Celebrating Shea's Performing Arts Center

February 27, 2012 Updated Feb 27, 2012 at 8:09 PM EDT

By WKBW News

...
February 27, 2012 Updated Feb 27, 2012 at 8:09 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY ( WKBW ) Shea's Performing Arts Center in downtown Buffalo is a crown jewel of the Queen City.

The grand theater is 86 years old, and opened as a movie palace.

In the 1970's, Shea's fell on hard times and was nearly knocked down. Through the efforts of the WNY community and a dedicated group of volunteers, the theater stayed open, has been renovated, and stands as one of the great theaters in the nation.

Channel 7's Keith Radford reports on the continued restoration in a sit down interview with Chief Operating Officer Tony Conte, who announces the theater is looking forward to a presentation of "The Phantom Of The Opera" with a grand musical score from the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Mighty Wurlitzer organ.

Click the video for more!

Here is a history of the theater from Shea's website:

HISTORIC THEATRE TOURS AT SHEA’S PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

Experience the Rich History and Living Grandeur of one of
North America’s Most Beautiful Theatres

Shea’s Performing Arts Center, a National Historic Site, offers public tours of its ornate and beautiful theatre. Tours are given Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. (during non-show days). The cost is $8 for adults and $4 for children, students, seniors and groups of 20 or more. Reservations must be made in advance. Those interested may call 847-1410, ext. 184. There is no charge for school groups.

Those who take the tour will view the elegant theatre with its elaborate architecture and interior decor as well as its on-going restoration. Designed by architects C.W. and George L. Rapp, this building boasts interior designed by Tiffany Studios featuring a Neo-Spanish Baroque design and is modeled after a European opera house. It originally opened in 1926 as a movie house under the direction of Mr. Michael Shea. Since then, the theatre continues to be maintained and restored to its original grandeur.

“Shea’s is one of the architectural treasures of the region,” said Director of Marketing & Public Relations Lisa Grisanti. “We want our community to learn and experience more about this beautiful structure, its rich history, and its on-going restoration efforts.” The theatre was built by the Rapp Brothers of Chicago and is one of only several theatres still existing that was built by these theatre architects. All proceeds from the admission price of the tours benefits the continued restoration of the building.

Since opening its doors in 1926, there have been many great performers that have graced the stage at Shea’s including George Burns, Frank Sinatra, The Marx Brothers, and Bing Crosby, among others. The theatre also features the Western New York Entertainment Hall of Fame with inductees Lucille O’Ball, Buffalo Bob, and Christine Baranski, among others, whose portraits grace the Petit Lobby.

Under the guidelines of the National Historic Registry, the interior restoration at Shea’s is done by a team of committed volunteers and students who donate their time and talent to restoring “the Wonder Theatre.” If you are interested in restoration volunteer opportunities, please call Restoration Consultant Doris Collins at 829-1155.