BUFFALO For the past 28 years, the city of Buffalo has celebrated its large and varied theatrical scenes with a giant party in early September, called Curtain Up! Weekend. This year's celebration is scheduled for next weekend, with the greatest highlights on Friday evening.
On that weekend, every professional performing company in the city is encouraged to have a production on the stage, so that the casual observer cannot help but notice the huge smorgasbord of culture to be enjoyed in the Queen City.
At its peak, the celebration featured 42 simultaneous productions - one of the largest theatrical scenes in the English-speaking world. Today, with the economy in recession and other related problems, you still have the possibility of 16 productions, ranging from the staging of writing by Sigmund Freud to a zany improv show, to an examination of the unexpected contributions of bartenders to the mental health of their customers.
Shea's Performing Arts Center will be one of the many venues which will be offering performances in honor of Buffalo's Curtain Up! Weekend.
The whole event is staged in three acts, which is appropriate for a theatrical event. You're invited to partake of any or all of these offerings:
Let me tell you about the possibilities:
The big celebration will begin on Friday, from 5 to 5:45 p.m., in the beautiful lobby of Shea's Performing Arts Center, at 660 Main St., in the very heart of Buffalo's Theater District. This will be a cocktail reception, with a cash bar. All of the public is welcome to participate, whether they plan to attend the following dinner or not.
From 6 to 7:30 p.m., a formal, gourmet dinner will be served on the giant Shea's stage. If an overflow situation occurs, which has usually happened, some tables may be placed in the boxes and/or in the balcony of the theater. No dinner tickets will be sold at the door, so advance reservations are mandatory. Admission is $95 per person. Corporate tables may be purchased for $1,250.
For dinner reservations, phone 829-1172.
Dinner ends at 7:30 to give diners the opportunity to get to the theater of their choice, before the performance begins. Let me give you a brief description of the 16 productions which will be playing next weekend, along with all the information which I have for each of them:
The Alleyway is located at 1 Curtain Up! Alley, which runs between Main and Pearl Streets, directly along the side of Shea's. Tickets are $25 for the general public, and $13 for students, through college. Purchase them by phoning 852-2600, extension 0, or through their web site at www.alleyway.com.
The play will be performed through Oct. 3, in addition to the Curtain Up! events, on this schedule: Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m.
The company performs at the Great Arrow Theatre, 255 Great Arrow Avenue, on the third floor. It is located just off Elmwood Ave, a short drive from downtown.
Tickets are $12, if purchased in advance, or $17 at the door. Purchase advance tickets by phoning 868-6847, or by computer at www.alttheatre.com. I do not have a specific news release, to tell me how many performances will be given, or when.
Performances will take place next weekend and the following weekend. The company will be performing in the Swan Auditorium, on the campus of Hilbert College. That's at 5200 South Park Ave., in Hamburg. There are no ticket prices in the company's release, and when I went to their Web site, it suggests that ticket buyers should e-mail them and they will send the necessary information. The web address is www.buffalolabtheatre.org.
The subject is the playwright's grandfather, a Buffalo bricklayer who raised five children. It examines the degree to which the writer now understands that his grandfather has shaped and inspired his life. The company now performs at their own facility at 119 Chippewa St., between Delaware and Elmwood avenues.
Tickets are $15 and $22. Purchase them by phoning 886-9239, or by computer at www.buffalobua.org. The phone number is an answering machine, which will achieve a call-back from the company.
Performances will continue through Sept. 19.
The company performs at the Andrews Theatre, 625 Main St., almost directly across Main Street from Shea's. Tickets range in price from $32 to $42, and may be purchased by phoning 853-4282, or by computer at www.irishclassicaltheatre.com.
The play will be performed Friday evenings and twice on Saturdays, through Sept. 26. Tickets are $10 and $14, and may be purchased by telephone at 479-1587, or by computer at www.KaleidoscopeTheatreProductions.com.
The company now performs on the campus of Medaille College. To reach their space, take the N.Y. State Thruway to the exit for Route 33, toward downtown Buffalo. Exit on the Scajaquada Expressway, or Route 198, then turn left at the traffic light on the intersection of Parkside Avenue. The Medaille campus will appear on your left.
Performances are Thursday and Friday evenings, twice on Saturdays and Sunday matinees, through Oct. 11. Tickets are $10 and $36. Purchase them by phoning 829-7668 or by computer at www.kavinokytheatre.com.
The company performs on the campus of D'Youville College, at 320 Porter Ave. near the intersection of Niagara St. Take the Thruway to I-190, and exit on Niagara St. Drive a few blocks north, in the direction of the Peace Bridge, to the intersection of Porter, turn right, and the theater will be on your left.
The company performs in their own facility, on the campus of Daemen College, at 4380 Main St., in the suburb of Amherst. Take I-90 to exit 50. Turn onto I-290, then almost immediately, take the exit for Route 5, toward downtown Buffalo. The campus will appear in about a mile or so, on your right, directly across the street from the giant Amherst High School. Follow the signs through the campus to MusicalFare.
Tickets are $32 and $36, depending on whether you attend Friday and Saturday evening performances or other times of the week. Performances take place Wednesdays through Sundays, and be certain to note curtain times when you purchase the tickets.
Obtain tickets by phoning 839-8540, or by computer at www.musicalfare.com.
The plot concerns a nightmarish figure, who preys upon children in the night.
Performances will be Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., through Oct. 3. The company performs at 95 Johnson Park in downtown Buffalo. To find it, drive away from downtown on Elmwood Ave., until you see Johnson Park on your left. That street is one-way, and is in the shape of a letter ''U,'' so turn into the second intersection with Elmwood.
Tickets are $15 and $20. Visit the company's web site at www.newphoenixtheatre.org. Phone them at 853-1334.
Performances take place in the African American Cultural Center, at 350 Masten Ave. Take I-90 to the exit for Route 33, toward downtown Buffalo. Exit on Ferry Street. Obtain more specific directions when purchasing tickets. They cost $13.50 and $23.50, except next Saturday, the production's opening night, when they cost $27.50. Admission on opening night also includes a post-performance reception and a chance to meet and greet the cast.
For information or to purchase tickets, phone 884-2013 or visit their web site at www.africancultural.org.