Summer theater at Chautauqua Institution has something for almost everyone, with free outdoor performances on and off the grounds of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (the next one is July 4), three productions from the New Play Workshop (starting in mid-July) and two "big" professional productions, "The Christians" and "One Man, Two Guvnors," the West End farce that made James Corden a star.
The season begins this week with Lucas Hnath's "The Christians," open June 24 to July 11. It was described by The Guardian as "a mature and elusive play about faith" and "a clever, searching and elusively profound work" when it opened in New York in 2015. The show drew similar positive reviews locally when presented in spring 2018 by Buffalo's Road Less Traveled Productions.
The 90-minute production explores what happens when the charismatic pastor of an evangelical megachurch surprises his congregation by announcing that he no longer believes in hell. Everyone goes to heaven, he says. Everyone. The shocked, angry and confused responses of his family, friends and followers make up the rest of the play, backed up by music by the Chautauqua Choir.
Performances are in the Bratton Theater at various days and times throughout the week, including matinees at 2:15 p.m. and 4 p.m. through July 14. For exact dates and times, and to purchase tickets ($37.50 to $42.50) call 357-6250 or go to chq.org. You can also purchase tickets there for "One Man, Two Guvnors," which opens July 26 through Aug. 11.
Chautauqua Institution is on the shores of Chautauqua Lake. The main entrance is on Route 394 (south of Mayville), with paid parking across the street from the gate.
Voguing in the '80s
At 7:15 p.m. June 27, the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the Pride Center of Western New York and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery are presenting a free outdoor screening of "Paris Is Burning," a 1991 documentary about gay and transgender communities in New York and how they expressed themselves through dance, music and fashion. Footage of drag dances is paired with interviews of some of the participants, some of whom lived on the margins of society.
The event is preceded by a discussion from members of Buffalo's LGBTQ community about the local history of gay life and rights. The 76-minute film has an R rating.
Art to see, buy at Kenan Center, Roycroft Campus
Works by more than 20 artists will be on display when the Kenan Center shows off art from its collection in the Kenan House Gallery, 433 Locust St., Lockport. The exhibition kicks off with a reception at the gallery from 2 to 5 p.m. June 30. Regular gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 2 to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The show runs through July 21. Admission is free.
Thirty miles south of the Kenan, the Roycroft Campus in East Aurora is hosting its summer Art & Antique Show from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 29 and 30. Live music, food trucks and animals from Thistle Creek Alpacas and Wild Spirit Education will join more than 70 artists and vendors. The Roycroft Campus (South Grove Street at Route 20A) will also be open for visitors.
BPO's pops playlist
Nothing says summer like the sounds of a major symphony orchestra set up outside and playing the music of Aretha Franklin. The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra starts its summer on July 3 at Sahlen Field, in concert following the 6 p.m. Bisons-Lehigh Valley IronPigs game.
Retired maestro Paul Ferington returns to lead the musicians in music from Franklin, the Eagles, "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "The Lion King," along with the patriotic sounds of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "The Stars & Stripes Forever," with some explosive notes from the "1812 Overture" to accent the fireworks show.
Closing time at local theater
This is the final weekend to see several shows on Buffalo stages: "The Seat Next to the King" at New Phoenix Theatre; Second Generation's "Nine" at Shea's Smith Theatre; "Entertaining Mr. Sloane" at Irish Classical Theatre Company and "BUA Takes 10: Stonewall Edition" at Alleyway's Cabaret.