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The A-Maze-Ing Josh Allen @ Pick’n Patch

We all do our part to support the Buffalo Bills. From participating in boat parades to wearing our favorite Bills gear. There are those, however, that take their love of Buffalo football to an entirely different level. A monstrous level, in fact!

For 25 years, Melanie Wickham (co-owner of Pick’n Patch in Stanley, NY) and her family have been designing and building corn mazes. It all started when her sons decided that they wanted to do something fun and creative on the farm. Throughout the years, the mazes have become bigger (from 3 acres to 8 acres) and more elaborate. In 2022, as a way to celebrate 30 years in business, the Wickhams decided to pay tribute to their beloved Buffalo Bills football team.

“We’re near Geneva,” said Melanie, who was busy making donuts when I spoke with her on the phone. “There’s a huge Buffalo Bills fanbase here. Our family loves the Bills. Each year we choose a design by committee. This year, it was unanimous – Josh Allen and The Bills. We know that we’re going to the Super Bowl, and we wanted to show our support. Every year, we try to partner with a special cause or organization. This year, we called the The Patricia Allen Fund to partner with us. They said yes, and have been so supportive and gracious. It seemed like such a good fit – it’s our way of giving back to the community.”

When I asked Melanie how they designed and built the maze, she answered that it was a trade secret. “We do it all by hand [joking]. We make sure to put in a lot of trails and dead ends. The whole walk is close to three miles. We also issue passports, with ten questions that correlate to numbers throughout the maze. If someone answers a question correctly, they get sent in the correct direction (for people that want some assistance).”

Photo by John Kucko Digital

I asked Melanie if she had a memorable story about her maze experiences. She responded,” We do two night mazes a year, with outdoor movies. One year, a guy dressed as a Sheriff showed up. I thought it was a gag costume. He told me that he was there because someone had called his department (a distress call) saying that she was lost in the maze [laughing]. I thought that he was joking, but he wasn’t. We have our own ‘Corn Cops’ that flush out the maze at the end, so that this doesn’t happen… we found her of course!”

For anyone that wants to go experience the Josh Allen corn maze, they have until October 30 – it’s open every day except Tuesdays (from 1am-6pm | Last folks enter at 5pm). After that, a local farmer comes by with his combine and mows this “field of dreams” into cattle feed.

When you visit Pick’n Patch, there are all sorts of other activities and adventures to participate in, including a low ropes course, apple cannons, radar for apple throwing, targets, jumping pillows, giant slides, a train, a climbing tower, bubbles, duck races, tricycle Grand Prix, and barnyard animals. Oh, and pumpkins…

“Our stock and trade is as pumpkin farmers,” said Melanie. “And our famous donuts of course!”

Pick’n Patch | 2205 RT-5 Stanley, NY 14561 | (585) 526-6518 | Instagram

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2022 Hertel Fall Fest

Hertel is heating up this weekend, with the arrival of the annual Hertel Fall Fest. This relatively new event is being organized by the Hertel businesses, which are anticipating that this event will be well attended by the North Buffalo residential community, as well as by people from all over the region.

“I’m excited that the small businesses organized this family-friendly event,” said Delaware District council member Joel Feroleto. “This second annual Fall Fest is quickly becoming a fan favorite, thanks to the incredible mix of businesses that now populate the street. I encourage everyone to come out and support the endeavor.”

The organizers of Fall Fest stated that they are closing down Hertel Avenue, from the corner of Saranac to the corner of Norwalk, to provide a safe and festive atmosphere, with the purposes of unifying the street, and the neighborhood in a sensational seasonal setting.

“Revolution Gallery and The Lounge at Revolution Gallery are excited to be participants of Hertel Fall Fest ’22,” said Maria Pabico LaRotonda, co-owner of Revolution Gallery. “The event just happened to coincide with our opening reception for ‘MONSTROUS DREAMS‘ by internationally exhibited artist Adam Cooley (who will be at the opening!). So we decided to expand the celebration by having Matt Smith’s Nervous System and Smitten for Trash perform outside on street in front of our patio, and DJ Dr. Wisz (starting at 9pm) inside the gallery. Lots of entertainment for everyone on Hertel from 4:00pm to 9:00pm. But the fun doesn’t end there!”

Like Revolution Gallery and Lounge, so many of the Hertel businesses are doing what they can to coordinate their own programming in tandem with Fall Festival. That means double the impact, with a huge variety of events throughout the five-hour time frame. So buckle up, and enjoy this fun-for-all fall ride!

2022 Hertel Fall Fest

Saturday, October 1, 2022

4pm-9pm

Free!

