Choose a Curtain Up! Show
If you’ve never been to Curtain Up! (Sept. 15), you’re missing out on a celebration that is unique to Buffalo. Each year, the Theater Alliance of Buffalo invites patrons to see a show, then celebrate the start of the season with a massive street party on a blocked-off Main Street. If you choose, you can start your evening with a gala dinner, which this year returns to Fountain Plaza (the Shea’s stage is not available this year). Also new this year is a Greenroom Gala at the Expo Market, which offers a more casual cocktail party ambiance. (Visit the link above for complete info on the Curtain Up! schedule.) No other city in the country does it quite like this, so if you want to partake this year—or if you have before and just need help choosing a preparty show—check out the list of eleven (!) below—which includes three world premieres, then buy your tickets, because for this special night, theaters sell out fast!
By Neal Radice
Please see a full description in the World Premieres feature on page 34. Choose this if you like to be the first to see a play, are a fan of the cult film, like musical or feminist comedy, and are ready for an absurdly good time.
Tickets: alleyway.com, 852-2600
American Repertory Theater of WNY
By Mark Humphrey
Please see a full description in the World Premieres feature on page 34. Choose this if you like to be the first to see a play, like bromantic comedy, or are a fan of Michael J. Starzynski.
Tickets: artofwny.org, 697-0837
Buffalo United Artists
Sons & Lovers
By Donna Hoke
Please see a full description in the World Premieres feature on page 34. Choose this if you like LGBT characters, strong female protagonists, comedy, and new, contemporary work.
Tickets: buffalobua.org, 886-9239
Irish Classical Theatre Company
Design for Living
By Noel Coward
Noel Coward wrote this comedy for himself to star in with pals Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt. Drawing from some personal experience, it’s a triangular comedy best summed up by lead character Gilda: “I love you. You love me. You love Otto. I love Otto. Otto loves you. Otto loves me.” That’s quite a dilemma for three slick and stylish young bohemians in 1930s England, and the resulting material was considered too risqué for London! As a result, the show previewed in Cleveland before premiering on Broadway to great success in 1933. Choose this if you like Noel Coward, English comedy, classic comedy, or you just want to see what was considered too daring for 1930s London!
Tickets: irishclassicaltheatre.com, 853-4282
Book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan
Music and lyrics by Mel Brooks
It’s been twelve years since The Producers came to Buffalo via Shea’s, and Kavinoky revives it this season with two comedic Buffalo stalwarts: Brian Mysliwy and Norm Sham. The tale of two producers who set out to make a flop and find hilarious, unexpected success comes from the Oscar-winning 1968 movie of the same name, revolutionized Broadway comedy when it premiered in 2001, and won a record-breaking twelve Tony Awards. Choose this if you like musicals, comedy, giant Broadway hits … you get the idea.
Tickets: kavinokytheatre.com, 881-7668
Peter and the Starcatcher
By Rick Elice, music by Wayne Barker
An acting ensemble tells the tale of two ships—Wasp and Neverland—that set on a journey to the fictional Rundoon, each with an identical trunk of possible treasure, one with three orphans and a heroic girl, the other with a captain soon to be abducted by pirates. In turn, taking on the roles and accents of more than 100 pirates, natives, teenagers, and ship’s men and ship’s captains, the troupe tells the Peter Pan origin story and invites the audience members to use their imaginations to fill in the blanks. Choose this if you like story theater, physical theater, stagecraft, and all-ages adventure.
Tickets: musicalfare.com, 839-8540
My Old Lady
By Israel Horovitz
When a down-on-his-luck middle-aged man inherits an apartment in Paris, he plans to solve his financial woes by selling it. He arrives on the doorstep and discovers, to his dismay, that the elderly woman living there has lifetime habitation rights under an arcane French law and she is not about to give them up. Naturally, she invites the man to stay, and before the week is out, secrets are laid bare. New Phoenix has assembled a stellar trio for this play, which Horovitz later adapted to the screen. Choose this if you like small-cast character plays, traditional narratives, and the Artie Award-winning talents of some of Buffalo’s finest.
Tickets: newphoenixtheatre.org, 853-1334
O’Connell And Company
Gentlemen Prefer Divas
By Mary Kate O’Connell and others
This Smith Theatre productions combines the venerable Diva by Diva! with a male counterpart, Gentlemen’s Gentlemen, in one all-star cabaret celebration. Choose if you like cabaret-style entertainment rather than a “play,” singing, humor.
Tickets: oconnellandcompany.com, 848-0800
Road Less Traveled Productions
WNY-Premiere by Annie Baker
September 8–October 1, 2017
Young couple Elias and Jenny arrive at a mysterious B&B in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—one brimming with watchful objects, where certain rooms are not to be entered, and certain things are better left unsaid. Road Less Traveled presents its second work from Pulitzer Prize-winner Annie Baker, and this one, which Baker says she likes better than her others because it’s “a little wilder and stranger and more personal,” flirts with the supernatural as it explores the human condition. Choose if you like atmosphere plays, don’t need a strong plotline, don’t mind long plays, or just want to know where you fall on the Annie Baker love-her-or-hate-her divide.
Tickets: roadlesstraveledproductions.org, 629-3069
Rocking Horse Productions At Lancaster Opera House
9 to 5: The Musical
By Patricia Resnick
Music and lyrics by Dolly Parton
9 to 5: The Musical is a high-energy adaptation based on the 1980 hit movie. Set in the late 1970s, the story might be a little dated, but the three female leads remain a trio to root for as they plot against their sexist, bigoted, egomaniac boss in the most outrageous way. And, because it’s a musical, there’s, of course, some romance, too. Choose if you like female leads, classically structured musicals, underdog stories, or the music of Dolly Parton.
Tickets: lancopera.org, 683-1776
Shea’s 710 Theatre
Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks
By Richard Alfieri
If you missed O’Connell and Company’s beautiful presentation of this two-person play two seasons ago, here’s your chance to catch it—or revisit it. Starring Loretta Swit (M*A*S*H) and Broadway actor David Engel, the play follows the unlikely friendship that forms between a lonely Florida senior and the acerbic dance instructor she hires to give private lessons in her home. Choose if you like poignant stories, strong roles for older women, intimate plays, dance.
Tickets: sheas.org/710main, 1-800-745-3000
Playwright Donna Hoke writes about theater for Spree and Forever Young. Her new comedy, Sons & Lovers, is the Curtain Up! show at Buffalo United Artists.