by Susan Braun

If you want to catch fine performances by two of Buffalo’s most accomplished actors, Anne Gayley and Roz Kramer, take yourselves to the Kavinoky Theatre to see them reprise the roles they played 20 years when Peter Schafer’s comedic play Lettice and Lovage was first produced. The show, which opened on Friday, April 30th, is directed by Kathleen Gaffney. Lettice Douffet (Anne Gayley) is a tour guide at an old British mansion that does not have an exciting historical past. To make up for this perceived lack, Lettice embellishes the facts with great enthusiasm until she is unceremoniously fired by Lotte Shoen, the Human Resources Manager at the British Preservation offices.

Conflicts between creativity and fact are quickly resolved as Lottie, suffering from guilt, comes to visit Lettice at her apartment. She brings information about a new job as well as a glowing letter of recommendation. Lettice invites her to “quaff” a potent English cordial which she concocts using an herb called lovage. And so begins a new friendship.

For information about tickets and show times, contact the Kavinoky Theater at either 716-881-7668 or www.kavinokytheatre.com.

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by Melissa Barrie

Jersey Boys is not just your average musical. It is the biography of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons; from their beginning as blue-collar kids on the wrong side of the tracks to becoming one of the greatest sensations in pop music history, selling 175 million records worldwide before they were 30. The show traces the rise and fall of their careers while satisfying your craving for jukebox hits such as “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Rag Doll,” “Oh What a Night” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.”

Enjoy this Tony, Grammy, and Olivier Award winning musical at Shea’s April 21st- May 9th. Ticket prices range from $22.50-$127.50 and can be obtained through Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000 or at the Shea’s Ticket Office at 650 Main Street, Buffalo, NY, 14203.

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by Susan Braun

Shea’s Performing Arts Center has just announced its 2010-11 M & T Bank Broadway Series. A quick glance at the schedule indicates that the up-coming season has something for everyone. Here’s a quick rundown.

Disney and Cameron Mackintosh kick off the season October 14-31, 2010 with a new touring production of the Tony®-award winning musical, Mary Poppins. You can learn more about the play at www.marypoppins.com

A new stage production of Dreamgirls will arrive December 14-19, 2010. This play tells the story of Effie White, Deena Jones and Lorrell Robinson, who form an R & B trio in the 1960’s known as The Dreamettes. Starting as back-up singers, the three soon find themselves front and center as musical superstars. The show alludes to the lives and careers of The Supremes and the rise of Motown Records and features hits such as “One Night Only” and “Listen.” Visit www.dreamgirlsonstage.com

Look out for Shrek the Musical to be onstage February 22-27, 2011! An ogre, a princess with a mind of her own, a donkey who talks non-stop, a nasty short-tempered guy and a cookie are just a few of the “characters” you’ll come across in this Tony® and Academy® award winning musical. (www.shrekthemusical.com)

Young Frankenstein is next onstage March 22-27, 2011. This new production is based on the Mel Brooks film of the same name and is a hilarious interpretation of the story of Dr. Frankenstein’s attempts to create a monster. The music and lyrics were written by Mel Brooks who co-wrote the play. (www.youngfrankensteinthemusical.com)

Back by popular demand, Wicked will be in town April 27—May 22, 2011. The New York Times recently named Wicked “the defining musical of the decade”. We all know the story of Dorothy and her red shoes, but did you know that long before Dorothy arrived on the scene, a girl with emerald green skin and another who is beautiful and popular met in the Land of Oz and became the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda, the Good Witch? Come see Wicked and find out how it all happened! (www.wickedthemusical.com)

It’s been more than 50 years since West Side Story opened on Broadway and yet, it is still timely today. The musical is set in 1950’s New York, against a backdrop of rivalries between 2 street gangs of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The members of the Sharks, led by Bernardo, are all first generation Americans from Puerto Rico while the Jets, led by Riff, are all from working-class families who consider themselves the “real” Americans. The story revolves around Tony, a member of the Jets, and Maria, the sister of the leader of the Sharks who meet and fall in love. Musical theater changed dramatically after West Side Story originally opened because it used a romantic story filled with memorable music and dancing to comment on social justice issues. Don’t miss West Side Story on stage June 7-12, 2011. (www.broadwaywestsidestory.com)

Season tickets for the 2010-2011 M & T Broadway Series are on sale now. For more information and to order tickets, visit www.sheas.org , stop by the Shea’s Ticket Office at 650 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14203 or call 716-847-0850.

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by Denise Drews

This past Friday I attended the opening night for the performance Yankee Tavern (playing January 8 – February 7) at the Kavinoky Theatre.

I’ve been to Kavinoky a few times in the past and truly like the atmosphere. I’ve always enjoyed their performances. Joe Demerly, the Kavinoky’s marketing director, does a great job with publicizing the shows and his introductions before a performance – he makes you feel like he truly appreciates the audience.

It is nice at times to get out and about in our theatre community to witness firsthand a live performance. It is a bonus for me to share my experience with visitors when the question is asked: Do you know anything about it?

This play is based on conspiracy theories from the 9/11 attacks on the United States. Inside the walls of a crumbling New York tavern, a young couple find themselves caught up in what might be the biggest conspiracy of all. Steven Dietz’s acclaimed dramatic thriller is a fierce, funny and ultimately mind-bending work of theatrical power that grips you until the final word. The Palm Beach Arts Paper describes it this way: “Dietz is a master of smart dialogue and wily storytelling. He draws us in with characters that intrigue, but the stories they spin can do a number on our beliefs and leave us shattered…Here’s a toast to Dietz and his play, which should work its way through the nation’s new play network with the staying power of a juicy conspiracy theory.”

