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Second Generation Theatre serves up "PIAZZA" at LOH; next year Shea's Seneca!

Mark Mullville, Buffalo News

Second Generation Theatre Company opens LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA on Friday at the Lancaster Opera House, but next year they'll have their own theater.

Executive Director Kristin Bentley and Artistic Director Kelly Copps describe their acting troupe's situation not as "homeless" but as "nomadic" as they have pitched their tents at a variety of venues around town. With this Friday night's opening at The Lancaster Opera House at 21 Central Avenue in Lancaster they will perform the romantic musical LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA through June 18. And then that's the last time for them in a "rental" space.

Kristin Bentley of Second Generation Theatre

SGT has announced that next year at this time they will inhabit the soon to be renovated and converted Shea’s Seneca Theatre in the two-story brick building at the corner of 2178 Seneca and Cazenovia streets. The $9 million project is headed by Schneider Development Services and will feature a banquet facility, interactive retail space, 21 apartments, and SGT’s own 130-seat theater. In conversation with WNED|WBFO Bentley and Copps describe their new theater as a proscenium modeled roughly after the MusicalFare Theatre in Amherst, NY.

Kelly Copps of Second Generation Theatre

The original building on Seneca Street was part of a theater complex built in 1929 by Michael Shea, the same person who built Shea's downtown and the North Park Theatre on Hertel Avenue. As reported in The Buffalo News, Jake Schneider, with $1.5 million in historic tax credits, will preserve the ornate theater lobby, with its barrel-vaulted ceiling, entryway and foyer. The decorative plaster and other ornamental details – many in a green and copper palette – will be restored to their former glory.

The theater space will open with the regional premiere of Andrew Lippa’s Broadway musical BIG FISH in June 2018.

If you’re heading out to see LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA at the Lancaster Opera House, remember that there is ample parking behind the building and, speaking of old glories, take some time to look around the 1897 structure. On their website, the LOH’s Artistic Director, David Bondrow, writes: “The Lancaster Opera House is a reminder of an early American tradition. In previous centuries, it was not unusual to combine a music hall with a town’s main governmental building. These multi-functional halls were often called “Opera Houses”, whether or not opera was, in fact, performed. The Lancaster Opera House, designed by George J. Metzger, is one of only a few such Town Hall Opera Houses left in the country.”
LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA is not, in fact, an “opera,” but it is a charming musical (winner of the 2005 Tony Award for Best Musical Score), with a romantic coming of age story, set in Italy, about a young woman who has suffered a head injury, leaving her “mentally disabled” which is obvious to native speakers of English, but not to the Italians, in particular one handsome young man. To him, she is perfect. Mom has to come to terms with her own marriage and the fact that it’s time to let her little girl grow up.
Opening this Friday, June 2, shows are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. through June 18. For more information, visit www.secondgenerationtheatre.com.

Even though "semi-retired," Peter Hall continues to wear many hats. He is the Sunday afternoon host on WBFO’s “sister station,” Classical 94.5 / WNED where he has produced over 1,000 radio interviews with musical artists. If you see him at a theater with a pen in his hand, he’s probably getting ready to co-host “Theater Talk” with Anthony Chase (heard Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO) or to write a review for www.buffalorising.com. He is also a member of the "Artie Awards" committee (think “Tony Awards for Buffalo theaters”).
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