See Facebook event for further details.

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Western New York Will Be in the National Spotlight by “Going Dark” | Part II

The Motion of the Celestial Spheres?

Roger Waters ends the Pink Floyd masterpiece “Dark Side of the Moon” with the words:

All that is now

All that is gone

All that’s to come

And everything under the sun is in tune

But the sun is eclipsed by the moon

If you have not heard, Western New York will be in the path of a total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024 and our friends at 97 Rock will have time to play the Eclipse song twice as darkness fills the sky for nearly four minutes except for an eerie glow from the Sun’s corona.  

Wikimedia Commons

Even though a solar eclipse involves our sun, it is not an event that takes place “when the stars align.”  Although rare, eclipses are not unexpected or nearly impossible.  The motion of the Sun and Moon in relation to the earth could be calculated by even the Ancient Greeks and Romans and eclipses could be predicted by at least 700 BCE.   But there is nothing resembling the belief of many ancient astronomers that there are concentric spheres that move around the earth as you can see in the diagram below.

A solar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Moon and Earth are in alignment.   The rays of the Sun create a full shadow (called the Umbra) and a partially shaded area (called the Penumbra).     Much of North America will experience a partial eclipse as the moon will block out only a portion of the sun from their viewing angle.  Here in Buffalo, we will gradually lose slivers of the sun beginning at 2:04 pm leading up to the full eclipse at 3:18 pm.  Starting at 3:22 pm, the sun will slowly return to our afternoon sky with the partial eclipse ending at 4:32 pm.

During an eclipse event, you need to remember one rule.  It is never safe to look directly at the Sun, even if it is partially obscured.  To view the eclipse safely, you need to wear eclipse glasses at all times if you want to look at the Sun.  Don’t think that your high-tech sunglasses will be good enough to watch the eclipse.  Eclipse glasses have special filters that block 100 percent of the infrared and ultraviolet light.  They also block almost all of the Sun’s visible light.  You won’t be moving around much because you won’t be able to see anything other than the Sun.  

Even though they have special lenses, solar glasses are an inexpensive way to save your retinas.   $10 will buy you five pairs right now on Amazon.   If you have kids, you can go old school and view the eclipse through a pin hole camera or take them to the Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium at Buff State or the Space Lab Planetarium at Williamsville North High School (hopefully, the Kellogg Observatory at the Buffalo Museum of Science will also be open for this).  Resist the urge to use a camera, binoculars or a telescope during the eclipse, even if you have your eclipse glasses on.  The lenses on these devices will intensify the Sun’s rays and damage your eyes.  

Tomorrow, we’ll explore what regional planners will be working with for our time (not) in the sun.

See Part I – Is this a Curse on Our Region?

Eclipse Timing for the Buffalo Area:

The moon’s shadow will be moving from the southwest toward the northeast.  Exact local times will vary depending on your location.

Partial eclipse begins a little after 2:00 pmTotality will begin at about 3:15 pm, depending on your locationTotality will last about 3 mins and 45 secs if you are on the centerlineThe farther you are from the centerline, the shorter totality will lastSun Altitude 45 deg & Azimuth: 226 degPartial eclipse ends at about 4:30 pmOverall eclipse duration: 2h 27m

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Shaw Festival’s world-class theater continues into October.  

With previews lasting for weeks (the better to maintain excellence, my dear) resulting in some mid to late-summer openings, it’s easy to believe that the Shaw Festival season will go on into the fall forever, but all good things must end, and, except for JUST TO GET MARRIED (which continues through October 16) all the rest of the shows in Niagara on the Lake (see below or visit here) continue only through October 8 or 9.  So, do the math.

It’s easier and more affordable than you might think.

How is it easier?  Crossing the border into Canada should soon be as easy as it was back in pre-pandemic times.  I personally found the ArriveCan app to be quite easy to fill out and use to cross the border into Canada this summer, but apparently, I’m in (or was in) a minority.  And so, Canada will lift all of its COVID-19 travel restrictions on October 1. The country will no longer require travelers to show proof of vaccination, testing, or to submit health information via Canada’s ArriveCan app.  

How is it more affordable?  The Shawfest advises “American patrons: Due to a favorable exchange rate, you may save up around 20% in US funds when purchasing using your US credit card, based on the current exchange rate.”

So far this summer, I’ve only able to see four plays at The Shaw.  I’ll mention those first (plus one reviewed by my colleague, Grant Golden), then give a quick blurb to those I had to pass on, and finally mention one more that I’m so looking forward to.  

By the way, the website shawfest.com is incredibly content rich and you can click on and read the entire playbill for each and every show as well as see production photos.  So enjoy that!

