Ben Siegel - The Buffalo News

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Ben Siegel


When it comes to conversations about race, the “sticks and stones” adage holds no weight. Words do matter, and they do hurt. In Greg Kalleres’s 2014 play “Honky,” we enter a discussion about race through the lens of language. It offers not an easy way through the issues — easy isn’t helpful — rather a productive, reparative one. A new production of …

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There’s a breath of fresh air on stage at MusicalFare right now. It’s a musical that’s never been seen in Western New York and one you probably have never heard of, despite it debuting off-Broadway 20 years ago. It’s called “Violet,” and in a beautiful new production from director Susan Drozd, it offers a much-needed salve. By its closing number, I felt like…

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Picture it: Buffalo. Dec. 9, 1993. I’m in sixth grade and on cloud nine. We’re rushing home from Hebrew school on a rainy Thursday night. The Janet World Tour with Tony! Toni! Toné! is just an hour away, and there’s plenty to do: drop off the carpool, rush home, down dinner, rush back out. The Aud awaits; two seats, red section. But at 6:35 p.m., the mood i…

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I think every sandwich or wrap should have a sweet spot. The perfect explosion of fillings, flavors and textures that just nails it: your perfect bite. The moment I bit into my first wrap at Rachel’s Mediterranean, I knew I had found that spot. At the Delaware Avenue location that I frequent (and at ones on McKinley and Walden), options are kept to a small though expa…

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Sometimes it’s exhausting talking about art. Sometimes, all I want to do is stand in a gallery, or sit in an auditorium, or lounge in my home, and just absorb what’s in front of me. The pontification and processing of what it means, how it was presented, what it could have done better is important to me. But there are times when the discussion gets in the way of bei…

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Like most young aspiring singers in 1992, Deborah Cox’s life was changed by “The Bodyguard.” The popular film was a success unto itself (though not a critical hit), but it was the soundtrack and lead single, “I Will Always Love You,” that turned it into a phenomenon. The album went on to become the fourth-highest selling album of all time. For Cox, the movie o…

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Educational theater can be a difficult thing to stomach. It has a more specific objective and audience in mind than most other plays do. If it’s too instructional or explanatory, it condescends. I sensed this feeling in the pit of my stomach as soon as the lights came up on “Blood at the Root,” the season opener at the Paul Robeson Theatre. The play is a co-produc…

How lucky we are to have the Brazen-Faced Varlets in our midst. The female-forward company’s scrappy productions are often performed in the back room of Rust Belt Books, a Bohemian cave of literary wonder and secondhand love. Their plays often rewrite or re-imagine classics, passing old tales off to new audiences like avid readers share their earmarked books. Their work …

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Who could forget the look on Megan Cavanagh’s face as Marla Hooch, the dowdy second-basewoman in “A League of Their Own.” Hooch wasn’t a looker, to a comical end. Her hunched posture, sullen face and indifference to fashion made for plenty of laughs, but she was a phenomenal ball player with simple, Midwestern values—a team player. Cavanagh’s performance tur…

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If you weren’t at KeyBank Center last night, someone you know was, and they won’t shut up about it. Thank Bruno Mars and his 24K Magic World Tour for that. It was a ridiculously impressive show that I’m not sure anyone in attendance was prepared for. The explosive show combined everything wholesome about a 1960s variety show, youthful about a 1990s MTV Video Mu…

Theater

Well, the rhythm is certainly going to get you. How could it not. “On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan” opened Saturday night at Shea’s with a hesitant but heartfelt production, and if does anything for you, it should make you move. That’s always been the Estefans’ gift: incredible Latin music, filling Miami clubs in the late-1970s, American…

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Next week, “Will & Grace” will return to network television after 11 years. So much has improved in that brief time for the LGBTQ community. It feels different to be gay today than it did just 10 or 15 years ago. And yet, there is so much to fix. Progress tends to be a marathon. We’re still running. This is all I could think of during a performance of Donna Ho…

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Israel Horovitz's comedy “My Old Lady,” which opened Friday night at the New Phoenix, has a charming and absorbing premise. The play opens with Jim, a middle-aged man from New York, arriving in Paris to collect on his inheritance an apartment owned by his late father. Except there he finds Mathilde—the old lady—living there. And she will continue to, contractual…

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Everything about “Killer Rack,” the new musical that opened at Alleyway Thursday night, should scare you. A stage adaptation of a horror movie about a flat-chested woman who gets breast augmentation surgery, only to discover that her implants have the power to kill men. It shouldn’t work on the stage, even by horror-camp standards. It bills itself as a “feminist…

Theater

There isn’t a more perfect show to kick off a theater season than “The Producers.” It’s got showgirls and chorus boys, kick lines and cartwheels—it’s got sexy grandmas and prancing Nazis. What more do you need? After the riotous opening night performance at the Kavinoky Theatre, you might have needed a sedative. Three hours of exhausting laughter never felt …