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Stage Presence Curtain Up! marks the beginning of a theater season that?more than ever?has something for everyone

With Friday's Curtain Up! waiting in the wings, Western New York's theater companies are planning an unprecedented season of entertainment. In fact, one never knows whom they will encounter on a Buffalo stage.

"Amadeus," for one, thanks to Irish Classical Theatre, whose around-the-world season starts in the court of an Austrian emperor. The costume budget for "Amadeus" was more than double what the theater usually spends for the show that pits a musical genius against a mediocre court composer.

Over at New Phoenix Theatre, 95 Johnson Park, a different kind of legend will rise. Come April, "Rock" will share the New Phoenix stage with six bigger-than-life puppets including John Wayne, James Dean, Montgomery Clift and Doris Day. Executive director Richard Lambert, who has acted in more than 40 productions throughout the area, will take his best shot as screen idol Rock Hudson.

And what kind of Buffalonians would we be if we couldn't poke fun at ourselves? At O'Connell & Company in Snyder, they're doing just that with the season-opening spoof of our area's tribulations. With musical numbers - like "Consider Yourself Unemployed," "Alone Again Legally" and "You've Got to Be Crass" - "Buffalo Zings! Hot, Tedium and Wild!!" is filled with saucy parodies.

At Alleyway Theatre, you'll discover a whole new world, just like "Columbus" (which opens the season). Renovations on the former Greyhound bus terminal are complete and have transformed the 64-year-old Art Moderne structure into the ritz of local playhouses. In addition, the first weekend of every production has been christened "Pay What It's Worth to You" weekend. That's right! In response to the county crisis/gas crunch woes, audience members can choose their own ticket prices.

The theater season is upon us. We offer this listing to help you prepare your Curtain Up! plans and to give you a sneak peek at some of the rest of the theater season in our area, one of the most active theater communities in the country.

This list represents just about all of the local professional theater companies. Some schedules were unavailable. Due to space limitations, we list here only shows running more than one night. Note: All Curtain Up! performances start at 8:30 p.m. Friday. A * denotes a show with a Curtain Up! performance.

Alleyway Theatre

One Curtain Up Alley,

just off Main Street

* "Columbus" by Neal Radice, adapted from the play by Robert Kornhiser - Thursday to Sept. 24: Musical portrays another side of Admiral Christopher Columbus through dance, masks and spectacle.

* "Wedlock" by Joshua Faigen - Nov. 3 to 12: The most recent winner of the Maxim Mazumdar new play competition negotiates the minefield of companionship. Previews Oct. 27 to 29.

* "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens - Dec. 8 to 18: Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the Alleyway carolers warm the holiday. (Special times: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sundays.) General admission: $30, students and children: $20.

* "Squeeze Box" by Ann Randolph - Feb. 2 to 19: Presented by Pandora's Box Theatre and Empire State College, this one-woman comedy examines life in a homeless shelter and love, accordion style.

* "Buffalo Quickies "06" - March 23 to April 1: Annual festival of one-act plays. Previews March 16 to 18.

* "The Book of Liz" by Amy and Davis Sedaris - April 27 to May 6: Comedy about Sister Elizabeth Donderstock and her journey to the outside world. Previews April 20 to 22.

Preview performances: Pay what you can the first weekend of every run. Audience members name their own ticket price on a rush basis.

Times: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays. "Squeeze Box" will also play at 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: General admission, $24. Students, $12. Box Office: 852-2600 or alleyway.com. Available 45 minutes before each performance, by phone with Visa/Mastercard and no service charge.

Buffalo Ensemble Theatre

275 Oak St.

Theater is finalizing schedule. Productions planned this season include "Stone Soup," "Duchesse del Soprano," "A Symphony Down in My Soul" and "Foundations." Dates, times, location and prices are expected to be announced in October.

The Center for the Arts

University at Buffalo North Campus

* "Miss Saigon" - 8 p.m. Oct. 29, 7 p.m. Oct. 30: A love story for our time seen by more than 28 million people in 13 countries.

Tickets: $30 to $56.

Box Office: 645-ARTS or ubcfa.org

Irish Classical Theatre

625 Main St.

* "Amadeus" by Peter Shaffer - Thursday to Oct. 16: Salieri and Mozart face off in the court of the Austrian emperor.

