Tonight marks the opening of Buffalo’s theater season. In advance of the opening, we asked Peter Hall, theater reviewer for Buffalo Rising, to describe his sentiments regarding the opening, and how he goes about choosing the play to watch, when there are so many performances:
Even though “New Year’s Eve” is celebrated world wide, I have lived most of my life according to an academic calendar, either going to school, teaching school, or attending arts events where “the season” runs from September to June. So for me, the excitement of “something new” comes in September with “a fresh start” and that includes the beginning of the WNY Theater Season, “Curtain Up!” As the song goes in WEST SIDE STORY: “I got a feeling there’s a miracle due/Gonna come true, comin’ to me/Could it be, yes it could/Something’s comin’, something good.”
Now, when it comes time to choosing a show, I often pick a venue that’s a little out of the way, perhaps one not on Main Street, just to show them some love and support. But a highlight of the evening is seeing the actors and other theater people dressed up and definitely “on,” even if they’re not actually on a stage. Actors have a certain glow about them anyway, and at Curtain Up! they all positively shine. Main Street from Tupper to Chippewa has the feel of just one big red carpet.
The 38th annual Curtain Up! celebration marking the Official Opening of Buffalo’s Theatre Season, is being held today, Friday, September 20, 2019. This unique event, as always, will unfold in three “Acts”: The Curtain Up! Gala Dinner, 13 diverse, professional Theatre Performances, followed by a Free Street Party on the 600 block of Main Street, complete with music, dancing and continuous entertainment. A Celebration of Buffalo Theatre in Three Acts!
ACT I – THE CURTAIN UP! GALA DINNER
New Location! Validated Parking!
Open Bar & Hors d’oeuvre Reception
followed by the sumptuous Gala Dinner!
Curtain Up! 2019 will commence at 5PM with the Gala Dinner, this year enhanced with exciting, new amenities to elevate your experience, at one of Buffalo’s newest, most sought-after destinations – 500 Pearl Street. The Gala Dinner will be preceded by an elegant Cocktail Hour with Open Bar and passed hors d’oeuvres in the beautiful and historic Forbes Theatre. From there, guests will proceed to the Grand Aeries Ballroom where they will be among the first to savor 500 Pearl’s fine cuisine.
500 Pearl will validate your parking; and, for all-night revelers, it is offering a special room rate at its luxurious Aloft Hotel with your Gala Dinner ticket purchase. Tickets are $100 each and may be purchased online @ ticketmaster.com or by phone at (716) 847-0850.
Creative black has never been more apropos!
Curtains will rise simultaneously at all participating Theatres at 8PM, and the 2019-2020 Theatre Season will be underway.
1 Curtain Up Alley, Buffalo, NY 14202
NAVIGATORS by Gordon Farrell
Fresh off his Broadway Hit play Lifespan Of A Fact, Gordon Farrell continues his longstanding connection with Alleyway Theatre with the premiere of his latest juicy play. Imagine… a night of sailing with a political family casting off for deep secrets! It’s an exciting start to Alleyway’s 40th season starring Chris J Handley, Sandra Roberts and Tom Owen, directed by Neal Radice.
(Run dates: September 12–October 5, Thu-Sat at 7:30 PM.)
All seats $38
Rust Belt Books
415 Grant Street, Buffalo, NY 14215
KNOCK, KNOCK JESUS CALLING by Heather Fangsrud
Heather recounts her childhood growing up gay in a strict, religious, Jehovah’s Witness household.
(Run dates: Sep 20-Oct 6, Fri at 8 PM, Sat and Sun at 2 PM)
All seats $15
Buffalo United Artists
at Alleyway Cabaret
672 Main Street, Buffalo, NY, 14202
BRIGHT COLORS AND BOLD PATTERNS by Drew Droege
Josh and Brennan are about to get married in Palm Springs on a lovely Saturday afternoon. However, the night before turns into a drunken, drug-fueled scream riot because one of the guests becomes more and more furious about a stipulation on the wedding invitation: “Please refrain from wearing bright colors or bold patterns.” In the struggle for equality, what do we really want? What do we lose? And, is there any cocaine left? New York Times Critic’s Pick. Starring James Cichocki, directed by Carly Weiser.
