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Lots of movin' and shakin' going on in WNY's theater community

The Kavinoky Theater

Buffalo's theater scene is ever entertaining and constantly shifting. A number of theaters are closing and opening and renovating and looking ahead.

Just this year, Road Less Traveled Productions moved into new space on Lafayette Square, while the American Repertory Theatre of Western New York has re-opened TheaterLoft in the Elmwood Village.

The Kavinoky Theatre has seen significant redecoration from D'Youville College and MusicalFare has a few years to find a new home, since Daemen isn't going to renew the lease which runs out in 2025. MusicalFare Artistic and Executive Director Randall Kramer said more than half the audience is in Amherst, so the theater wants to stay in that area.

"We are looking to stay in Amherst or, at least, the Northtowns," Kramer said. "We've already been contacted by various entities within the Town of Amherst and so we're moving forward, looking at all these possibilities and then coming up with a short list as we make decisions in the next couple of years, which means that we will start building after that."

At D'Youville, even the seats are changing in the same space, with seats being sold to raise money. Kavinoky Executive/Artistic Director Loraine O'Donnell said the theater lounge will be a new performing space.

Credit MusicalFare
MusicalFare is looking to stay in the northtowns when its lease expires.

"We're going to totally re-design the lounge. We now have a full bar license, which is really wonderful. But, we're going to make that into a secondary cabaret space as well. So, it's a multi-use room. So, much like MusicalFare did with their lobby, we're going to blow out the study rooms on the side to make it larger. We're going to put a stage in the corner. There's going to be a permanent bar on the other side."

O'Donnell said D'Youville President Lorrie Clemo wants to get more student and community use of both spaces.

The overall shifting around reflects increasing local development, since Road Less Traveled, Buffalo United Artists and ART were forced out of their former spaces for development, a vast addition to an old building, a new office and hotel complex and an outdoor performance space.

ART Executive Director Candice Kogut said the company's many space shifts have kept it alive.

"What our company's all about, in the sense, we are kind of like a Buffalo theater," Kogut said. "We have that blue collar Buffalo thing, just stick at it, just stick at it regardless of all the odds that are facing you. We don't have money. We don't come from money. We don't have trust fund babies. We don't have anything like that in our lives. So we have been able to just scrap and fight and scrap and fight and scrap and fight and survive over these past 12 years - and now I think we found ourselves a permanent home."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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