Buffalo is home to a multitude of performing arts, and a magnificently wide range of venues to enjoy them in. From meticulously restored theaters to original music halls and reimagined industrial sites, these stunning settings are as much a part of the cultural experience as the presentation.
Shea’s Performing Arts Center, 646 Main Street, Buffalo
A National Historic Site, this 1926 movie house has been restored to its original splendor. A theater scene anchor, it’s also a destination on its own for architecture fans. Remarkably, it is one of the country’s only theaters with a Tiffany designed interior. The Metropolitan Museum of Art calls Shea’s “a baroque confection of rich colors and textures.”
What to see: big touring Broadway musicals, a la Jesus Christ Superstar and Hello, Dolly!, plus top acts and artists (2020 shows include Riverdance, The Illusionists and Blue Man Group).
Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo
Kleinhans is a designated National Historic Landmark, and home to the Grammy-award-winning Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Designed by Finnish father-and-son architects, Eliel and Eero Saarninen, it was completed in 1940. Since then it has become a touchstone for Buffalonians, and internationally renowned for both its simple beauty and its amazing acoustics.
What to see: The orchestra offers a variety of performances, from classical to pops and family-oriented concerts.
Asbury Hall, 341 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo
Also known as Babeville, this downtown arts hub is on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places. A former Methodist church, it’s constructed out of Medina sandstone (completed around 1874). In the mid-‘90s, under threat of demolition, singer/songwriter/activist and Buffalo native Ani DiFranco, along with a business partner, purchased it. The building’s main performance space is in the former church sanctuary.
What to see: All kinds of touring and local bands, larger acts like Robin Trower, and intimate shows in the basement cabaret space, the 9th Ward.
North Park Theatre, 1428 Hertel Avenue, Buffalo
Another 1920s grand movie palace lovingly restored after years of underuse. The original Art Nouveau murals on the ceiling and proscenium glow with pride; the stained-glass design above the front marquee is a beacon.
What to see: an array of movies including new titles and smaller releases.
Silo City, Silo City Row, Buffalo
This partially renovated grain elevator complex, part of Buffalo’s rich industrial heritage, is being put to a wide range of uses. There is no denying their dramatic presence; you may find them beautiful, eerie or a bit of both. They’re even being used as a film location in Buffalo’s increasing role as a movie production destination.
What to see: live music performances and festivals, poetry readings, immersive theater performances. (Insider tip: Wear sturdy shoes.)
Riviera Theater, 67 Webster Street, North Tonawanda
A glamorous and beloved renovated 1926 movie house, this worth-the-trip venue is on both the National and New York State Register of Historic Places. In addition to its glorious interior, one of its main attractions is the vintage Wurlitzer organ, in good working order and frequently featured.
What to see: Large scale tribute shows honoring artists including Santana, ELO, Journey, Johnny Cash, etc.; magic shows, concerts, and silent films accompanied live by the mighty Wurlitzer.