Six gleaming pairs of brass doors to be unveiled today are replicas of the Main Street theater's original doors that first greeted the public back in 1926.
In the next several weeks, the words "Shea's Buffalo," in shades of gray, will be installed in porcelain tile to re-create what was seen in an old black-and-white photo of the theater discovered in the past year.
Meanwhile, restoration work continues on the former movie palace designed by leading theater architects Rapp & Rapp. About 60 percent of the restoration work on the underside of the balcony and 50 percent of the dome restoration were completed this summer.
The completion of the Main Street doors comes in time for the annual "Curtain Up!" celebration Friday and the opening of "Billy Elliott" on Sept. 25, marking the start of Shea's 25th season of presenting Broadway plays.
"Our mission continues to restore and maintain this national historic building for current and future generations to enjoy," Shea's President Anthoncy Conte said. "This is another milestone in our mission."
The theater also installed a replica of the "Wonder Theatre" sign in the theater's entrance in 2004.
The $600,000 doors project was made possible through funds from the New York State Dormitory Authority. The entrance doors on Pearl Street also are being replaced.
"We're just thrilled to be part of the renovation of Shea's," said David Dawson, a third-generation business owner whose Jamestown company, Dawson Metal and Dawson Doors, manufactured the doors. "It's such a beautiful landmark - kind of the heart and soul of Buffalo, I think."
Two other local companies were also involved. The decorative molding was done by Jamestown Bronze Works, and the glazing was done by South Buffalo Glazing.
Restoration consultant Doris Collins said she is excited to see the new doors and that new polishing materials will help keep them and the brass inner doors looking shiny for years to come.
"They are just going to glisten," Collins said.
Scaffolding set up this summer inside the ornate auditorium is scheduled to reappear next summer - only higher. Shea's plans to tackle its last remaining big project: plastering and painting the main ceiling, including the side walls and the proscenium arch, which frames the stage.
"My goal is to get 90 to 95 percent of the interior done by the beginning of next season," Collins said, with the rest completed in 2014.
As the 2012-13 theater season - which also includes "Jekyll & Hyde," "Priscilla: Queen of the Desert" and "The Book of Mormon" - gets under way, 12,751 season tickets have been sold so far, including 1,900 new season ticket-holders. That's slightly down from last year's 13,100, a theater record. But it still ensures Shea's reputation as one of the top one-week subscriber markets in the country.
Doors set the stage for historical authenticity at Shea's
Restoration projects take Buffalo theater back to its 1926 appearance