Looking for a classy night out on the town with some live entertainment? Buffalo has a highly developed theatre scene that has carved its way into the history of the region. Basically, Buffalo knows its way around a show or two.
While the Theatre District is at the core, over the years more theaters have expanded throughout Western New York. Whether you’re someone who prefers an intimate space to enjoy a comedy, or you’re more interested in seeing the latest show off Broadway, Buffalo’s theatre culture has performances that appeal to all interests. Plus, seeing a show at one of these theaters is a great way to your spend date night, meet up with some old friends, or simply share some good ol’ family time. Just be prepared for a range of emotions as these theaters are known to create some major showstopper productions.
Without further ado, we now present to you all the places you can catch a sensational show in Western New York:
1. Shea’s Buffalo Theatre
One of the more well known theaters in Buffalo, Shea’s Buffalo Theatre, is your stop for country-wide performances. Shea’s has held major Broadway productions such as “Hamilton,” “Wicked,” and “The Phantom of the Opera.” Shea’s also hosts touring attractions like the “Dancing With The Stars Tour” and “Theresa Caputo Live!” While it may seem that Shea’s is always presenting highly-rated shows, on the off days you can book an appointment to tour this old beauty.
2. Shea’s Smith Theatre
Another theater owned by Shea’s, Shea’s Smith Theatre, is a more homey space compared in size to that of Shea’s Buffalo Theatre. This space is known to hold off-broadway productions, comedians, and collaborative works with local theatre companies.
3. Shea’s 710 Theatre
Shea’s 710 Theatre is the most recent addition to the Shea’s company. This theater is home to many local productions, but the space is also ideal for personal rental use for parties, business seminars, etc. Some of 710’s most recent showings have involved partnerships with local theatre companies and the well known Shaw Festival.
4. Irish Classical Theatre Company
The Irish Classical Theatre Company hosts its plays at The Andrews Theatre, the only true theater- in-the-round in WNY. This stage format keeps the audience in constant close range to the stage making the performances much more captivating. Some of its well-known performances include “Hamlet,” and “Death of a Salesman,” to name some of its literary classics, but the Irish Classical also hosts contemporary works as well.
5. Road Less Traveled Productions
In 2018, Road Less Traveled Productions made a permanent home downtown. With its bleacher format seating, you will feel like you are on set of a live show. Road Less Traveled Productions has a strong hand in creating original content with the development of bringing new plays to life. If you are looking to see the newest productions that could become the next great hit, you’ve gotta check this place out.
*Requires proof of COVID-19 vaccination for 2021-2022 season
6. Alleyway Theatre
Alleyway Theatre is another intimate space facility that has a focus on creating new plays and musicals, many of them written and starring Buffalo locals. They have a production season that runs from September to May with the annual showing of “A Christmas Carol” for the holidays.
7. Theatre of Youth
The Theatre of Youth works toward creating children friendly theatre programs and entertainment. At its permanent Allendale Theatre, the Theatre of Youth brings productions to life that have included “The Outsiders,” “The Jungle Book,” and “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe”. The Theatre of Youth also offers great educational workshops for kids providing a great way to introduce kids to acting.
*Temporarily closed for 2021-2022 season
8. New Phoenix Theatre on the Park
The New Phoenix Theatre has a distinguished design with its whimsical exterior and its collection of art throughout the interior. As for its productions, shows range from classical to contemporary works with a focus on presenting original works. This theater also has very reasonable pricing making the opportunity to catch a show that much more enticing.
9. Kavinoky Theatre
Presenting both plays and musicals, the Kavinoky Theatre is bringing a mix of genres to the Buffalo theatre scene. Some of its performances have included, “Hairspray,” “The Crucible,” and “To Kill A Mockingbird.” While it is a quaint space, the theater offers both balcony and standard seating.
10. The Subversive Theatre Collective / Manny Fried Playhouse
The Subversive Theatre Collective brings untouchable content to the table. It’s works focus on the underdog displaying radical plays meant to provoke, empower, and inspire others. Works such as “Catch-22” and “She Kills Monsters” can be seen in their roughly 40 seated space located at their playhouse in the Great Arrow building.
*Temporarily closed for 2021-2022 season
11. MusicalFare Theatre
MusicalFare Theatre offers two small yet welcoming spaces, one dedicated to plays and musicals, and the other for cabarets. It continues to create and perform plays and musicals that are modern such as “Elf: The Musical” and the classics such as the “West Side Story.” MusicalFare Theatre has also had sell-out productions with it performances of “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” and “Christmas Over the Tavern.”
12. UB Center for the Arts
The UB Center for the Arts is a large venue used for a range of purposes. Some of these include their distinguished speaker series, concerts, dance shows, comedies, plays, and musicals. Some of it’s performances in the theatrical department include “Guys and Dolls” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Musical.” In other uses, the space has held comedian Sebastian Maniscalco and musical artists such as Walk the Moon and Modest Mouse.
13. The Jewish Repertory Theatre of WNY
The Jewish Repertory Theatre creates plays that have a focus on Jewish life, themes, and values. While its core lies in the Jewish community, the theatre is open to everyone. Many of its works are dramas written by locals.
14. Niagara Regional Theatre Guild / Ellicott Creek Playhouse
Being one of the oldest running theaters in WNY, the Niagara Regional Theatre Guild provides quality entertainment in a small, inviting atmosphere. The NRTG puts on both plays and musicals as well a hosts special events. Its works include, “My Fair Lady,” “Young Frankenstein,” and “Hello Dolly!”
