After every Wednesday night performance (excluding Opening Nights), our actors stick around to hear what you have to say and answer your questions. Come have fun with this lively back-and-forth talk!
On select Wednesdays, we host a panel discussion after the show with local experts who discuss the show and its pertinent themes. Please join us in this interesting and valuable community conversation.
On select Wednesdays, we feature a special evening with an actor, director or choreographer who speak about themselves and their professions.
MUSICALFARE'S T3 SERIES PRESENTS:
NICE WORK, IF YOU CAN GET IT
A BEHIND-THE-SCENES LOOK AT THE PRODUCTION OF 'SWONDERFUL
DATE/TIME: Wednesday, May 1st after the show – at approximately 9pm
On Wednesday evening, May 1st, MusicalFare Theatre will hold a TALK WITH evening which is part of their T3 Series (see end of press release for details).
Join us for a TALK WITH the creative people who have made MusicalFare’s production of ‘SWONDERFUL possible: from classic dance moves to high-tech screen projections; from multiple vignettes to numerous costume changes; from 165 lighting cues to five decades of hair styles!
The evening will be moderated by MusicalFare Theatre Artistic/Executive Director, Randall Kramer and panelists include the artistic staff of ‘SWONDERFUL:
- Michael Walline and Doug Weyand – co-director/choreographers
- Chris Cavanagh – lighting, sound and projection designer/stage manager
- Kari Drozd – costume designer
- Susan Drozd – hair, wig and makeup designer
- Ben Puglisi – assistant stage manager
The discussion is FREE, the evening is relaxed and audience members are encouraged to participate in the dialogue!
Tickets to the performance of ‘SWONDERFUL that evening can be purchased by calling the box office at 716-839-8540 or by ordering online at www.musicalfare.com .
MusicalFare Theatre’s T3 SERIES presents:
TALK ABOUT: “Find the One Song…”
DATE/TIME: Wednesday, January 13, 2013
TIME: Following the performance of RENT at approximately 9:30pm
As part of MusicalFare Theatre’s T3 Series (see information page below) and in connection with MusicalFare’s current production of RENT, MusicalFare presents “Find the One Song”. The event is an informative and engaging Talk About what compels artists, the journey to becoming a musician, cultivating community, and the tension between creativity and marketability.
The Talk About panelists include:
Members of The Albrights, Local band and frequent featured
musicians/actors at MusicalFare
Randall Kramer, Artistic/Executive Director, MusicalFare Theatre
The panel discussion is FREE; tickets to the performance of RENT that evening can be purchased by calling the Theatre box office at 716-839-8540 or by ordering online at www.musicalfare.com.
After the panel discussion, The Albrights will play a brief set in the theatre lobby!
MusicalFare Theatre’sT3 Series Presents:
TALK ABOUT: "LET US BEGIN WITH THE PRIMARY CAUSE OF THINGS..."
DATE/TIME: Wednesday, November 28, 2012
TIME: Following the performance of 33 VARIATIONS at approximately 9:30pm
As part of MusicalFare Theatre’s T3 Series (see information page below) and in connection with MusicalFare’s current production of 33 VARIATIONS, MusicalFare presents “Let Us Begin With the Primary Cause of Things”. The event is an informative and engaging Talk About what motivates people, obsessive quests and transfiguration, the genius of Beethoven, and facing our own mortality – all in one evening!
The Talk About panelists include:
Paul Ferington, Staff Conductor, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
Paul Kochmanski, Psychology Department, Daemen College
Randall Kramer, Artistic/Executive Director, MusicalFare Theatre
The panel discussion is FREE; tickets to the performance of 33 VARIATIONS that evening can be purchased by calling the Theatre box office at 716-839-8540 or by ordering online at www.musicalfare.com.
MusicalFare Theatre’s Talk About series is funded in part by the New York Council for the Humanities.
