by Phillip Weiss

LancasterOperaHouseFrom performing on stage to helping out behind the scenes to sitting in the audience, I have many thrilling experiences at the historic Lancaster Opera House. It is truly one of my favorite spots in the Buffalo Niagara region. Located in the charming Village of Lancaster, the opera house is a magnificent old-styled theater that is cozy and gives the theatergoer a heartfelt and distinctive experience. Not only is the building beautiful, but the stage is always active with new and interesting shows for audiences of all ages.

Each theater season has both shows that have never been performed at the opera house and past-favorites which gives theatergoers the chance to become acquainted with unfamiliar shows and fall in love again with shows of the past. Kids shows and dinner-theater performances are also apart of the annual schedule that adds to the exciting array shows offered.

Evening and matinee performances are offered to accommodate all and tasty snacks and refreshing drinks are on sale during intermission of each show. Helpful and friendly ushers are present to help you find their seats and your way around the opera house.

Currently the Lancaster Opera House is offering five shows for the price of four shows. Prices vary from show to show but are generally around $15 and student, group and senior citizen discounts are given. The Box Office is open Monday-Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. You may contact the Box Office at 716-683-1776 or visit www.lancopera.org for further information.

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By Carolyn Batt

jerseyboys

Last night, I attended Shea’s Performing Arts Center’s 2009-2010 Season Announcement. More than 1,000 people sat in anticipation during this annual unveiling ritual. I’m personally excited for the lineup this year, as a lot of exciting new shows are being thrown in with a couple of classics—making it an appealing year no matter what your style.

It’s a toss-up for which show I am most looking forward to, but the top three that I’m sure to get tickets for are:

In the Heights, winner of four 2008 Tony Awards (including Best Musical) is what I am most looking forward to seeing. Shea’s showed a preview of the show and even had a Broadway cast member flown in to sing one of the musical’s song. The score is a combination of hip hop, salsa, merengue and soul which should make for a lively, upbeat show.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze: Cirque shows are one of a kind, and if you’re into a more visually stunning show, this show should be at the top of your list. With aerialists, acrobats, contortionists and dancers, this is a show that the whole family will enjoy and will you leave you awe struck.

Jersey Boys: Everywhere I travel to, people are always buzzing about this show. From Las Vegas to Toronto, this show is popular across the continent and has won numerous Tony Awards. The story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons will play for three weeks in Buffalo. I’m told that this show is one that “men will be dragging the women to.”

The complete Broadway lineup:
Chicago September 22-27, 2009
Fiddler on the Roof: The Farewell Tour November 17-22, 2009
Cirque Dreams Holidaze December 15-20, 2009
In the Heights January 26-31, 2010
Grease March 23-28, 2010
Jersey Boys April 21-May 9, 2010

Season tickets are on sale now and that’s the best way to get priority seating. For more information, visit www.sheas.org and for more Buffalo Niagara performing arts events, visit our website.

by Ed Healy

hotncole

A visit to the Kavinoky Theater begins with a very pleasant surprise. After stepping inside a rather generic, institutional looking building on the campus of D’Youville College on Buffalo’s West Side you are quite improbably transported to London’s West End as you enter a charming jewel box of a theater complete with balcony and boxes done in a lavish turn-of-the-century style. It’s one of the genuine pleasures of attending a show at the Kavinoky Theater – it’s a very cool space and there are no bad seats in this very intimate setting.

The Kavinoky Theater company – as opposed to the building itself – also offers theatergoers a very pleasant surprise. This small organization, working in a relatively small, out-of-the-way space consistently puts on high level, artistically compelling productions that are worthy of far larger entities in far larger cities. A typical Kavinoky season is an eclectic mix of musicals, comedies, premieres of new work, and dramas by stalwarts like Buffalo’s A.R. Gurney. What links this potpourri of theater is a dedication to high production values and outstanding local talent.

The theater’s current production is a case in point. “Hot n’ Cole” is a celebration of the work of great American songbook composer Cole Porter. It’s a revue with an attitude and features six dynamic performers, as well as two very talented pianists. Classics of the Cole Porter canon such as “Anything Goes,” “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “Love for Sale,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To,” and “Night and Day” are featured in a variety of unexpected arrangements and styles sung by a constantly changing array of cast combinations. The show has energy and panache and the set – a stylized rendering of New York’s Chrysler Building – sets the right tone and creates the perfect ambience for the songs of the very urbane Cole Porter.

“Hot n’ Cole” runs through April 5th. For more information, call (716) 829-7668 or visit www.kavinokytheatre.com.

by Carolyn Batt

sheasThis weekend, I went to see the musical Mamma Mia! at Shea’s Performing Arts Center.Shea’s is located in the heart of Buffalo’s Theatre District, which is home to a dozen different theatres. The playhouse itself is a very cool 1920’s venue, built in the style of a European opera house with a Tiffany-designed interior. It’s worth taking a trip just to see the theatre itself (and if you’re interested, Shea’s offers guided tours).

It has ample seating—with just over 3000 plush seats, and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. In addition to its orchestra and balcony seating, Shea’s also has loge seating, which is a lower level of the balcony, and mezzanine seating along the sides. It has amazing acoustics (Neil Young played here last year) and isn’t just one of those of externally good looking theatres that leaves you sitting in near silence, squinting in your seats to see the stage.

The great thing too about Shea’s is that it offers more than just a great venue, with an outstanding events calendar. Shea’s showcases huge Broadway musicals, plays, comedians and even rock concerts. Its Broadway season runs from September-June, and features some of the best Broadway shows in Buffalo. The production of these shows and quality of the seating is right on par with seeing a show in New York or Toronto. There are still three remaining Broadway productions: The Wizard of Oz in March, A Chorus Line in May and The Color Purple in June. There are also special engagement shows that run throughout the entire year.