15. Starry Night Theatre Inc. at the Ghostlight Theatre
A variety of shows at the Ghostlight Theatre have been produced including plays, dramas, musicals, and comedies. While many of its works are shown locally, several of them have also been produced throughout the U.S. Some of it’s well known works include, “All Through the Night,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “The Silver Lady.” Its works are usually fitting to the time of year in which they are presented, i.e. thrillers in the fall and holiday show in the winter season.
16. Riviera Theatre
Home to the mighty Wurlitzer, the Riviera Theatre hosts both live and recorded entertainment with production of concerts, plays, musicals, comedies, and movie screenings. Its shows have included “The Return of Buddy Holly” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage!”
17. Palace Theatre
The Palace Theatre was created for the people and continues to serve them today. The Palace offers programming of their own, but also allows the space to be used for private events. Furthermore, It’s theatre school also offers to build a foundation of acting skills in children. Some of its productions have included “Seussical The Musical,” “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” and “Mary Poppins Live on Stage.”
18. Buffalo State Performing Arts Center
Buffalo State Performing Arts Center is another local Performing Arts Theatre located on Buffalo State’s campus. With 186 seats, this venue is quite intimate making performances truly immersive. A variety of styles and genres take the stage through student efforts and community groups.
*Mask required based upon COVID-19 protocols
19. Kenan Center Taylor Theatre
This unique theater which was originally a stable that housed carriage horses, is now converted to a 153 seat theater. The theater is open for reservations for personal use as well. Projects range from jazz to contemporary to youth programs and activities.
20. Brazen-Faced Varlets
The Brazen-Faced Varlets allow women to portray iconic roles in theatre with works that involve political nature. The theatre also offers pay-what-you-can nights to allow the community to enjoy a performance regardless of their current finances may be. Some of the organizations previous works include, “Knock, Knock, Jesus Calling,” “12 Angry Women,” and “Ladykillers.”
21. Buffalo United Artists
Since its beginnings in 1992, the BUA has produced over 120 diverse shows around Western New York. The company’s works range from dramas to comedies and romances. Their goal is to create performances that speak a message regardless of the controversy surrounding it: Theatre is their way of creating social change.
22. Lancaster Opera House
The Lancaster Opera House is one of the few Town Hall Opera Houses left in the country that still creates live productions. The old-style charm of this space keeps in touch with its origins having a flat audience and a sloped stage for viewing. Some of its performances have included tributes to legendary musicians as well as productions of comedies and dramas.
23.O’Connell & Company Productions
Founded by Buffalo award-winning actress, Kate O’Connell, the company has recently moved to the Ken-Ton Elmwood Commons for its new home of theatre. The company’s original, “DIVA by DIVA: A Celebration of Women!” is WNY’s longest-running production.
24. Second Generation Theatre Company
The company based in Buffalo was founded by Kristin Bentley, Arin Lee Dandes, and Kelly Copps in 2013. It aims to create works that appeal to a new generation of theatre-goers. Some of its productions include, “Into The Woods” and “Crimes of the Heart.”
25. Shake on The Lake
Shake on the Lake creates performances for rural communities based in the Silver Lake area. SOTL puts on Shakespeare performances for local schools and community programs in the Finger Lake region. Some performances have included “Romeo & Juliet” and “Experts Guide to Shakespeare.”
*Temporarily closed for 2021-2022 season
26. Shakespeare in Delaware Park
Come check out a *FREE* performance of a Shakespeare classic in Delaware Park. Performances take place every summer with approximately 40,000 audience members!
27. Torn Space Theater
Housed in the oldest Polish library in Buffalo, Torn Space Theatre’s mission is to create contemporary works that combine imagery and narrative in an artistic way. Some of their works include reinterpreting other works, as well as creating original content and installments.
28. Inclusive Theatre of WNY
The Inclusive Theatre creates writing workshops and encourages the development of new acting skills based solely on ability—disability or not. Their goal is to create works that can be reinterpreted to include people of all different age, physical condition, race, nationality or gender.
29. African American Cultural Center / Paul Robeson Theatre
The Paul Robeson Theatre is the second oldest component of the African American Cultural Center. The season runs from September to May and focuses on works of the authentic African American experience. Every month, they host a Monday scratch night in which artists and performers share their works in progress to receive constructive criticism to further develop and enhance their works.
30. Ujima Theatre Company
“Ujima” means collective work and responsibility and that is exactly what this theatre strives for. Their four focus areas include creating plays, presenting new works, providing workshops, and serving as a resource to create a safe and supportive community.
31. Raíces Theatre Company
Raíces Theatre Company has pride in its Latino roots; believing we must celebrate the present and look at the past to create a clear vision for the future. Their company focuses on creating original works surrounding an authentic Latino experience.
*Temporarily closed for 2021-2022 season
32. Aurora Players
Aurora Players focuses on creating enthusiasm towards dramatic arts and bringing those together who share an interest in performance arts. Currently, their shows can be seen at the Roycroft Pavilion. Some of their works include, “Little Shop of Horrors,” and “Miracle on 34th Street.”
Did we miss one? Did one of these places close? Send us a note!
This post was originally published in 2020 and has been updated.