Summer vacation. For most, it is time away from the classroom and the books and studies. It is a time for traveling, and for relaxation. For Jayla Baldenegro and Natalie Horner, they can return to class and tell their friends that they spent their summer restoring the crown jewel of the Buffalo theatre community, Shea’s Buffalo Theatre.
“These two girls cleaned statutes, repaired plaster, painted area’s around the box office, and even had the opportunity to work with joint compound,” says Doris Collins, the Restoration Consultant at Shea’s. “They even helped with some of the seven thousand square feet of stenciling around the theater.”
For those who have visited Shea’s, it is clear when you walk up to the building that there is plenty of splendor and grandeur, and in order to restore it to the way that it was when Shea’s first opened it’s doors as a movie and vaudeville house, you need committed volunteers.
“We are lucky to get volunteers like Jayla and Natalie,” says Collins, who has been heading up the restoration efforts since the project began in 2000, “we are able to give them community service hours for their efforts, and they get to be part of restoring something very special.”
So, how do you coax a pair of middle schoolers to give up their summer to help paint walls and fix damaged plaster? Apparently, all you have to do is ask. “My family knows Doris, and she asked me if I would be interested in coming to help her,” says Baldenegro. “She brought me to see “Wicked” and “The Lion King” and when I saw the theater, I thought it was beautiful. I wanted to help so that the people who come here in the future will be able to enjoy it.”
“I’m friends with Jayla, and she told me that she was going to start volunteering at Shea’s,” says Horner, “I thought that it would be something fun to do.” Horner adds that she too has come to visit Shea’s to see shows. “I think that it is important that we keep the theatre looking like it did before, so that we can all continue to enjoy it.
Baldenegro and Horner take their work seriously, and plan on checking up on what they have done and to show it off when they come to visit.
“It is wonderful that we are able to have young volunteers help with this project. It makes it all the more special,” says Collins.
You can see the restoration progress for yourself in September, when Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” comes to Buffalo to launch it’s national tour, September 21 – 29, 2018.
For more information about Shea’s, click here.