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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 producer …

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-meaning Am…

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 new…

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 producer …

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, questio…

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 Michael Mor…

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 not to belie…

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 didn’t need. Charlie Br…

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 …

It’s hard to make art about art. Or maybe it’s just hard to make it look good. No, maybe it’s too easy to make. Maybe,it’s just a bad idea. I don’t know.Neil LaBute’s “The Shape of Things” is a sometimes profound, often ludicrous, consistently conceited riff on the subject of being a subject. LaBute’s heralded play debuted in 2001, written at that precious time just before…

Buffalo

There always was something undeniably evocative of Samuel Beckett in the Charles Schulz comic strip “Peanuts,” which featured the world-weary young Charlie Brown casting about for meaning in a circumscribed universe that usually offered only disappointment. So it’s not a big surprise that a playwright took Schulz’s work – which is only superficially kid-friendly but goes f…

Lancaster

It’s tempting to think of film-to-stage adaptations, such as “Beauty and the Beast,” “Sister Act” or “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” as recent phenomena. Broadway history, though, offers plenty of examples that far predate the current Disney-driven movie musical craze. Take “Promises, Promises,” the Broadway show based on the 1960 film “The Apartment,” which brought toge…

Theater

As inspiration for a children’s book, the cataclysmic events of World War I might seem an unlikely source.But by the early 1980s, the scars of the conflict had faded enough to invite a new wave of contemplation from European artists and writers eager to instill the lessons of the war in a new generation. Among them was the British novelist Michael Morpurgo, who turned his …

Theater

Matthew LaChiusa’s acting company, American Repertory Theatre of WNY, once peripatetic, has settled into what it hopes to be a permanent home, Buffalo’s iconic Church of the Ascension. So far, it has produced shows in the nave, a meeting space with a small proscenium stage and has recently redone a basement space called Art in a Box.A short, original play by Buffalo playwr…