* "Accidental Death of an Anarchist" by Dario Fo - Nov. 4 to Dec. 4: Paul Todaro directs this political satire targeting extreme right-wing bureaucracy in 1960s Italy.

* "Good" by C.P. Taylor (produced in collaboration with the Jewish Repertory Theatre) - Jan. 5 to Feb. 12, 2006: Set in the 1930s, this haunting play reveals Hitler's rise to power and stars Saul Elkin. No performances on Friday.

* "Juno and the Paycock" by Sean O'Casey - March 3 to April 2, 2006: Discover the comedy that delighted audiences at Dublin's Abbey Theatre in 1924.

* "Loot" by Joe Orton - April 21 to May 21, 2006: Drawing-room black comedy blasting money, police and other sacred institutions.

Note: Opening night for each regular season production will be 7:30 p.m. Friday, with the exception of "Amadeus," which will open Thursday and "Good" which opens Thursday, Jan. 5, 2006. Times: 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays prior to each Friday opening. Performances will continue at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays with matinees at 3 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. "Good" will run at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and Saturdays. Matinees at 3 p.m. Saturdays at 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: Preview performances, $22. Regular tickets range from $34 to $40. Senior tickets from $28 to $30. Students, $15. Box Office: 853-4282 or www.irishclassicaltheatre.com.

Jewish Repertory

Theatre

2640 North Forest Road,

Getzville

* "Good" by C.P. Taylor - Jan. 5 to Feb. 12, 2006: One man's descent into the nightmare of Hitler. In collaboration with and staged at Irish Classical Theatre, 625 Main St. (see above for times).

* "Old Wicked Songs" by Jon Marans - June 8 to July 2, 2006: Young piano virtuoso suffers from burnout.

Times: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays. Will be staged at MusicalFare Theatre, Daemen College, 4380 Main St., Amherst. Tickets: Adults, $30; seniors, $27. Box Office: 688-4114, Ext. 334, or www.jewishrepertorytheatre.com.

Kaleidoscope Theatre Productions

Staged at Marie Maday Theatre in Lyons Hall in Canisius College, 2001 Main St.

* "The Smell of the Kill" by Michele Lowe - Friday to Oct. 1: Comedy with a "Desperate Housewives" feel featuring three miserable husbands and three equally miserable wives.

* "Deathtrap" by Ira Levin - Jan. 20 to Feb. 4, 2006: Classic thriller depicting the ultimate act of literary theft.

* "I Love You. You're Perfect. Now Change" by Joe DiPietro - June 2 to June 25, 2006: A modern musical that drives through the stages of life and love.

Times: 7:30 p.m. Fridays; 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; and, in June, 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: General, $12. Students/seniors, $8. Box Office: 629-8548 or www.kaleidoscopetheatreproductions.com.

Kavinoky Theatre

At D'Youville College,

320 Porter Ave.

* "Man of La Mancha" - Friday to Oct. 23: Twenty-two actors energize this story about dreaming the impossible.

* "Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell" by Keith Waterhouse - Nov. 18 to Dec. 18: Originally written for actor Peter O'Toole, this play about friendship will be directed by Robert Waterhouse, son of the playwright.

* "Always ... Patsy Cline" by Ted Swindley - Jan. 6 to Feb. 5, 2006: A band and more than 20 Cline standards including "I Fall to Pieces," "Crazy" and "Blue Moon of Kentucky" power this show.

* "The Cocktail Hour" by A.R. Gurney - March 3 to April 2, 2006: The world's longest happy hour takes place in Buffalo, home of the playwright, in his most autobiographical play yet.

* "Celadine" by Charles Evered - April 28 to May 28, 2006: Actress Amy Irving commissioned this play that combines comedy, tragedy and mystery.

Times: 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: Musicals - regular, $36; senior, $30. Plays - regular, $32; senior, $28. Box Office: 829-7668 or www.kavinokytheatre.com.

Lancaster

Opera House

21 Central Ave., Lancaster

* "Cabaret" - Friday, Saturday, Sept. 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25: The story of Sally Bowles' dreams of stardom and love in 1930 Berlin.

* "Over the Tavern" by Tom Dudzick - Oct. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9: Meet the Pazinskis of Buffalo, who live above the tavern they own.