JUST TO GET MARRIED is on stage through October 16 (the only play offered in that final week). It’s a humorous 1910 play by feminist writer Cicely Hamilton, directed by Severn Thompson, at the charming Royal George Theatre at 85 Queen Street in the heart of Niagara on the Lake, surrounded by ice cream shops and other stroll-worthy venues.  In the spirit of G.B. Shaw (an iconoclast who seemed to despise most institutions), Hamilton has the family of Georgiana Vicary quite eager to marry her off.  At the age of 29, Georgiana is reluctant because she has no marketable skills and sees marriage as admitting defeat.  

My take is that if you’d like to see a play by G.B. Shaw without pages and pages of diatribes, this is your ticket.  Lots of “Shavian” sentiment but with more charm and less edge.

Runtime: 2 hours and 20 minutes including one intermission (Coffee Crisp candy bars for sale in the lobby.  Mmmmm.)

EVERYBODY, on the other hand, is only up through October 8 at the modern Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre and is directed by László Bérczes (who directed a very fine THE GLASS MENAGERIE a few years back and you can read my review here). 

EVERYBODY is another play by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins whose very clever retelling of an old melodrama became AN OCTOROON that was at Shawfest in 2017 (read my review here).

By the way, that play starred actor André Sills, who is starring this season at The Stratford Festival in two plays by Shakespeare – RICHARD III and ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL – and I can report that Mr. Sills still has that great stage presence.  But back to the Shawfest….

EVERYBODY, at the Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre, is a modern retelling of the medieval EVERYMAN morality play with what seems like a simple message: Death comes to us all.  But don’t think for a minute that this is dreary, or morbid.  However, the message is clear, as playbill commentator Jennifer Buckley writes:  EVERYBODY places “moral pressure on individual audience members here and now.  Do better, it urges us.  Be kinder.  Listen more and take less.  Admit your mistakes and apologize for them.  Grow up, for real.”

One thing that keeps this play fresh is that at every performance, the roles are handed out just before the curtain.  The cast is, on purpose, quite diverse in terms of age, gender, and racial and ethnic identities.  In other words, the cast mirrors “everybody.”  The plot is simple.  The central character is informed by Death that he or she can take a friend with him or her into death.  It sure puts some pressure on friends who claim to be “ride or die” bosom buddies.  When push comes to shove (or gravedigger’s shovel) and it’s time to shuffle off this mortal coil, “Everybody” is abandoned one by one.  Well, almost, but that would be a spoiler to tell you.

RUNTIME: 1 hour and 40 minutes without intermission

CHITRA, by the late 19th early 20th century Bengali poet, playwright, composer, philosopher, and social reformer Rabindranath Tagore, directed by Kimberley Rampersad is a short play offered as a “lunchtime” play.  All performances at the Royal George Theatre begin at 11:30 am and can be paired nicely with a lunch followed by a 2:00 pm matinee.  

Doesn’t that list including “playwright, philosopher, and social reformer” remind you of George Bernard Shaw?  This play is particularly true to Shawfest’s mission by placing an empowered female squarely in a lead role (think of SAINT JOAN, or MAJOR BARBARA, or MRS. WARREN’S PROFESSION).  Chitra is a woman who is blindly attracted to Arjuna and he to her, but it’s not true love until they drop the masks and get real with each other.  With lots of original music and dance, costumes, and special lighting, the play is rather dreamlike.  

RUNTIME: 50 minutes

TOO TRUE TO BE GOOD is by the old man himself, G.B. Shaw, and is chock-a-block with his patented rants and soapbox speeches where he upends all sorts of assumptions and pokes at the social order.  It’s very well directed and acted but is only up through October 8.  You can read my review from August of this play at the Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre here.

TOO TRUE TO BE GOOD by Bernard Shaw at the Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre is a three-act play dealing with a host of (still contemporary) issues. But it’s only up through October 8.  You can read my review from this August here.

RUNTIME: 3 hours with two (!) intermissions

GASLIGHT is at the Royal George Theatre and also only through October 8.  In his review, Buffalo Rising colleague Grant Golden wrote “This is a new adaptation of ANGEL STREET, a 1938 hit thriller by Patrick Hamilton. It’s still a period drama, but Johnna Wright and (the Shaw’s own) Patty Jamieson have endeavored to bring the piece more up to date, especially as regards the more advanced and equitable position of women in society.”  You can read Grant’s review here.

