Musicalfare Prepares for New Space, Theater at Daemen Looks to Make a Comeback

By Cadence Russell, editor-in-chief

When people think of Buffalo, it’s rare that a city with a vibrant and diverse theater district comes to mind. With over 20 theater and production companies located within the city theater arts has a long and rich history within the Queen City.

In residence at Daemen University is Musicalfare, which has been producing productions for 34 years, and is currently showing “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”.

“Our mission statement since five years into the very beginning of the company was that we want to become a regional theater with national prominence,” Randall Kramer, Artistic/Executive Director of Musicalfare said. “That’s part of our mission statement. And that continues to be something that for me drives the company, drives the future of the company.”

For many Daemen students, the theater is an unknown. However, the theater offers discounted student tickets for $20, as well as free tickets to any Daemen student that have not been sold 30 minutes before the show begins.

Musicalfare is a member of the Theater Alliance of Buffalo, an association of 18 different theater productions that work together to foster communication and opportunities for theater arts in Buffalo, as well as annual auditions for performers.

“We have season auditions every year annually, and we have over 100 people audition. And that’s 100 people who most of the time that people who work with us on a regular basis don’t go to the theater lines of Buffalo auditions because you go there if you’re not known in the community. And so there’s a vibrant ecosystem when it comes to theatre in Buffalo and western New York,” Kramer said.

At Daemen, theater arts has been a part of the campus community for years but recently has fallen wayside as the theater club, Creative Minds, became inactive after the leaders graduated.

However, under the direction of Dr. Robert Waterhouse, associate professor of theater at Daemen University, a spring production, “Love/Sick,” will run on April 17 and 18.

“Originally it was going to be for the Academic Festival,” Waterhouse said. “Now the Academic Festival isn’t happening, but we’re going ahead with the production anyway. So there’s about 15-16 students working on it at the moment.”

It’s been about three to four years since Daemen had a student-led theater production.

“I teach an annual acting class. So I was looking at those students and I was thinking, well, there’s a lot of talent in this room, so there’s a lot of energy. So I bet there’s more energy and talent out there in the undergraduate population,” Waterhouse said.

“Love/Sick” is a series of 10-minute, comical plays each for two actors that focus on love, loss, and strange people, which tie together into one larger picture.

“I hadn’t done theater since like high school, well I did it once at my last college for a little bit, but I just decided like, oh, it’d be fun to get involved again after so long,” Jackson Mielnicki, a junior animation major said.

Without a dedicated theater space, the cast and crew of “Love/Sick” have taken to practicing in the Alumni Lounge. In 2025, Musicalfare be moving to a new facility in Amherst Central Park after their 10-year lease with the university expires.

“I am looking forward to a space that just has more resources with it,” Kramer said. “And then with those resources, hopefully, we can catapult the company into that national prominence.”

The new space increases seats to 220 and increases wing space and roof height, both limitations of the current building the theater resides in. Three expansions have been done to the building, including space off-stage left to move sets on and off. 

Currently, there has been no formal announcement on the plans for Musicalfare, formerly Daemen Hall, after the theater moves off-campus. The 2020-2025 master plan indicates that the space should be utilized as a mixed-performance venue.

“What I would wish to see is that space become a multi-use facility that’s used by the university for presentations of all kinds, from theater to TED talks, to concerts to speeches,” Waterhouse said.

Despite the unknown future of the building where Musicalfare currently resides, there is still plenty of opportunity for students to get involved with theater arts at Daemen and the larger Buffalo region.

“We’ve just started in the last year an internship program, and it’s an internship program at the junior and senior high school level, but it’s also an internship and paid internship program at the college level,” Kramer said.

At Daemen, students can pursue a major in the arts, as well as a theater minor.

“We’ve got a program called the Leadership and Entrepreneurship in the Arts which trains students to be professionals in the cultural sector. And students in that program have done residences at Musicalfare in the administration, so they’ve had a lot of support and mentorship that way,” Waterhouse said.

The longstanding relationship between Musicalfare and Daemen has allowed students to be trained in light and sound design and get hands-on experience in stage management.

“I’d like more of a theater presence on campus, some professors and some students have tried to do theater things here and there, but nothing’s really matriculated so far,” Mielnicki said. “So I think it’d be nice to see like a student theatre presence on campus.”

For students looking to get more involved with the theater arts at Daemen, they should reach out to Waterhouse or Christian Brandjes, associate professor of theater.

“There is just something magical about seeing something happen in front of you that’s live,” Waterhouse said. “And you have this visceral relationship with whatever is happening on a stage. You don’t get it in film. So whatever is happening in the theater has a very electrifying effect on the audience.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *