Friday, May 04, 2007

Dream 2007 Season on Tap at Artpark!

Schedule Highlighted by AIDA, BPO, Family Events, More Blockbuster Concerts!

Artpark President George Osborne divulged details of the venue’s dream 2007 Season – which includes a Tony Award-winning musical adaptation of a classic opera, 20 free outdoor concerts, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s July residency, a bevy of special events, creative family activities, an art gallery, and much more – at a press conference held today at the Niagara Falls Country Club in Lewiston.

In recent years, Artpark has reformatted its programming to introduce an extremely-popular free concert series, become the BPO’s annual summer home, and has increased artistic offerings for children and families – all while maintaining the venue’s traditionally high degree of excellence and affordability. A 126% attendance increase at scheduled events over the past four seasons is likely to reach new heights with a continued, significant investment in this year’s theater presentations and other programs.

“It is within the guiding principles of Artpark’s mission and thus a particular point of emphasis for Artpark to carry on its tradition of presenting a diverse array of cultural events and experiences that appeal to all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds,” remarks Artpark President George Osborne. “We feel that Artpark’s 2007 schedule, perhaps more so than in many, many years, truly includes some form of programming that will pique the interest of everyone in the region and, ideally, beyond.”

The jewel of Artpark’s exhilarating 2007 schedule is ELTON JOHN & TIM RICE’S AIDA (onstage August 9-19), a crowd-pleasing musical spectacular that bursts with contemporary energy, elaborate staging, inventive choreography, multi-cultural casting, and John and Rice’s Tony and Grammy Award-winning pop-rock score. Based on Giuseppe Verdi’s enormously successful opera of the same name, John and Rice’s first collaboration since The Lion King is a modernized adaptation of the grand classic tale of Aida, a Nubian princess stolen from her country, Amneris, an Egyptian princess, and Radames, the soldier they both love.

Artpark’s production, which is sponsored by M&T Bank, features a blockbuster cast of Broadway-seasoned actors culled from New York City auditions, as well as some of the region’s top performers. The nine-show run will be directed by Randall Kramer and choreographed by Lynne Kurdziel-Formato, while Michael Hake provides musical direction. Tickets are $22.50-$39.50. Showtimes are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. There will also be a 2pm performance on Thursday, August 16. Supporting sponsors include the Mentholatum Company and Jaeckle, Fleischmann & Mugel, LLP.

The FIRST NIAGARA TUESDAY IN THE PARK AT ARTPARK (June 5-August 28) free outdoor concert series drew a record 120,000-plus visitors to the venue’s scenic Outdoor Amphitheater a year ago and – weather permitting – the ’07 schedule should eclipse those figures. Major headliner acts and a scintillating view of the Niagara River Gorge are magnificently complimented by a wide variety of free family-friendly hands-on art workshops offered each week, including drawing, face-painting, dress-up, self portraits, temporary tattooing and many more.

The 13-week series gets underway on June 5 with Molly Hatchet, best known for songs such as “Flirtin’ with Disaster” and “Gator Country,” and fellow Southern rockers Blackfoot. Eight-time Juno Award winners Jim Cuddy, Greg Keelor and Canadian favorites Blue Rodeo mosey across the border for a show on June 12, one week before Artpark concertgoers enjoy “Reminiscing” to the music of the Australian-born Little River Band.

John Kay and Steppenwolf close out the schedule’s first month on June 26 with their historic list of classic rock anthems including “Magic Carpet Ride,” “Born to Be Wild,” “Rock Me” and “Monster.” Darius Rucker, Mark Bryan, Dean Felber and Jim Sonefeld – better known as Hootie & the Blowfish – are likely to usher in a potential record-breaking crowd on July 3. Seven days later, it’s former Traffic frontman and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Dave Mason who headlines the Tuesday evening festivities. The July 17 event features TWO legendary blues musicians and ex-Bluesbreakers members in Coco Montoya and Walter Trout.

Switching genres, the infectiously danceable funk music of Average White Band fills the Niagara River Gorge on July 24 before giving way to the celebrated rock tunes of Eric Burdon and the Animals (“Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” “See See Rider,” “House of the Rising Sun”) a week later. Kicking off August in a big way is Grammy-winning superstar Kenny Loggins , famous for songs like “This Is It,” “Celebrate Me Home,” and “Whenever I Call You ‘Friend,’” as well as for comprising half of a legendary rock duo with Jim Messina.

Pat Benatar, a trailblazing female artist who gained repute thru anthems such as “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “Heartbreaker” and “Love Is a Battlefield” co-headlines “Tuesday in the Park” on August 14, with husband, producer and fellow musician Neil Giraldo. The lineup’s final two weeks revisit a pair of fan favorites from Artpark’s 2006 Season as former Allman Brothers Band member Dickey Betts – and his group Great Southern – ramble into Lewiston on August 21 before the folk-rock tour-de-forces of America , which include “Sister Golden Hair,” “Ventura Highway” and “A Horse with No Name,” conclude Artpark’s thirty-fourth summer on August 28.

