Ultimate Guide to Local Performing Arts Theatres in WNY

Shea's Buffalo Theatre
Shea’s Buffalo Theatre / Photo x Andrea Diedrich

Looking for a classy night out on the town for 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 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:

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Shea's Performing Arts Center
“Hamilton” performance / Photo courtesy of Shea’s Performing Arts Center

1. Shea’s Buffalo Theatre

650 Main St, Buffalo, NY 14202 / WebsiteFacebook

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

658 Main St, Buffalo, NY 14202 / WebsiteFacebook

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.

Shea's 710 Theatre
Performance at Shea’s 710 Theatre / Photo courtesy of Shea’s 710 Theatre

3. Shea’s 710 Theatre

710 Main St, Buffalo, NY 14202 / WebsiteFacebook

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

625 Main St, Buffalo, NY 14203 / WebsiteFacebook

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 that 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

456 Main St, Buffalo, NY 14202 / WebsiteFacebook

This place is pretty brand new. 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.

Alleyway Theatre
Performance of “My Life in the Basement” / Photo courtesy of Alleyway Theatre

6. Alleyway Theatre

1 Curtain up Alley, Buffalo, NY 14202 / WebsiteFacebook

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.

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7. Theatre of Youth

203 Allen St, Buffalo, NY 14201 / WebsiteFacebook

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,” just to name a few.  The Theatre of Youth also offers great educational workshops for kids providing a great way to introduce kids to acting.

 

8. New Phoenix Theatre on the Park

95 Johnson Park, Buffalo, NY 14201 / WebsiteFacebook

The New Phoenix Theatre has quite 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 easier.

Kavinoky Theatre
Performance of “Hairspray” / Photo courtesy of the Kavinoky Theatre

9. Kavinoky Theatre

320 Porter Ave, Buffalo, NY 14201 / WebsiteFacebook

Presenting both plays and musicals, the Kavinoky Theatre is bringing a mix a 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

255 Great Arrow Ave, Buffalo, NY 14207 / WebsiteFacebook

The Subversive Theatre Collective brings untouchable content to the table. Its 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.

 

11. MusicalFare Theatre

4380 Main St #123, Amherst, NY 14226 (Damen College) / WebsiteFacebook

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 like “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.”

UB Center for the Arts
“Shopkins Live!” at UB Center for the Arts / Photo courtesy of UB Center for the Arts

12. UB Center for the Arts

103 Center For The Arts, Buffalo, NY 14260 (UB North Campus) / WebsiteFacebook

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 its 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 Walk the Moon and Modest Mouse.

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13. The Jewish Repertory Theatre of WNY

2640 N Forest Rd, Getzville, NY 14068 / WebsiteFacebook

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

550 Ellicott Creek Rd, Tonawanda, NY 14150 / WebsiteFacebook

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!”

Ghostlight Theatre
“A Christmas Carol” / Photo courtesy of Ghostlight Theatre

15. Starry Night Theatre Inc. at the Ghostlight Theatre

170 Schenck St, North Tonawanda, NY 14120 / WebsiteFacebook

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, a lot of them have also been produced throughout the U.S.  Some of its 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

67 Webster St, North Tonawanda, NY 14120 / WebsiteFacebook

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!”

Palace Theatre
The Little Mermaid Performance at the Palace Theatre / Photo courtesy of the Palace Theatre

17. Palace Theatre

2 East Ave, Lockport, NY 14094 / WebsiteFacebook

The Palace Theatre was created for the people and continues to serves them today. The Palace offers programming of their own but, also allows the space to be used for private events. Its theatre school is also offered 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

1300 Elmwood Ave in Rockwell Hall, Buffalo NY / WebsiteFacebook

Buffalo State Performing Arts Center is also 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.

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19. Kenan Center Taylor Theatre

208 S Broad St, Edenton, NC 27932 / Website/ Facebook

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.

 

performance by the Brazen-faced Varlets
Performance of “The Taming” Photo courtesy of the Brazen-Faced Varlets

20. Brazen-Faced Varlets

Website / Facebook

The Brazen-Faced Varlets work to allow women to portray icon 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

Website / Facebook

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

21 Central Avenue Lancaster, NY 14086 / Website / Facebook

The Lancaster Opera House is one of only a 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.

young-frankenstein production
Young Frankenstein production / Photo courtesy of O’Connell & Company

23.O’Connell & Company Productions

3200 Elmwood Avenue Buffalo, NY 14217 / Website / Facebook

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

Website / Facebook

The company based in Buffalo was founded by Kristin Bentley, Arin Lee Dandes, and Kelly Copps, in 2013 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.”

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25. Shake on The Lake

Website

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 Fingerlake region. Some performances have included “Romeo & Juliet” and “Experts Guide to Shakespeare.”

Shakespeare
Shakespeare performance / Photo courtesy of Shakespeare in Delaware Park

26. Shakespeare in Delaware Park

Website / Facebook

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

612 Fillmore Avenue, Buffalo NY 14212 / Website / Facebook

Housed in the oldest Polish library in Buffalo, Torn Space Theatre works 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

Website / Facebook

The Inclusive Theatre creates writing workshops and encourages the development of new acting skills based solely on ablility—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.

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29. African American Cultural Center / Paul Robeson Theatre

350 Masten Avenue, Buffalo, NY  14209 / Website / Facebook

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 African American experience. Every month, they host a Monday scratch night where artists and performers share their works in progress to receive constructive criticism to further develop and enhance their works.

 

Ujima Performance
Ujima Performance / Photo courtesy of Ujima Theatre

30. Ujima Theatre Company

Website / Facebook

“Ujima” means collective work and responsibility and that is exactly what this theatre strives for in their theatre performances. Their four focus areas include creating plays, presenting new works, providing workshops, and serving as a resource to create a safe, supportive community.

31. Raíces Theatre Company

Website / Facebook

Raíces Theatre Company has pride in its Latino roots believes 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 Latino experience.

32. Aurora Players

480 Prospect Ave, East Aurora, NY 14052 / Website / Facebook

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.”

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1 Comment

  • Buffalo State Performing Arts Center is also another wonderful local Performing Arts Theatre located at 1300 Elmwood Ave in Rockwell Hall. For all upcoming events visit buffalostatepac.org

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