Shea's 2007-2008 Broadway Season
by Anthony Chase
Among Buffalo’s theaters, only Shea’s Performing Arts Center has the ability to bring a show like Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life. Chita has been to Buffalo before, but in the audience. She came to see her daughter, Lisa Mordente in the 1978 production of Platinum at Studio Arena Theatre. Then, when a national tour of Kiss of the Spider Woman went out on the road and the first stop was Buffalo, Chita attended the opening performance at Shea’s. I will always remember how she graciously greeted the Argentine actress who played the role she herself had created, and how Chita coached the young star in how to maneuver her hat more precisely during the “Where You Are” sequence.
Shea’s has announced one of its most exciting seasons ever for 2007-2008. Many are thrilled to see Wicked, the tuneful backstory of The Wizard of Oz, but the odd-ball choices Avenue Q and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee are even more interesting offerings and a testament to the health of the popular Broadway series.
Shea’s producer Albert Nocciolino explains, “What I tried to do is find a balance for our season. New product, classics and new audiences. This season and next have all of that.”
Shea’s has developed a very strong subscription base over the past decade, giving it strength in the marketplace. Add to this Nocciolino’s recent entry into the world of Broadway producing. He was involved in The Drowsy Chaperone and the newly opened Legally Blonde, guaranteeing that Shea’s gets first dibs on the tours.
Shea’s president Tony Conte stresses the need to balance popularity with fiscal responsibility. “Yes, it’s a balancing act,” he admits. “And that is why getting the word out is so important. We can sell familiar shows, but even a show like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a hard sell for single ticket buyers. That is why we pay so much attention to our subscribers. They are the ones along for the whole journey. We give them the best seats, the best price and the ability to exchange tickets. In return, they fill our theater and guarantee that we can continue to bring great shows that Buffalo would never otherwise see!
More information at www.sheas.org
Lerner and Loewe’s Camelot
November 6-11, 2007
The season begins a classic from the golden age of Broadway. Lou Diamond Phillips will play King Arthur in this retelling of the legend of the knights of the round table. Broadway diva Rachel York will play Queen Guenevere, who falls in love with her husband’s best friend, Sir Lancelot. The unforgettable Lerner and Loewe score includes “If Ever I Would Leave You” and “Camelot.”
December 18-23, 2007
It has never actually played on Broadway, but Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, based on the 1954 Paramount holiday film classic and the book by David Ives and Paul Blake, provides an appealing Broadway-style diversion for the holidays. The show follows “The comedic adventures of army buddies Bob Wallace and Phil Davis whose romantic pursuit of a duo of singing sisters leads them to a Vermont inn for the holidays. When a snowless winter threatens to close the inn and defeat its owner (their former commanding officer), the boys decide to stage their newest Broadway revue to bring in a crowd!” Even in 1954, that was an old plot, but it’s never been better told. Classic Irving Berlin hits include “Happy Holidays,” “Sisters,” and the title song.
The 25th Annual
Putnam County Spelling Bee
January 15-20, 2008
A surprise Broadway hit, this show chronicles the travails of “six young people in the throes of puberty, overseen by grown-ups who barely managed to escape childhood themselves, learn that winning isn’t everything and that losing doesn’t necessarily make you a loser.” The New York Times calls the show “irresistible, riotously funny and remarkably ingenious—gold stars all around.” I can’t disagree. We could also add that the humor is urbane and sophisticated, the score is tuneful and the comedy is decidedly offbeat. The original is still running on Broadway.
The Drowsy Chaperone
March 4-9, 2008
When a die-hard musical theater fan plays his favorite cast album, a long-forgotten 1928 show called “The Drowsy Chaperone,” the show magically comes to life right before our eyes. It’s a glamorous and silly tale of a celebrity bride and her chaotic wedding day, augmented by the theater fan’s commentary and conjecture about the original production. The show is a Tony Award winning hit, still running on Broadway.
April 29-May 4, 2008
This is the show they said would never tour. The comedy is too contemporary and irreverent—but it is also winningly likable. The surprise Tony Award winner in 2004 (and still running on Broadway), Avenue Q is about “trying to make it in NYC with big dreams and a tiny bank account.” It’s a cast of human beings and puppets who bring “Sesame Street” values to life’s more adult lessons—from making a living, to coming to terms with sexuality, to feeling like a loser. It’s hilarious, and proof that Shea’s has come of age.
June 18-July 13, 2008
Hailed as the center piece of the season, Wicked tells the story of what happened in Oz before Dorothy dropped a house on the Witch of the East. See Glinda, the Witch of the North and the green-skinned Witch of the West as school roommates. Know in advance that there’s something evil at the heart of Oz. This hit show is still defying gravity on Broadway.
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