The summer winds down, the winds pick up, and Buffalo remembers what it’s known for… arts and culture! No event better or more flamboyantly celebrates the changing of the season than the Queen City’s one-of-a-kind theatre extravaganza- Curtain Up! On its 34th anniversary, Curtain Up! serves as the entire Buffalo theatre community’s opening night of the live performance season. The 600-700 Block of Main Street, which normally acts as the central hub of Buffalo theatre housing Irish Classical Theatre, Alleyway, Buffalo United Artists, 710 Main, Road Less Traveled and, of course, Shea’s, transforms into a massive gathering space of not just thesbians, but all Buffalonians looking for a lively evening of entertainment and dress-up.
Yes, from galas to puppets to fireworks, Curtain Up! gives visitors plenty to celebrate this September 18th, and here’s a couple ways to make the most of it:
Step 1: Learn Your Lines
You can’t go onstage without knowing your lines, and you definitely can’t go to Curtain Up! without knowing the schedule of the night. Separated into three acts, the evening’s activities are structured as such:
Act I – 5-7:30pm Dedication of the Stars, Shea’s Gala, Dinner and Cocktail Hour
Act II – 8pm-? Curtain Up on a local show of your choice! *See end of article for lengthy list of possibilities*
Act III – 10pm-1am Street Party on Main Street, free to the public, cash bar
Step 2: Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse
Plan to know what you’re doing before you set out on your September 18th evening agenda. Don’t expect to read through a couple of brochures, walk into the theatre and expect everything to go perfectly if you haven’t made your reservations both at the nice downtown restaurant and opening night performance of your choice, because both might very well be booked (to your mortification)! As a longstanding Buffalo tradition, patrons of the theatre plan their engagements in advance, and to stake your place in the Curtain Up! line up, you must do the same.
Step 3: Tongue Twisters, Lip Smackers and Warm-Ups
Comedy, tragedy, whatever the show, you can’t walk in without your warm-ups: food and drink make a complete experience of the evening, and there’s plenty to choose from in the downtown theatre district. Go all the way with Shea’s black tie gala, which invites patrons to dine in style on the stage of the famous theatre with live music to accompany. That five star experience comes with a $95/per person price tag, so if you’re still working your way up there are plenty of options in any budget range. *See restaurant list below for details.*
Step 4: Break a Leg!
Attend the theatre! Buffalo made its name in live entertainment over 150 years ago with vaudeville houses and hot night clubs that later hosted some of the most famous performers in history, including W.C. Fields, Buster Keaton, Frank Sinatra, and later with the growth of Studio Arena, Julianne Moore, Kelsey Grammar and Christopher Walkin. Nowadays, the Buffalo theatre scene is more diverse and expansive than ever, with over 20 grassroots companies presenting professional-quality work. Add your story to the epic history of dramatic performance by choosing a show and a theatre company outside your comfort zone, maybe in an intimate setting like the New Phoenix Theatre, or in the round at Irish Classical. It is very likely you’ll find something to keep you coming back.
Step 5: Cast Party
Once the lights go down in the theatre, the real fun of Curtain Up! begins. More bodies than you’ve ever seen on Main Street flood the theatre district for fun and foolery, music from a live jazz band bursts in the air, the gossipy voice of an announcer commenting on runway outfits of an impromptu street fashion show, craft booths sell feathered headbands and sparkling glamour jewelry, and in a quiet corner a quirky puppet show attracts a circle of hushed admirers for ten minutes of handmade wonder.
Curtain Up! is all about the street party scene; friends recognizing friends in and out of the theatre community, extravagant outfits for the fun of it, fantastic entertainment, many drinks fought for at the cash bar of Shea’s and Irish Classical, and the surprising appearance of a train or two in the midst of this human madness. If you forgot your reservations, missed the bus to the show, or just wandered onto Main Street late in the night by complete accident, your Curtain Up! experience would not be remiss as long as you catch some of this rabble-rousing beneath the fireworks and the glowing lights of the Shea’s marquee.
Curtain Up! Participating Theatres and Productions
- Paul Robeson Theatre – How I Got Over by Paulette D. Harris
- 716-884-2013 – $25/general, $22/seniors and students, $15/industry
- Road Less Traveled Productions – Speed of Light World Premiere by Bella Poynton
- 716-629-3069 – $35/general, $17/student – roadlesstraveledproductions.org
- New Phoenix Theatre – The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard
- 716-853-1334 – $20-$30
- O’Connel & Company – Ten Days to Happiness by Donna Rae Davidson
- 716-848-0800 – $25/general – oconnellandcompany.com
- Subversive Theatre – Slaughterhouse-Five (or The Children’s Crusade) by Eric Simonson
- 716-408-0499 – $25/general, $20/student, senior, member – subversivetheatre.org
- MusicalFare – In the Heights by Quiara Algeria Hudes, Lin-Manuel Miranda
- 716-839-8540 – $40/general, $15/student – musicalfare.com
- Lancaster Opera House – Monty Python’s Spamalot by Eric Idle, John Du Perez
- 716-683-1776 – $30/adult, $28/student, senior – lancopera.org
- Kavinoky Theatre – King O’the Moon-Over the Tavern: Part Two by Tom Dudzik
- 716-829-7668 – $42/general, discounts available for seniors, students, military, groups
- Irish Classical Theatre Company – A Little Night Music by Hugh Wheeler, Stephen Sondheim
- 716-853-ICTC – $45/general, $20/student – irishclassicaltheatre.com
- Buffalo United Artists – Buyer & Cellar by Jonathan Tolins
- www.buffalobua.org – $15-$26/general
- Buffalo Laboratory Theatre – Doubt by John Patrick Shanley
- 716-202-9033 – $25/general, $20/senior, student – Curtain at 8:30pm!
- American Repertory Theatre of WNY – Carrie the Musical by Michael Gore, Lawrence Cohen
- 716-634-1102 – $25/general, $18/student – artofwny.org
- Alleyway Theatre – Granny Bird by Neal Radice
- 716-852-2600 – $25/general – alleyway.com
- 710 Main Theatre – For Heaven’s Sake! By Laura Pederson
- 1-800-745-3000 – $45-$65/general – sheas.org
A Selection of the Many Area Restaurants
- Shea’s Gala Dinner: call 716-829-1172 | curtainup2015.com
- Cabaret 490 Pearl St. | 842-4181 | cabaretrestaurant.com
- Chocolate Bar 114 W. Chippewa St. | 332-0484 | originalchocolatebar.com
- The Lodge 79 W Chippewa Street | 256-1940 | TheLodgeBuffalo.com
- Merge 439 Delaware Ave. | 842-0600 | Open until 4 AM| mergebuffalo.com
- Buffalo Proper 333 Franklin St. | buffaloproper.com
- Papaya 118 W. Chippewa St. | 856-2444 |papayarestaurant.biz
- Rue Franklin 341 Franklin St. | 852-4416 | ruefranklin.com
- SeaBar 475 Ellicott St. | 332-2928 | seabarsushi.com
- SoHo Burger Bar 64 W. Chippewa St. | 856-7646 | sohoburgerbar.com
- Kaydara Noodle Bar 777 Main St. | 768-0038 | buffalonoodlebar.com
- Prima Pizza & Pasta 396 Pearl St. | 852-5555 | primapizzapasta.com
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