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Arts Beat: Showtime at Buffalo State, 'Manmade Earth' on stage, 'Messiah' in concert

The Great Performances Series at SUNY Buffalo State brings two shows to the Rockwell Hall Performing Arts Center stage this weekend. Kim Waters, master of the jazz saxophone, performs at 8 p.m. Nov. 22, accompanied by his daughter keyboardist Kayla Waters. Waters is a founding member of the Sax Pack and has built his reputation on compositions that blend R&B and jazz for a new, contemporary sound.

The following night, at 8 p.m. Nov. 23, actor and comedian Jeremy Piven arrives for an evening of stand-up. In recent years, Piven's acting career has sometimes eclipsed his comedy roots, playing the agent Ari Gold in the HBO series "Entourage" and the title role in "Mr. Selfridge" on PBS.

Tickets for each show are $40, with discounts for students and seniors (buffalostatepac.org).

Also in Rockwell Hall, the Buffalo State Music Department continues its ensemble series at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 26 with a performance by the Buffalo State Jazz Ensemble. The concert is free, with no ticket required. Rick Fleming will direct the group in traditional and contemporary arrangements.

International students featured in 'Manmade Earth'

Part theater, part dance, part old-fashioned barn raising. Trying to describe the collaborative performance piece "Manmade Earth" is a little bit like nailing down sand. In truth, it is more like sand itself: An aggregate from many different places, shaped by diverse forces and, when put together, capable of creating fanciful castles, sweeping dune scapes or even glass so pure it reflects your own self as well as revealing others.

"Manmade Earth," which debuted in workshop performances at Torn Space Theater in 2018, is being presented for two weekends, beginning Nov. 24, by Torn Space Theater in the Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle (612 Fillmore Ave.). It is a joint project of Torn Space and the New York City-based 600 Highwaymen, with input from its student performers.

Those actors - many of them students from Buffalo's Lafayette International High School, are from Congo, Egypt, Malaysia, Somalia, Syria, Tanzania and the United States - have traveled with the production to residencies elsewhere in the state and performances in New York City. Onstage, they arrive separately before joining together to build a common space for themselves and the audience with such materials as ladders, buckets, wood and cardboard.

Performances are 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 23, plus 7:30 p.m. Nov. 24, 29, 30 and Dec. 1. Tickets are $30 (tornspacetheater.com).

More from students

Students in the Niagara University theater department also open a new show this week. "Anton in Show Business" is playwright Jane Martin's play-within-a-play comedy about three actresses' experiences on the stage and off. Described by NU as "A sweetly subversive exploration of the nature of American theater," the show opens at 7 p.m. Nov. 21 for six performances, with matinees Nov. 23 and 24, and concluding at 7 p.m. Nov. 25.

Performances are in the Leary Theatre (16 Vincentian Drive, on the NU campus). Tickets are $15 general, $9.99 for seniors and students (theater.niagara.edu).

Hallelujah! It takes two

That is, two performances of Handel's "Messiah" to satisfy audiences of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus. The singers will be performing the holiday classical classic at 3 p.m. Nov. 24 in Saint Mary's Swormville (6919 Transit Road, East Amherst). The second performance will be a traditional concert at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1 in Our Lady of Victoria Basilica and National Shrine (767 Ridge Road). Tickets are $25 (bpchorus.org).

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