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New Kids on the Block to play First Niagara Center

Saying they're doing it "in the spirit of Valentine's Day," the New Kids on the Block today announced they've added a concert in Buffalo and a couple other cities to their Package Tour this summer. The Kids, with guests 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men, come to First Niagara Center. Aug. 2. Tickets go on sale Saturday, Feb. 23, at 10 a.m.

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Thursday Theater Roundup

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The cast of Road less Traveled Productions' "Circle Mirror Transformation" on the stage of 710 Main Theatre. Photo by Jim Bush.

"Circle Mirror Transformation," through Feb. 17 in 710 Main Theatre, produced by Road Less Traveled Productions. ★★★★

From the review: "So smartly constructed is this piece of laugh-driven theater -- a fast-forward glimpse into a six-week acting class in a small Vermont town -- that moments with absolutely no right to be funny on their own manage to produce irrepressible outbursts of laughter. And this production, because it has been so extraordinarily well executed by Road Less Traveled Productions co-founder Scott Behrend and his gifted cast of five, amplifies those laughs to deafening volumes." --Colin Dabkowski

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The cast of "F------ Men" at Buffalo United Artists.

"F------ Men," through Feb. 23 in Buffalo United Artists Theatre. ★★★

From the review: "For all its playful and shameless titillation, the play is a clever if not exactly boundary-breaking consideration of the ways in which gay men from a cross-section of American society connect to one another. It is based on the late-19th century play “La Ronde” by Arthur Schnitzler, a heterosexual exploration of precisely the same questions." --Colin Dabkowski

"A Night With Schwartz," through Feb. 16 in the Lecture Hall Theatre at Medaille College, produced by Kaleidoscope Theatre Productions. ★★★

From the review: "The KTP spends much time in teaching mode. It’s a labor of love, not perfect – a few lame scene and song setups, a good deal of standing around looking pensive, a clunky bit of choreography on the usually enjoyable “All for the Best,” from “Godspell” – but solo vocals are often crisp and knowing, sensitive minutes from a carefully selected cast of eight. For KTP’s first foray into an original work, “Night” is admirable. The Schwartz was definitely with them." --Ted Hadley

Theater Subversive 12

Xavier Harris and Megan Callahan appear in Subversive Theatre's production of "Angels In America: Perestroika."

"Angels in America," through Feb. 16 in Subversive Theatre's Manny Fried Playhouse. ★★½ for "Millennium Approaches" ★★★ for "Perestroika."

From the review: "The play is an immensity, overstuffed with ideas and full of as much suffering, as much love – and as many well-placed jokes – as any American play. But it’s also a deeply personal tale about a group of individuals seemingly as different from one another as it is possible for Americans to be, each one scraping and clawing his or her way toward a true identity." --Colin Dabkowski

Al Felix and Howard Wolf to read in Earth's Daughters Series tonight

Earth's Daughters magazine's Gray Hair Literary Series continues tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Hallwalls Cinema, 341 Delaware Ave.. (near Tupper St.)  with readings by poet Al Felix and prose and fiction writer Howard Wolf.

Felix, a former English teacher at Orchard Park High School, has had his writing published in a wide variety of regional and national publications.  His most recent chapbook is "Jackie Felix Remembered: Wife, Artist, Feminist," a series of poems and photographs about his wife, the prominent Buffalo painter and printmaker Jackie Felix, who died in September of 2009.

Wolf, Emeritus Professor of English at the University at Buffalo after a teaching career that spanned over five decades, is the author of over a dozen books, including two volumes of stories, “Of the Bronx and Manhattan, a Son” and “The Education of Ludwig Fried” (2006),  along with a novel, “Broadway Serenade” and a memoir “Forgive the Father: A Memoir of Changing Generations” (1978).

His most recent collection, “Far-Away Places: Lessons in Exile” (2007), is a blend of several genres, reflecting his interests in cultural criticism, short fiction, autobiographical writing in general and the generational memoir in particular, plays, and travel writing.

At the time when many of the pieces in the book were written, America was still in the throes of Cold War thinking, looking primarily at the U.S.S.R. as the world power which might disrupt the progressive path of liberal democracy.  Since then, the collapse of the Soviet Union, coupled with the predictable rise of China, India, and Pacific Rim countries as global economic and political forces, along with the less predictable rise of Islamic extremism in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan, has not so much invalidated the pieces as call attention to  the complexity of America's continuing engagement with the world.

