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Forest Lawn presents It WAS a Wonderful Life

Buffalo is truly lucky to have such a majestic outdoor setting as Forest Lawn, filled with rolling hills, historic monuments, meandering streams, wildlife… and an incredibly quaint chapel. I would venture to say that very few Buffalonians are aware that this chapel even exists. The chapel is home to plenty of ceremonies, but only the lucky few know that it seconds as a performance space where some of this city’s most talented musicians and performers have played/performed.

Aside from live music, the chapel hosts myriad theatrical performances. To witness any show within the chapel is truly magical. There’s something about walking in from the cold, into a such a warm and welcoming environment… in the middle of the city’s historic cemetery.

Critically acclaimed original production as the historic and festively decorated Forest Lawn chapel is transformed into a live theater.

Starting on Saturday, November 26, Forest Lawn presents It WAS a Wonderful Life. The theatrical production has become a holiday tradition in Buffalo over the years, which is why there are now so many opportunities to catch a show. 

Musical, comical and poignant glimpses of Christmases past, when they enjoyed life on this side of the lawn.

The show? Well, it’s narrated by the first resident to ever be interred at Forest Lawn – John Lay. During the show, Lay introduces the audience to myriad people of importance who have been buried at the cemetery over the last 165 years. It’s an insightful journey that tells the tale of Buffalo, and the people that made impactful advancements upon the city and the nation. Those people include:

  • Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives (where she served from 1969 to 1982) and the first woman from a major party to run for President of the United States
  • Dr. Frederick Cook, polar explorer who laid claim to the discovery of the North Pole in 1908
  • John Dover, a private who served in the Union Army during the Civil War as a member of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, the first exclusively African American unit to fight in the war. The unit’s story is told in the Academy Award winning film, Glory.

If you’re interested in hearing these stories and more, portrayed by some of the region’s finely honed acting and storytelling talents, be sure to catch one of the following performances.

  • Saturday, November 26 – 2:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, November 27 – 2:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 3 – 11:00 a.m.
  • Saturday, December 3 – 2:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 4 – 2:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 10 – 11:00 a.m.
  • Saturday, December 10 – 2:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 11 – 2:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 17 – 11:00 a.m.
  • Saturday, December 17 – 2:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 18 – 2:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 31 – 2:00 p.m. (Note: This performance will conclude with the cast doing a special celebratory toast with the audience to ring in the New Year)

Forest Lawn Proudly Presents It WAS a Wonderful Life. Original theatrical production has become a Western New York holiday tradition.

It WAS a Wonderful Life

Forest Lawn Chapel | 1411 Delaware Avenue | Buffalo, NY

Seating is limited. Tickets required. Ticket price is $25 per person and can be purchased in advance online at the Forest Lawn website or via phone at (716) 885-1600.

All attendees are invited to join us for hot cider prior to each performance.

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer |

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