RUNTIME: Two hours with one intermission

THE SHAW FESTIVAL’S OTHER OFFERINGS THROUGH NEXT WEEKEND INCLUDE:

DAMN YANKEES, the musical, with words and music by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross and book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop.  Friends who are theater industry insiders tell me that they enjoyed this production immensely, the story of a rabid middle aged baseball fan who trades his soul to the devil so that his favorite team can win the pennant and finally beat those damn New York Yankees.  It’s at the large Festival Theatre, where Shawfest typically mounts its musicals.  Often we are offered two, but this summer, still getting around Covid, when understudies and swings are often being called upon to step in, the festival has wisely limited their exposure to just one musical.  As I mentioned, I haven’t seen it, but word of mouth is very positive.

Also at the Festival Theatre you can see THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST by Oscar Wilde but only through October 9.  This is the classic and deservedly famous and beloved drawing room comedy of mistaken identities, a genre at which the Shaw Festival traditionally excels.  If you’ve never seen this play, or have only seen an amateur performance, do yourself a favor and see what a world-class theater company can do.  

And, also at the Festival Theatre you can see THE DOCTOR’S DILEMMA by Bernard Shaw (as they call G.B. Shaw in Niagara on the Lake) but only through October 8.  The festival promotes it as follows: “One of the most popular Shaw plays we have presented in our 60 years, this exploration of medical ethics has again found its moment.  If one patient can only live at the cost of another’s life, how on earth do you choose? What is the value of a human life?”

And, finally, a play that I have been looking forward to for a while, GEM OF THE OCEAN by August Wilson, the first play in his legendary ten-play “American Century Cycle” on the African-American experience in the 20th century which is offered at The Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre only through October 9!  

GEM OF THE OCEAN at Shawfest is up only through October 9. Photo by Emily Cooper

The GEM OF THE OCEAN publicity blurb reads as follows: How can we ever come to terms with the crimes of the past?  Aunt Ester, the 285-year-old “washer of souls” at the center of this poetic masterpiece, has an answer. When a young man who is drowning in guilt comes to her door, she sends him on a quest to find the mythical City of Bones.  His spiritual journey through history takes place against the backdrop of very real events in the 1904 Pittsburgh depicted in the play. 

I noticed that seating is limited, so you might want to act sooner rather than later and catch GEM OF THE OCEAN or any of the other fine productions soon.

Lead image: Mike Nadajewski as Applegate and Kimberley Rampersad as Lola in Damn Yankees (Shaw Festival, 2022). Photo by Michael Cooper.

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Buffalo as a Stained Glass Hub

Author: SGAA Staff

On a bitterly cold day in December of 2017, a semi-truck came to a stop in Buffalo, NY. With 115-years worth of historical paperwork, magazines, and archives weighing down the axles, it was hope and unbridled tenacity that kept the boxes from collapsing in on themselves.

Just a few months earlier, in October of 2017, Megan McElfresh of Buffalo, NY had been offered the job of Executive Director of the Stained Glass Association of America (SGAA), founded in 1903. Her terms: “You’d have to move the national offices to Buffalo, NY.” The Board replied, “Go pack the truck.”

The architecture of Buffalo has a reputation all its own, but if you’re a stained glass artisan, you’ve definitely heard that the Queen City is one of the places you need to go. McElfresh calls it a “living museum” of stained glass. 

Buffalo, NY has an incredible collection of stained glass that rivals any city in the nation. Trinity Episcopal Church in Buffalo, NY is one of just three places in the country where you can study Louis C. Tiffany and John LaFarge windows side-by-side. Image courtesy of Megan McElfresh.

Buffalo has one of the best historical collections of stained glass in the country. From original windows from the height of the art nouveau movement by Louis Comfort Tiffany to intricate French grisaille and dalle de verre, Buffalo is home to a diverse selection of notable glass. SGAA headquarters at Trinity Episcopal Church contains original windows from both Louis Comfort Tiffany and John LaFarge, one of only three places in the world to do so. 

Unique, luscious details showcase the development of American Opalescent Stained Glass in the windows at Trinity Episcopal in the sanctuary just down the hallway from the new SGAA offices in Buffalo, NY.

Megan McElfresh giving a tour with Explore Buffalo at St. Joseph University Parish in Summer 2020. Image courtesy of the SGAA.

The City of Good Neighbors– with its vibrant art community, love for its people, and pride for its history— is the perfect place for the stained glass community to put down roots.

The SGAA has the distinct honor of being the only accrediting body for architectural stained glass in the United States. The organization maintains Standards and Guidelines for the Preservation of Stained (and Leaded) Glass Windows to ensure the best possible stewardship of our nation’s art glass treasures for the next generations. Today, the organization has approximately 60 Accredited Professional Studios, many of which are in their 3rd generation or more.