(Run dates: Sep 13-Oct 4, Fri and Sat at 8 PM)
All seats $25
Irish Classical Theatre Company
at the Andrews Theatre
625 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14203
‘TIS PITY SHE’S A WHORE by John Ford
The dreadful demise of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers in Romeo & Juliet and the unrestrained passion of his Othello are arguably eclipsed by this rarely revived 17th Century Jacobean drama. Written a generation later and similar in theme and structure, ‘Tis Pity She’s
a Whore is one of the most poignant, passionate and disturbing tragedies written for the early modern stage. This tale of forbidden love, deception and gruesome revenge will provoke the mind and disquiet the heart. Swept up by an inexorable vortex of deadly desire, Annabella and Giovanni risk eternal damnation by consummating their love in defiance of society, the law and the Church. In this world rife with corruption, greed and misogyny, who will bear the blame, and who will pay the price?
(Run dates: Thu-Sat 7:30PM, Sat at 3PM, Sun at 2PM)
All seats $60
The Kavinoky Theatre
320 Porter Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14201
HAIRSPRAY by Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman, Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan. Based on the movie by John Waters
It’s 1962 Baltimore and plus-sized teenager Tracy Turnblad has one dream: to dance on The Corny Collins Show. When the African-American students teach her some of their dance moves, Tracy transforms into a star-using her newfound fame to advocate for racial integration on the TV show. This hit musical’s beautiful message of acceptance and progress teaches us all to look past the color of one’s skin and fight for the equal rights of every human being.
(Run dates: Sep 6-Oct 6)
$45/general, $40/seniors, military. Discounts available for students and groups.
4380 Main Street, Amherst, NY 14226
WEST SIDE STORY
book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Returning to its core as a young, desperate love story with its heart based in the streets, MusicalFare’s production will be re-imagined for its intimate space, enabling audiences to experience the show as if seeing it for the very first time.
(Run dates: Sep 4–Oct 6)
New Phoenix Theatre On The Park
95 Johnson Park, Buffalo, NY 14201
IZZY a musical revue by Jim Santella and Grant Golden
Izzy celebrates the musical tour de force of one of Buffalo‘s most famous, glorious, but unheralded composers, Israel Freel! An almost musical superstar who almost changed the world.
(Run dates: Sep 20-Oct 19 at 8 PM)
$30/general, $20/Student & Senior
O’Connell & Company
at Shea’s Smith Theatre
658 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14202
GENTLEMEN PREFER DIVAs: BROADWAY LEGENDS
Created and written by Mary Kate O’Connell
One Night Only –. Celebrate O’Connell & Company’s 25th Anniversary Season at this special Curtain Up! performance! Join us for a fabulous and entertaining evening at BROADWAY LEGENDS. Salute famous shows and performers that have graced Buffalo’s stages, from Shea’s to Melody Fair and every stage in-between. Hear about private backstage moments with these BROADWAY LEGENDS and relive these wonderful shows, in music, stories and quotes, that have captivated global audiences for decades! Featuring an All-Star Cast!
