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Theater Roundup

The Thursday Theater Roundup is a day late this week. Apologies for the delay:

Shaun Sheley, as Hamlet, appears with Adam Rath as Laertes, in Shakespeare in Delaware Park's production of "Hamlet."

"Hamlet," through July 14 at Shakespeare in Delaware Park. ★★★

From the review: "Shaun Sheley, in his first attempt at the daunting character in Saul Elkin’s production of “Hamlet” for Shakespeare in Delaware Park, seems to have found a novel approach. His Hamlet, conceived in concert with Elkin, is an entirely pragmatic if occasionally jocular figure. He does not seem trapped in an existential crisis so much as stuck in the midst of a particularly bloody crossword puzzle, attempting to reason his way out of an entirely unreasonable situation." --Colin Dabkowski

Brian Riggs and Charmagne Chi star in the Kavinoky Theatre's production of "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change."

"I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," through July 7 in the Kavinoky Theatre. ★★★½

From the review: "Joe Demerly’s first directorial assignment for The Kavinoky is very impressive. Each skit, each song, is presented with great care . It matters little if the stellar quartet of a cast – Kelly Meg Brennan, Charmagne Chi, John Fredo, Brian Riggs – are in joyous relationships or suddenly on would-be love’s downside, the vignettes, for the most part, work. A few skits begin lamely and go nowhere. These are minority minutes." --Ted Hadley


At the Shaw Festival:


"Guys and Dolls," through Nov. 3 in the Festival Theatre. ★★★½

From the review: "For this production, directed by Tadeusz Bradecki with molecular fidelity to the original material and choreographed to within a millimeter of its life by Parker Esse, the Shaw has rounded up a phenomenal cast." --Colin Dabkowski


"Major Barbara," through Oct. 19 in the Royal George Theatre. ★★★

From the review: "Director Jackie Maxwell’s production of Shaw’s long-winded but monumentally engaging play about the tug-of-war between public and corporate interests sets out to rescue Undershaft from her status as a weak protagonist all too willing to mold her ideals to the arguments of others. Alas, despite Maxwell’s laudable efforts and a remarkable performance from the magnetic Nicole Underhay in the title role, the show fails to transform Shaw’s projection screen of a protagonist into a living, breathing human." --Colin Dabkowski

Claire Julien and Julia Course star in the Shaw Festival's production of "Our Betters."

"Our Betters," through Oct. 27 in the Royal George Theatre. ★★★

From the review: "The play, which explores the efforts of newly wealthy Americans to seek ancient British titles and the status that accompanies them, is timed to exploit our culture’s renewed obsession with the roaring ’20s and the surrounding decades. The play, though a bit clunky in its conceit, is positively 'Gatsby'-esque in its attempt to uncover the emptiness of the British aristocracy and the equally vapid American climbers who try to invade it." --Colin Dabkowski

Live chat at noon: Miers on Music with The News' pop music critic

Live video chat at 1 p.m.: Critics' Corner with Simon & Miers

The Lone Ranger, Late Show style

By Bruce Andriatch

The release of "The Lone Ranger" in theaters next week was a good excuse to write a story to remind people that Buffalo native Fran Striker created the character more than 80 years ago.

Lots of people have stories about listening to The Lone Ranger on radio watching the TV show that followed.

But of all the stories out there, none is better than this one, which Jay Thomas retells David Letterman every year as some kind of odd "Late Show" holiday tradition.

(Having Thomas throw a football at the Christmas tree is an equally odd tradition, unrelated to the Lone Ranger.



BPO packs Bidwell Parkway

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By Mary Kunz Goldman

What a wonderful concert the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra gave Tuesday night on Bidwell Parkway. (Masterful photo above taken by The Author.)

There were people as far as the eye could see! And no parking within miles.

At the end of the concert everyone was yelling for an encore, and so the Associate Conductor Matthew Kraemer and the orchestra launched into Sousa's "The Stars and Stripes Forever." Kraemer turned toward the crowd, clapping. He abandoned the podium. The orchestra was going solo. Everyone in the huge crowd was clapping and that is quite a feeling, as if you are turning the calendar back 100 years.