All “Tuesday in the Park” events, which begin at 6:30pm, are proudly sponsored by First Niagara, Certo Brothers Distributing Company, Sevenson Environmental Services, the New York Power Authority, Modern Corporations, S&S Lawn Services, Hard Rock Café – Niagara Falls (USA), Tim Horton’s (Niagara Falls locations), DiMino’s Lewiston Tops, Pine Pharmacy, Frey Electric Construction Company, The Reid Group and Uniland Development..

Artpark’s Wednesday evening free outdoor concert series has undergone some significant changes for the 2007 Season. Making its debut last year, the then-titled “Artpark Wednesdays” provided a platform solely for the premier talent of Western New York and Southern Ontario. This summer, WEDNESDAYS ON THE GORGE (July 11-August 22) will be Artpark’s second weekly showcase of national acts, while area bands will receive considerably more public exposure as openers. In addition, an abundance of free family-oriented artistic endeavors – similar to those offered on Tuesdays – will be made available at each event this summer.

Richie Havens, the soulful singer/guitarist who famously kicked off Woodstock in 1969, will be the first musician to grace the Wednesday night schedule under its revamped format on July 11. A three-time Grammy winner, country music icon Lucinda Williams will put one of her acclaimed live performances on display on July 18. The night of July 25 will feature Pure Prairie League, the country-rock outfit best known for songs such as “Amie” and “Let Me Love You Tonight,” while blues sensation Kelley Hunt returns to the Outdoor Amphitheater on August 1 to build on her overwhelmingly popular performances following a one year Artpark hiatus.

Artpark’s Cajun Festival on August 8 is highlighted by signature beats from the bayou, courtesy of C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band and Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas. The following Tuesday, Artpark’s hosts its annual Celtic Festival , this year with another world-famous Irish rock band in the Saw Doctors. Switch remains on Artpark’s free concert schedule after five consecutives years as a “Tuesday in the Park” act but switches nights to conclude the “Wednesdays on the Gorge” series on August 22 with a variety of covers from mainstream bands such as the Eagles, Beatles and Chicago.

“Wednesdays on the Gorge” is presented by HSBC Bank and HSBC Mortgage Corporation, while additional supporters include Certo Brothers Distributing Company, Tim Horton’s, Harris Beach, PLLC and the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission. All performances begin at 6:30pm.

Summer at Artpark is also filled with the type of extraordinary happenings that can only be classified as SPECIAL EVENTS. Grammy and Dove Award-winning Rebecca St. James has quickly become one of the preeminent voices in contemporary Christian music, as evidenced by an incredible resume that includes 17 Top-10 songs, nine #1 singles and total album sales surpassing two million. The Sydney, Australia native appears at 7pm on June 15 courtesy of Yme? Ministries, a local religious organization. Tickets range from $10 to $40. The very next night, June 16, the WNED Buffalo Niagara Guitar Festival headliner event returns to Artpark, this time with another multi-platinum selling, superstar group of Canadian-born musicians: the Barenaked Ladies. “If I Had $1000000,” “One Week,” “It’s All Been Done” and “Brian Wilson” barely scratch the surface of the band’s lengthy list of quirky, addictive, humorous tunes. Ducats for the 7:30pm performance are $30.25 and $50.25. Meanwhile the Tragically Hip , who sold out the Guitar Festival’s centerpiece event in 2006, makes a triumphant return to Artpark for a pair of blockbuster performances on Canada Day Weekend (June 30 and July 1). Tickets for the 8pm performances by the 13-time Juno Award-winning rockers are $35.50 and $59.50. Co-presented by Artpark and the Village of Lewiston, a special July 4 Independence Day Celebration will once again take place at Artpark’s Outdoor Amphitheater, this year featuring the 90-member American Legion Band of the Tonawandas. The event, which is free to attend, begins at 7:30pm and will be followed by a fireworks display. New York Sate Park regulations, which include bans on tailgating, will be in effect during these events.

Looking forward into July, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s fourth consecutive summer residency includes an outstanding 10-concert BPO SUMMERFEST schedule under the batons of Music Director JoAnn Falletta and Resident Conductor Robert Franz. Opening night on July 7 features a double-dip of classical music as Franz and the BPO recreate Gustav Holst’s “The Planets Suite” and acclaimed violinist Lara St. John performs the “Sibelius Concerto.” The following evening, pianist Kevin Cole cycles through the sweeping spectrum of Gershwin’s Greatest Hits. The Kingston Trio then joins the orchestra for an energetic program of lively folk music on July 14. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony rounds out the second weekend of July, and includes an appearance by the BPO Chorus. On the heels of a very impressive performance at Artpark last summer, Buffalo’s own Neglia Ballet is back for a much-anticipated encore on July 20. World-renowned violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg visits Artpark on July 21 to enthrall theatergoers with the virtuosic Mendelssohn “Violin Concerto.” Christopher O’Riley, pianist and host of the popular National Public Radio show “From the Top,” joins Falletta and the BPO the following afternoon for an event that will be taped for public broadcast. On July 27, it’s a selection of Great Opera Arias who join Falletta to pay tribute to the romantic world of opera. Bandoneon Daniel Binelli and dancers Pilar Alvarez and Claudio Hoffman are the featured guest artists on July 28 for a night of Argentine Tango that accentuates the South American rhythms of Astor Piazzolla. Finally, Pablo Garibay, winner of the 2006 JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Competition, rounds out the Summerfest schedule with the presentation of Antonin Dvorak’s “From the New World” Symphony on the afternoon of July 29.