Paul Ferington, hailed as a “distinguished local Guest Conductor” by the Buffalo News, is in his 27th year as a member of the Conducting staff of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. During this time, he has conducted the Philharmonic in over 435 concerts at 65 varied locations around Western New York, Northern Pennsylvania, Southern Ontario, and at Kleinhans Music Hall.
A graduate in Orchestral Conducting from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, he was a conducting student of Max Rudolph, Robert Shaw, Erich Kunzel, and Thomas Schippers. He has been a guest conductor and recital accompanist nationally and internationally, and has served as coach/accompanist for opera legends as Kathleen Battle, Barbara Daniels, and Tom Fox, as well as pianist for conductors Yehudi Menuhin, Erich Kunzel, Robert Shaw, Julius Rudel, James Levine, and Cincinnati May Festival Chorus.
Maestro Ferington also completed a distinguished career as a college professor and administrator, receiving not only the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, but also the OperaBuffs of Western New York Educator of the Year Award. For the 2005-2006 Orchestra season Maestro Ferington inaugurated the Philharmonic’s highly successful concert preview lectures for adults, now known as BPOvation Lectures, partnered with the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library. In addition to his BPO conducting and lecturing responsibilities, Maestro Ferington is an adjunct Music Faculty member in the Music Department at Buffalo State College teaching his on-line course Music & Political Action, as well as serving as Conductor/Music Director for the new college/community Buffalo State College Philharmonia Orchestra. Maestro Ferington also serves as a presenter & facilitator for the Druminar - Team Building Experience headed by the BPO’s principal percussionist Mark Hodges.
Paul G. Kochmanski was born and raised in Buffalo. He has his BA in Biology from Buffalo State College and his MA in Psychology from Xavier University in Cincinnati. He worked as a psychotherapist for 11 years, doing individual, group, and family therapy with a broad clientele in a wide range of settings, including hospice. For the past 14 years, he has been working in higher education as an instructor of psychology, a copy editor for textbook publishers, a natural science tutor, and an academic advisor. One of his current positions is as Adjunct Instructor of Psychology at Daemen College. He satisfies his love of theatre through ushering at Irish Classical, Alleyway, and Jewish Repertory Theatres.
DOES HAIR STILL MATTER?
MusicalFare’s Talk About the continued social relevance of HAIR drew a large crowd of interested and interesting participants: from generationally diverse and engaged audience members, to the thoughtful, scholarly personae of the show’s director, Chris Kelly, and Daemen College professor, Peter Siedlecki, to the young, impassioned cast arrayed on stage in colorful bell bottoms, peace symbols, dashiki shirts and ‘long beautiful hair’, making the relatively recent, albeit now 45-year old past, palpably present.
The discourse was both focused, with conversation–prompting questions from the evening’s moderator, Theatre Development Director, Nell Mohn, and freely spread across the ages, drawing together the uncanny wisdom of Thomas Jefferson: “A country without revolution every 20 years grows very flaccid” and, two hundred years later, Abbie Hoffman’s, “Revolution for the hell of it”.
In discussing how he dealt in his own artistic preparations with the question of whether HAIR would stand up today, Chris Kelly spoke to being struck by one of the show’s central themes: the business of fighting war, especially at the very individual, human level: “Regardless of whether you agree with the cause or not – Viet Nam or war in general -- the show makes you stop and think about how a soldier puts his or her life on the line.” A woman in the audience responded movingly with gratitude for the fact that her four brothers had missed the draft, but that she became well versed in suffering and loss by attending the funerals of other young men not so lucky.
Dr. Siedlecki described his own personal experiences in the 1960s in Buffalo, his involvement in student uprisings at the University and his meaningful conversation over a couple of beers with Abbie Hoffman, who was pointedly offended by HAIR, believing that the show’s creators reduced a critical moment in America’s history to a mélange of circumstances, thereby trivializing very serious matters. Siedlecki both reminded and educated all present of the hard fought, often life-endangering efforts of groups like the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, Students for a Democratic Society and the Chicago 7.
