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Melanie Vona is living proof that Neal Radice got it right. At 23, Melanie joined about a dozen relatives for Thursday’s performance of “A Christmas Carol” at the Alleyway Theatre. Her parents, true believers in seeing that show each year, brought her for the first time when she toddled. “It’s magical,” said Melanie, equating it to downtown Buffalo at Christmas. For …

Festivals

The final weekend before Christmas is actually pretty calm in terms of events, likely because organizers understand how Buffalonians are occupied with last-minute preparations. This weekend's highlights are filled with holiday sentiment, featuring caroling, a family-friendly play at Shea's and a chance to support a local business that's fallen on unexpected hard times. …

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Several well-reviewed local theatrical productions are having their final performances this weekend. "Mr. Popper's Penguins," a puppet-filled musical from the classic children's book, finishes its run with shows at 1 p.m. Dec. 21 and 22 in the Allendale Theatre (203 Allen St.). Tickets for the show, recommended for ages 5 and older, start at $15, at theatreofyouth.org. …

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Plan on parking before you get to Main Street in East Aurora the evening of Dec. 21, because the entire stretch between Olean and Riley streets will be taken over by the village's 47th annual Carolcade from 7 to 8 p.m. Before and after, check out all the shops, not just the must-see Vidler's, and enjoy the caroling (song sheets provided) plus hot cocoa, doughnuts and Sa…

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Old ladies have sex, you know. Blanche Hollingsworth Devereaux taught us that. Even Rose, and when she gets around to it, so does Dorothy. But it was Sophia Petrillo, the Sicilian with a wicker handbag of sharp comebacks, that really educated the crowd at a recent performance of Alleyway Theatre’s “The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes, Holiday Edition.” This holiday editi…

Festivals

Neighborhoods, especially in developing cities, have life cycles. Difficult periods are often punctuated by moments of rebirth, with enduring progress followed by healthy stability before the cycle repeats. These phases are inexact, at times idealistic and narrative-driven, but the seasons are evident in Buffalo neighborhoods. Broadway-Fillmore, part of history-rich Pol…

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How many times have you seen "Les Misérables"? More than once? Not at all? What about five times, or 12? Or, I don't know, 27. It’s not too absurd a thought. “Les Mis” is the show that never dies. “One day more!” it pleads to us, over and over again, the French revolutionaries waving their inordinately large red flag in case we didn’t hear. It’s been a lot of days more …

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Christmas is the time for carolers and choral singers, and for proof we only have to look at the week ahead. The Buffalo Gay Men's Chorus appears in the last of its three "Evolution: You Are Peace" concerts at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13 in Orchard Park Presbyterian Church (4369 South Buffalo St., Orchard Park). The chorus will be joined by members of the Chromatic Club of Buffal…

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When people say we should be careful what we wish for, they mean that we should consider the cost of our desire. “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” is a story obsessed with how hard it is to pay for things. Happily, teamwork, determination and some show business pizzazz help a pair of Poppers bring their many penguins to their beloved Antarctica. Based on the novel by Richard and …

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Raíces Theatre Company makes me feel at home every time I visit. I am not in their target demographic, and perhaps you aren’t either; I am not Latino or Hispanic. I do not recognize much of the cultural shorthand exchanged between their familial ensemble and enthusiastic audiences throughout their shows, the head-nodding references, the nonverbal acknowledgements, the conc…

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First, let's hear it for the fabulous Fesmire brothers – Isaac, Joel and Samuel – who play the Pazinski boys with such panache in this year's version of "Christmas Over the Tavern." Like the brothers Marx (Groucho, Chico, Harpo) and Howard (Moe, Curly, Shemp) before them, these three appear to have never met a gag they didn't like or a joke so corny they wouldn't tell it. …

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Banker George Bailey once again gets a lesson in what is really important in life when the Carriage House Players present "It's a Wonderful Life (the Live Radio Play)" beginning Dec. 6 in the Kenan Center's Taylor Theater (433 Locust St., Lockport). The production is an adaptation by Joe Landry of the perennial holiday movie starring Jimmy Stewart, and includes behind-t…

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The pies have it. Freudig Singers of Western New York gets our vote for the most delicious Christmas concert of them all, thanks to the "signature pies" baked by the singers. Most of the pies will be raffled off as a fundraiser during intermissions at the group's "A Christmas Pie" concerts. The first is at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 in the church of St. Joseph University Parish (…

Food and Drink

In the span of four days, Celine Dion, Jimmy Eat World, Vanessa Williams and Linus and his blanket will grace Western New York. That is pretty cool. Most events are geared toward the holidays, with annual staples such as Alternative Buffalo's Kerfuffle Before Christmas – which has a new twist this year – plus the Seneca Niagara tree lighting and Mannheim Steamroller's t…