Top 10 Shows of 2018

As the year comes to a close, Buffalo Theatre Guide is pleased to announce the TOP 10 Shows of 2018, based on page views! These shows were reviewed by a Buffalo Theatre Guide writer, and the review was shared via social media. These shows will be honored with a certificate which will be mailed to the theatre in the new year. Congratulations to all the winners this year!

Honorable Mentions:

15: “Jesus Christ Superstar” – American Repertory Theatre Of WNY

Review is here.

14. “Annie” – Lancaster Opera House

Review is here.

13. “Once” – MusicalFare Theatre

Review is here.

Steven Copps and Renee Landrigan in ‘Once’ at MusicalFare Theatre.

12. “Alice in Wonderland” – Aurora Players

Review is here.

The Cast of “Alice In Wonderland” at Aurora Players. Photo by Dori Shear-McGowan.

11. “Mamma Mia!” Kavinoky Theatre

Review is here.

TOP 10 Shows of 2018

10: “Big Fish” – Second Generation Theatre Company

Review is here. 

9. “Mary Poppins” – Theatre In The Mist

Review is here.


8. “All My Sons” – Niagara Regional Theatre Guild

Review is here.

The cast of “All My Sons” by Niagara Regional Theatre Guild.


7.  “Spring Awakening” – MusicalFare Theatre

Review is here.

The cast of MusicalFare’s ‘Spring Awakening.’ Photo by Chris Cavanagh.

6. “Sive” –  Irish Classical Theatre

Review is here. 

Josephine Hogan and Kiana Duggan-Haas in “Sive” at Irish Classical Theatre.

5.  “The Wizard of Oz” – Rocking Horse Productions

Review is here.

4.  “And Then There Were None” at Aurora Players

Review is here.

The cast of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” at Aurora Players. Photo by Dori Shear-McGowan.

3.  “Oliver!” at Lancaster Opera House

Review is here.

2.   Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” at Lockport Palace Theatre

Review is here.

The cast of “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” at Lockport Palace Theatre.


1. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street –  Kavinoky Theatre

Review is here.

Loraine O’Donnell and Matt Witten in “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street” at Kavinoky Theatre.


Theatre Review: ‘Spring Awakening’ by MusicalFare Theatre at Shea’s 710 Theatre

The cast of “Spring Awakening” by MusicalFare Theatre at Shea’s 710 Theatre.

Last month, students who survived the gruesome shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida began demanding change in gun control legislation by holding rallies, planning walkouts to call for legislative action and meeting with the president.  Many supporters have praised them for standing up for the cause and lauding their fearlessness to call out the adults who have neglected to protect them, similar to the characters some of them had been cast to portray in the school’s production of “Spring Awakening.”

With timeliness on its side, MusicalFare opened its production of the revolutionary 2006 musical Thursday evening at Shea’s 710 Theatre, where it was met with frequent cheers and a deserved standing ovation.

. . .the cast passionately performs a controversial, heart-wrenching and vibrant show you’d be sorry to miss.

Director Randall Kramer has assembled a strong group of mostly returning MusicalFare players to perform Duncan Sheik’s musical based on the play by Frank Wedekind.

In 1891 Germany, a group of students including the sheltered Wendla, headstrong Melchior and anxious Moritz, all look to each other for guidance while struggling to adapt to society’s strict expectations and their parents’ and teachers’ views on the world. Sheik’s music is emotional and intoxicating under Allan Paglia’s direction and serves as the soundtrack to a tale of loss, love, youth and revolution.

Leah Berst and Nick Stevens lead the cast as Wendla and Melchior, respectively. Their vocals are impressively on point and they believably portray the accurate confusion, awkwardness and intensity of young love.

Arianne Davidow is Ilse, a mysterious, gentle character who has recently moved to an artist’s colony after being kicked out from her abusive household. Davidow is a vocal powerhouse and shines brightest when interacting with her old, troubled friend Moritz, played by Patrick Cameron. Cameron’s strength lies in his portrayal of Moritz’s crippling frustration at feeling like a failure. While he occasionally comes off so erratic that his words get lost, his intensity is necessary to showcase his troubling journey.

