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Next story: The Twelfth Annual Music is Art Festival 2014

Curtain Up! 2014

Diane Curley, left, and Adriano Gatto in "The Liar" at Irish Classical Theatre (photo by Gene Witkowski)

33rd annual Curtain Up!, celebrating the opening of Buffalo’s professional theater season will take place on Friday, September 19th. As always, the evening will follow a familiar Three Act format:

Act I—an elegant 1920-themed black-tie dinner on stage at Shea’s catered by Frontier Catering, or dining at any of downtown’s restaurants. This year’s honorary chair is jazz legend Bobby Militello along with the Militello Family. Cocktails at 5:30 and dinner at 6:15.

Act II—after dinner, see a show at any of Buffalo’s 19 participating theaters. Curtains rise at 8pm.

Act III—a free street party in the Theater District featuring live music, dancing, street performers, and more.

Jerry Burgin is the Curtain Up! Event chair, and Neal Radice is president of the Theater District Association.

The Curtain Up! Shows:

710 Main Theatre

The venerable venue that once was home to a resident regional theater features the return of Seth Rudetsky, star of the Sirius X/M Broadway station with SETH’S BIG FAT BROADWAY SHOW—an evening of Broadway dish and witty commentary. “Described as a combination of ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’ and ‘The Daily Show,’ the 90 minute tour de force features Seth’s trademark ‘deconstructions’ in which he uses his audio/video collection to break down brilliant performances from beloved Broadway divas as well as showcase mind boggling videos like The Osmonds singing a medley from Fiddler On The Roof or Cher performing all of West Side Story. Seriously.”

Christopher Standart, left, and Michael Blasdell in "Tropical Heat" at Alleyway Theatre

Alleyway Theatre

Tropical Heat

by Rich Orloff

“When a proselytizing preacher clashes with a tantalizing temptress, he doesn’t have a prayer! This campy and torrid tale of temptation in the tropics is the winner of the Maxim Mazumdar New Play competition.”

American Repertory Theater of WNY Inc.

Hello Again

by Michael John LaChiusa

The regional premiere of LaChiusa’s celebrated 1994 musical, based on Arthur Schnitzler’s 1897 play, La Ronde, the show features “a series of ten dialogues leading to sexual encounters, each scene linked by a character from a previous one until the first and last characters meet at the end. Where Schnitzler focuses on the social satire of his own 1890’s Vienna, HELLO AGAIN encompasses America throughout the 21st Century. Though each scene is set in a different decade, the ten characters are on a universal journey. The longing that leads to sex masks their desire for an elusive emotional connection. Through these private moments come some of the more soul-searching songs in contemporary musical theater.”

Buffalo Laboratory Theatre

Gidion’s Knot

by Johnna Adams

“Over the course of a parent/teacher conference, a grieving mother and an emotionally overwhelmed primary school teacher have a fraught conversation about the tragic suicide of the mother’s son, Gidion. Gidion may have been bullied severely—or he may have been an abuser. As his story is slowly uncovered, the women try to reconstruct a satisfying explanation for Gidion’s act and come to terms with excruciating feelings of culpability.”

Buffalo United Artists

Blanche Survives Katrina In A FEMA Trailer Named Desire

by Mark Sam Rosenthal

“From the ruins of a city brought to devastation by a storm off the Gulf of Mexico emerges a woman separated from everyone she has known, having lost nearly everything she ever had. In her quest for relief, she encounters the hopelessness of governmental indifference and the desperation of starting over again. Through several rounds of relocation and disappointments, she maintains her ultimate belief in the kindness of strangers.” Buffalo stage legend Jimmy Janowski stars as Blanche DuBois.

Irish Classical Theatre Company

The Liar

by Pierre Corneille, adapted by David Ives

“Meet Dorante, a charming and affable gallant who cannot tell the truth. New to the city, he chooses Cliton as his valet, unaware that Cliton cannot tell a lie. Can this pathological liar fool his friends, take in the trusting and still, in the end, win the girl of his dreams? Or will be be unwittingly foiled by his virtuous valet?”

