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WHAT: Curtain Up!

WHEN: Tonight

WHERE: Downtown Theater District


INFO: 852-2600

Amazingly, it's been 20 years since Buffalo theaters began the celebration called Curtain Up! Two decades is a long time for a one-night event to survive. But what is really amazing is that Curtain Up! still seems like a fresh and strikingly simple idea: Get everyone downtown for one glorious night to celebrate theater as a vital community phenomenon.

From the start, this unique event was intended to be more than a season opener (indeed, many theaters opened before or will open after Curtain Up!). It was also an effective way to highlight the immeasurable value and pleasure that theater holds in Western New York - a sentiment that deserves an exclamation point as much as the celebration's title!

Curtain Up! begins tonight with the now-traditional mayor's prologue from 5 to 5:30 in the historic Market Arcade building at 617 Main St.

From there - for those lucky individuals who have reservations for this sold-out event - the celebration will move to the main tent in Fountain Plaza for a gala dinner and formal toasting of the new season. Those outside the tent will have ample opportunity to carry on their own celebrations in the many restaurants in and around the Theater District - an activity encouraged by the 8:30 curtain time at the 10 participating theaters.

When curtains rise, the fare will be varied to say the least. A Moliere farce will vie for attention with a popular Neil Simon comedy. A classic American musical will be joined by musical revues in tribute to performers of various sorts. The dramas will be pure, or mixed with comedy. And two theaters will celebrate the centennial of the Pan-American Exposition with special productions.

Here's the list:

Alleyway Theatre, One Curtain Up Alley (852-2600). "Pan-Ambitions," world premiere of the musical by Neal Radice.

Buffalo Ensemble Theatre, 95 N. Johnson St. (855-2225). Tennessee Williams' "Night of the Iguana."

Buffalo United Artists Upstairs Cabaret, 884 Main St. (886-9239). Bill C. Davis' "Avow."

Irish Classical Theatre Company, Andrews Theatre, 625 Main St. (853-ICTC). Moliere's "The School for Wives."

Lancaster Opera House, 21 Central Ave., Lancaster (683-1776). "Tony 'n Tina's Wedding."

MusicalFare Theatre at Daemen Theater, 4380 Main St., Amherst (839-8565); "My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra" staged by David Grapes and Todd Olson.

O'Connell & Company, Market Arcade Film and Arts Center (839-3949). "Diva by Diva," the popular musical revue.

Kavinoky Theatre, 320 Porter Ave. (881-7668). Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple."

Shea's Performing Arts Center, 646 Main St. (847-1410). Frank Loesser's "Guys and Dolls."

Studio Arena Theatre, 710 Main St. (856-5650 or 800-77-STAGE). Anthony Clarvoe adaptation of Lauren Belfer's novel, "City of Light."

After the theater, the cast party will be held in the tent beginning at 10:30.

Throughout the night, from 5:30 to midnight, Global Dance Party, an event featuring professional dancers, musicmakers and DJs, will be in Utopia, 228 Franklin St. (852-6406).

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