Some cast members candidly disagreed with Mr. Hoffman’s assessment of HAIR, attesting to the powerful impact their involvement in MusicalFare’s production has had on their own lives; how it helped waken them to the importance of knowing what is going on “outside our own little bubble”, to understanding their lives in the context of a world that includes multiple wars in faraway places; to looking at nature differently and how they treat other people.
One young actor stated that HAIR has made him question whether our society hasn’t taken steps backwards since the 1960s, if we haven’t grown even more conservative as a nation, less willing to face a variety of truths about human nature and more comfortable being fed a sanitized, safe view of ‘reality’ sold by government and the media. This sentiment echoed exactly the perspective of Oskar Eustis, the Artistic Director of New York City’s Public Theatre who helped lead the revival of HAIR in recent years and who said to audiences in 2008: “A lot has changed since 1968. They don’t let us take pictures of the dead boys anymore. Now we have kind of a double perspective, because we realize in how many ways those dreams did not come to fruition in 1967 and 1968. To me, [the current production of HAIR] is more tragic and beautiful than the original.” Dr. Siedlecki piggy-backed onto this point by articulating the way in which theatre can serve as an effective social tool: whether it’s street theatre, like ‘levitating’ the Pentagon during the Viet Nam war years, or professional theatre that shows up hypocrisy in its many manifestations: political, military, cultural, etc.
Several audience members spoke openly about how the show reminded them of the sense of impending doom they felt five decades ago, the fear of the atomic bomb and global annihilation. Audience and actors alike dialogued candidly and respectfully about the reasons today’s youth sign up to fight in the absence of conscription. One young person lamented the lack of political awareness and community involvement of her peers. But another person in the audience drew attention to how the use of today’s technologies – i.e. social networking, smart phones, video-cams, laptops – helped make possible the democratic uprisings during the “Mediterranean Spring” and the real time, ‘un-Mediated’ chronicling of the Occupy movements.
As one person expressed in closing: “The issue is the future of our planet and the choice is ours. We either continue down the path of further insanity, or we use what we’ve learned from the 1960s, with all our modern advances since then, plus our continuing capacity as human beings to do good, and hopefully we will end up with one great big love-in.”
MusicalFare’s production of AVENUE Q set new records for the theatre, playing to 5,837 people and at 99% capacity for its six-week regular run and the extension into a seventh week. The show’s unique combination of actors with puppets, cutting edge humor, frank treatment of social and cultural issues, and sensitive presentation of themes relevant to all ages helped draw in new audiences, including a younger demographic. After the show on February 16th, at our TALK ABOUT, session in the MusicalFare T3 Series, , some of those themes were addressed by panelists Colin Dabkowski (Art Critic, The Buffalo News), Adam Kreutinger (Puppet Designer), Doug Weyand (AVENUE Q’s Director) and Randall Kramer (MusicalFare Artistic/Executive Director).
One such theme is the challenge of making it in the real world fresh out of college, as sung by puppet Princeton in the number “What do you do with a B.A. in English?” Ironically, the show’s director, Doug Weyand, has a B.A. in English—after trying and deciding against 3 other majors in college -- but has worked in retail, at a brokerage firm and in teaching before settling into arts administration as MusicalFare’s Production Coordinator and Marketing Director, while also keeping his hands directly in the theatre art form through acting, directing and choreographing. Art critic Colin Dabkowski could also identify with Princeton having received a degree in magazine journalism and Spanish, which was “a recipe for disaster”.
Puppeteer Adam Kreutinger has always loved art and being creative, but puppetry is relatively new for him In fact, it wasn’t until he saw the puppet character Audrey II in LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS that he realized puppetry can be an art form. At that point, he realized puppets were much more than toys for solely entertainment purposes, and he was inspired to pursue puppetry himself.
