Buffalo Rising

Shea’s 710 Theatre is celebrating, consolidating, and collaborating.

“Where do I begin? To tell the story of…” the old Studio Arena Theatre. For starters, this beloved, intimate 625 seat venue was just renamed “Shea’s 710 Theatre,” formerly “710 Main,” at, yes, 710 Main Street at the corner of Tupper in Buffalo’s theatre district. The most recent play on that stage was A.R. Gurney’s LOVE LETTERS, this May starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal of  LOVE STORY fame. The president of Shea’s Performing Arts Center, Tony Conte, was also just on stage, receiving this year’s Career Achievement Artie Award at which time the presenter, Neal Radice of the Alleyway Theatre, said that Shea’s may be the 800-pound gorilla of Buffalo theatre, but that’s not how Tony Conte operates. In fact, he’s remarkably collaborative, as you’ll read below.

For those uneasy about the future of one of the finest stages in Buffalo, five days after the Arties, Tony Conte put many fears to rest as he said: “Our plan is to continue to brand our theatres under the umbrella of Shea’s Performing Arts Center with Shea’s Buffalo Theatre, Shea’s Smith Theatre and now with Shea’s 710 Theatre as it also clarifies to our patrons that this theatre is managed by Shea’s.” This cross-branding will bring Shea’s sales and marketing power to a third venue.

providing a mix of collaborations with two local theatre companies as well as a brand new partnership with the Shaw Festival.

Following that bold stroke, Shea’s 710 Theatre completed the announcement of its 2016-17 Frey Electric Construction Company Season with five shows (one of which won this year’s Outstanding Musical Ensemble Artie Award) providing a mix of collaborations with two local theatre companies as well as a brand new partnership with the Shaw Festival to present MRS. WARREN’S PROFESSION at Shea’s 710 Theatre this November. The theatre also recently announced a collaboration with the Albright Knox Art Gallery for a mural project along the north side wall (along Tupper Street) planned for completion this summer, contributing to the revitalization of Downtown Buffalo’s Theatre District.

So, what all is coming?

WONDER OF THE WORLD, an off-Broadway comedy, written by David Lindsay-Abaire, will be produced by Buffalo Laboratory Theatre September 15 to October 2, 2016. Briefly: When Cass discovers her husband’s little sex fetish, she hops on a bus to Niagara Falls to discover the meaning of life and in picaresque fashion meets a series of off the wall characters. “Absolutely hysterical!” said Variety.

MRS. WARREN’S PROFESSION, produced by the Shaw Festival will be at Shea’s 710 Theatre from November 3 to November 13, 2016. Briefly: Kitty Warren has worked hard to provide the finest education for her daughter and now that Vivie is about to strike out on her own, her mother decides it’s time for her feminist daughter to finally learn the truth about mom’s profession – “the oldest profession.” The staging, currently up at The Shaw Festival’s Royal George Theatre, is quite historically accurate. How? Originally banned from public performance, Shaw’s play was first staged at a private men’s club, and that’s how it will be this fall. Shaw himself said about the play, “Ah, when I wrote that, I had some nerve.”

RING OF FIRE, produced by MusicalFare Theatre, will be reprised at 710 from February 16 through March 5, 2017. Recently awarded an Artie for Outstanding Ensemble of a Musical for the run at MusicalFare, the collaboration will follow this year’s very successful restaging of MusicalFare’s AVENUE Q.  Briefly: RING OF FIRE loosely fits the songs of Johnny Cash to a narrative about the country singer’s life.

PROOF, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for Best Play, written by David Auburn, will be this season’s second collaboration with Buffalo Laboratory Theatre and will be onstage March 23 through April 3, 2017. In 2005 PROOF was made into a movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Gwyneth Paltrow, but don’t let that put you off. The story? On the eve of her twenty-fifth birthday, Catherine, a troubled young woman, who has spent years caring for her brilliant but unstable father, a famous mathematician, wonders how much of her father’s madness, or genius, she will inherit?

And, THE OTHER MOZART (lead image), directed by Ann Patrice Carrigan of Rochester’s POETRY IN MOTION, was just announced to be the fifth play this coming season, with a very short run from May 4 through May 7, 2017. It’s the true story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s beloved older sister, nicknamed Nannerl, who, like her brother, was a keyboard virtuoso. Together they performed throughout Europe and were “rock stars” in London in “the sixties” (the 1760s), but, the times being what they were, full of overwhelming restrictions and prejudice, Nannerl’s star was not allowed to rise, and her story has been lost to history. It seems that fans of Peter Schaffer’s AMADEUS would enjoy this as well as those who saw MOZART’S SISTER, a 2010 French drama film written and directed by René Féret.

Recently, several theatre companies have had to move, for several reasons, and often for the better. American Repertory Theatre moved to 330 Amherst Street and Brazen Faced Varlets at Rust Belt Books moved to 415 Grant Street, both helping to revitalize Buffalo’s West Side. Road Less Traveled Productions moved to 500 Pearl Street, in the downtown theatre district, repurposing part of a building that needed a focus. And, the history of the former Studio Arena theatre reveals many moves, from a lodge on Elmwood, to the Teck Theatre, to what is now the Town Casino, ultimately crossing Main to take over the Palace Burlesque at 710 Main Street. However, while the only constant in life is change, and we must embrace that, stability is also good thing, and that’s what Shea’s brings to 710.

For tickets, one can call 716-847-0850, visit www.sheas.org/710main or make purchases in person at the Shea’s Box Office, 650 Main Street, Buffalo.