Having the SGAA headquarters here in Buffalo has brought to light and renewed ties to national studios and led to incredible collaborations to preserve the City’s historic glass. For instance:

At First Presbyterian on Symphony Circle, the “New Jerusalem” window was designed by Frederick Wilson, who would go on to work at The Judson Studios in Los Angeles, CA. The Judson Studios is one of the Association’s founding members and is now in its 5th generation of family ownership. David Judson was the SGAA President responsible for hiring McElfresh and led the board to agree to the move to Buffalo.In South Buffalo, the work of 4th generation SGAA Accredited member Rambusch Studio can be seen in Our Lady of Charity Parish or St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church.The 1884 interior of Delaware Ave Baptist Church was designed and executed by J&R Lamb Studios, America’s oldest continuously-run decorative arts company. J&R Lamb Studios constructed some of the country’s first opalescent stained glass windows for the Church, including the opalescent stained glass dome skylight. Today, the fourth generation descendants of the Lamb family sit on the SGAA’s Board of Directors.It was SGAA Accredited member Oakbrook Esser that carried out the restoration of the stained glass windows at The Darwin Martin House. Another SGAA member, Bovard Studio, tackled the mosaic fireplace.This fall, SGAA Accredited Studio Nzilani Glass Conservation is assisting with the conditions survey for the window restoration at Westminster Presbyterian.

McElfresh herself is a third generation artisan. When she first moved to Buffalo in 2011, McElfresh turned to her lifetime of experience in stained glass and established McElf GlassWorks as a way to funnel her experiences and energy into a professional life here in her new home city. 

Megan McElfresh speaking at the Buffalo History Museum in February 2020. Image courtesy of the Buffalo History Museum and the SGAA.

Since its move to Buffalo, Stained Glass Association of America has built partnerships with Explore Buffalo, the Buffalo History Museum, Buffalo Religious Arts Center, and other architectural organizations throughout the city. McElfresh exchanges knowledge and support with these organizations, but most importantly, she exchanges passion. A frequently heard exclamation at the end of one of McElfresh’s tours is: “I will never look at stained glass the same way again!”

McElfresh shared: “Stained glass is part of our buildings, it’s part of our atmosphere. Our work is part of the living space of an amazing city like Buffalo. It is an artform of service and generosity from the talented hands of the maker to the community that it serves.”

“Buffalo used to hear that its glory days were behind it, but it’s a vibrant city that will surprise you. The same is true of stained glass.  I hear people say that ‘Stained glass is a dying art form,’ But we have just as many studios operating at a professional level today as we’ve ever had. The new work that’s happening right now blows my mind every single day.”

Trinity Episcopal Church in Buffalo, NY | Image courtesy of Megan McElfresh.

Now, McElfresh is focused on the future: making access to stained glass education equitable and accessible to radically different emerging voices.  “I am so excited for the years ahead and what the future holds for this organization, and by extension, for our glass community here in Buffalo. There is no place the SGAA would rather be and I am so ready to celebrate that!” says McElfresh.

___

The SGAA Foundation, in partnership with the Center of Glass & Light at Trinity Church, is hosting Facet & Form: Glass Tradition Reimagined, as a celebration of our new home in Buffalo. Through stained glass demonstrations, activities, and education, attendees will leave this event rethinking everything they know about stained glass.

The Stained Glass Association of America & The Stained Glass Quarterly

371 Delaware Ave, Buffalo, NY 14202

800-438-9581 | 816-737-2090

www.stainedglass.org

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Western New York Will Be in the National Spotlight by “Going Dark”

Part I – Is this a Curse on Our Region?

Near the end of the 1972 Carly Simon hit You’re So Vain, she sings: 

Then you flew your Lear Jet up to Nova Scotia

To see the total eclipse of the sun

I never expected to see one in person, but in August 2017, I was driving my daughter on a college tour and we were driving from North Carolina State to the University of Georgia.   With the tours and interviews, we crossed our fingers that we would get there in time.  In South Carolina, we just made it into the path of the total solar eclipse and pulled over to the side of the road.  Soon we were plunged into an eerie darkness, as the path of totality of the eclipse passed overhead for a little over three minutes.   Unlike the former president, I did not look at the eclipse with the naked eye.  But we were not alone, as just about every car on the highway stopped to experience a once in a lifetime event.  

Or so I thought.  The Sun and the Moon will align again on April 8, 2024 and this time I’ll be able to see it from my backyard.  Buffalo and Western New York will be in the path of the total eclipse for just under four minutes.  And now is time to start planning for this date.

