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Tonight's performance of 'Porgy and Bess' canceled

Shea's Performing Arts Center has announced that this evening's performance of "Porgy and Bess" has been canceled. Tickets for tonight's performance may be used for any of the remaining shows, for which there are many seats still available, according to Shea's.

Here's the tweet from Shea's:

--Colin Dabkowski

Thursday Theater Roundup: 'Stones in his Pockets' opens; 'Branches from the Same Tree' closes

The Thursday Theater Roundup features currently running productions that received three or more stars from our reviewers. Here are this week's picks:


Christopher Evans and Kevin Craig star in the Irish Classical Theatre Company's production of "Stones in His Pockets." 

"Branches from the Same Tree," through March 9 in the Paul Robeson Theatre. ★★★

"Stones in his Pockets," through March 23 in the Irish Classical Theatre Company's Andrews Theatre. ★★★½

Quoted: Vincent O'Neill on keeping a theater company afloat

Irish Classical Theatre Company co-founder Vincent O'Neill gives a reading in 2004. Photo by Robert Kirkham / The Buffalo News

Earlier this afternoon I had a chat with Irish Classical Theatre Company co-founder and artistic director Vincent O'Neill for an upcoming column about the theater's tight-knit group of volunteers and board members. During our conversation, O'Neill talked about the need for theater companies such as his constantly reinvent themselves and to produce new ideas for fundraising, artistic collaboration and other necessary survival strategies.

It's tempting to think of companies like ICTC, which have been around for decades, as able to coast on the reputation and goodwill they've built up through hundreds of productions and years of audience-building. But the reality is much trickier.

Here's what O'Neill had to say:

The problem is that if you sit on your hands, you’re dead... Every year there’s going to be something new, whether it’s the international playwriting competition or it’s the Irish tour or this that or the other, you’ve got to keep reinventing. And if you don’t, you just die. It’s just the nature of the business. You’re never there. You’re never established. You’re never comfortable and if we slack off at all, we immediately suffer.

--Colin Dabkowski

Quoted: Suzan-Lori Parks on 'Porgy and Bess'

Parks hi res (credit Stepha

The touring revival of "Porgy and Bess" opens in Shea's a week from today. Its book was adapted from the original opera by Suzan-Lori Parks, who, along with director Diane Paulus, came under considerable criticism for retooling what many consider to be one of the greatest American works of art in the 20th century.

In my interview with the Pulitzer-winning playwright late last year, she explained her philosophy behind why it made sense to to correct some of the parts of the opera she and many of its critics considered to be "less than accurate." Here are her thoughts:

It would be as if, maybe, as if somebody wrote a musical about say, I don’t know, pick a group, Jewish folks who live on the Lower East side of Manhattan, you know? And they weren’t really, really, really in the community and they got some things less than accurate. And so the [Gershwin] estate was asking that we just improve it -- or not improve it, that’s kind of a harsh word -- but make it something that everybody can enjoy. And I’ve gotta say, the proof is in the play, because I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of people from actors in the show to people in the street stop me in the street and say: 'You know, I always loved the music, but I couldn’t stand the story. And now I love both.' People of all races and creeds are loving it, the whole thing, now.

--Colin Dabkowski

Daemen to host forum on culture in WNY


"Patricia," an oil painting by Gary Wolfe, will be on view during Daemen College's "Culture Now" event.

On Wednesday, Daemen College will host a day dedicated to exploring the role of art and culture in the region's civic life. The event, called "Culture Now," gets started at 3 p.m. with a staged reading of the play "Who Returned My Soul" by Kelly Brock, based on a Holocaust survivor's testimonies.

At 6 p.m., the college will host "Art, Wellness, Community," a community forum featuring Jackie Albarella, Dana Jenkins, Mary Kozub, Gary Wolfe and Ted Pietrzak. Topics will include the involvement of arts and culture in veterans' affairs, cancer treatment, Alzheimer's patients and the homeless population.

The event is free and open to the public.

--Colin Dabkowski

Tom Dudzick will return home to direct 'Over the Tavern' at the Kav

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Buffalo-born playwright Tom Dudzick on the set of "Hail Mary" in 2004. Buffalo News file photo.

Tom Dudzick, the Buffalo-born playwright whose "Over the Tavern" series captured the imaginations of thousands of Western New Yorkers in the mid-'90s and early-2000s, will return home in September to direct his most popular play at the Kavinoky Theatre.