Accordingly, each essay in the book is followed by a short bibliography, and a well-written “Re-Vision,” as the Wolf looks back on his journeys and puts them into a 21st century perspective.

He is currently working on a group of stories set in Israel, where his daughter and her family live, titled “Guide for the Perplexed Traveler.”

--R.D. Pohl

Irish Classical to mount Friel's acclaimed 'Dancing at Lughnasa'

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The Irish Classical Theatre Company, which has increasingly taken inspired holidays from the Irish classics it was founded to produce, will get back to basics Thursday with a production of Brian Friel's "Dancing at Lughnasa."

The 1990 play, last seen locally in a Studio Arena Theatre production featuring Vincent O'Neill, Chris O'Neill and Josephine Hogan in 1994, won a slew of awards, including the 1991 Olivier Award for best play and the 1992 Tony Award for best play. Constructed as a memory play, it tells the story of the five Mundy sisters and the return of a long-absent brother from a missionary trip, all ensconced in the family home in the fictional Northern Irish town of Ballybeg in the late 1930s. It's titled for a pagan harvest celebration known as Lughnasa (pronounced LOON-ah-sah), a nod to the conflicts it explores between pagan rituals and Christianity.

"We have done more plays by Brian Friel at Irish Classical than any other playwright, for a very good reason: because his writing is so fine, so beautiful and there's always a poetic undertow, it's very lyrical," said Irish Classical director and co-founder Vincent O'Neill. "And sitting in the audience is always an incredibly moving experience."

This production is directed by Derek Campbell and features Chris Kelly, Wendy Hall, Beth Donohue, Katie White, Elizabeth Oddy, Tom LaChiusa, Andrea Gollhardt and Gerry Maher. Tickets are $34 to $42, with more information at 853-4282 or at www.irishclassical.com.

In this video, Vincent O'Neill discusses the play and Chris Kelly and Gerry Maher read lines from "Dancing at Lughnasa."

— Colin Dabkowski

Mystery at the Mozarteum

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The New York Times just ran an entertaining story about various portraits of Mozart. Apparently Salzburg, where Mozart was born, has put together an exhibit of 14 portraits of him. Attached to the Times story is a gallery of a Mozart portrait slideshow, so you may view and judge.

You won't find the above picture in the gallery! It is totally spurious. But I always liked it anyway.

The Gusto Blog has explored this subject before, about how we are kind of at sea as to how Mozart looked. I like what the story's author, Daniel J. Wakin, writes: "The exhibition speaks to a yearning within the living to know the past, by knowing the face of someone whose work lives on so powerfully in our own time."

-- Mary Kunz Goldman

 

Jazz Masters at tonight's Grammies

Much too late last week to make it into this weekend's Grammy previews was this startling news from the great jazz bassist Stanley Clarke: that he, Chick Corea and Kenny Garrett would be performing a tribute to Dave Brubeck on this evening's show. If all goes without a hitch, they still won't get the amount of time that the Super Bowl, for instance, allocated to Beyonce (a third of that, if we're lucky) but it's a rarity indeed when the Grammies even try to do something right about jazz.
Enjoy.

--Jeff Simon

 

Live chat at noon: Miers on Music plus the Grammys

The idylls of the king

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It is fascinating, how they found the bones of England's King Richard III. The story is a history fan's dream.

It will be interesting to see if this discovery leads to other discoveries. Was Richard the villain portrayed in Shakespeare's "Richard III"? Or was he framed for the murder of the princes in the tower?

Whatever your opinion you may glory in the sheer beauty of the writing of G.K. Chesterton, describing this mysterious monarch. If you do not have time to read the entire passage, find a break in your day to savor the ending:

...Whatever else may have been bad or good about Richard of Gloucester, there was a touch about him which makes him truly the last of the mediaeval kings. It is expressed in the one word which he cried aloud as he struck down foe after foe in the last charge at Bosworth—treason. For him, as for the first Norman kings, treason was the same as treachery; and in this case at least it was the same as treachery. When his nobles deserted him before the battle, he did not regard it as a new political combination, but as the sin of false friends and faithless servants. Using his own voice like the trumpet of a herald, he challenged his rival to a fight as personal as that of two paladins of Charlemagne. His rival did not reply, and was not likely to reply. The modern world had begun. The call echoed unanswered down the ages; for since that day no English king has fought after that fashion. Having slain many, he was himself slain and his diminished force destroyed. So ended the war of the usurpers; and the last and most doubtful of all the usurpers, a wanderer from the Welsh marches, a knight from nowhere, found the crown of England under a bush of thorn.