In ancient times, although many civilizations were able to predict an eclipse, they were feared by the common people.   The word eclipse comes from the Greek word meaning disappearance and the Greeks considered an eclipse to be an abandonment or punishment from the gods.   Many other cultures considered solar and lunar eclipses to be part of a mythical celestial battle.  The Chinese believed that during an eclipse, the sun (or moon) was eaten by a heavenly dragon.

Solar Eclipses also are featured in key events in the three Abrahamic religions.  In the 10 plagues of Egypt that preceded the Jewish Exodus, several theories are possible for the 9th plague, The Plague of Darkness.  One of the contenders is a solar eclipse that happened in 1223 BCE, right in the timeframe that biblical historians place these events.  In Christianity, the Gospels say that the sky darkened at the time of Jesus’s death on the cross.   In this case, two solar eclipses – one in 29 CE, lining up with the generally accepted biblical historical timeline of Jesus – another in Anno Domini 33, if you prefer to count from Jesus’s birth – coincide with the event that led to the rise of the religion that shaped European history.   In Islam, the Quran describes an eclipse that preceded the birth of the prophet Muhammad.  Researchers have been able to identify a solar eclipse in 569 CE.  

With this historical precedent, it is ironic that people now come from all over the world to experience the three to four minutes of a total eclipse (and experience shows that it has not been a curse on these locations).  The 2017 “Great American Eclipse” (named for its extremely rare coast to coast path) passed over the homes of 12 million Americans.  It was estimated that up to 7.4 million people traveled to be in the path of the total eclipse.  Cities like St. Louis and Memphis reported record tourism numbers for the eclipse and the 2024 may exceed even those as major cities like Toronto and Chicago are only hours away from joining in on the fun.  

Tomorrow, we will explore what happens during a solar eclipse.

Stay tuned at buffaloeclipse.org/science

The following organizations have been collaborating, to ensure that Buffalo is sufficiently prepared:

Buffalo Astronomical Association

Buffalo & Erie County Public Library

Buffalo Museum of Science

Penn Dixie Fossil Park & Nature Preserve

The Planetarium Association of WNY (PAWNY)

Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium

Williamsville Space Lab Planetarium

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Scajaquada: The Lost Waters

Everyone wants to know what’s going to happen with the downgrading of the Scajaquada Expressway and Scajaquada Creek. We are all aware of the possibilities and the potential. We know that different organizations and groups all have their own ideas about what it will be. Then there’s the DOT, which has its own ideas, and tends to act upon those ideas without listening to the community, or take the community’s best interest to heart.

It seems like an eternity that we have been waiting to hear constructive news pertaining to the future of this transportation corridor, which was once part of the Olmsted Park system. Delaware Park and historic neighborhoods were ripped apart to make way for the automobile. Now, there is an opportunity to mend this “scar,” if enough people (and public officials) get behind a bold plan.

But what is this scenario? And how far does it extend? What will it look like? How will it behave? Where does it all stand at the moment? Should we be excited? Should we expect business as usual?

As we patiently await all of these answers, and the ensuing plans, Alan Oberst has crafted a presentation that he feels will shed some light on the importance of the Scajaquada, and its “Lost Waters.”

“It’s part of Waterkeeper’s Scajaquada September,” said Oberst (aka Rachacha). “The talk is based on some of the research I’ve done on remaking the Scajaquada corridor over the last five years, some of which I’ve published on Buffalo Rising, especially this article. I think that readers would enjoy it, [especially those who have been asking] what’s the big picture plan for the Scajaquada?”

Scajaquada: The Lost Waters

Thursday, September 29, 2022

6pm presentation, followed by a Q&A and discussion

Black Rock Historical Society | 436 Amherst Street | Buffalo NY 14207

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THE PROM at Shea’s is a feel-good dance-a-thon.  Oh, those young(er) legs!

THE BASICS:  THE PROM, part of the M&T Broadway series at Shea’s, with music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin, and a book by Bob Martin and Beguelin, is on stage now through October 2, Wednesday-Friday at 7:30, Saturday at 2:00 and 8:00, Sunday at 1:00 and 6:30 at Shea’s Buffalo Theatre, 650 Main Street.  716-847-0850 or sheas.org.  For an impressively content-rich website loaded with extras, including a study guide for high school students, behind-the-scenes notes, videos, and more visit www.sheas.org/performances/the-prom.