Last year, Dudzick directedhit production of his play "Miracle on South Division Street" at the Kav, a move that evidently endeared the theater and its audience -- as if it could possibly be endeared any more -- to the playwright's Buffalo-tinged dialogue and working-class humor. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Studio Arena premiere of the play, an autobiographical look at the travails of a family living above a tavern on the city's East Side.


Bonnie Jean Taylor and Ellen Horst, right, in Tom Dudzick's "Miracle on South Division Street."

The play and its two sequels have since become part of the city's theatrical fabric and even its national identity, popping up frequently in community theaters and regional theaters across the United States.

The opening date has not yet been set, but the play will likely fall into the Kavinoky's Curtain Up! slot during the second week of September. In an email, Dudzick said that Ellen Horst -- the de facto star of "Miracle on South Division Street" -- has been cast in the role of Sister Clarissa, originally brought to life on the Studio Arena stage by Jeanne Cairns. The rest of the roles will be cast after auditions in April.

"How often does this happen to a playwright?" Dudzick said in an email Monday morning. "I get to tell the story of MY childhood in MY city, and it'll be performed by people who live here and understand. It doesn't get much more personal than that!"

--Colin Dabkowski


Thursday Theater Roundup: Final weekend for 'To the Top' and 'Dai'

The Thursday Theater Roundup features currently running shows that received three or more stars from our reviewers. Here are this week's picks:

"To the Top," through March 1 in Alleyway Theatre. ★★★½

"Dai," through March 2 in the Maxine and Robert Seller Theatre in a Jewish Repertory Theatre production. ★★★★

"Branches from the Same Tree," through March 9 in the Paul Robeson Theatre. ★★★

Shaw Festival offers WNY-specific ticket discounts

In an attempt to build its American audience, the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. is offering discounted tickets to many performances in April and May for Buffalo and Rochester-area residents.

The discounted tickets are $39, or $20 for students, and apply to performances of "Arms and the Man," "The Charity that Began at Home," "When We Are Married" and "The Philadelphia Story."

Below are the specific performances to which the discount applies. They are all preview performances with the exception of the May 11 showing of "The Charity that Began at Home":

  • Arms and The Man: April 8, 27 – 2 p.m.; April 5, 11, 12, 19, 26, May 2 – 8 p.m.
  • The Charity that Began at Home: April 26, May 2, 7, 9 – 2 p.m.; May 11 – 8 p.m.
  • When We Are Married: May 10 – 8 p.m.
  • The Philadelphia Story: May 18 – 2 p.m.; May 15, 24, 28, 30, 31 – 8 p.m.

Without delving into the Shaw Festival's labyrinthine ticket-pricing structure, here's what the discount means:

The minimum ticket price for preview shows in the Court House Theatre or the Festival Theatre is $35, while the minimum ticket price in the Royal George is $52. That means if you're going for the absolute lowest price and you're willing to sit in a bad seat, you should skip the discount offer unless the show happens to be in the Royal George.

However, the $39 price applies to the festival's more expensive "blue level" tickets. So if you're free for one of the performances and don't want to shell out for decent seats, the offer is a good deal. (You can also pay $10 to upgrade to "gold level" seats, which normally go for anywhere from $62 to $98, depending on the performance.)

Shaw Fest public relations coordinator Jennifer Annand suggests calling the box office at 1-800-511-SHAW and using the discount code "13996."

--Colin Dabkowski

An intermission proposal at 'Cyrano'

"Cyrano," one of the essential plays about love, apparently moved one audiencegoer to such ecstatic heights that he decided to propose to his girlfriend at intermission during a performance on Valentine's day. Here's the video:

The show runs through Sunday.

--Colin Dabkowski

Arts Services Initiative launches cultural awards

The Arts Services Initiative of Western New York, a cross-cultural advocacy organization headed by Tod A. Kniazuk, announced today that it is lanching an annual series of cultural awards.

The new awards program is similar to the yearly honors the Arts Council in Buffalo and Erie County handed out until its demise in 2010. ASI is accepting nominations on its website for lifetime achievement, organization of the year, artist of the year, rising star, cultural supporter of the year, cultural advocate of the year, volunteer of the year and DEC program of the year. The ceremony will be on June 25 in the Hotel @ Lafayette.

Read ASI's release on the new awards program here.

--Colin Dabkowski

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