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Musical mania <br> 'Mary Poppins,' 'Shrek' onboard for Shea's 2010-11 season

For its 2010-11 Broadway season, Shea's Performing Arts Center is turning its attention more than ever to the under-12 set with a lineup of musicals aimed at the hearts and spending power of the young and young-at-heart.

The season will open up on Oct. 14 to 31 with an 18-day stop of the Disney musical "Mary Poppins," the spectacle-heavy 2004 musical based on the 1964 Disney movie starring Julie Andrews as the lovable, whimsical British nanny. Later in the season, from Feb. 22 to 27, 2011, Shea's will host a touring version of "Shrek the Musical," based on the film franchise featuring the good-hearted green ogre Shrek, his beloved Princess Fiona, and an array of fairy-tale characters. And from April 27 to May 22, the endlessly popular "Wicked," a fantastically reimagined version of "The Wizard of Oz," will make the second of what is sure to be many more visits to Buffalo for a run that will last almost a month.

The theater is riding high on the success of last season, when it sold 12,000 tickets to its Broadway shows, the most in the theater's history and an unusually high number for a market the size of Buffalo's. Producer Albert Nocciolino credits the increasing success of Shea's Broadway seasons with helping to draw early visits from new tours like "Shrek" and "West Side Story."

Of course, kids aren't the only focus of Shea's six-show subscription season. Just the main one. Grownups with a penchant for humor may be pleased to know that the theater will host a production of "Young Frankenstein," the 2007 show based on Mel Brooks beloved 1974 film, from March 22 to 27, 2011. A tour of the showbiz musical "Dreamgirls," originally directed and choreographed by Buffalo native Michael Bennett, will drop by Shea's from Dec. 14 to 19.

And musical fans young and old will have a chance to see one of the most beloved musicals of all time when a tour of last year's Broadway revival of "West Side Story" closes out the Shea's season from June 7 to 12.

Outside of the subscription season, Shea's will also offer several special engagements. From Oct. 26 to Nov. 14, the essentially self-explanatory "Dixie's Tupperware Party" visits the theater.

This will be followed by a remounting of last year's successful local production of "The Nutcracker" featuring Neglia Ballet and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. From Dec. 10 to 12, "Cirque Dreams Holidaze," a show which also appeared at Shea's this past holiday season, will make a return. Finally, "Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance" will visit Shea's on March 18, 2011.

The theater may announce more special engagements.