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Emergence Festival – A Day We Rise Up to Give Back to the Arts

On Saturday, August 15, Mel’s School of Music & Theater and The Gypsy Theatre will be hosting a drive-in tailgate festival, designed to help raise funds for the Association of Regional Theatre Artists (ARTA), and awareness for the arts of WNY.

With so many regional art institutions struggling during COVID, the decision was made to get creative. That creativity led to the Emergence Festival: A Day We Rise Up to Give Back to the Arts, and event that will be held from 12 PM to sunset. The event will include:

  • On the Main Stage, MEL’s student will headline with Les Mis, School Edition with opening act, The Gypsy Theatre’s “Dream Catcher”
  • The pre-pre show is an hour of duets from old cast mates from the the theatre community, singing songs of their choosing, called “Let’s Duet!”
  • There will be a matinee of Les Mis as well as dance groups and circus acts
  • Solo and poetry artists on the Cabaret Stage, as well as small music acts

Event organizers stress the importance of being safe – masks must be worn, no sharing of anything, sanitizing stations will be on hand, and social distancing measures will be practiced. BYOB chairs, blankets, and lawn games.

“Our theatre community here in WNY and around the globe have been negatively affected by Covid-19 both financially and emotionally. The way we get through this is by doing what we do best, entertaining the community and inspiring our future generations of artist,” said Melanie Klaja, CEO/Artistic Director MEL’s School of Music & Theater.

For additional information, email Also visit this Facebook event page to check out artists’ spotlights and latest updates. 

The event is being held at 1 Grafton Blasdell, NY 14219 | See directions

Show A

12 PM Drag Brunch with Kelly Valasquez-Lord, who will then host the rest of the show

1 PM Jaclyn Brown

1:30 PM Greg Baressi

2 PM Les Mis

3:30 PM Doors for Second Show

4 PM Cars Exit, New Cars come in

Show B

4:30 PM Cabaret Hour

Stevie Jackson

Evelyn & Alaina Zangerle

Molly Vine

Brett Klaczyk

Brandon Williamson

Brett Jackson

Sara Jo Kukulka

Ian Hayes

Maeghan McDonald

Charlotte Draper

James Cichocki

Ex- Wives of Henry the VIII

5:30 PM Let’s Du-et: An hour of WNY Theatre Community former cast members collaborating together

6:30 PM The Gypsy Theatre’s rock show “Dream Catcher”

7 PM Evening show of Les Miserables, School Edition with MEL’s School of Music & Theatre

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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