Shea's Performing Arts Center

This week on Theater Talk, Anthony sings the praises of three women currently on local stages (coincidentally about 300 feet from each other in Buffalo's Theatre District): Joyce Stilson in I'M FINE at the Alleyway Theatre, Kate LoConti in THE WINSLOW BOY at Irish Classical Theatre Company, and Mary Gordon Murray in the touring updated CABARET at Shea's Performing Arts Center.

It's not a pared down touring CABARET that comes to Shea's next week; it's the real Broadway show. For something a lot quieter, THE CEMETERY CLUB is a bittersweet comedy about three widows and a widower at O'Connell and Company. Anthony saw GROUNDHOG DAY the musical in New York and both Peter and Anthony agree that the set, sound, and lights at THE TRIAL OF TRAYVON MARTIN are exceptionally well crafted.


Shea's Performing Arts Center and Albert Nocciolino just announced their 30th Anniversary Broadway Season (2017-2018) and went on to reveal that the long-awaited musical HAMILTON will be part of the 2018-2019 season. Next season special engagements include THE LION KING and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA while the season opens with Emilio and Gloria Estefan's ON YOUR FEET. This weekend's highly recommended plays are THE MOTHERF**KER WITH THE HAT at Road Less Traveled with very tight direction and stellar performances, STOP KISS which builds all evening towards "the kiss" (but with only two more performances at the Manny Fried Theatre), THE SEEDBED which is a family drama at the Irish Classical Theatre, A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE at the Kavinoky, and THE UNDERPANTS which is a modern adaptation by Steve Martin of a 1910 German play about sexual attraction, among other themes. And, opening tonight, it's the fabulous Jimmy Janowski as Cleo herself in CLEOPATRA, a BUA production at the Alleyway Theatre.

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Shea's Performing Arts Center

A combination of classics and new tours add up to a big year for Shea's Performing Arts Center's fall season.

Mark Thomas Duggan

This week Theater Talk mentions one of the few plays up in a week of musicals.  Torn Space Theater presents THE COLLECTION by Nobel Prize winning playwright Harold Pinter about two couples whose dwellings are separated by an on-stage wall, with, however, telephone connection.

If it's on stage this week, it's a holiday show, for sure, but some are better than others.

This week Peter and Anthony discuss a recent social media flap over HAMILTON, the uses of theater as a political weapon, the opening of BUFFALO PINOCCHIO set in a dystopian Buffalo of the future at the New Phoenix Theatre, two runs of the ballet THE NUTCRACKER, this weekend at Shea's Performing Arts Center (Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.) and next weekend at UB Center for the Arts, and, for Shakespeare fans (sort of) A MIDSUMMER DYKE'S CHRISTMAS (in celebration of the 400 years since Shakespeare and the 10th anniversary of the lesbian troupe Brazen-Faced Varlets) has all sorts of funny references.

Kelly Meg Brennan holds the eerily lit venue at 44 17th Street in Buffalo for 80 ripping minutes as she portrays over 20 characters in a one-woman monologue portraying the last night of Jack the Ripper's final victim, Mary Jane Kelly. Speaking to an unseen person (Jack, himself?) she describes her life and the circumstances that brought her to her present situation, an "unfortunate" as the Victoria press called sex workers. It's not about Jack, though. It's about Mary and Ms. Brennan has the audience wrapped around her little finger in wrapt attention. If they don't extend the run, it will close on Saturday.  Meanwhile, on Main Street three first rate productions keep audiences in their seats.  MRS. WARREN'S PROFESSION takes on the topic of sex workers and presents various ethical points of view at Shea's 710 Theatre,  EQUUS presents repressed sexuality at Irish Classical, and AN AMERICAN IN PARIS beautifully weaves the music of George Gershwin through the Broadway musical with stunning sets at Shea's. And, for an evening of nostalgia with a few surprises, treat yourself to Debbie Pappas's beautiful voice in TENDERLY: THE ROSEMARY CLOONEY MUSICAL.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The national tour of Finding Neverland opens with a preview performance Friday evening at Shea's Performing Arts Center. The tour is actually premiering in  Buffalo and that is a first for Shea's. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley attended a 'sneak-peek' and talked to some of the members of the show.


aaccbuffalo.org

Michael Murphy, formerly of the prestigious the Old Globe in San Diego picked up the reins this week from Tony Conte who left the organization in great financial shape and with three viable venues - Shea's PAC, the Smith theatre, and Shea's 710 Main.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Two area students have been nominated for national performing awards. They were top local winners of the recent Kenny Awards at Shea's Performing Arts Center that recognizes students in high school musicals. They are in New York City for the National Jimmy Awards Monday evening. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley talked with the students about their work and future theater ambitions.

AN IDEAL HUSBAND a comedy by Oscar Wilde (one of G.B. Shaw's favorites) presented by The Irish Classical Theatre runs through June 26 at the Andrews Theatre at 625 Main Street, with a cadre of accomplished Buffalo actors. Meanwhile, DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS is presented by Second Generation Theatre Company at the Lancaster Opera House, 21 Central Avenue, through June 26. The 26th Annual Artie Awards presentation was a big success with over 19 awards given. And, up for only two performances, Nickel City Opera presents SHOT!

Photo provided by Shea's

Riverdance - The 20th Anniversary World Tour opened at Shea's Performing Arts Center Tuesday night.  The powerful, international show of Irish dancing is on stage only until Thursday evening. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley had a chance to talk with a former principal dancer who is now associate director of the show.


Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Buffalo's 710 Main Theatre, which wrapped up its 2015-16 season last weekend, is already announcing plans for 2016-17. Beginning next season, their schedule will include a production by the prestigious Shaw Festival.


LOVE LETTERS, a touring production of the play by A.R. Gurney, directed by Gregory Mosher, starring Ali MacGraw, and Ryan O’Neal closes this weekend with four more performances available - Saturday May 21 at 2 and 8 p.m. and then Sunday, May 22, at 2 & 7 p.m. at 710 Main Theatre located 710 Main Street in Buffalo. Playwright A.R. "Pete" Gurney spoke with WBFO Theater Talk co-host Peter Hall about the first performance with Gurney himself opposite Holland Taylor. Gurney also shares insights into why Ali MacGraw is so perfect for this role.

DIRTY DANCING, the musical based on the Patrick Swayze movie, continues at Shea's Performing Arts Center with five more performances, closing with a 7 p.m. show on Sunday, May 8. Buffalo-born playwright A.R. "Pete" Gurney's LOVE LETTERS opens with "Love Story" stars Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal at the intimate space of 710 Main Theatre and it opens Wednesday May 11 and runs through May 22.

Long anticipated but absolutely worth the wait, OF MICE AND MEN at The New Phoenix Theatre offers a peak performance; Buffalo Quickies at The Alleyway might be their best in 25 years; Playwright Terrence McNally speaks tonight (a BUA Funder at the TR Site) and tomorrow (free event at Buff State).


Shea’s Performing Arts Center and Albert Nocciolino have announced their 2016-2017 season including FINDING NEVERLAND, AN AMERICAN IN PARIS and A CHRISTMAS STORY. Meanwhile, at Shea’s, the Carole King musical opens on Tuesday, a play about a comedian turned Nazi hunter opens on Thursday, and two shows open tonight -a play about bullying at Road Less Traveled, and Theater of Youth presents a stage version of a classic children’s novel.

WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

Buffalo will be the launch for the first national tour of "Finding Neverland." The tour will open October 11 at Shea's Performing Arts Center. Other big name shows like "42nd Street," "Wicked," and "the Sound of Music" are among the highlights of the 2016-2017 Broadway Series at Shea's.  

With all the interest in the revitalization of downtown Buffalo, home of "THE theater district," we sometimes forget about great theater in the suburbs, including Lancaster, where a family drama inspired by Chekhov is at the Lancaster Opera House.

PIPPIN, the story of the knight in search of meaning and truth, comes to Shea's on Tuesday, January 26 and runs through Sunday, January 31. After the Buffalo tour, the great Priscilla Lopez (from the original A CHORUS LINE) will leave the show. Also on stage, John Rubinstein, the original Pippin, now takes on the role of King Charles (Charlemagne). So it's a chance to see "Broadway Royalty" but only for six days.

A fixture in the Buffalo theater community, Michael Hake was the music director for dozens of productions and trouper that he was, wrapped up a performance of Musicalfare's PAGEANT and then passed away very quickly a few hours later from heart complications, surrounded by friends. He will be missed.

We have two musicals with somewhat different target audiences this week - PAGEANT: THE MUSICAL and MATILDA THE MUSICAL.

Two very intense 90 minute no-intermission dramas are gripping audiences this week, one at the Alleyway and one at Jewish Rep.

Alleyway Theatre

Broadway is Broadway, sure, but if "the play's the thing," well you can have a pretty good time here in Buffalo. Anthony and Peter both thoroughly enjoyed IN THE HEIGHTS at Musicalfare and NEWSIES at Shea's. But those are only two.

Buffalo Humanities Festival

Don't Americans love a story of the little guy talking truth to power? How about lots of little guys - knee high kids hawking newspapers on the street - striking in 1899 to bring two publishing giants - Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst - to their knees.  The Disney Broadway musical opens Tuesday at Shea's.

The 25th Annual Artie Awards presentation last Monday night at 710 Main Theatre was a high energy non-stop romp featuring seven musical numbers with the original Buffalo casts, very funny ad-libs, not to mention lots of fabulous shoes and great hair.  The venue was a first for the Arties, but we hope not the last. 

Photo from The Book of Mormon webpage

"The Book of Mormon" returns to Shea's Buffalo this week.  The show broke records two-years ago with the Buffalo audience. WBFO'S Eileen Buckley talks with Shea's President Tony Conte about why the Broadway hit is so popular in this community and its one-week return for eight-shows.

With five venues, settled in a quaint town with plenty of walk-to attractions, the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, continues to attract a sizeable audience from Buffalo. Anthony Chase reports in during the intermission of "Peter and the Starcatcher" at the Royal George Theatre which is attracting a large number of younger audience members (suitable for 8+) who react audibly to the imaginative plot - the "prequel" to "Peter Pan."

The 25th Annual Artie Awards, Buffalo's celebration of local theater, will be held on Monday, June 1 at 710 Main for the first time. The event will be hosted by actors Charmagne Chi, recently seen in "Carousel," and Amy Jakiel, recently in "She Loves Me," with Artvoice theater editor and Theater Talk co-host Anthony Chase.  Doors (and bar) at 710 Main will open at 7 p.m.; the Artie Awards show begins at 8 p.m.  The modest admission fee helps support the Immunodeficiency Clinic at ECMC.

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