(Run date: September 20 only)
Paul Robeson Theatre
at the African American Cultural Center
350 Masten Avenue
LADIES SWING THE BLUES, A JAZZ OPUS FOLKLORE IN THE KEY OF SWING,
Book and Original Lyrics by Thomas W. Jones, II. Original Music by William A. Knowles
Four Jazz Icons Gather in the famed Jazz club BIRDLAND in 1953 to celebrate the recent passing of one of the greatest jazz musicians Charlie Parker and the mysterious circumstances surrounding his premature death …. Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn , Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald and the legendary Charlie Parker inhabit this musical journey chronicling the lives of the most influential music makers of the 20th century; .and the conspiracy to silence them. LADIES SWING THE BLUES is a 20th century musical odyssey that sings. swings. confesses the deep truths deeply rooted in the musical landscape of jazz and blues. Directed by Thomas W. Jones II. (Run dates: Sept. 20 – Oct. 13, 2019, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sunday Matinees at 4pm)
$35/general, $30/Senior and Students, $23.50/industry
Road Less Traveled Productions
456 Main Street Buffalo NY 14202
THE AUTHENTIC LIFE OF BILLY THE KID by Lee Blessing
“The West is what you make of it. Outside of that it doesn’t exist.” So says Ash Upson to Pat Garrett after he arrives unexpectedly at Garrett’s failing ranch in Las Cruces. Decades after the deed, Garrett is living out his life as “The Man Who Shot Billy the Kid”. Or is he? When Upson confronts him with an audacious proposition and a very much alive Billy the Kid, Garrett must decide what to make of his past memories and, more importantly, his future legacy; if Billy the Kid is alive, then who is Pat Garrett? With creativity and skill, this tantalizing “what-if” scenario blends fact and fiction in a drama that is at times both funny and unnerving as it first questions and then deconstructs our personal and cultural mythmaking. Directed by Scott Behrend (Run dates: Sep 12-Oct 6, Thu-Sat at 7:30 PM, Sun at 2:00 PM)
$39/general, $22/student, $5/student Thursday
Subversive Theatre Collective
The Manny Fried Playhouse
255 Great Arrow Avenue, Suite #302, Buffalo, NY 14207
CATCH-22 by Joseph Heller
Don’t miss this rare production of Joseph Heller’s own stage adaptation of his off-the-wall anti-war novel that continues to inspire anti-authoritarians everywhere! This deliciously sour ridicule of war-mongers, depraved bureaucrats, and self-serving demagogues is needed now more than ever in a land drowning in its own hypocrisies.
(Run dates: Sep 6-28 Thu-Sat at 7:30 PM)
$30/general, $25/students, seniors and members. All Thursday performances are pay-what-you-can.
The Birds Nest Circus Arts
64 Fillmore Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14210
THE CIRCUS GRIMM: A TALE OF HANSEL AND GRETEL!
Catch up with Hansel and Gretel on their journey to return home after being carelessly abandoned in the woods. This tantalizing take on traditional tales follows our floundering fellows into the enchanted Black Forest, where they encounter the familiar faces of Cinderella, Rumplestiltskin, Little Red Riding Hood and more. Come enjoy an enchanting night of your favorite fairy tales reconceptualized, lightly plagiarized, and fully “acrobatized.”
(Run dates: September 20, 21 at 8:00 PM, September 22 at 2 PM)
$40 General Admission
$20 Kids under 12
Ujima Company, Inc.
429 Plymouth Ave., Suite #2
Buffalo, NY, 14213
PIPELINE by Dominique Morisseau
The title refers to the school-to-prison pipeline that is so often discussed but remains unresolved. Nya Pittman, an inner-city public high school teacher, places her son in a private school in an attempt to ensure that he will not suffer the same fate as her students. Other unforeseen problems arise at the school and her son is threatened with expulsion. Now her decisions and efforts to provide safety clash with his suppressed rage and insecurity. Pipeline is a story about all of us and what we do or don’t do to stop the flow.
(Run dates: Sep 13 – Oct 6, Thu-Sat at 7 PM, Sun at 4 PM)
$30/general, $25/senior, $15/student
ACT III – THE CURTAIN UP! FREE STREET PARTY
10PM, 600 BLOCK OF MAIN STREET
Stroll down Main Street between Tupper to Chippewa Streets as the Theatre District comes alive! Join a thousand or so of your fellow Theatre-lovers as Main Street becomes the epicenter for music, dancing and continuous entertainment of all kinds until 1AM. There’ll be something for everyone, and it’s all FREE!
Here’s just a sample of what’s in store:
The George Scott Big Band
Jazz, Big Band, Dance music
Griffin Kramer Plays Showtunes
Shea’s Bistro & Bar
JJ Swing Band
Outside Shea’s 710
All your favorites by Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire, Steely Dan, Brian Setzer and Blood, Sweat
Outside 646 Main/Tent City
Live rock & roll
at the Bijou Grille
Cajun, Caribbean, Blues and more!
Magician Mike Seege
Outside Shea’s Performing Arts Center
Off the wall comedy and magic