* "Hello Dolly" - Oct. 21, 22, 23, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30 and Nov. 4, 5, 6: Matchmaker Dolly Levi seeks to snare a wealthy but irascible merchant.

* "Canterville Ghost" - 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Oct. 29. An American family faces the ghost of an English manor.

* "Nuncrackers" - 7:30 p.m. Nov. 11, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 12, 2:30 p.m. Nov. 13, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 26, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10: The sisters of Mount Saint Helen are cable-ready.

* "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" 7:30 p.m. Nov. 25; 2 p.m. Nov. 26, 27, Dec. 3, 4; 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Dec. 10, 17; 2 p.m. Dec. 11, 18: Audience participation, reindeer games and Santa.

* "Smokey Joe's Cafe" - Jan. 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21, 22: A song and dance party including "Jail House Rock" and "Stand By Me."

* "Deadly Nightcap" - Jan. 27, 28, 29, 31 and Feb. 1, 3, 4, 5: Murder meets mystery in this British thriller.

* "Radiation" - 8 p.m. Feb. 9, 10, 11 and 2:30 p.m. Feb. 12: Maria Sklodowska-Curie and her discovery of radium. Feb. 9 performance in Polish.

* "Fiddler on the Roof" - Feb. 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26 and March 2, 3, 4, 5: Follow the journey of Tevye the Milkman during pre-Revolutionary Russia.

* "Love, Sex & the IRS" - March 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19: Two roommates' plan to save money by listing themselves as married.

* "Mario & Mary's Wedding" - 7 p.m. March 17, 18; 2:30 p.m. March 19; 7 p.m. March 21, 22, 23, 24, 25; 2:30 p.m. March 26: All dinner-theater tickets $36.

* "Social Security" - March 31 and April 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 9: Middle-aged couple makes room for mom.

* "Charlotte's Web" - 7:30 p.m. May 5, 12; 2 p.m. May 6, 7; 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. May 13: Extraordinary spider Charlotte uses the miracle of her web.

* "Grease" - 7:30 p.m. May 19, 20, 23 and June 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10; 2:30 p.m. May 21 and June 4, 11: Rydell High's class of "59 is back.

Times: Unless otherwise stated, showtimes are: 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: Unless otherwise stated - adults $16, seniors $14, children $10. Box Office: 683-1776 or lancopera

MusicalFare Theatre

Staged at Daemen College, 4380 Main St., Amherst

* "If Love Were All" - Wednesday to Oct. 16: Discover the friendship between two great stage personalities, Gertrude Lawrence and Noel Coward.

* "A Christmas Survival Guide" - Nov. 9 to Dec. 11: A five-piece onstage band energizes this fresh look at the holidays.

* "Sammy & Me" by Eric Jordan Young - Jan. 11 to Feb 12: A tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. that features many of his awesome songs.

* "The Last Five Years" by Jason Robert Brown - March 1 to April 2: Story of relationship told through two perspectives: his and hers.

* "Urinetown" - April 19 to May 21: The hysterical musical with the terrible name.

Times: 7 p.m. Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Special half-price preview on Tuesdays of opening week. Tickets: 8 p.m. performances Fridays and Saturdays $32. All other shows $28. Box Office: 839-8540 or musicalfare.com.

New Phoenix Theatre

95 Johnson Park

* "Jesus Hopped the "A' Train" by Stephen Adly Guirgis - Thursday to Oct. 22: Two prison inmates debate issues of faith.

* "Blue/Orange" by Joe Penhall - Nov. 14 to Dec. 16: A psychiatric patient claims to be the son of Idi Amin.

* Winner of Eric Bentley new play competition - Feb. 2 to Feb. 28, 2006.

* "Rock," by Marc Humphrey - April 3 to April 28, 2006: Co-produced with Skeletons in the Closet, "Rock" explores the life of Hollywood icon Rock Hudson.

Tickets: $15 and $20 Times: 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays Box Office: 853-1334 or newphoenixtheatre.org

Niagara Regional

Theatre Guild

Riviera Theatre, 67 Webster St., North Tonawanda

* "Annie Get Your Gun" - Sept. 23 to Oct. 8: Irving Berlin's musical about backwoods sharpshooter Annie Oakley. Matinee performance Oct. 2.