The tavern setting (for which I must compliment the set designer) reminded me of my youth. My grandmother worked at a similar place on Main Street near Virginia Street in Buffalo, and as a little kid I remember assisting her with different things in the kitchen. There were customers who frequented the bar area and knew how to tell stories. The character of Ray reminded me of a few of those guys.

On the ride home after the show I ended up questioning myself on some of the theories, so that means the characters did a good job and had my attention. All and all, I enjoyed my evening.

Ticket information can be found at www.kavinokytheatre.com.

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by Melissa Barrie

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you have to hibernate – enjoy one of the many winter activities that Buffalo has to offer. My top ten include:

Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament
Held on the last weekend in February, this tournament (pictured at left) has expanded into 112 teams battling for bragging rights on the icy shores of Lake Erie at the Erie Basin Marina. This year the event also coincides with the brand new Buffalo Powder Keg Festival – a list of possible events include snow volleyball, a chili cook-off, curling, and snow soccer.

Sledding in Delaware Park
Take your sled and enjoy the winter wonderland at Delaware Park.

Ice skating at Rotary Rink
Bring your own skates and skate for free at Fountain Plaza downtown, or rent skates at $2 for children and $3 for adults.
Hours: Tuesday – Friday 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. & 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Saturdays 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Tobogganing at Chestnut Ridge
Get your wooden toboggans out and head to Chestnut Ridge Park, one of the only parks in the country with toboggan runs. They’re finally open this year after a four-year hiatus.

Tubing at Colden Tubing Company
Western New York’s largest downhill tubing park. Enjoy unlimited night tubing on Fridays 5-9pm for $15!
Hours: Friday 5:00pm – 9:00pm
Saturdays 10:00am – 9:00pm
Sundays 10:00am – 6:00pm

Skiing
With so many great ski resorts in this area to choose from, how will you make up your mind? Start here.

Snowshoeing
Enjoy the winter weather while taking a snow shoe hike. Snowshoe rentals are available during the winter at Tifft Nature Preserve and the Beaver Meadow Audobon Center.

Attend a Buffalo Sabres Game
Or a Buffalo Bandits game, or support your local college team for that matter. There are plenty to choose from – search here . Don’t forget about the NCAA Basketball Tournament here March 18th-21st!

St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Celebrate the last Sunday of winter with the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade held on Delaware Avenue. This year it falls on March 14th – more information can be found here.

Theater
If you’re not in the mood to brave the cold weather, take in a performance at one of our many local theaters.

What would your Top Ten things to do in Buffalo during the winter include?

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by Ed Healy

It’s a classic cartoon that’s been a staple of network television holiday programming for generations. Now, in the hands of Buffalo’s Road Less Traveled Theater, it’s become a delightful homage to the music of Vince Guaraldi and the whimsical vision of Charles M. Schulz.

A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Music of Vince Guaraldi is playing in Road Less Traveled’s comfortable home in the Market Arcade Film & Arts Centre in downtown Buffalo through December 13th. The show clocks in at just under an hour, but it’s a sweet and satisfying hour that’s a welcome addition to the wealth of holiday entertainment options offered by Buffalo’s cultural community.

The Road Less Traveled version of A Charlie Brown Christmas is a celebration of jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi’s classic soundtrack. Accompanied by actress Bonnie Jean Taylor’s charming interpretation of the roles of Snoopy, Lucy and Charlie Brown, a jazz trio led by pianist Julie Arlotta gives Guaraldi’s music a vibrant work-out, complemented by a charming group of student singers. Children will be engrossed and entertained by Taylor’s silent film-like personification of the cartoon characters and adults will find pianist Arlotta’s playing to be a genuine musical treat.

Road Less Traveled Theater is located in the Market Arcade Film & Arts Centre, 639 Main Street, Buffalo. Free parking can be found to the theater’s rear along Washington Street in the M&T Bank lot. Just present your parking stub at the Market Arcade concession stand and the parking gate fee of $3 will be refunded to you. For more information, visit www.roadlesstraveledproductions.org.

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by Susan Braun

If you’re looking for an evening of laughter and intrigue, may we suggest The 39 Steps currently running at the Kavinoky Theater?

Originally a book by John Buchan, and later adapted for a 1935 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, The 39 Steps is a mystery complete with a handsome hero, a beautiful spy and a chase through the countryside!

The Kavinoky Theater is the first in the nation to obtain the rights to produce this play following its run on Broadway and the national tour. And it is quite a production! The cast of 4 actors assume all of the many roles in the play, sometimes changing from one character to another seamlessly right in front of the audience by a mere change of hat!

Chris Corporandy does a masterful job in the role of Richard Hannay, the debonair leading man. Jenn Stafford shines as three “femmes fatale” including a German spy and a Scottish housewife. And David Lundy and Robert Rutland make quite the team as they play “a cast of characters” ranging from hotel owners to policemen to vaudeville actors to a married couple.

The very clever and imaginative use of simple stage props, special effects and music literally steals the show. A shadow puppet scene set in the countryside in the dark of night includes an airplane swooping down a la North by Northwest. It’s one of a number of references to other Hitchcock films. And of course, everyone knows Mr. Hitchcock makes an appearance in all of his films. Look carefully and you may find him lurking in the shadows!!

The 39 Steps will be on stage at the Kavinoky Theater until December 6th. For more information about the show and tickets, visit www.kavinokytheatre.com

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