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Buffalonians, it hardly has to be said, have an unhealthy preoccupation with past glories. We love looking back to times of relative prosperity, when shoppers crowded the aisles of AM&As and smoke from Bethlehem Steel blackened the granite facade of City Hall. Sure, maybe the smoke was carcinogenic. But the nostalgia is real. The siren call of Buffalo's past, …

Nov. 1, 1930 - June 13, 2017 A.R. "Pete" Gurney, the Buffalo-born playwright who spun stories about the city's upper class into a literary career that spanned five decades and entertained millions, died Tuesday morning at his home in New York City. He was 86. His death was confirmed by his niece Jenipher Gurney. The cause was not known. Gurney, whose dozens of pla…

What happens when a corporation values profits over the lives of its workers? That's the central question in D.W. Gregory's play "Radium Girls," which opens June 22 in the Subversive Theatre's Manny Fried Playhouse. And the answer, as theatergoers familiar with the rabble-rousing mission of this theater company might expect, is less than pretty. The show, directed …

Ruben Santiago-Hudson has come a long way from Lackawanna. His widely hailed Broadway production of August Wilson's "Jitney," which ran for 10 weeks earlier this year in a Manhattan Theatre Club production in the Samuel J. Friedman Theater, took home the award for best revival of a play during the 71st annual Tony Awards on Sunday night. Santiago-Hudson, a veteran p…

Oh, Canada! How many times, on our 100 Things journey, have we toasted our friendship with you? At KeyBank Center, we braved the raucous rivalry between the Buffalo Sabres and the Toronto Maple Leafs. We explored Toronto and Crystal Beach, Ont. And on the Miss Buffalo, we gazed up at the Peace Bridge, the stately symbol of peace between our two nations. Today we …

Four years ago this month, Second Generation Theatre lifted the curtain on their new company with a premiere production in the New Phoenix Theater. It had a superb cast, an astute directorial vision, and a crafty aesthetic that spelled magic. The show was Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s “Into The Woods,” an adult fairy tale about growing up, about children and pa…

On June 5, Buffalo's theater community gathered in the 710 Main Theatre to celebrate the annual Artie Awards. The event, created by theater writer Anthony Chase, is designed to highlight local productions of extraordinary merit and to raise money for local charities. For most of its life, the Artie Awards gala was sponsored by the alt-weekly publication Artvoice, bu…

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ont. — The Shaw Festival has a spotty record with musicals, whose vocal and physical demands have sometimes exceeded the skills of its classically trained company. But when it finds one in its wheelhouse – say "Mack and Mabel" in 2007, or its current production of "Me and My Girl" – the result can be thrilling. It certainly is in this revival…

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ont.—During the first rehearsal for the Shaw Festival’s production of “Androcles and the Lion” in March, the festival’s newly appointed artistic director addressed the cast and crew on the subject of risk. The festival’s riskiest shows, he explained, most often appear on the stage of the Court House Theatre, where his improv-driven “An…

Laughing at silly, obnoxious rich people will never get old. Noel Coward’s “Hay Fever” is one of the more famous “comedy of manners” in the canon, and nearly 100 years after its premiere, it still rings true. And while the topic of greed may feel super relevant these days, informing every joke, internet meme and editorial cartoon, it is perhaps humbling to rem…

Even here, in a corner booth at Spot Coffee, between bites of a strawberry salad, Jessica Vosk stands out. Why, though, is not immediately apparent. She is wearing a ruffled white V-neck with a thin black scarf tied around her neck. Her dark hair is pulled back under a feathered fedora that matches earthy color of the iced drink she is sipping. When I last saw Vosk, …

There’s a cute beginning to this story, and it goes like this: The Wicked Witch met the Pageant Queen, tossed a few compliments, triggered some tears, toughened her up and sent her off to win the highest crown in the land. If we embraced storybook tales, this would be true. On a recent afternoon in downtown Buffalo, with sunrays splashing into the narrow walkway th…

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ont.—The house lights stay on for much of Kevin Bennett’s production of “The Madness of George III,” Alan Bennett’s manic take on regal instability, which opened May 26 in the Shaw Festival’s Royal George Theatre. The effect at first is disconcerting -- did the lighting board operator fall asleep? Feels a bit too much like church. But so…

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ont.—Joan of Arc was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rules. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted. And that persistence, deadlier than the kind that earned Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren her infamous rebuke, led directly to Joan’s death at the stake. Four hundred …

Feb. 15, 1936 – May 22, 2017  Joan A. Calkin, an actress who played prominent roles on local stages during Buffalo’s theatrical renaissance in the 1970s and 1980s, died May 22 in Sisters Hospital St. Joseph Campus, Cheektowaga. Her family said the cause was complications from pulmonary disease. A Snyder resident, she was 81. The daughter of a Navy doctor, Joa…