Runtime: 2-1/2 hours with one intermission

THUMBNAIL SKETCH:  THE PROM is a musical comedy about big Broadway stars on a mission to change the world by revealing the love that unites us all (and save their careers too)!  After failed reviews, the stars look around for an opportunity to show that they are not narcissistic egos, and they decide that helping a lesbian high school girl fulfill her dream of going with a same-sex date to her mid-western high school prom is just the ticket.  THE PROM has also been turned into a Netflix movie musical with some big stars, including Meryl Streep, but I don’t know if I’d watch it before I go to Shea’s.  Maybe just let the real-life musical reveal its magic.  Then, if you want, watch the Netflix show later.

THE PLAYERS, THE PLAY, AND THE PRODUCTION:  The musical opens as Dee Dee Allen, an egotistical two-time Tony award-winning Broadway actress, having just opened on Broadway as Eleanor Roosevelt in the (fictional) show ELEANOR! and her co-star, Barry Glickman, another self-important Broadway actor, are devastated by their poor opening night reviews, with the kiss of death being the New York Times reporting that since these two are such self-absorbed narcissists, they have no concept of how to play their roles.

With fellow actors, Angie Dickinson, a chorus girl who has never gotten a chance to portray Roxie Hart in the musical CHICAGO, and Trent Oliver, a Juilliard graduate (as he tells everyone… often) who once starred in the (fictional) television sitcom TALK TO THE HAND, but has just signed on for a national tour of GODSPELL, they decide to engage in a selfless, charitable cause.  Scrolling social media, Angie sees the story about Emma, a lesbian who has been denied the chance to attend her high school prom going as a same-sex couple. The local PTA forbids this and when the four actors (and their publicist, of course) descend upon the small town of Edgewater, Indiana to right this unrightable wrong without question or pause (they are, after all, narcissists) they only make things worse. And so, as the curtain comes down on Act I with the obligatory impossible situation, fear not, THE PROM is a Broadway musical, and so despite numerous self-effacing jokes throughout the show, by the end of Act II, the power of Broadway conquers all.  I mean, this is THE PROM, for cryin’ out loud, not CARRIE.

The show is loaded with Broadway references.  One touch of irony is that, in the plot, it’s a devastating New York Times review that puts the plot in motion.  In real life, IRL, Times critic Jesse Green described THE PROM as “such a joyful hoot. With its kinetic dancing, broad mugging and belty anthems, it makes you believe in musical comedy again.”  Another fun moment is when, in trying to get better rooms at the small town Edgewater, Indiana motel, the characters pull out the two Tonys and the one Drama Desk award that they have won.  IRL this show didn’t win any Tonys (despite numerous nominations) but it did win one Drama Desk Award (Outstanding Musical).

Another fun scene has Angie (played by Emily Borromeo) tell young Emma (Kaden Kearny) a story of how Bob Fosse inspired a nervous young CHICAGO actress by telling her to bring a little “zazz” to her performance, and in that number, we get a lot of references to Fosse’s dance steps.  In a show with a ton of high-energy dancing, directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw (2011 Tony, etc. for THE BOOK OF MORMON and 2014 Tony, etc. for ALADDIN) that was a sweet homage.

And, oh my god, that dancing.  Those young legs!  With only two swings on this tour (and, by the way, this is the original tour cast from 2021) I don’t know how they put on 8 shows a week.  THE PROM is a little MEAN GIRLS, a little HEATHERS, a little CINDERELLA, and a little FOOTLOOSE.  

Readers of my reviews know that it’s not a musical if I don’t also get all choked up and for me that moment was sung by the character Alyssa (Kalyn West) and it’s called “Alyssa Green” in which she relates how she’s expected to be perfect in everything, and endless rules apply, cause it’s do or die, and don’t ask how or why… when you’re Alyssa Greene.  I got the same feeling that I get from “I’m not that girl” in WICKED.  Marvelous.

Perhaps the biggest applause at the curtain came for Courtney Balan as the older character ‘Dee Dee Allen’ who was just over-the-top enough without taking it too far.

Perhaps the biggest applause at the curtain came for Courtney Balan as the older character “Dee Dee Allen” who was just over-the-top enough without taking it too far.  Masterfully done and well aided and abetted by Sinclair Mitchell as the high school principal, Mr. Hawkins.  Another fine performance came from Bud Weber as Trent Oliver, the Juilliard-trained actor.  A fine singer and dancer.

I was a little disappointed in Kaden Kearney as Emma because she was just too loud at the end of each phrase or stanza and her voice, while adequate, was not as easy on the ears as Balan’s or West’s (Dee Dee or Alyssa).  And I didn’t like the “make it gay AF” direction apparently given to Patrick Wetzel who plays the other failed Broadway actor Barry Glickman.  Back in the early 20th-century vaudeville shows there was often a stock homosexual character called “The Nance” who would prance and take mincing steps and lisp.  Wetzel’s performance seemed a throwback to that early era.  

