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The New Phoenix Theatre, at the edge of picturesque Johnson Park, has developed a reputation for producing haunting and innovative original theater. There was Franklin LaVoie’s thoroughly bizarre “Medium Rare” in 2005, a company-wide collaboration on “Gilgamesh” in 2007 and Richard Lambert’s modern musical ghost story “Fillmore” in 2011.Now, the restless mi…

Buffalo

Go ahead. Try not to be charmed by Tom Dudzick. Let me know how far you get.I held out for maybe half an hour of his sublimely hokey “Miracle on South Division Street,” the latest page in Dudzick’s seemingly endless book of love letters to his native Buffalo, which opened Friday in the Kavinoky Theatre.Beyond that point, no plot twist was too absurd, no line of dialo…

Amherst

Let the holiday theater season begin.The first entry in this year’s spate of local yuletide productions comes from Family Life Ministries, a faith-based organization out of Bath, south of Rochester. The company will mount a dinner theater production of the musical “Gifts of the Magi,” which opens tonight and runs through Saturday in the Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church …

The New Phoenix Theatre, at the edge of picturesque Johnson Park, has developed a reputation for producing haunting and innovative original theater. There was Franklin LaVoie’s thoroughly bizarre “Medium Rare” in 2005, a company-wide collaboration on “Gilgamesh” in 2007 and Richard Lambert’s modern musical ghost story “Fillmore” in 2011.Now, the restless mi…

Art

The scene is so Buffalo it almost seems staged:On a gritty section of Seneca Street just east of Larkinville, amid boarded-up houses and tattered brick buildings that line the street like broken teeth, sits a humble shrine to the Virgin Mary. Inside the brick structure are dozens of notes and letters, mailed to its address at 847 Seneca St. or pushed through the tarnished …

Buffalo

On a recent morning in Spot Coffee on Delaware Avenue, Buffalo-born playwright Tom Dudzick sat at a wobbly table near the cafe’s hissing espresso machine and pulled out his best Jimmy Cagney impression.“What’s the secret of your success, Mr. Cohan?” Dudzick said when asked about the appeal of his latest hit, slightly misquoting from a 1942 film about the Broadway p…

Theater

Sometimes racism dresses itself up in the most sensible clothes.In Bruce Norris’ play “Clybourne Park,” which opened Friday night in 710 Main Theatre, it enters from stage left wearing a loose brown suit, red tie and 1950s-style wire-frame glasses. When it opens its smirking mouth, it pours out a stream of syllables that sound exactly like well-mannered and well-mean…

No one in Western New York is doing what David Bondrow is doing. In just a few short years, the young producer with an old soul has positioned the Lancaster Opera House, where Bondrow is artistic director, as a venue for traditionalist classics. No new concept approaches here, just solid (enough) material, an earnest attitude and some honorable talent.The opera house’s n…

Buffalo

On a recent morning in Spot Coffee on Delaware Avenue, Buffalo-born playwright Tom Dudzick sat at a wobbly table near the cafe’s hissing espresso machine and pulled out his best Jimmy Cagney impression.“What’s the secret of your success, Mr. Cohan?” Dudzick said when asked about the appeal of his latest hit, slightly misquoting from a 1942 film about the Broadway p…

A rare play by the dour and bleak Cormac McCarthy shouldn’t be missed.A case in point, a two-hander, “The Sunset Limited,” just opened at the African American Cultural Center’s Paul Robeson Theatre. Directed by Willie Judson Jr., it stars a pair of old pros, Kinzy Brown and Dennis Clary, in a 90-minute, Beckett-like verbal joust, the Bible debated, souls discussed,…

Buffalo

Sometimes a horse is not just a horse.Of course, if you’re talking about the equine protagonist of “War Horse,” the absorbing puppet-driven play that opened Tuesday in Shea’s Performing Arts Center, it can be a symbol of compassion, an unlikely agent of peace and a hulking, heaving reminder of the strength and grace to which humans can aspire.The play, based on Mic…

Buffalo

Joey’s gait, his nods and even his shudders and neighs seem so lifelike that it’s easy to forget the star of “War Horse” is a life-size puppet. One puppeteer in a harness stands under the puppet’s underbelly to operate the back legs and tail, another controls the front legs and breathing, and a third, who is standing, manipulates the head and ears.“We dare you …

Featured

Bert V. Royal, author of an “unauthorized parody” of the “Peanuts” cartoon strip by the late Charles Schulz titled “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead,” certainly won’t lose any sleep about my opinion. These days he’s laughing all the way to the bank. But “Dog Sees God” is a work that I found disposable and detestable.It’s an update we d…

Buffalo

Early one spring afternoon in 2007, Scott Behrend came home from work to find a harrowing scene playing out in his Cheektowaga neighborhood.Two black teenagers had been handcuffed in the middle of the street and were being led by police officers to a waiting cruiser. Neighbors had flowed out of their houses to watch the public procession of the teens, who had been accused …

Buffalo

Early one spring afternoon in 2007, Scott Behrend came home from work to find a harrowing scene playing out in his Cheektowaga neighborhood.Two black teenagers had been handcuffed in the middle of the street and were being led by police officers to a waiting cruiser. Neighbors had flowed out of their houses to watch the public procession of the teens, who had been accused …