Arts & Culture | WAMC

Arts & Culture

Cast of "Greetings" - Ryan Palmer, Chad Reid, Sarah Wasserbach, Susan Dantz, & Steve Leifer
Michael Farrell

LATHAM – “Greetings” is a holiday play that is not a typical holiday play.  Yes, it takes place on Christmas Eve, there’s a Christmas tree in the living room, and there’s a lot of talk about religion.   However, despite the trappings, the play has little to do with the holidays.

WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel still need to buy some holiday gifts.

Rogovoy Report 12/13/19

Dec 13, 2019

This week’s cultural highlights in our region include chamber music, swing dance, folk, blues, jazz … plus a whole lot more.

To celebrate 103 years of movies on Spring Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts, Images Cinema will present An Evening with Charlie Chaplin, featuring three classic Chaplin shorts with live musical accompaniment from Donald Sosin and Joanna Seaton, on Monday, December 16 at 8pm. This will be the third time Sosin and Seaton have performed at Images to celebrate the theater’s anniversary.

Donald Sosin is one of the foremost silent film composers in the world, he’s spent decades performing at major film festivals and archives all over the world. Actor and singer Joanna Seaton has been a performer for just about her entire life.Her acting credits include leading roles in over 80 productions of musicals and plays in New York City and at regional and stock theatres across the country.

Dan Tepfer - Natural Machines
Nicolas Joubard '18

On Saturday, December 14 at 7 p.m., Catskill Jazz Factory presents Dan Tepfer: Natural Machines at Hudson Hall in Hudson, New York.

Pianist-composer, Dan Tepfer is a recipient of the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a MacDowell Colony Fellow. Born in France to American parents, Tepfer received a bachelor's degree in astrophysics from the University of Edinburgh and a master's degree in jazz piano performance from the New England Conservatory in Boston. He’s performed to great acclaim all over the world.

Audrey Kupferberg: Where's My Roy Cohn

Dec 10, 2019

Currently playing theatrically is a documentary feature called Where’s My Roy Cohn?.  As most of us will recall, the film title is a quote from Donald Trump, as published in the NY Times in early 2018.  While this documentary doesn’t dwell on the relationship between Trump and his lawyer/fixer Cohn, it is quite content to take advantage of the commercial value of that particular quote as its title.  It calls out to all liberals, saying – without actually really saying – “if you dislike Trump, you will love this movie.”

Caroll Spinney and Big Bird, early 1970s
Robert Fuhring /

  Caroll Spinney, puppeteer, cartoonist, author and speaker most famous for playing Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on “Sesame Street” from its inception in 1969 until 2018, died on Sunday, December 8, 2019 at the age of 85.


In 2016, Joe Donahue spoke with the legendary Muppeteer in advance of a screening of the documentary about Spinney’s career entitled “I am Big Bird.” We share portions of that interview today, in memoriam.

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WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel add some trivia to their life.

Rogovoy Report 12/6/19

Dec 6, 2019

There are plenty of holiday-oriented programs around the region this weekend and next, but I’m here to fill you in on the non-holiday-related cultural events, including Caribbean party music, chamber music, big-band jazz, hard-bop, indie-rock … plus a whole lot more.

Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany, New York presents “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live from WVL Radio Theatre” through Dec. 22.

Adapted from the classic Frank Capra film by W.V.R. Repoley this story comes to life as a live, 1940s radio broadcast. Five actors give voice to all the memorable Bedford Falls characters, accompanied by sound effects and music created live on stage.  

We are joined by actor Wynn Harmon.

In this week's Classical Music According to Yehuda, Alan Chartock and Yehuda Hanani continue their series of conversations about prodigies, focussing on jazz pianist Joey Alexander and sharing "Evidence,"  a track from his album "Joey. Monk. Live!"

On Saturday and Sunday evening the Albany Symphony will be at The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall presenting a program featuring Pachelbel’s Canon in D, Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer of 1915” featuring acclaimed soprano Talise Trevigne, Andre Myers “Studies in Hope: Frederick Douglass,” and Mozart’s “Linz” Symphony.

Myers’ piece was commissioned by The Albany Symphony for The Dogs of Desire and this weekend the piece will be performed by the Albany Symphony with the Albany High School Choir under the direction of Brendan Hoffman, sopranos Chelsea Fingal and Paule Aboite, and two student hip hop emcees from Albany High School.

We were joined by Albany Symphony Music Director and Conductor David Alan Miller and by “Studies in Hope: Frederick Douglass” composer, Andre Myers.

Ancram Opera House in Ancram, New York is mounting an original musical theatre adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen.” The staged reading will have performances December 7-15.

The production features book and lyrics by Barbara Wiechmann, music by Lisa Dove, and is directed by Jeffrey Mousseau.

A photo of Berkshire Theatre Group's A Christmas Carol
Emma K. Rothenberg-Ware

The Berkshire Theatre Group presents its adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” on stage at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Massachusetts December 7 -21.

