Theater Talk: Shea's Broadway Partner-Producer Albert Nocciolino answers questions

Apr 16, 2021

Shea’s Performing Arts Center Broadway Season Partner-Producer Albert Nocciolino and Shea's President Michael G. Murphy announced Shea's new Broadway season dates, starting with Disney's FROZEN on September 10. We had questions. Al Nocciolino had answers.

Albert (Al) Nocciolino stands in front of all those empty seats at Shea's as he looks forward to September 10, 2021
Credit sheas.org

In a Zoom conversation Nocciolino pointed out that the economics of putting on a Broadway show require 100% audience capacity. Theaters cannot afford the empty seats which would be required to provide social distancing. Nocciolino continued: "This is no longer about testing. It's about vaccinations. The union has agreed that nobody goes on the road until everyone involved has been vaccinated."

The plan right now (April 2021) for all Broadway shows on the road is to have 40 different shows begin tours in September. For example, while Disney's FROZEN is in Buffalo in early September, 39 other shows will be in other theaters across America.

During the pandemic shutdown, a number of New York State theaters from Albany to Buffalo, have been collaborating continually to move forward by sharing information, efforts, and expertise, in order to establish best practices for reopening all the Broadway touring venues, including Shea's.
 
Noccilino was very upfront about the fluid nature of the reopening. "A lot of things are going to change over the next five months. It's likely that Shea's patrons will be asked to wear masks, but we'll know more as we get closer to the date." From Shea's press release: "Upon reopening, Shea’s Buffalo Theatre will inform patrons of all our health requirements and social etiquette procedures, as safety is our top priority. Shea’s will follow CDC and NYS guidelines when planning for a safe return to the theatre this fall, and details will be shared when available."

He also stressed that the economics of touring shows are different from those on Broadway in NYC. "The business model for the road is built on subscriptions" he said, so that the money, or at least most of it, is up front. That contrasts with Broadway shows, which are single ticket purchases. And "of the 14 million plus tickets sold last season, 65% of those were to tourists." So people have to feel safe on airplanes, in hotels, in restaurants, in the subways, not to mention the actual theaters themselves, where, again, less than 100% capacity is simply not an option. So the first shows to open will be musicals with an established, guaranteed ability to pre-sell tickets once the opening dates are announced, shows such as HAMILTON or THE LION KING or THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Newer shows such as JAGGED LITTLE PILL, SIX, GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY, or MRS. DOUBTFIRE may have to delay until they can pre-sell enough tickets to guarantee some financial security to get through their initial weeks.

But that's not the case for Shea's.  “Thank you to our loyal season subscribers and patrons for your patience, commitment, and support during this time. We would not be where we are today without all of you,” added Nocciolino. “We stand by our commitment to bring you the best of Broadway and each of the great shows we promised. Buffalo is a favorite stop for touring Broadway productions. The shows cannot wait to get back on the road and entertain audiences across the country.”
 
For patron convenience and safety, season tickets will be accessible on patron's mobile devices. Patrons will log into their My Shea’s Account to access or download tickets onto their mobile device when their season ticket package is paid in full. Patrongs are advised to go to www.sheas.org for instructions on how to access your My Shea’s account. Shea's promises that "Mobile ticketing will enhance patron experience at Shea’s Buffalo Theatre by providing a truly contactless and eco-conscious way to enter our theatre safely and efficiently while also reducing the risk of lost, stolen, or counterfeit tickets."
 
The new dates for the upcoming M&T Bank Broadway Series.   
 
THE NEW M&T BANK BROADWAY SERIES: This series includes all of the productions announced in March 2020.
•    DISNEY’S FROZEN: September  10 – 24, 2021
•    TOOTSIE: October 10 - 16, 2021
•    PRETTY WOMAN-THE MUSICAL: November 30 - December 5, 2021
•    HAMILTON: December 14, 2021 - January 2, 2022
(Note: HAMILTON is a "Special Subscriber Option." Subscribers have the option to include Hamilton in their Subscription Package.  Subscribers will have first access to purchase single tickets to Hamilton before the public on-sale.)
 
•    OKLAHOMA!: February 15 - 20, 2022
•    MY FAIR LADY: March 1 - 6, 2022
•    HARPER LEE’S TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD: March 27 - April 2, 2022 (This is not a musical, but rather the wildly popular adaptation by Aaron Sorkin.)
•    AIN’T TOO PROUD-THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE TEMPTATIONS: May 10 - 15, 2022
 
SPECIAL ENGAGEMENT:
•    RIVERDANCE: April 8 - 10, 2022
(This can be added to the package for an additional cost.)  
 
THE RE-SCHEDULED M&T BANK BROADWAY SERIES: This series includes the three productions that did not take stage due to the interruption to Shea's 2019-2020 Broadway series.
 
•    THE BAND’S VISIT: November 2 - 7, 2021
•    ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE: November 16 - 21, 2021
•    ANASTASIA: April 19 - 24, 2022

In a recent press release Shea's President Michael Murphy said: “The past year has been challenging, but a new season is upon us. Live theatre will return to Buffalo this fall. We are so grateful to this community and our loyal subscribers for standing by us during this extraordinary time. We cannot wait to raise the curtain for Buffalo’s Theatre District and see our city bustling again.”
 
Shea’s Performing Arts Center box office staff is available weekdays from 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM and Saturdays 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM at 716-847-0850 to answer any questions.
 
For more information on the M&T Bank Broadway Series at Shea’s Buffalo Theatre, visit www.sheas.org or follow Shea’s on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
 
The M&T Bank Broadway Series is presented by Shea’s Performing Arts Center and Albert Nocciolino, and is sponsored locally by M&T Bank, The Buffalo News, and WKBW-TV.