© 2022 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Overture, curtain, lights: Shea's new Broadway series hits the heights

Atticus Finch, the Temptations and Queen Elsa will soon be on the Shea's stage, as the 2020-21 Broadway series kicks off with the new version of "To Kill A Mockingbird" in August. The entertainment center is looking forward to another year of success in Buffalo's Theatre District.

"Mockingbird" is a shift for the Shea's Mainstage season because it is a play being featured in a season usually filled with musicals, like the returning "Hamilton" and "Dear Evan Hansen." Others in the Broadway Series are "Tootsie," "Pretty Woman the Musical," "My Fair Lady," "Ain't Too Proud" and "Frozen."

Shea's President Michael Murphy said he wanted shows that provoke thought.

"They have families talking about issues. They're wonderful for young people. They're wonderful for older people and it's a great way to bring families and generations together over theater," Murphy said. "Power of theater is so essential to how we operate as a society."

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
It was a full house for Tuesday's announcement of Shea's Broadway Series.

Denver Milord was at Shea's to sing some of the music from "Oklahoma!" Milord understudied almost all of the roles in the show on Broadway and said "People Will Say We're In Love" is his favorite song from the show.

"It's beautiful. The songs are beautiful. The story is complex. It's dark. It's about a community dealing with who they feel like is an outsider jand how they handle that," Milord said. "I think those things are still relevant today. Take a look at the political situation. Take a look at any situation in your town, in your local communities."

Producer Albert Nocciolino said two of the shows will originate here, with the casts rehearsing and spending significant money to start here. "Mockingbird" will spend two years on the road after opening at Shea's.

"They want to come here because we have extraordinary audiences. They have unbelievable support. We have a terrific subscription base. We are a great theater town and they love coming to Shea's," he said. "I don't know if I can say anything more than that."

The packed house of those interested in theater cheered for the various shows, especially "Frozen" for June of next year. Many then went out into the lobby and immediately bought tickets for future shows.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
Patrons starting scooping up tickets as soon as the shows were announced.

For Bea Militello, it's all good. Militello is owner and manager of the Bijou Grill, located across the street from the Main Street entrance of Shea's.

"It means everything to us. It's the reason why were still here and it's been 29 years now," Militello said. "We have a great staff. We cater to the theater people because they need to get in and out, and we have very loyal customers. And it couldn't be better because Shea's does a fabulous job for us."

The Bijou is just one of the many bars and restaurants who feed off the crowds attending the shows in Shea's.

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.