The Kavinoky Theatre

Over The Tavern

by Tom Dudzik

Sister Clarissa returns to Buffalo, directed by the playwright himself. “Called ‘one of the biggest grass roots successes in American regional theaters’ by Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune, OVER THE TAVERN tells the story of a family living over the family tavern in working class Buffalo of 1959. Four children are caught between the claustrophobic authoritarianism of the Roman Catholic Church and an emotionally abusive father. Only their mother, with her good sense, sanity and wry humor, keeps this family afloat. At the center of the family is 12-year-old Rudy, a rebel and Ed Sullivan impersonator. Rudy goes knuckle to ruler with his formidable teacher, Sister Clarissa, questioning everything and claiming that God put us on earth to have fun. Only weeks away from his confirmation, Rudy proclaims, ‘I read where there are over thirteen hundred religions in the world. I’d like to shop around!’

Lancaster Opera House

Fiddler On The Roof

Book by Joseph Stein, Music by Jerry Bock, Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick

Set in Imperial Russia in 1905, and based on “Tevye and his Daughters” and other tales by Sholem Aleichem, This is one of the most beloved musicals of all time.

MusicalFare Theatre

The Drowsy Chaperone

Book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar; Music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison

A musical theater fanatic shares the recording of his favorite show, the forgotten (and fictitious) 1928 musical, ‘The Drowsy Chaperone.’ As he begins his witty commentary, the walls of his apartment fly away and the musical comes to life.

New Phoenix Theatre On The Park

All Quiet On The Western Front

by Erich Maria Remarque

Robert Waterhouse channels his fascination with World War I into a stage adaptation of the classic novel that begins, “This is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will simply try to tell of a generation of men who were destroyed by the war.” “The poetic and harrowing account of service in Belgium between 1914 and 1918, during a war that claimed an average of 5,000 men a day.”

O’Connell & Company

Six Dance Lessons In Six Weeks

by Richard Alfieri

Comedy about a formidable retired woman who hires an acerbic dance instructor to give her private dance lessons, one per week for six weeks, in her condo in Florida. The play, which has been translated into 12 languages and has been produced in over 20 countries, was the final stage role of the great Uta Hagen. Anne Gayley plays the role under the direction of Javier Bustillos with Greg Gjurich.

Paul Robeson Theatre at the African American Cultural Center

Shake Em On Down... A New Blues Opera

by Skye Kamiyo

“A woman desperately seeking a solution to her problem finds the answer in an age old place, filled with shadowy figures and mystery, told in an unbelievably robust blues song cycle which inspires audience participation.” The Robeson takes on a new Blues opera. Directed by Mary Craig.

Road Less Traveled Productions


by Ira Levin

Road Less Traveled takes a rest from a diet of new work to take on the longest running mystery thriller in the history of Broadway. For nearly 40 years, audiences have delighted in the twists and turns of this plot.

The Smith Theatre

Robert Creighton in “Ain’t We Got Fun!”

Broadway Actor Robert Creighton’s show features music primarily from the first three decades of the 20th century including classics like “Give My Regards to Broadway,” “My Funny Valentine,” “My Buddy,” and “Ain’t We Got Fun.” Creighton was recently honored in New York City with the prestigious Bistro Award as “Outstanding Entertainer” for 2013 for this show.

Subversive Theatre Collective

The Grapes Of Wrath

by Frank Galati

Stage adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel about a Depression era family driving to California by truck in search of work.

Theatre of Youth Company, Inc.


Book by Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty; Music by Stephen Flaherty; Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens; Co-Conceived by Eric Idle

Broadway musical based on the works of Dr. Seuss. “The Cat in the Hat tells the story of Horton the Elephant, who discovers an entire world of Whos living on a single speck of dust.”

Torn Space Theater


by Frank Wedekind

“Young, enigmatic Lulu is a blank canvas for men’s fantasies. Her rise and fall in the circus of a greedy society illuminates the danger of desire and wish fulfillment.” Wedekind was a late 19th—early 20th century playwright whose work criticized Victorian sexual attitudes and values. His work anticipated many innovations in 20th century theater, making him a perfect fit for Torn Space.

Ujima Company, Inc.

Bourbon At The Border

by Pearl Cleage

“When May and Charlie joined hundreds of other Americans who went to Mississippi in the summer of 1964 for a massive voter registration drive, they had no idea their lives were about to change forever.” Cleage’s work has been popular in Buffalo, notably Flyin’ West at the Robeson and Studio Arena and a memorable production of Blues for an Alabama Sky at Ujima.