Ben Siegel, The Buffalo News
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Ben Siegel

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After more than 13 years on Broadway, and three previous pit stops in Buffalo, the mega-hit musical “Wicked” has returned to Shea’s Performing Arts Center. The national tour touched down Tuesday night for a three-week stay through June 4. I’m happy to say it has never looked better. It’s hard to maintain high standards after so many years. “Wicked” has joi…

Last week, it was reported that the leader of Chechnya wants to exterminate the country's LGBT population before the beginning of Ramadan, the holy month of Islam. The week before that, we learned that gay men had already been sent to concentration camps, where they were tortured and beaten, humiliated beyond repair. Some are alleged to have been killed. How does this i…

Let me get this out of the way: “Godspell” has never resonated with me. And it’s not because I’m Jewish. The hippie-rock retelling of the Gospel of Matthew is a story like any other. I’m not prejudice to its subject matter. No, it has to do with its theatricality. The show’s parable voice employs a gestural kind of storytelling that can be fun, party-like ev…

“The Golden Girls.” “Designing Women.” “9 to 5.” “Steel Magnolias.” “The First Wives Club.” “Living Single.” “Sex and the City.” “Girls.” And better late than never, “The Cemetery Club.” I’ve never heard of Ivan Menchell’s 1990 play, nor the 1993 film adaptation starring Olympia Dukakis, Ellen Burstyn and Diane Ladd. It has nev…

Alleyway Theatre’s “Buffalo Quickies” one-act play festival is en route to becoming my favorite annual theater event. While I often take issue with the quality of work on Alleyway’s stage, whether under-rehearsed or unchallenging, “Quickies” has bloomed into quite a spring flower. Director Joyce Stilson’s curation has gotten more discerning. Not one play i…

It is hard to imagine a more perfectly timed production of a play than Torn Space Theater’s staging of Harold Pinter’s “The Collection.” It is too strange of a connection, or too perfect of one. Characteristic of Pinter’s work, it’s confrontational, unsettling, even disorienting. Time moves at its own uneven pace. Comedy and drama turn on each other like foe…

There are plenty of things to say about Ariana Grande that have nothing to do with her music. Her breakthrough rise in 2014. The jokes about her name sounding like a Starbucks drink. The Great Donut-licking Incident of 2015. A ponytail that won't shut up. It's easy to pass her off, and maybe not entirely unwarranted. It hasn't been long enough to gauge her staying power…

I've never seen "24," the celebrated TV drama starring Kiefer Sutherland. Count me in the nation's small minority. Not my cup of tea. Sutherland the Actor has never made much of an impression on me, despite having been in some impressionable films. "Stand By Me," "The Lost Boys" and both "Young Guns" caught the rabid attention of many a budding bad boy back in the 1980s…

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but love is still in the air. For the D’Ysquith family of London, so is death. Eight of them drop dead in the hilarious musical “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.” This much is not a spoiler. Like so many great murder-mysteries, we know who the killer is, and we know why they committed their crimes. What we really want …

Leave it to David Bondrow and the Lancaster Opera House to give us something unexpected. The director’s latest production is another in a string of conceptual approaches for the typically conservative venue. Frederick Knott’s 1952 thriller “Dial ‘M’ For Murder,” now onstage through Feb. 4, remains a tame, formulaic murder-mystery for the ages, but in Bondrow…

It's especially reassuring, in these uncertain times, to be reminded that some things stay the same. This was no truer than on Saturday night as legendary vocalist Tony Bennett paid an appreciated visit to the University at UB Center for the Arts. The 90-year-old was the guest of this year's annual Ronald McDonald House holiday fundraiser concert, an always-classy affai…

It's beginning to look a lot like Kissmas. Back again for another holiday cheer session last night was Kiss 98.5's annual Kissmas Bash concert, bringing the kids' latest loves du jour to their hometown stage. Let's be real for a moment: this is a moderately painful experience for adults, and a life-affirming revelation for kids. To see your crushes in person is a rea…

You have to give the world premiere of a play credit for even waking up in the morning. Then, after some coffee, you have to hand it the news. Here it is. Larry Gray’s “Dear Lydia,” which received its first-ever performance Thursday night at Alleyway Theatre, needs a lot of work. There are structural issues, character flaws, plot holes and ultimately, too much effor…

You have to give the world premiere of a play credit for even waking up in the morning. Then, after some coffee, you have to hand it the news. Here it is.Larry Gray’s “Dear Lydia,” which received its first-ever performance Thursday night at Alleyway Theatre, needs a lot of work. There are structural issues, character flaws, plot holes and ultimately, too much effort …

Subversive Theatre’s scrappy, makeshift Manny Fried Playhouse, housed in the industrial Pierce Arrow Building, is a perfect space for Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis’s “Urinetown: The Musical.” The satirical comedy draws a living comic book rendition of a disastrous scenario being lived out around the country and world today: the privatization of public utilities and …