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It is hard to believe that it is already September. While we had a pretty terrible Spring, we have enjoyed a wonderful Summer! Anyway, with the calendar moving to the Fall, that can mean only one thing: CURTAIN UP! is coming! This year’s celebration is on Friday, September 20th and, if you’ve never been to it, you owe it to yourself to get there this year. Make it a must-do. So what’s playing on area stages in September?

Opening the season on Wednesday, September 4th is the MusicalFare production of WEST SIDE STORY. This production has been re-imagined for the intimate MusicalFare space and promises to enable audiences to experience the show as if seeing it for the very first time. This WEST SIDE STORY will return to its core as a young, desperate love story with its heart based in the streets. On Friday, September 6th, HAIRSPRAY will open at The Kavinoky Theatre. This award winning musical, set in 1962, has a “tap your feet to it” musical score and a message about equality that is, ironically, as pertinent today as it was back then. The following weekend features two productions opening on September 12th: THE AUTHENTIC LIFE OF BILLY THE KID at Road Less Traveled Productions and the world premiere of NAVIGATORS at the Alleyway Theatre. THE AUTHENTIC LIFE OF BILLY THE KID asks the question “Did Pat Garrett really shoot Billy the Kid?” And, if not, what does Garrett do with his past memories and his future legacy? It’s a look at our personal and cultural mythmaking. NAVIGATORS promises “a night of sailing with a political family casting off for deep secrets!” The following night, September 13th, Neil Simon’s comedy RUMORS opens at The Lancaster Opera House.

The following weekend features CURTAIN UP! on Friday, September 20th, and not surprisingly, there are four separate openings that night alone. At the Irish Classical Theatre Company, TIS PITY SHE’S A WHORE, a rarely done 17th century Jacobean drama, will be revived. Torn Space Theatre, at its theatre on Buffalo’s East Side, will present CUSTODIANS OF SPACE by the award-winning Palssimio Company. CUSTODIANS OF SPACE was part of the 2019 Response Festival. At the New Phoenix Theatre in Johnson Park on Buffalo’s West Side, Grant Golden’s IZZY, a musical revue about a fictional composer who almost made to the top, opens. And finally, The Brazen-Faced Varlets present KNOCK, KNOCK, JESUS CALLING. This show about growing up as a lesbian in an extremely religious household won the 2019 Fendrick Theatre Fund Award. Finally, also on CURTAIN UP! night, O’Connell & Company presents GENTLEMAN PREFER DIVAS: BROADWAY LEGENDS at Shea’s 710.

After all of this excitement, the night after CURTAIN UP!, September 21st, is the opening of the national tour of MEAN GIRLS at Shea’s Performing Arts Center. I believe this is the fourth consecutive year that Shea’s has been the launching theatre for a major national tour. They’ve done a great job helping to put Buffalo on the national touring map. The secret that you get to enjoy, because you live in Western New York, is that you get the Shea’s experience as well as dozens and dozens of other great local theatrical experiences throughout the year. Enjoy!

Randall Kramer is the Artistic and Executive Director of MusicalFare Theatre, the Immediate Past 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.