Curtain-up at Shea’s Performing Arts Center after year and a half with no audiences

Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — After a very long wait, the curtain is up at Shea’s Performing Arts Center. The theatre couldn’t host shows for about a year and a half, making it one of the last places to reopen.

It’s been a celebratory night. Lots of smiles as hundreds of people entered Shea’s from on Main and Pearl Street. You might remember, the folks at Shea’s had been pretty adamant they needed a mostly full audience for shows to be financially worth it, so capacity limits weren’t cutting. That changed Thursday night.

“It’s been 504 days since there has been a live audience in this theater.”

Shea’s Performing Arts Center welcomed back people with its first packed show, the music of Disney on Broadway.

“It’s an incredible night to be able to welcome people into Shea’s, back downtown, back down into our restaurants, and bring downtown back to life,” said President of Shea’s, Michael Murphy.

Tons of kids attended, including a special group of city kids brought to the performance by Buffalo Police and the Peacemakers.

“It makes everybody more comfortable getting along, it improves relations in general, and it helps us to relate in more of a friendly, relaxed area,” said Lt. Marcus Rogowski of the Buffalo Police Department.

Thursday, mask-wearing was on the honor system as people made their way to the main stage. But in the background, on the global stage, uncertainty looms with COVID-19 cases spiking again.

The president of Shea’s says after this year, they’re ready.

“The information changes constantly. We’ve kept up to date constantly. We’ve had to reschedule shows, but now we have everything in place, and we feel that we’ll be able to move forward, but we just need everyone to take care of themselves,” said Murphy.

But right now, Western New Yorkers were just happy to be back.

Thursday night’s performance was an effort to reacquaint people back to professional, live theater, get everybody ready for the Broadway season — kicking off with Frozen.

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