Doug agreed that “you don’t realize what will take you to a certain place”. Even though active in dance and acting as a student and once out of school, he didn’t necessarily expect to pursue full time work in theatre. While on the job, though, he also started learning stage managing and props. As his technical, creative and administrative experience broadened over time, the position of Production Manager at MusicalFare was created for him. Crediting the people he has worked with as his teachers, he stated, “it becomes something you want to do, not something you planned”.
Similarly, it had never been Colin’s goal to write about the arts and theatre. He wanted to write about issues of import in order to make a difference through positive social change. Starting out as an arts critic, he admitted that he was probably “intense” initially, but, over time, he “mellowed” and was able to find a way to help improve the community by paying attention to and focusing a spotlight on the larger cultural picture.
The Theatre’s Artistic and Executive Director, Randall Kramer, summed up the issue nicely by drawing from the show: “That’s the story of Princeton. It’s right there, under his nose to help Kate Monster make a little bit of a difference.”
In a freewheeling conversation that ranged from the elements of satire versus caricature to child labor laws in early 19th century England, from the stock market crash of the 1930s to the power of human touch, MusicalFare Theatre’s “Please, Sir, I Want Some More” panel discussion on September 29th after the performance of OLIVER! was a lively, interesting and even moving exchange between the panel of experts gathered for the event and the 50+ audience members and visitors from the general public who came to the Theatre specifically for this discussion.
The panel presentation was part of MusicalFare’s T3 Series: Talk Back, Talk About and Talk With. The T3 Series was developed to expand the import of the Theatre’s five musicals per season by offering different opportunities for public conversation with various artistic talent involved in the productions and with experts from the community.
“Please, Sir, I Want Some More” was a TALK ABOUT societal conditions in 19th century London, as portrayed by Charles Dickens in Oliver Twist, updated to both the 1930s Depression – which was the setting for this production of OLIVER!--and contemporary America, including the challenges faced when translating gritty social realism into “popular entertainment.” The evening’s panelists included: Chris Kelly, Director of OLIVER!, Dr. Peter Siedlecki, Daemen College, Dr. Ann C. Colley, Distinguished Professor, Buffalo State College and Randall Kramer, Artistic/Executive Director, MusicalFare Theatre.
Dr. Siedlecki painted a sobering portrait of Dickens’ England, recounting the story of a six-year old girl who had forgotten what the sun looked like because she worked in the mines all day. He recited reform legislation from 1832 which was designed to reduce the number of hours children age 6 to 13 could work to 48, and the number of hours that children age 13 to 18 could work down to 69 per week.
Director Chris Kelly spoke of the parallels he saw in the social conditions of Victorian England and the Great Depression of the 1930s and, therefore, his decision to set this production of OLIVER! in Dustbowl America. When asked by an audience member about the difficulty of portraying this kind of harsh reality in a musical, he attested to the daily challenge he felt in marrying pathos and humor in all aspects of the production, but especially in the music. It was exactly this challenge which inspired him to tailor the music to the heart of Dickens’ story through the use of folk or bluegrass instruments -- guitar, mandolin, fiddle-- and to subtly reframe some of the show’s tunes. Thus, for example, "Food, Glorious Food" was performed in a way that made it much more heartfelt and real than the chirpy Disney-esque show stopping number it often is.
There was spirited conversation by panelists, the audience and the actors about the vividness of Dickens’ characters in Oliver Twist and the larger-than-life portrayal many of them received in this production of the musical. Dr. Colley read from Dickens’ own words about his desire to paint his characters “in all their deformity, in all their wretchedness, in all the squalid poverty of their lives; to show them as they really are, forever sulking uneasily through the dirtiest paths of life, with the great, black, ghastly gallows clinging upon their prospect, turning them where they may.” Through such colorful characterizations, right down to individual names, like Mr. and Mrs. Sowerberry, Dickens was able to effectively satirize the political and social conditions of his day, and the actors in OLIVER! were able to create comedy through their exaggerated roles, both tickling audience funny bones while pricking their conscience.