BPO Summerfest at Artpark is presented by First Niagara. Performances on Fridays and Saturdays take place at 8pm while Sunday shows begin at 3pm. Tickets are $15-$48.

The always-popular BIG BAND SERIES swings back into Artpark’s Mainstage Theater with one act per summer month, beginning on June 25 with a tribute to the “Sentimental Gentleman of Swing” via the legendary Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Led by conductor and original band member Buddy Morrow, the TDO carries on the Dorsey legacy with an assortment of unforgettable arrangements such as “Embraceable You,” “On the Sunny Side of the Street” and “I’ll Never Smile Again.” A “big band” more so with regards to the amount of group members than the scope of its music, Buffalo Music Hall of Fame inductee Junction West is an 11-piece ensemble that visits Artpark on July 23 to skillfully recreate the 1970s-influenced sounds of Earth, Wind & Fire, K.C. & the Sunshine Band and others. Concluding Artpark’s Swing Series for the second straight season – and making its tenth consecutive appearance at the venue – is the illustrious Glenn Miller Orchestra, led by renowned trombonist Larry O’Brien. All of Miller’s timeless classics will be on display August 6, allowing aficionados to toe tap to songs like “Moonlight Serenade,” “Tuxedo Junction” and “In the Mood.” Artpark Big Band experiences are greatly enhanced by a giant dance floor located inside the Mainstage Theater during each show for the audience’s swinging pleasure. Tickets for the performances, which take place at 2pm and 8pm, range from $15 to $27.50.

As always, a kaleidoscope of family-oriented entertainment and educational activities comprise a central component of Artpark’s programming in 2007. It all begins on May 23 with the world-renowned Kennedy Center’s stage presentation of ROALD DAHL’S WILLY WONKA. Based on the beloved novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory , this production – part of the Center’s Imagination Celebration on Tour – features live actors, puppets and several classic songs to tell the tale Charlie Bucket and four other Golden Ticket winners who experience the tour of a lifetime in Wonka’s mysterious candy-making factory. Tickets for the 9:45am and 11:30am shows are $6. The performances are sponsored by Uniland Development, Target and the Kiwanis Club of Lewiston.

With Artpark’s one-of-a-kind setting serving as an inspirational canvas, the venue will once again be hosting four weeks of professionally-instructed CAMP ADVENTURES. All three sessions of Art Camp (July 9-13, July 16-20 and July 30-August) stress the importance of artistic staples like sketching, painting and clay work each morning while afternoons are consumed with a variety of exciting, innovative endeavors such as cyanotype, assemblages and textiles. Artpark’s single session of Theater Camp (July 23-27) – programmed by Dina Sarno Slawson of Buffalo’s Academy of Theatre Arts – is a must for any aspiring young thespian, as it focuses on the development of singing, dancing, improv, costume design and script writing via the energetic performance of scenes and musical numbers from classic Broadway shows. Each camp runs Monday thru Friday from 9am to 4pm, is suitable for children ages 9-14 and includes a special camper art show / performance in front of friends and family on the final afternoon.

Artpark’s FAMILY WEEKENDS offer visitors the unique opportunity to partake in a collection of free hands-on art workshops under the guidance of professional artists every Saturday and Sunday afternoon in July (7-29). Activities, which include traditional Artpark art areas like the Costume Closet, Paint Space, the pottery wheel, still-life drawing and temporary tattooing, will once again also be tailored towards a particular theme each week. “Family Weekends” are free to the public and take place from noon to 4pm.

The first of four creative weekends is entitled Altered Art (July 7-8) and places an emphasis on Christo-style transformations, the creation of “Artist Trading Cards” and mosaics. Art in the Dark (July 14-15) focuses on developing artistic abilities without utilizing the sense of sight. Drawing objects by touch, blind contour sketching and other light-deprived activities facilitate the formation of works that are “out of sight.” The creation of kites, “flying fish” and “wind warriors” make for a gravity-defying weekend July 21-22, appropriately tabbed Airborne Art. The final weekend in July (28-29) is concentrated on the construction of Exotic Art , including totem poles for public display, as well as eccentric hats and colorful masks that visitors are encouraged to bring home with them. “Family Weekends” and other Artpark family programming is supported by The Fatta Foundation.

Following a very welcome public reception in 2006, the Buffalo Society of Artists will once again host exhibitions all summer long in the building that housed an Artpark gift shop just two years ago. The ART GALLERY will open one hour prior to (and remain open throughout) each Artpark Mainstage Theater performance.

Tickets are available for Artpark performances at all locations, located at Tops Markets or by phone at 1(888) 223-6000. For more information on Artpark’s 2007 Schedule, call the Box Office at (716) 754-4375 or visit

The Earl W. Brydges Artpark is being operated by Artpark & Company, Inc. for the New York State Office of Parks,
Recreation and Historic Preservation under a license agreement.

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