Western New York’s theater scene is continuing its unabated growth this fall, as some two dozen theater companies prepare to launch ambitious seasons over the next two weeks.
The highlight of the fall theater season is, of course, the annual Curtain Up! celebration. The event, slated for Sept. 20, will feature an impossibly diverse array of productions to choose from and ends with a spirited outdoor party on Main Street.
If musicals are your thing, local theaters are offering a multitude of them this fall. The Kavinoky Theatre is presenting the world premiere of Jim Runfola’s “The Big Band Theory: When Swing Was King” on Sept. 13, and MusicalFare Theatre already has opened its own season with “La Cage aux Folles,” running through Oct. 13. MusicalFare will follow that up with “Master Class,” about opera singer Maria Callas, in late October. And the plucky American Repertory Theatre of Western New York is out to make a big splash with its production of Michael Friedman and Alex Timers’ hit 2008 rock musical “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” on Sept. 18.
Shea’s Performing Arts Center’s season begins Oct. 15 with “Ghost: The Musical,” followed by the much-anticipated “War Horse” on Nov. 12 and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” on Dec. 17.
After a successful test run with a string of productions last season, the reopened theater at 710 Main St., formerly Studio Arena, is poised to come into its own this year. It will begin its first official full season Sept. 17 with “I Love Lucy: Live on Stage.”
The space also will host Bruce Norris’ play “Clybourne Park” from Road Less Traveled Productions, from Nov. 8 through Dec. 1. The show, which takes a hard look at racism and gentrification in urban America, will likely strike a chord with many Buffalonians.
If it’s local fare you’re after, there’s no shortage of that either. Road Less Traveled opens its season Sept. 13 with a collection of short plays by Buffalo authors and about Buffalo issues, called “Buffalo Rises.” Alleyway Theatre’s founder Neal Radice will present “Night Work,” his original play about the plight of working women, next Thursday. The New Phoenix Theatre, after kicking its season off with the Broadway hit “Venus in Fur” next Thursday and Paul Zindel’s “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds” on Oct. 17, will present the original piece “Bounty” on Nov. 22. That show is a collaborative project developed by several members of the New Phoenix company under the direction of Robert Waterhouse.
Other potential season highlights include the Jewish Repertory Theatre of Western New York’s production of David Mamet’s “A Life in the Theatre,” opening Sept. 21; the Irish Classical Theatre Company’s productions of Moliere’s “School for Husbands” opening Sept. 13 and Lillian Hellman’s beloved play “The Little Foxes” opening Oct. 25; and Kaleidoscope Theatre Productions’ presentation of the madcap farce “Boeing Boeing” opening Sept. 20. The Buffalo Laboratory Theatre’s production of Sarah Ruhl’s “Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” opening Sept. 20, also seems a likely standout.
This fall, Buffalo also will welcome a new Latino company, Raíces Theatre, in residence at Road Less Traveled. The company will present its first production, “La Gringa,” on Nov. 18.
Though it is thought of as a summer affair, it’s also worth remembering that the Shaw Festival’s season continues through November. Highlights include Oscar Wilde’s “Lady Windemere’s Fan” and the musical “Guys and Dolls,” both on the Festival Theatre stage.