Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Jeff Spevak

On a day where millions of Americans were frantically Googling “Mario Kart,” Unleashed! Improv was reminding its audience on Day Seven of the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival that walking in on your parents while they’re having sex is comedy gold.

Policy changes at the Blue Cross Arena

Sep 18, 2018
Alex Crichton

The Blue Cross Arena at the Rochester War Memorial, along with Pegula Sports and Entertainment, are announcing some major policy changes at the downtown venue.

It will now be a completely smoke-free facility, and there will no longer be any designated smoking areas on the property and fans won't be permitted to smoke on the premises.

The smoking restriction also applies to electronic tobacco products, too.

The arena will also start using metal detectors and fans will be subject to hand-held metal detector screenings for all events.

Jeff Spevak

These KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival shows are like chasing lightning bugs across a hillside. For most of the shows, you get one, two, maybe three looks at them. And that’s it. They’re gone.

Scott Pukos / WXXI

Actor Robert Forster, a Rochester native who has been in dozens of films and TV shows, was in town over the weekend.

He hosted a private showing for family and friends at The Little Theatre of his new film, called  What They Had,  which is about a family dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. Its cast also includes Hilary Swank, Blythe Danner, and Michael Shannon.

WXXI’s Randy Gorbman caught up with Forster after the screening of the film on Saturday. The Rochester screening was the first time Forster had seen the film, which has previously been shown at the Sundance Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival.

Jeff Spevak

EstroFest claims to be “an equal-opportunity offender.” What does that mean? And what does it mean when the young, extraordinarily talented young woman who writes and stars in a one-person musical comedy, Mo-to-the-oncle, rolls out character after character that seem rooted in stereotypes?

Jeff Spevak

Rochester’s PUSH Physical Theatre has established itself as one of the foundation acts of the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival. It is essential viewing each year: What amazing stories will it tell, through the simple act of moving one’s body?

On Saturday, Day Four of the 11-day festival, PUSH took its audience to laughs, tears, and to the stars. True comedy carries with it elements of poignancy and sadness. And something grander than the joke.

Randy Gorbman / WXXI News

About 3,000 people took a tour of WXXI on Saturday for our Open House event.

The State Street facilities, which include WXXI Radio and TV studios, the WXXI Newsroom, Classical 91.5 and various digital and interactive operations, open the doors every two years to give people in the community an idea of what goes into making the programming you see and hear every day.

As usual, some of the kids’ activities drew some of the biggest crowds (and loudest approval), including meeting and taking photos with very popular PBS KIDS’ characters, including:

Fred SanFilipo / Fred SanFilipo

It was the biggest gig in the short history of Massaoke, but the band’s expectations were low. Sure, it was the Glastonbury Festival. But the band was playing at 5 in the afternoon.

To its surprise, the show was packed. Except, “People were crying,” says drummer Mat Morrisroe. “They had been showing the Amy Winehouse documentary right before we played.”

Nevertheless, the band played on. And the crowd stayed. “We thought: This actually worked in front of a crowd of people,” keyboardist Mark Nilsson says.

Jeff Spevak / for WXXI News

Two days into the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival, and already we have a bold statement on these times. Words, and music, coming back to us from 150 years ago.


If you go to some of the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival events this weekend and next at Parcel 5 and the Spiegelgarden, you may be heckled.   In a good way.

Debi Mansour, who performs under the name Crackerjack, is a complimentary heckler.

Dressed in flamboyant outfits, she grabs a megaphone and hurls flattering words at passersby. Many of them laugh and smile. Some of them blush and hide their faces.

All of the interactions make Crackerjack feel like she’s doing something good, and needed now more than ever.