of nasty, unbridled rage and crazed hope, the two poles between which any production of "Cat" worth its spit violently and relentlessly swing. This production, directed with a passionate sensibility and the odd flicker of restraint by Eda Holmes, allows Williams' characters to lay themselves bare without the interference of a "fresh" interpretation. The play... bastes itself in the sweat of its own melodrama until it cooks into something far greater than the sum of its ingredients." --Colin Dabkowski

Members of the Ensemble in "My Fair Lady." Photo by David Cooper.

"My Fair Lady," through Oct. 30 in the Festival Theatre in a Shaw Festival production. From the review: "Molly Smith, director of the Shaw Festival's new production, seems bent on jazzing all this up in ways we've never seen before. Much of it works very well. Benedict Campbell carries the role of the aloof, scholarly, self-centered Higgins with marvelous consistency, striding the stage in well-practiced patterns that still seem spontaneous, and singing with fine projection of both voice and emotions. Opposite him, Deborah Hay makes Eliza's gradual conversion to a faux aristocrat very convincing. She succeeds dramatically, visually and vocally, in both Cockney squalor and upper-crust elegance." --Herman Trotter

Michael Ball as Captain Shotover, Robin Evan Willis as Ellie Dunn and Patricia Hamilton as Nurse Guinness in "Heartbreak House." Photo by David Cooper.

"Heartbreak House," through Oct. 7 in the Festival Theatre in a Shaw Festival production. From the review: "In Christopher Newton's engrossing, impeccably staged production, the play's skeleton crew of eccentrics amble around their vaguely nautical environs for three hours and wax poetic on subjects ranging from the use of one's soul to our conflicting desires for pleasure and purpose. No need to get seasick at the prospect of sitting through the show, though. That Shaw's weighty themes remain so captivating across the evening is a testament both to the comic force of his writing and the talents of Newton's cast, who bring characters that might have been stodgy bores in lesser hands to scintillating life." --Colin Dabkowski


Manny Fried to be honored in California festival

Manny Fried
The late Manny Fried, during an appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

The influence of Manny Fried, the accomplished playwright, actor, teacher and union organizer who died earlier this year, extends far and wide. Through years as a professor at Buffalo State College, a lifelong career in the theater and a period of intense participation in the local labor movement, Fried collected countless acolytes and proteges.

And now, one of his former students, playwright Catherine Pelonero, has announced that she will dedicate a production of her newest play to Fried's memory as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival in Los Angeles. The show, "Another Effing Family Drama," will debut on June 16 in Hollywood's ArtWorks Theatre and feature a full-page dedication to Fried in its playbill.

Here's a statement from Pelonero, who participated Fried's playwrighting workshop in the early 1990s, about her mentor:

“Manny had a tremendous impact on me as a playwright,” Pelonero wrote. “I started off in his playwriting class in the early 1990s and we remained close even after I moved to Los Angeles. We wrote and spoke on the phone several times a year and sent each other our new work. He was my one and only playwriting mentor. I told him that once and he just chuckled. Manny was always modest to a fault.”

--Colin Dabkowski

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