A Reminder In Etiquette

Greetings, Readers. I hope when you’re reading this that the warmer weather we’re enjoying as I write, is still with you.

The in-box of my email account has now exceeded 200 brand new emails, each of which is an announcement of interest to arts lovers. That means it’s time to devote an entire page of the Critical Eye to what we call ”Winks.”

Before we do, I have been receiving quite a number of requests for the past few months, from both arts presenters and regular audience members, asking that I raise a few issues with readers of this column. I think we can spare enough space from all the announcements for a few sentences on these subjects:

First, I wish to join in an earnest request from a number of audience members that anyone who is thinking of attending a public event should consider leaving home without a healthy splash of perfume, cologne, after shave or other scents. People must sit so close to you, in a theater, that a scent – however attractive and of good quality – can cause wheezing, coughing and other distress in people who are sensitive. This isn’t a voluntary reaction on their part, by the way.

I had a somewhat humorous experience some time ago, in which I attended a performance, and sat through the first half without events. At intermission, a woman who was sitting several rows away decided that she desired more elbow room, so she moved to an empty seat which was directly in front of me. Her perfume was overpowering.

Immediately, my eyes began watering, my nose began running, and soon she was casting angry glances over her shoulder at my poor efforts to stifle my coughs. When I got up to leave and sit in an empty seat far against the right hand wall, she muttered ”Thank God.” No lightning bolt emerged from the ceiling, to teach her manners, so I was a bit disappointed.

Second, please try to develop the iron-clad habit, when entering a theater, concert hall, or other performance space, of turning off your cellphone and any other device which makes noise which you might have with you. It has become standard behavior that an announcement is made before the beginning of a play or concert, requesting that noise-making devices be silenced, but it is astonishing how often individuals don’t realize that the announcement refers to them.

Not long ago, I attended a performance at which a woman seated in the front row of the theater received a phone call, which came at a very tense moment in the performance and completely spoiled the intense involvement of many members of the audience. Naturally, the offender’s device didn’t just ring, it played a few measures of a popular song, which repeated many times while she fished around in her massive purse, trying to find the device.

When she finally located the phone, she looked at it, recognized the number of the person calling, and took the call, babbling away in a cheerful, conversational tone and saying things which didn’t need to be shared with the two dozen total strangers who were forced to listen to them, and which could easily have waited until a later, more appropriate occasion. If you want my vote, they could have waited until the end of the next ice age. Again, I waited in vain for the well-deserved bolt of lightning.

Most theaters provide the service that individuals who are expecting very important calls, such as doctors who are on call to perform a life-saving operation, may leave their phone and an indication of their seat number, with an usher or a person at the box office, and if the phone should ring, the owner is contacted quietly and privately. It isn’t a minor thing to ruin a performance which the audience may have been looking forward to for weeks, and may have invested a day’s pay or more. It’s a major act of rudeness and stupidity.

Finally, I’d like to raise the issue of the standing ovation. Having the audience rise to its feet, while applauding at the end of a performance, used to be the highest honor for actors or musicians. An individual might expect to see a standing ovation perhaps twice or three times in a lifetime.

Recently, anything someone does on stage will inspire a standing ovation, even if it was lousy. It’s similar to giving out the Congressional Medal of Honor to someone who has done nothing more important than pay his taxes on time. It despoils the meaning of the gesture, and it means that when an artist does something brilliant, something life changing, something which goes above and beyond what anyone could have expected, there is no indication which the audience can give of the performance’s quality, except to applaud louder and longer, I guess.

There are individuals who pride themselves on always being the first to leap to their feet, the minute a performance ends. I’m sure they consider themselves heroes.

Chautauqua audiences were among the first to adopt this new, lower set of standards, although in my observation, they have always had a secret agenda. Chautauqua audiences leap to their feet, then gradually work their way out into the aisles and leave, applauding as they go. I think of it as a departing ovation. It’s sort of extra annoying, because most of them are just walking down the path to their porches, and don’t have to try to beat traffic out of the parking lot.

I will confess to having a secret plan of my own. When those first pioneers leap to their feet, at the end of a performance which was pleasant, but not exceptional, I would love to draw one of those soaking water pistols, and indicate in a material way how inappropriate their gesture is. Perhaps I could fill the pistol with a heavy perfume, and send the barnstormers to their after-performance ice cream, marked for all to recognize. It would be worth the wheezing which I’d end up doing. I’d never do it, of course, and I realize that most of these clappers are eager mommies and aunties, thrilled with little Brilliantyne’s talents. I do support that, but I wish they could find a better way to mark it.