Other highlights included a brassy "Hoe Down," the Aaron Copland masterpiece made into a crossover hit by Emerson, Lake and Palmer. And Copland's "Simple Gifts." And John Williams' music for "Superman." 

Kraemer was entertaining and free with his opinions, pointing out that the music to the new "Superman" is nothing next to the music in the old movie. Tell 'em, Maestro! 

However he could have pointed out that the old "Superman" theme was totally ripped off from Richard Strauss' "Death and Transfiguration." I keep waiting for someone to call John Williams on that and nobody does. 

Young scholarship-winning trumpeter Aaron Schuman stepped into the spotlight as soloist in the Trumpet Concerto of Alexander Arutunian. Schuman, who hails from Kenmore West High School, is a marvelous young player of that difficult instrument. He exhibited no nerves, up there on stage in front of hundreds and hundreds of people. That is more than half the battle. That is 90 percent of the battle, being comfortable in front of a crowd.

View a gallery here.

Jack Drummer, 1935-2013

Painter Jack Drummer outside his Connecticut Street studio. Photo by John Massier.

This morning, I read the sad news on Facebook that Jack Drummer, the abstract expressionist painter whose gritty and dark work can be found in the collections of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Burchfield Penney Art Center and Whitney Museum of American Art, died Monday night at the age of 78.

I lived across the street from Jack's studio and residence on Connecticut Street for two years, and I'd often see him sitting outside on his stoop, reading the newspaper or chatting with neighborhood characters. I was lucky enough to meet him a few times, and to peek into his studio, which was heated by a wood stove and filled with dozens of dusty canvases.

Above is a 2010 portrait of Drummer by Hallwalls curator John Massier (who had no idea who he was photographing at the time) that seems to me the perfect embodiment of who Drummer was: Someone who turned his back on the official art scene and lived in his own world, a world in which only his own inscrutable rules applied. An obituary will run in tomorrow's paper, but for now, suffice it to say that Drummer was a singular figure in this or any art community, a fiercely individual artist who projected his demons onto canvases made of rubber and grit and did not care a whit what anyone thought of the result. He will be dearly missed.

--Colin Dabkowski

Buffalo performer Aneya Marie on 'America's Got Talent' tonight

Buffalo-based artist Aneya Marie performs on 'America's Got Talent.'

Tune in to NBC's "America's Got Talent" tonight to catch a performance from Buffalo-based artist Aneya Marie. According to a release from NBC, Marie "turns a traditional form of performance art on its head, and hopes that her act will be as well received in America as it is in Europe." The show, featuring judges Howie Mandell, Mel B, Heidi Klum and Howard Stern, airs at 9 p.m.

--Colin Dabkowsk

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis come to First Niagara Center

With current hits "Thrift Shop" and "Can't Hold Us" having garnered in excess of of 400 million views on YouTube, and tickets for its recently announced Fall tour already selling out in record time in the UK, rap/pop outfit Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are the "it" artists of the moment.

Today, promoter Live Nation announced that  Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (with guests Talib Kweli and Big K.R.I.T.) will arrive for a show at First Niagara Center at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9.

Tickets are $35, $39.50 and $45 and go on sale at 10 a.m. June 28 (Friday) through the box office, online at or charge by phone at (888) 223-6000.

For more information, visit and


Live chat at noon: Miers on Music with The News' pop music critic

Tangential Readings Series continues tonight at Rust Belt Books

Tangential Readings, the open format, poetry, prose, and spoken word performance series hosted by George Georgakis, continues tonight from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Rust Belt Books, 202 Allen St.  Admission is $2, and complimentary beverages and light refreshments will be available.

 The series, which is recorded and available for streaming for Think Twice Online Radio (, generally takes place on the fourth Thursday of every month at Rust Belt Books, when the back room of the store is available.

--R.D. Pohl
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