Isn't that beautiful? A Buffalo priest, Father John Mack, posted a link to this passage on Facebook this morning. That last sentence, the rising and falling of the words, gives me chills. It is true: after the battle, Richard's crown was found under a thorn bush.

It is a gift to be able to put history in perspective so gracefully that it is a joy to read.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman

Replay Critics' Corner with Simon & Miers

Thursday Theater Roundup

_DSC6921
The cast of Road less Traveled Productions' "Circle Mirror Transformation" on the stage of 710 Main Theatre. Photo by Jim Bush.

"Circle Mirror Transformation," through Feb. 17 in 710 Main Theatre, produced by Road Less Traveled Productions. ★★★★

From the review: "So smartly constructed is this piece of laugh-driven theater -- a fast-forward glimpse into a six-week acting class in a small Vermont town -- that moments with absolutely no right to be funny on their own manage to produce irrepressible outbursts of laughter. And this production, because it has been so extraordinarily well executed by Road Less Traveled Productions co-founder Scott Behrend and his gifted cast of five, amplifies those laughs to deafening volumes." --Colin Dabkowski

SAXoPicture-05219314-472718039
The cast of "F------ Men" at Buffalo United Artists.

"F------ Men," through Feb. 23 in Buffalo United Artists Theatre. ★★★

From the review: "For all its playful and shameless titillation, the play is a clever if not exactly boundary-breaking consideration of the ways in which gay men from a cross-section of American society connect to one another. It is based on the late-19th century play “La Ronde” by Arthur Schnitzler, a heterosexual exploration of precisely the same questions." --Colin Dabkowski

"A Night With Schwartz," through Feb. 16 in the Lecture Hall Theatre at Medaille College, produced by Kaleidoscope Theatre Productions. ★★★

From the review: "The KTP spends much time in teaching mode. It’s a labor of love, not perfect – a few lame scene and song setups, a good deal of standing around looking pensive, a clunky bit of choreography on the usually enjoyable “All for the Best,” from “Godspell” – but solo vocals are often crisp and knowing, sensitive minutes from a carefully selected cast of eight. For KTP’s first foray into an original work, “Night” is admirable. The Schwartz was definitely with them." --Ted Hadley

Marc-Jon Filippone (Grasshopper) and Simon Blu Randle (James Henry Trotter) star in TOY's James and the Giant Peach.

"James and the Giant Peach," through Feb. 10 in the Allendale Theatre, produced by Theatre of Youth. ★★★½

From the review: "This TOY remake is a wonder in many ways: magical sets by Kenneth Shaw, full of gears and levers, see-through scrims, sea creatures on walls, a jungle-gym, a swaying, enormous peach. Victorian costumes are eye-catching, the insects colorful and detailed. TOY’s entire technical crew should take a well-deserved bow for its work – as should the agile cast." --Ted Hadley

Theater Subversive 12

Xavier Harris and Megan Callahan appear in Subversive Theatre's production of "Angels In America: Perestroika."

"Angels in America," through Feb. 16 in Subversive Theatre's Manny Fried Playhouse. ★★½ for "Millennium Approaches" ★★★ for "Perestroika."

From the review: "The play is an immensity, overstuffed with ideas and full of as much suffering, as much love – and as many well-placed jokes – as any American play. But it’s also a deeply personal tale about a group of individuals seemingly as different from one another as it is possible for Americans to be, each one scraping and clawing his or her way toward a true identity." --Colin Dabkowski

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Taylor Doherty and Kathleen Golde star in "Gruesome Playground Injuries" at Buffalo Laboratory Theatre.

"Gruesome Playground Injuries," through Feb. 9 in Buffalo Laboratory Theatre's Swan Auditorium. ★★★½

From the review: "Director [Stephen McKinley] Henderson puts Doherty and Golde through an extraordinary 70-minute, no-frills, tell-the-tale regimen. They age, change clothes and appearance – sometimes they regress and fill in some details – they spar, confide, make a point, rescind." --Ted Hadley

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