A holiday classic, “A Christmas Carol” celebrates the import of empathy and community connection – and BTG’s production of the story does the same.

The story was adapted for the stage by Eric Hill, who stars as the miser-who-makes-good, Ebenezer Scrooge.

Eric Hill joined us along with BTG’s Artistic Associate of Education Travis Daly, who directs “A Christmas Carol” and actor and high school student, Kate Goble – who plays Belle.

  Shawn Stone joins us to talk about what he's seen lately and what cultural events are coming up this week in our region.

Seen: "Knives Out," "The Irishman"


  • Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker - Palace Theatre, Albany, Thursday 12/5, 7 PM
  • Anne Heaton & Natalia Zukerman - Helsinki Hudson, Hudson, Thursday 12/5, 8 PM
  • Lunasa Christmas from Ireland - The Eighth Step at Proctors, GE Theatre, Schenectady, Friday 12/6, 7:30 PM
  • Delsonido - MASS MoCA, Club B10, North Adams, Mass., Saturday 12/7, 8 PM
  • Bill Kirchen’s Honky Tonk Holiday - Hangar On the Hudson, Troy, Saturday 12/7, 8 PM
  • The Joy Formidable - The Hollow Bar + Kitchen, Albany, Saturday 12/7, 8:30 PM
  • John Pizzarelli Big Band - Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, Mass., Saturday 12/7, 8 PM
  • Roman Rabinovich, pianist; music of Stravinsky, Gershwin, Debussy, Satie, more - Union College Concert Series, Memorial Chapel, Sunday 12/8, 3 PM
  • "March of the Wooden Soldiers" - Palace Theatre, Albany, Monday 12/9
  • Bleecker Consort: Medieval & Renaissance Music - Music at Noon Concerts, Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, Tuesday 12/10, noon

New movies: "Dark Waters," "Waves," "Playmobil: The Movie"

Helsinki Hudson presents Anne Heaton and Natalia Zukerman: An Evening of Songs and Stories on December 5 at 8pm.

The multimedia evening will feature excerpts from Zukerman's latest show "The Women Who Rode Away" and from Heaton's new album and storybook "To the Light"

Natalia Zukerman's “The Women Who Rode Away” melds her talents as a songwriter, painter, and storyteller as she recounts the journey of finding her voice through the stories of the women in her life and in history that paved the way. 

Anne Heaton’s “To the Light” is a celebration of collaboration and connection. Heaton is the Founder of Soul Songs School.

The Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, New York is associated with summer in our region, but over the last few years, SPAC has begun offering programming year-round through collaboration with other community venues and organizations.

Over the next few weeks, SPAC will present “The Nutcracker” by Salzburg Marionette Theatre, an Orchestra St. Luke’s concert of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, and British vocal ensemble VOCES8.

Elizabeth Sobol is the President and CEO of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

Over the past five decades, John Mauceri has conducted symphonies, operas, ballets, musicals, and film music around the world, and served as music director of four opera companies and three orchestras, as well as hosted television and radio programs. He has more than seventy albums to his name, and is the recipient of a Grammy, a Tony, a Billboard, two Diapasons d'or, three Emmys, and four Deutschen Schallplattenkritik awards. He is the author of "Maestros and Their Music: The Art and Alchemy of Conducting," and has written for The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Times of London, and The Huffington Post, among other publications.

His new book is "For the Love of Music: A Conductor's Guide to the Art of Listening."

Brick dwelling at Hancock Shaker Village

Hancock Shaker Village, a living history museum on 750 acres in the heart of the Berkshires, is located in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

A National Historic Landmark, the property includes twenty historic Shaker buildings, and the oldest working farm in the Berkshires. The museum is home to more than 22,000 artifacts, making it one of the premier Shaker collections in the world.

Hancock Shaker Village presents its “Thanksgiving on the Farm” tradition on the three days following Thanksgiving. The Village will be open all three days from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Then, the first weekend in December, HSV presents "Hancock Holidays."

We are joined by Hancock Shaker Village’s President and CEO, Jennifer Trainer Thompson.

Big Gay Hudson Valley presents “Hung With Care: A Queer Holiday Burlesque Spectacular” on Friday, November 29th at The Linda in Albany, New York and on Saturday, November 30th at The Rosendale Theatre in Rosendale, New York. The show will also be performed twice in early December at 3 Dollar Bill in Brooklyn.

The 7th annual shows feature performances from New York City’s premier cabaret artists with specialties ranging from burlesque to dance to circus acts and more.

We are joined by New York city nightlife legend and singer Shelly Watson and Big Gay Hudson Valley Co-Founder Stephan Hengst.

Eric Korenman

Berkshire native McQueen is a producer and musician sometimes referred to as a multi-media comedian, a funny DJ, and electro-comic, or a comedy/music mixmaster. He stacks original beats and melodies and situationally surreal lyrics with pop-culture references galore.

He's toured with Radiohead, performed at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, worked for Comedy Central and Funny or Die. His first album “Black Cat” (ASpecialThing Records) was released on October 25.

The Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street program brings access to the Smithsonian for small-town America through museum exhibitions, research, educational resources, and programming.

In 2018, "Water/Ways" was the first-ever traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program to travel to New York State. This past summer, the Smithsonian announced its choice of the Hart Cluett Museum in Troy, New York as one of ten museums in the United States to be chosen for its Museum on Main Street “How We Work” pilot.

We are joined now by Director of the Hudson River Maritime Museum in Kingston, Lisa Cline; Director of the Chapman Historical Museum in Glens Falls, Tim Weidner; Director of Historic Rensselaer County at the Hart-Cluett Museum in Troy, Karin Krasevac-Lenz; and Director of the Museum Association of New York Erika Sanger.

WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel write a new chapter.

Rogovoy Report 11/22/19

Nov 22, 2019

The highlights of the cultural weekend in our region include comedy, performance art, folk, blues … plus a whole lot more.

Nehal Joshi, Scott Stangland, Peter Dinklage, and Jasmine Cephas Jones in "Cyrano"
Monique Carboni

Jasmine Cephas Jones is starring opposite Peter Dinklage in The New Group’s “Cyrano” which is running at the Daryl Roth Theatre in New York City through December 22.

In the new musical version of “Cyrano de Bergerac,” the 1897 play-in-verse by Edmond Rostand, Dinklage plays the brilliantly eloquent and love-struck cadet Cyrano, pining after Cephas Jones’ beautiful and willful Roxanne - who in turn loves the handsome and witless Christian.

This new version is adapted from the original and directed by Erica Schmidt and features original music by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of the rock band The National with lyrics by Matt Berninger (also of The National) and Carin Besser.

Jasmine Cephas Jones originated the dual roles of Peggy and Maria Reynolds in Hamilton at The Public and subsequently on Broadway, earning widespread recognition and acclaim along with her castmates, and a Grammy Award for the cast recording. She co-starred in the film “Blindspotting” which starred and was written by her “Hamilton” co-star Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal. A television series based on the movie is in development. In addition to being an actor and performer, Cephas Jones writes music and will have an EP of her original music coming out soon.

Book cover for "Nice Try," photo of Josh Gondelman, album cover for "Dancing on a Weeknight"
Center photo by Mindy Tucker

High Mud Comedy Festival Presents Josh Gondelman in a night of stand-up comedy at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts tomorrow night at 8 p.m.

Josh Gondelman is a stand-up and writer who has earned two Peabody Awards, three Emmys, and two WGA Awards for his work on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.” He is currently a writer/producer for “Desus & Mero” on Showtime - which was just renewed for a second season. 

He has a reputation for being a true mensch and among the nicest guys in comedy and his new book “Nice Try” is available from Harper Perennial and his most recent stand-up album “Dancing on a Weeknight” was released in April of this year.


He joined us to talk about stand-up, working for and with great people, Twitter pep-talks, and #agoodgame.

Bob Goepfert Reviews "Frozen" At Proctors

Nov 19, 2019
Caroline Bowman as Elsa and Caroline Innerbichler as Anna
Matthew Murphy / MurphyMade

Nobody is better than Disney at turning a beloved animated film into a live theater experience. Just think of “The Lion King” or “Beauty and the Beast.”

Legendary rapper Rakim visits the Albany Public Library Howe Branch and the University at Albany as part of the Creative Life series, on Monday, October 28, 2019.
Patrick Dodson

William Michael Griffin Jr., better known by his stage name Rakim, is “near-universally acknowledged as one of the greatest MCs – perhaps the greatest – of all time within the hip-hop community” He began his career as the emcee of the rap duo Eric B. & Rakim.

Where many MCs of the time developed their technique through improvisational battles, Rakim was among the first to demonstrate the possibilities of sitting down and writing intricately crafted lyrics packed with clever word choices and metaphors.

His new book: "Sweat The Technique: Revelations On Creativity From The Lyrical Genius" follows his career from his beginnings as a teenage rapper on Long Island and offers insight into how he thinks about words, music, writing and rhyming as it teaches writers of all levels how to hone their craft.

Joe Donahue spoke with Rakim on stage on October 28th as part of UAlbany’s Creative Life series. The Creative Life is created and produced by the New York State Writers Institute, University Art Museum, and UAlbany Performing Arts Center in collaboration with WAMC.

Todd Butler and Robert Burke Warren - Atlanta, Georgia 1980 (Adam Cahoon in the background)
Susanna Hernandez-Gray

  Robert Burke Warren is a Hudson Valley based writer, performer, and musician. His debut novel, “Perfectly Broken” was published in 2016. As a musician, he’s released several albums as himself and his popular family music alter-ego, Uncle Rock.


His latest project is “Redheaded Friend,” a one-man musical-memoir about a formative childhood friendship and its ripples throughout his life. He’ll perform the show at The Phoenicia Playhouse in Phoenicia, New York on Saturday, November 23rd at 7pm.

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WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel switch seats for a show about acronyms.