Lisa Vitrano and Jacob Albarella stand out in some of the more arguably challenging roles – all of the adult parts. Tasked with portraying teachers, various parents and other members of society with barely any costume changes, they both expertly navigate between characters adopting distinct vocal styles and pitches.

Kramer’s staging frequently brought the cast into the aisles and, mixed with Doug Weyand’s precise, passionate choreography, made for an immersive and intimate experience throughout the entire show. “Spring Awakening” is not meant to be performed far away beyond a fourth wall, and Musicalfare’s use of the space is excellent.

Even with incredible staging, what quadruples the production quality is Chris Cavanagh’s lighting and sound design. Bursting with color, his light plot was a character in itself and enhanced each song perfectly, shining especially during the rock numbers.

There were a few vocal moments that were lost, perhaps to an intense acting moment or opening night kinks. Chris Schenk’s industrial set of moving pieces, while efficient, had room for improvement, lacking storytelling details other than a sign during scenes at the school.

Regardless of the production’s few flaws, the story of “Spring Awakening” is too important to miss. Led by the strong quartet of Berst, Cameron, Davidow and Stevens, the cast passionately performs a controversial, heart-wrenching and vibrant show you’d be sorry to miss.

Running Time: Approximately 2 hours with one 15 minute intermission.

“Spring Awakening” plays through March 18, 2018, is produced by MusicalFare Theatre and is presented at Shea’s 710 Theatre. For more information, click here.

First Look: ‘Spring Awakening’ by MusicalFare Theatre at Shea’s 710 Theatre

The cast of MusicalFare’s ‘Spring Awakening.’ Photo by Chris Cavanagh.

When it comes to choosing programing, theater companies often have questions to ask when choosing the right show. Will this show work for the audience? Will we be able to sell tickets to something different? Will the material offend our audience? Can we successfully pull this off? There are many things to think about. Then, a show comes around like “Spring Awakening,” the 2007 Tony Award winning show for Best Musical. While this show was a Broadway phenomenon, it’s content and story are a little difficult for most theatre companies to perform.

“I had been thinking about this show for a while,” says Randy Kramer, Artistic Director of MusicalFare Theatre, who is also directing the production being presented at Shea’s 710 Theatre, “and it just wasn’t a good fit for our intimate space at MusicalFare. There is a large cast, and many musicians, and the show is written in a style that was just a little too much for our theatre.”

For those who might not be aware, “Spring Awakening” is a rock musical that took Broadway by storm during the 2007 season, with music written by Duncan Shiek and book by Steven Sater. The show tells a story of a group of young adults as they experience a life where they are constantly told what they should be doing and how they should be feeling. While adults try to run their lives, they experience their own desires and want to break away from the mold of what is expected of them. While the topics in the show may be dense at times, Kramer says that the situations depicted in the story are real.

“I think this show really will hit home with audiences, especially with what is happening right now with the student mobilization, after the terrible occurrence that happened last week in Florida,” says Kramer, “‘Spring Awakening’ tells a story of young people being told how to feel, and what to do, and they are standing up and rebelling. There is a similar reaction happening right now in the news.”

While “Spring Awakening” was a box office hit in New York, and went on two national tours, the show never played the main stage at Shea’s Buffalo Theatre. “It was thought to be a little too risqué for our audiences,” says Kramer, “but now it is being given the chance to play at Shea’s 710 Theatre, and to me that shows that there has been progress in the community, to let a show like “Spring Awakening” be seen by Buffalo audiences.”

This is the fifth show that MusicalFare has produced at Shea’s 710 Theatre. “Shea’s President, Michael Murphy, wants to continue bringing interesting programming to the 710 Theatre space, and we are lucky to be performing in a space that is huge, has great history in the community, and that we can expand the scope of this show for the Buffalo audience.

Kramer says the this show will definitely bring out emotions, but that the audience should be positively impacted by the story, and the characters. “I hope that this show gets the audience to talk about issues. Not just the issues that the show brings up, but other issues that are important.

“Spring Awakening” runs March 8 – 18, 2018, is produced by MusicalFare Theatre, and is presented at Shea’s 710 Theatre. For more information, click here.

Promotional Consideration Paid For By The Theatre Alliance Of Buffalo.