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May is a great time for professional theatres in Western New York. Why? Because we’ve all received our first installment of funding support from Erie County! Under Mark Poloncarz’s leadership for the past seven years, Erie County’s support of the cultural sector has steadily increased. Not by any huge amount, and in line with the rest of the budget, the small but vital increases show an awareness of the importance of Arts organizations in our region. And for that we are grateful to the Erie County Legislature and the County Executive. Under his watch and with the cooperation of the Legislature, the process has been depoliticized and the stability of cultural organizations has been increased. I know I speak for all funded cultural organizations when I say “thank you.”

What’s opening this month on area stages? Well, the 2015 Tony Award winning musical FUN HOME has its Buffalo area premiere on May 9th at Shea’s 710 in a MusicalFare Theatre production. FUN HOME is based on the graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel and is a story about discovery, loss, and family. The New York Times said “FUN HOME finds a shining clarity that lights up the night.” Other openings in May include the gospel musical THREE SISTAHS at Paul Robeson on the 3rd, DRAGONS LOVE TACOS for ages 4 and up at Theatre of Youth on the 4th, and the haunting and romantic LOOKING THROUGH GLASS at Jewish Repertory Theatre on the 9th.

Productions that opened in April and continue into May include the Raices Theatre Company’s DESDE EL PUNETE: MUSICAL EDITION which closes on May 5th. This is an evening of original one act musicals. Raices Theatre Company is an up and coming player on the Buffalo Theatre scene and deserves your attention. At New Phoenix Theatre ANNAPURNA closes on May 18th. There is a slew of closings on May 19th: the all-female 1776 at O’Connell & Company, EQUIVOCATION at The Kavinoky Theatre, THE UNDENIABLE SOUND OF RIGHT NOW at Road Less Traveled Productions, and HAMLET at Irish Classical Theatre Company directed by future ICTC Artistic Director, Kate LoConti Alcocer. Finally, on May 26th the world premiere of LATEIN THE EVENING, featuring the music and lyrics of Paul Simon, closes at MusicalFare.

Speaking of Irish Classical, kudos to Founding Artistic Director, Vincent O’Neill, and the entire ICTC board for the thoughtful leadership transition they have created for the organization. Vincent O’Neill has been a gift to Buffalo Theatre (and I’m sure will continue to be for a long time) and his well planned passing of the A.D. torch to Kate ensures that past support from entities like Erie County will continue to reap big rewards for our community.

Randall Kramer is the Artistic and Executive Director of MusicalFare Theatre, the President of the Board of the Arts Services Initiative, a member of the Greater Buffalo Cultural Alliance and a past President of the Theatre Alliance of Buffalo.