Part of the success of any performance is the responsibility of the audience.


Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Scharmann Theater on the campus of Jamestown Community College, see renowned Western New York Actor Christina Rausa perform a one-actor play, based upon the life of poet Emily Dickinson. The title of the play is ”The Belle of Amherst.”

Tickets are $5 for the general public. Admission is free to members of the JCC Faculty-Student Association.

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The musical partnership of John Kander and Fred Ebb has created some of the most popular musical shows of the 20th century. A revue of hit songs from the pair’s creation will play at the Lucille Ball Little Theatre of Jamestown in May.

May 16, 17, 18, 23 and 24, the show ”The World Goes Round,” will be performed, with curtain rising at 8 p.m. for all shows except on Sunday, when the performance is a 2 p.m. matinee. Songs to be performed include ”New York, New York,” ”Maybe This Time” and ”All That Jazz,” along with many more.

Individual tickets are $20 per person. Purchase them in person at the theater’s box office, directly to the right of the main entrance to the theater, by phone at 483-1095 or by computer at www.lucilleballlittletheatre.org. Click on ”tickets” and then on ”reservations.”

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The SUNY Fredonia Wind Ensemble will give their final performance of the 2013-14 academic year on April 30 at 8 p.m. in King Concert Hall, on the university’s campus. There is no admission charge.

The performance will be made up of works by contemporary composers, highlighted by John Adams’ ”Short Ride on a Fast Machine.” The public is welcome to attend.

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From April 29 to May 4, the professional touring company of the Broadway show ”Beauty and the Beast” will perform at Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo.

Because of the interest of the show to young audiences, performances will begin earlier than usual Shea’s curtain times. Evening performances, Tuesday through Saturday, will begin at 7 p.m. Sunday evening’s performance will start at 6:30 p.m. Matinees on Saturday and Sunday will begin at 1 p.m.

Tickets range in price from $32.50 to $127.50. Top ticket prices include prime seating and a souvenir program. Tickets purchased by phone and by computer are subject to a service charge. Purchase tickets in person at Shea’s box office, 650 Main St., in the Downtown Buffalo Theater District. Reserve tickets by phone at 800-745-3000. Make computer purchases at www.ticketmaster.com.

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Tickets are now on sale for the first-ever performance in Erie by the world-famous Cirque de Soleil. Performances will take place Aug. 13-17, for a total of seven performances. The specific show to be performed is ”Varekai.”

Most performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Sunday evening’s performance begins at 5 p.m. Matinee performances take place on Saturday at 4 p.m., and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Be certain, if purchasing tickets of the date and time of your performance, before completing the sale.

Tickets range in price from $35 to $95, with discounts for senior citizens, children and active members of the military. For additional information, or to purchase tickets, go to www.cirquedusoleil.com/varekai or phone 814-452-4857.

The performance is scheduled for the Erie Insurance Arena, at 809 French St., in downtown Erie.

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A group of adult choirs and choruses from the Hamilton, Ontario, area will perform a concert on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at the Unitarian Church of Hamilton, at 170 Dundurn St., in Hamilton. The concert is called ”Singing Saved My Life,” and the featured work in the concert will be Donald McCullough’s ”Holocaust Cantata,” which provides a musical setting for words written by victims of concentration camps, during World War II.

Tickets are $20, in Canadian funds. They may be purchased, and additional information about the performance obtained by going to their website at www.HolocaustCantata.ca. Note the suffix ”ca” for Canada, rather than the more familiar ”com.”

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The University of Buffalo’s Center for the Arts announces a number of coming performances and opportunities:

  • The University’s Department of Theater and Dance will perform the popular musical show ”Les Miserables,” April 24-27, and May 1-4. Tickets are $20 for the general public, and $10 for senior citizens and students.

To purchase tickets, visit www.ubcfa.org, or phone 888-223-6000. For information about the production, phone 645-2787.