But those two items aside, this was a perfect way to open the 2022-2023 M&T Broadway season.  Lots of fun and there’s nothing wrong with that. 

*HERD OF BUFFALO (Notes on the Rating System)

ONE BUFFALO: This means trouble. A dreadful play, a highly flawed production, or both. Unless there is some really compelling reason for you to attend (i.e. you are the parent of someone who is in it), give this show a wide berth.

TWO BUFFALOS: Passable, but no great shakes. Either the production is pretty far off base, or the play itself is problematic. Unless you are the sort of person who’s happy just going to the theater, you might look around for something else.

THREE BUFFALOS: I still have my issues, but this is a pretty darn good night at the theater. If you don’t go in with huge expectations, you will probably be pleased.

FOUR BUFFALOS: Both the production and the play are of high caliber. If the genre/content are up your alley, I would make a real effort to attend.

FIVE BUFFALOS: Truly superb–a rare rating. Comedies that leave you weak with laughter, dramas that really touch the heart. Provided that this is the kind of show you like, you’d be a fool to miss it!

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PostEvents

Inaugural Market Square Vintage & Maker Market

The Story Garage is preparing to host its inaugural Market Square Vintage & Maker Market on Saturday, October 1 at Market Square in Black Rock (11am-4pm). Neil Gerard, owner of The Story garage, has managed to accumulate upwards of 40 vendors for this auspicious occasion, which will showcase vintage wares, regional makers, a food truck (M&S Street Eats), and live music. The event is being co-hosted by the BRR|Alliance.

This new market venture is the culmination of much of what Gerard has been striving to achieve since he relocated his vintage furniture and housewares business to Niagara Street. When I first spoke to him about setting up shop in Black Rock, he mentioned that he had his heart set on utilizing the neighboring Market Square in a way that would pay homage to its roots.

Market Square mural by Chris Pionkowski, via the BRR|Alliance

Now that day has come.

“It is a rain or shine event, with most of the outdoor vendors bringing their tents,” said Gerard. “We have 15 vendors who are already setting up inside The Story Garage throughout the first floor of my building, so we could probably squeeze a few more in if it rains. But the hope is that it will be a beautiful day!”

Hopefully it will be the first of many, and will signal to other marketeers in WNY that Market Square is ripe for the picking, when considering venue locations to host outdoor markets.

As for the live music element at the upcoming Vintage & Maker Market, Grace Lougen (from Grosh) will be performing from 1pm-3pm.

Market Square | Corner of Niagara Street and Amherst Street

The Story Garage  | 1875 Niagara Street | Black Rock | Buffalo NY 14207 | 716-343-0905

See Facebook event for further details.

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Big Reveal: 1035 Jefferson

Jefferson Avenue is in line for another infill mixed-use development.  T.O.P Enterprises is proposing to renovate the circa-1871 Lion Brewery building at 1035 Jefferson, construct a community center and affordable apartment units for a site at the southeast corner of Jefferson and Best Street.  T.O.P is a non-profit dedicated to the revitalization of the Jefferson-Best area. The Planning Board started review of the proposal at its Monday meeting.

From the Application:

The proposed 3.5 acre development includes a new-build Fine Arts Community Center, the renovation of the existing Lion Brewery building, and the rehabilitation of the surrounding site. Together, both buildings will contain 83 affordable apartment units (ranging from Studios, 1-Bedroom units, and 2-Bedroom units).

The Fine Arts Community Center currently includes space which will be used for art galleries, a multi-purpose large scale banquet hall space, and private studios, as well as space for small pop-up restaurant vendors and seating. The exterior design of the building is designed to create a new, additional neighborhood landmark, sloping up toward the intersection at Jefferson Avenue, showcasing both the creativity and great potential of the community, as well as a commitment to excellence and future growth. The building slopes down away from the corner to approach Best Street and Earl Place at a smaller scale.

The renovated Lion Brewery Building will have commercial space on the first floor along Jefferson Avenue, which would contain a restaurant, a small museum gallery acknowledging the rich and diverse history of the building, as well as other commercial uses. For this existing structure, we plan to both restore the dentil detailing of the cornices, and also open up the existing ground floor loading bays along the west façade with glass. This strategy aims to both celebrate the historicity of the building and activate and engage with Jefferson Avenue.

CPL Architecture Engineering and Planning is designing the project that will also include 92 on-site parking spaces, an outdoor recreational space for tenants, and a community garden facing Earl Place.

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