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Night of Motown celebrates reborn Varsity Theatre

Buffalo's renaissance isn't happening only downtown. The Varsity Theatre is bringing a special brand of night life back to Bailey Avenue.

Built as a movie house in the 1920s, the theater hit hard times but was recently refurbished, and reopened in triumph earlier this year. Volunteers and organizers had re-done the interior and replaced the tattered seats. They uncovered the vintage ticket dispenser and popcorn machine. The theater, whose design is streamlined rather than rococo, had been given back its dignity.

The celebration continues. On Oct. 22, an event featuring Van Taylor and his many musical friends will help bring the theater to the attention of the neighborhood and of all of Buffalo.

Taylor, a member of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, is the head of Music on the Front Lines, a group that entertains the troops. He is used to masterminding spectacles. And he has a lively theme in mind for Saturday. The stage will be alive with the Sounds of Motown, an evening of music from the 1960s and '70s, featuring the Old School B-Boys and singer Melissa Kate. The Old School B-Boys have been honing their art since the 1960s, perfecting a Motown and Philly sound. They will be partnering with their crew of funk accompanists for the hits of such legends as Mary Wells, Marvin Gaye, and the Temptations. Melissa Kate, who has a history of working with Taylor, adds her own jazz and cabaret sensibilities.

The emcee will be Joyce Wilson Nixon, who also knows her way around this kind of music and has sung frequently with Taylor.

The Varsity Theatre is located at 3165 Bailey Ave. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the show runs from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 22. There is nearby parking, and valet parking is also available.  Tickets are $15 and are for sale online and at Doris Records, 286 E. Ferry St.

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