  • Singer/guitarist Boz Scaggs will perform May 12 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range in price from $37 to $67. To reserve tickets use contact information just above.
  • The Zodiaque Dance Ensemble will perform at the center, May 2-4. Tickets are $20 for the general public, and $10 for students and senior citizens. Curtain rises at 7:30 on May 2-3, and at 2 p.m. on May 3-4.
  • Tickets are now on sale for a performance on Sept. 26, at 8 p.m. by comic performers Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood. The two are well known for their performances on the award-winning television program ”Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Tickets are $33 and $39.
  • Tickets are now of sale for a performance on Nov. 4 of ”The Best of Jethro Tull, performed by Ian Anderson. Anderson is considered the master of flute-based rock ‘n’ roll music. Tickets are $69.50, $59.50 and $49.50. The performance will begin at 7:30 p.m.
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Now through May 7, ”The Fox on the Fairway” by Ken Ludwig will be performed at the Station Dinner Theatre, on Peach Street, in Erie.

The play is a farce, set in a posh country club, and deals with love, life, and golf – not necessarily in that order. Performances will take place Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and April 26 and 27, plus May 3, 4, and 7.

Performances begin at noon on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 7 p.m. on Fridays, 5:30 p.m. on Saturdays, and 2:30 p.m. on Sundays. Performances include a complete dinner, served by the cast as they perform. To reserve tickets, phone 814-864-2022 or go to the company’s website at www.canterburyfeast.com. Those requiring handicapped seating or special menus, such as diabetic, vegetarian or gluten-free, should use the phone number, rather than the web address.

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Very young children and their families are invited to one of two concerts, next Saturday morning at the Dunkirk Free Library, 536 Central Ave., in Dunkirk. Performances begin at 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. and last 30 minutes each. The concerts are the last performances of the 2013-14 season of the Musical Journeys program of the SUNY Fredonia School of Music. Performances are free of charge.

Performances are intended to introduce children younger than age 6 to instrumental music. Performances are by performing ensembles from the Fredonia School of Music. Strollers may be parked around the outer edge of the performing space, and family members of participating children are invited to bring blankets or carpet squares to sit on.

For additional information about the program or the concerts, phone 673-4628 or see their website at www.fredonia.edu/music/community/ccs.asp.

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June 6-15, the 2014 festival of Luminato will fill downtown Toronto with theater and concerts and dance performances and mime, and visual arts, and a world of things of interest to lovers of the arts.

Performances range from an opera composed by Rufus Wainwright to Isabella Rosselini’s live performances dealing with the mating habits of non-human beings to dances by German choreographer Pina Bausch, and much more.

Some presentations just involve showing up at the proper time and place and listening or joining in, while others involve formal concert halls, theaters, reserved tickets and other such venues. For help in participating in Luminato, go to their website at www.luminatofestival.com. Surely they have something for every taste.

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Beginning on Thursday, and running through May 4, the department of theater at Niagara University will present one of the lesser-known musicals by the team of Kander and Ebb: ”Curtains,” a murder mystery.

The show begins with the leading lady, dying on stage, before your very eyes, then involves the investigating detective romantically, with the ingenue. The script was nominated for a Tony Award for ”Best Musical,” in 2007, and won a Drama Desk award that same year.

Performances take place in the Leary Theatre, inside Clet Hall, on the university’s Niagara Falls campus. Performances are at 7 p.m. on Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

To purchase tickets, phone 286-8685, or go to their website at theatre.niagara.edu/.

On May 3, Niagara University will celebrate 50 years of theatrical history and will honor the memory of their founder, Brother Augustine Towey, with a gala, at the Niagara Falls Country Club in Lewiston. Tickets are $150 per person, and include a ticket to the afternoon performance of ”Curtains.”

The gala will include silent raffles on prizes ranging from a trip for two to New York City to attend Broadway shows to gift certificates to area restaurants and other attractions. For more information, phone 286-8483.

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Theatre20, the company in Toronto, created by 20 active and successful actors on Canadian Stages, has announced their next production, Stephen Sondheim’s famed ”Company.” The show will be performed in previews, June 21-25, and in full performance, June 26 to July 13. Performances are Tuesdays through Saturdays, and begin at 8 p.m., with matinees on Wednesdays, at 1:30 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.

The production’s cast will be led by popular musical and dramatic actor Dan Chameroy, who is well familiar to visitors to the Stratford and Shaw Festivals. He will perform the role of Bobby. Performances will take place at the Berkeley Street Theatre, downstairs. Tickets range in price from $30 to $89, in Canadian Funds. Purchase them by phoning 416-368-3110 or via computer website at www.theatre20.com. Tickets may be purchased in person at the box office of the Berkeley Street Theatre. Free talkbacks in which actors stay after the performance to discuss the program with audience members take place on certain Thursdays.