Help us find a home for a night (or two)
July 12, 2010 11:03 AM   Subscribe

I need to find a venue for a cabaret/concert performance in Buffalo. The problems: our target dates (Sept. 10th and 11th) coincide with the opening weekend of the new theatre season (locking out traditional theatres), and we're not looking for a permanent residence just yet. Non-Buffalo specific advice also useful, details follow…

I am the artistic director of a (soon-to-be incorporated) theatre company in Buffalo, and I’m searching for performance space for a cabaret/concert we've put together. The concert (named "Quarter-Life Crisis") is a compilation of songs by very-new musical theatre composers, touching on the frustrations and joys of young adulthood. It calls for a cast of six and a band of three or four.

Complicating the search is that our target dates are September 10th and 11th, coinciding with the start of the 2010-2011 Buffalo theatre season. As a result, conventional theatre venues in Buffalo will be filled up. I’ve solicited suggestions on a Buffalo-area blog already (see this post on Buffalo Rising) and that’s generated a few leads. Unfortunately, they're typically interested in long-term rentals and/or residency, and I don’t think it would be responsible to make that type of commitment with the company still in its infancy.

Obviously a venue needs to be appropriately compensated, and this will be a ticketed event so a fair percentage of that income can go to them. I should also mention that we’re entirely self-sufficient when it comes to P/A, equipment, etc. – we have all the gear we need to put on the show except the place to put it on!

I’d appreciate any specific ideas from Buffalonians on specific venues, folks I should be talking to and seeking help from, etc. Any advice from people outside Buffalo is greatly appreciated as well, such as general venue hunting advice, tips on negotiating, or anything relevant.

Thanks so much for your help!
posted by cvp to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you contacted the local High Schools? Some will rent their auditoriums to raise money for the school. As long as the school doesn't have a concert planned for that date (and they probably wouldn't since it's so close to the beginning of the school year) the auditorium would be empty. They wouldn't want you to stay for an extended run, so it might be win-win for both parties.
posted by TooFewShoes at 11:21 AM on July 12, 2010

I was in a performance of "Arsenic and Old Lace" that was staged in the Parish Hall of Central Park Methodist Church in North Buffalo about 10 years ago. They have a stage and can probably seat about 150-200.
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 11:32 AM on July 12, 2010

Response by poster: I've been contacted by one or two churches who are open to us, and that seems like a good approach. My only concern is that many of the songs use coarse language and reference risque situations. The f-word is a pretty standard occurrence in some of these songs, others mention alcohol/drug use, sex is a frequent topic of conversation... you get the idea. If someone sees that it's being performed at a church and gets the wrong idea, it could lead to hassles I'd rather avoid.

Am I just being overcautious? Is this even worth worrying about? I just want to avoid offending folks (at this stage of the game, anyway).
posted by cvp at 11:43 AM on July 12, 2010

Has anyone pointed you to the Adam Mickiewicz Library & Dramatic Circle. Torn Space Theater uses it a lot and there's a noise show there about every 6 months. There's some contact info on their Facebook page.
posted by jdfan at 12:12 PM on July 12, 2010

While I am from Buffalo, I haven't been back there in many years so I don't have a specific suggestion. However, a friend of mine here in Chicago is part of an improv troupe, and they perform at a bar that has a stage for bands. They perform on Sunday afternoons when the bar wouldn't have much business or otherwise be booked with a more standard music act. Seems to work well for them - maybe you could find a neighborhood bar in Buffalo that would be willing to do something similar? If you want to do it Friday and Saturday nights you might not have much luck, but Saturday and Sunday afternoons might work.
posted by misskaz at 12:21 PM on July 12, 2010

Response by poster: jdfan: I've seen some shows there, but again it's a situation where they likely will be presenting a show that weekend in the space. I'll do some digging though and see where it leads.
posted by cvp at 12:43 PM on July 12, 2010

What size space?

Rust Belt Books has run the Real Dream Cabaret in the back room many times. But it is cozy, to say the least. Down the block, Nietzsche's has also had Infringement Festival events aplenty. In fact, watch the listings for upcoming IF events--they are performed anywhere from a street corner to galleries to obscure warehouses spaces. You may find a fit that way.

New Phoenix Theatre on Johnson Park in Allentown doesn't usually run a traditional season--check on them.

The Unitarian Universalist Church on Elmwood has often hosted my poetry marathon, Urban Epiphany, which has similar content. They're cool.

Another strong thought is the Karpeles Manuscript Libraries (one on Porter, one on North).

Hope you find a space!
posted by Riverine at 2:31 PM on July 12, 2010

What about Asbury Hall ? It's a performance space in a converted church which is associated with Righteous Babe Records, Ani DiFranco's record label.
posted by yarrow at 3:23 PM on July 12, 2010

Hilbert College has a great theatre space, the Swan Auditorium. The Buffalo Laboratory Theatre has their shows there.
posted by LightMayo at 7:37 PM on July 12, 2010

Response by poster: Riverine: I'd like the space to feel intimate. That doesn't exactly answer it in specific terms I know, but I'm trying to remain open and flexible. We first presented the show at Merge, which fits about 30-40 people at tables (but the stage was too small, which is why we're moving). I don't want to get into a venue that's too large and look silly if we can't get at least 2/3 capacity, but I don't want to underestimate things either.

I think our range is no less than 30, no more than ~100 (I'll be flexible with the upper end though if the right space becomes an option).

I'll start taking a more detailed look at your suggestions too; thanks so much!

yarrow: Asbury Hall would be a real coup for us... if only we could book it (and fill it)!

I should also mention that if someone is lurking and has the perfect space but doesn't want to MeFiMail me (or isn't a member) I'll gladly accept suggestions and thoughts at, but the discussion here is eminently useful. Thanks so much!
posted by cvp at 9:12 PM on July 12, 2010

Response by poster: Riverine: I hadn't thought to piggyback on IF locations. Genius! Thanks so much!
posted by cvp at 9:48 PM on July 12, 2010

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