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A surprising amount of theatre is available on area stages this month. As you would predict, some of it holiday oriented, but some of it is not. Overall, there’s a good diversity of productions to choose from. So, let’s take a look:

Shows opening in December include August Wilson’s MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM at the Paul Robeson Theatre. MA RAINEY… opens on December 1st and is definitely not a Christmas story! If you’ve never experienced the drama and intensity of an August Wilson play, this is one for you to see. The following day, December 2nd, A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS begins its run at the Theatre of Youth. A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS is based on the beloved television special that so many of us have watched though the years. And then, on Dec. 13th, Shea’s Performing Arts Center presents THE LION KING, one of the most successful musicals of all-time. This run of THE LION KING extends through January 7th. Finally, the world premiere of MIRACLE IN LEVITTOWN runs from December 21st - 23rd at Subversive Theatre. This absurdist black comedy by Michael Fanelli somehow includes the heroine of MIRACEL ON 34TH STREET in a story about race relations in suburban America. Sounds like the kind of show Subversive Theatre likes to do!

Shows that opened in November and continue through December include VIOLET at MusicalFare Theatre (running through December 3rd). At Shea’s 710 Theatre The Road Less Traveled production of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY continues through December 10th. If you haven’t been down to Shea’s 710 since it reopened, make sure you get there this season. It is a wonderful place to see theatre and local companies producing there in 2017-2018 include Road Less Traveled, The Shaw Festival, and MusicalFare Theatre. At the New Phoenix Theatre, an original adaptation of CINDERELLA by New Phoenix Artistic Director, Kelli Bocock Natale, continues its run through December 16th while IRVING BERLIN’S AMERICA finishes its performances at O’Connell & Company on December 17th.

At the Premier Cabaret at MusicalFare, two holiday cabarets are planned: A BIG BAND HOLIDAY on December 9th at 4 & 8 pm and A MUSICAL THEATRE CHRISTMAS, featuring songs from musical theatre that celebrate the holidays, on December 16th at 4 & 8 pm.

So there you have it. In between the shopping, the decorating, the cooking, and the errand running, you can go to the theatre and relax for a little while! Have a blessed holiday and we’ll touch base again in 2018.

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