* "The Miracle Worker" - Nov. 11 to Nov. 19: William Gibson's drama about Helen Keller. Matinee performance Nov. 13.

* "On the Town" - March 10 to March 25, 2006: Three sailors tackle the Big Apple. Matinee performance March 19.

* "Camelot" - May 5 to May 20, 2006: Musical retelling of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Matinee performances May 7 and May 14.

Times: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays. Unless noted, a free organ concert begins 30 minutes before curtain time. Tickets: Musicals - adults, $17; seniors/students $15. Dramas - adults, $15; seniors/students, $13. Box Office: 692-2413 or niagaratheatre.com.

O'Connell & Company

4476 Main St., Snyder

* "Buffalo Zings! Hot, Tedium & Wild!!" - Opens in the Town Ballroom, 681 Main St., at 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sept. 18. In collaboration with Buffalo Ensemble Theatre. Continues Sept. 22 to Oct. 30 at 4476 Main St., Snyder. Parody about Buffalo and Erie County politics.

* "Afterglow" - Nov. 3 to 20: Celebrate the Colored Musicians Club's 70th anniversary.

* "A Broadway Christmas Carol" - Dec. 1 to 18: Revisit the Ebenezer Scrooge classic with a smile on your face.

* "Gilligan's Island: The Musical" - Jan. 12 to Feb. 12, 2006: Follow Gilligan and his gang through that life-changing shipwreck.

* "The Lounge" - March 2 to April 2: Three decades of cocktails, culture and conversation celebr ate local icons on the nightclub circuit.

* "Desperate Measures" - April 20 to May 21: A country version of Shakespeare's "Measure for Measure."

Times: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays Tickets: Adult $22-$25, senior $17-$20, student $15. Box Office: 839-3949 or oconnellandcompany.com.

Paul Robeson Theatre

African Cultural Center, 350 Masten Ave.

* "What Good Ole' Days?" by Mary Craig, June L. Saunders Duell and Paulette D. Harris - Friday to Oct. 9: What happens when the sassy sounds of Pearl Bailey come together with the edgy comedy of Moms Mabley?

* "Black Nativity" adapted from the Langston Hughes classic based on the gospel of St. Luke - Dec. 2 to 19: Told through scripture, poetry, music and dance.

* "No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs" by John Henry Redwood - Feb. 3 to Feb. 28, 2006: Story about love and hate, vengeance and forgiveness - and Mattie Cheeks, holding her family together in the face of considerable adversity.

Times: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: Curtain Up reception, $26; children under age 12, $19. All other nights - adults, $22; seniors/students, $18; children under age 12, $12. Box Office: 884-2013

Road Less Traveled

Productions staged at New Phoenix Theatre

95 Johnson Park.

* "The Peddler's Bones" by Jon Elston - Oct. 20 to Nov. 13: An unhinged pair of sisters struggle for control of their mother's house in this creepy psychological treat.

* "Project" by Jon Elston - Jan. 15, 22, 29. Feb. 5, 12: Four businessmen locked in a battle for success. In collaboration with Irish Classical Theatre's Sunday Night Series.

* "The Smoking Room" by Lisa Vitrano - March 10 to April 2, 2006: Mental patient digs for dark family secrets.

* "The Dodo Bird" by Emanuel Fried - May 18 to June 4, 2006: A Fried retrospective.

Times: 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays; 4 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: Adults, $25; seniors/students, $20. Box Office: 629-3069.

Shea's Performing

Arts Center

646 Main St.

Broadway Series:

* "My Fair Lady" by George Bernard Shaw - Oct. 4 to Oct. 9: Songs including "I Could Have Danced All Night," "Rain in Spain" and "On The Street Where You Live" make this show sing.

* "Hairspray" - Nov. 15 to Nov. 20: The winner of eight Tony awards, this hilarious show takes you back to 1962 Baltimore.

* "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" - Dec. 6 to Dec. 11: Experience biblical Egypt with Patrick Cassidy and American Idol's Amy Adams.

* "Dame Edna, Back With a Vengeance" - Feb. 7 to 12, 2006: International mega-star, housewife, journalist and talk show host portrayed by Austrlian Barry Humphries.

