BUFFALO, N.Y. — The lights at Shea's Performing Arts Center have been dark for more than a year, but theater fans of Buffalo finally know when the curtain will rise on the long intermission caused by Covid-19.
The downtown landmark is planning for a September 10th re-opening, with Disney's Frozen kicking off the new M&T Bank Broadway series, originally schedueld for 2020-2021.
All twelve touring shows that had been announced prior to the pandemic have new dates, and are schedeuled to make stops in Buffalo during the seven months to follow, including Hamilton from December 14th, 2021 - January 2nd, 2022, Oklahoma! from February 15 - 20th, 2022, and My Fair Lady from March 1st - 6th, 2022.
Three postponed shows from the 2019-2020 M&T Bank Broadway series, The Band's Visit, Escape to Margaritaville, and Anastasia, also have new dates in that time period, meaning Shea's thousands of season ticket subscribers will be in for a lot of live theater in a short period of time.
Despite current New York State guidelines allowing for a maximum of 150 people at indoor entertainment venues, Shea's, along with dozens of other theaters across New York State who announced their plans today, is planning to re-open at 100% capacity. The theater has 3,019 seats.
"We can only function at 100% capacity," Broadway Partner-Producer Albert Nocciolino told 2 On Your Side. "The economics don't allow us to work at reduced capacity. So, the fall was the time that everybody felt that vaccines would be out there and enough people would have had them, that we can create a safe and healthy environment for everyone."
Shea's officials say they plan to follow all CDC and New York State safety guidelines for re-opening, and will share more details on health requirements and COVID protocols at a later date.
"We don't know what the requirements will be then, it's five months away," President Michael Murphy said. "We've seen a lot change over the last few months, and so many times in the last year. So we anticipate that there will be a lot more changes that do evolve, regulations, and we will do everything that is required by the CDC, New York State, Erie County, and we will make sure that we are ready to have audiences back in the theater."
Murphy and Nocciolino are encouraging the community to get vaccinated and remain vigilant about COVID protocols so that the theater season can now begin as planned.
"I think it's going to be very encouraging to people that there is a light at the end of the tunnel," Murphy said. "A lot of things are starting to happen for Western New Yorkers. We've been hit hard during COVID. We continue to experience ups and downs, but there is a light as we continue to work together. The fact that the arts are about to come back to Western New York is pretty exciting."
Season tickets are now available for the new M&T Bank Broadway series, and single tickets to individual shows will be available at a later date.
The full schedule is below:
The New M&T Bank Broadway Series:
- Disney's Frozen: September 10 – 24, 2021
- Tootsie: October 10 - 16, 2021
- Pretty Woman - The Musical: November 30 - December 5, 2021
- Hamilton: December 14, 2021 - January 2, 2022
- Oklahoma! February 15 - 20, 2022
- My Fair Lady: March 1 - 6, 2022
- Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird: March 27 - April 2, 2022
- Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of the Temptations May 10 - 15, 2022
Special Engagement: Riverdance: April 8 - 10, 2022
The Re-Scheduled 2019-2020 M&T Bank Broadway Series
- The Band's Visit November 2 - 7, 2021
- Escape to Margaritaville: November 16 - 21, 2021
- Anastasia: April 19 - 24, 2022