* "Peter Pan" - Feb. 28 to March 5, 2006: Cathy Rigby takes flight in her farewell tour.

* "Little Shop of Horrors" March 28 to April 2, 2006: Not your ordinary boy-meets-girl, plant-eats-world production.

Special Engagements:

* "Movin' Out" - April 18 to April 23: Brings 24 Billy Joel classics to life.

* "Annie" - June 6 to June 11: The story of Little Orphan Annie, starring Buffalo area native Conrad John Schuck as Daddy Warbucks.

Times: 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m Sundays. Tickets: $19.50, $39.50 and $54.50. Box Office: 847-0850 or sheas.org.

Studio Arena Theatre

710 Main St.

* "Ring of Fire" by Richard Maltby, Jr. William Meade - Sept. 2 to Oct. 9: The songs of Johnny Cash tell the story of America.

* "Trying" by Joanna McClelland Glass - Oct. 21 to Nov. 13: True story recounts the playwright's year as personal secretary to Francis Biddle, chief judge of the Nuremberg trials.

* "A Christmas Story" by Philip Grecian - Nov. 25 to Dec. 23: A favorite holiday film arrives on stage complete with exploding furnace and the ill-fated lamppost experiment.

* "Bad Dates" by Theresa Rebeck - Jan. 6 to Jan. 29, 2006: Thirtysomething single mom dives into dating pool and shares her disasters.

* "Ghosts" by Henrik Ibsen - Feb. 10 to March 5, 2006: How long can family secrets be buried?

* "Reduced Shakespeare Company: All the Great Books (abridged)" by Reed martin and Austin Tuchenor - March 17 to April 9, 2006: Fast-paced comedy takes you on a crash course in western literature.

* "5 Guys Named Moe" by Clarke Peters - April 21 to May 14, 2006: His woman left him, he's broke and it's almost five in the morning.

Times: 7 p.m. Tuesdays; 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays; 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 4 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $25 to $53 Box Office: 856-5650 or studioarena.org.

Theatre of Youth

Allendale Theatre

203 Allen St.

* "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Bruce Hurlbut - Oct. 7 to Oct. 30: Ghost story featuring the bumbling awkward schoolteacher Ichabod Crane, the coquettish Katrina, and brutish rival Brom Bones.

* "The Masque of Beauty and the Beast" by Michael Elliot Brill - Dec. 2 to Dec. 23: Ageless story about trust, respect and the power of perception. Special holiday performance at 7 p.m. Dec. 23

* "Number the Stars" by Douglas W. Larche - Jan. 20 to Feb. 12, 2006: It's 1943 and Danish freedom fighters seek to rescue their country's entire Jewish population - including one 14-year-old girl and her family.

* "BFG: Big Friendly Giant" by David Wood - March 24 to April 9, 2006: Sprightly orphan Sophie joins forces with BFG to save the world from bone-slurping, flesh-gobbling giants.

* "Junie B. Jones & A Little Monkey Business" by Joan Cushing - May 12 to May 21, 2006, and June 3, 4. No performances May 27, 28: Witty, language-mangling musical that follows the adventures of kindegartener Junie B.

Times: Unless otherwise noted, opening night performances take place at 7 p.m. Fridays and continue for four weekends at 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets: $17 or $19. Box Office: 884-4400 or theatreofyouth.org.

Ujima Co.

545 Elmwood Ave.

* "The Story" by Tracey Scott Wilson - Oct. 21 to Nov. 13

* "Glengarry Glen Ross" by David Mamet - Feb. 3 to 26

Times: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 6 p.m. Sundays

Tickets: $16 to $22

Box Office: 883-4232 or ujimatheatre.org.

Uptown Theater

3165 Bailey Ave.

* "Relationships" by DonnaMarie Vaughan - Friday through Oct. 2: A series of five short plays.

* "Signs of Evil" by Steven Harris - November dates to be announced.

* "A Warren Saeger Christmas" - A series of short plays with holiday themes. December dates to be announced.

* "Today's Special" by John Kindelan - January 2006 dates to be announced.

Times: 7 p.m. Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $10 Thursdays/$15 all other performances. Box Office: 316-5201 or uptowntheater@buffalo.com.

e-mail: jkwiatkowski@buffnews.com

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