By Joe Kirchmyer
Saturday, March 27 was World Theatre Day. It also happens to be the day I was invited for a private tour of Buffalo’s New Phoenix Theatre with Tom Scahill, a classmate of mine from our days as students at Bishop Timon High School far too many years ago. Tom is a member of the theatre’s board of directors and has also appeared in a show or two on the theatre’s stage over the years.
Built in 1884 and surrounded by beautiful homes and amazing architecture on historic N. Johnson Park, the three-story building originally served as a lecture hall for Buffalo Seminary, and later as a séance house, vaudeville house and soup kitchen before being abandoned and falling into disrepair.
Operating as a theatre since 1996 but sitting mostly silent for the past year due to the pandemic, this quaint theatre seats fewer than 100 guests when its stage is active. But those lucky enough to step through the door will surely be entertained by the whimsical displays of theatre history that can be found from floor to ceiling. From puppets and props from previous shows to knick-knacks and memorabilia that just seem to fit perfectly into their assigned locations, you’ll need some time to take it all in.
If you’re lucky enough to be invited up to the second floor where rehearsals take place and offices and dressing rooms are located, you’ll experience much more of the same as posters, puppets and props are proudly displayed. With it’s many oddities and interesting history, you get a sense that the spirits might just speak to you if you spend enough time there!
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to check out the photos taken during my tour. In the meantime, if you have legal access to places to explore that might be odd or awesome, feel free to reach out to me via my Facebook page or by email at email@example.com. Buildings, barns, attics, basements … nothing is off limits to exploration!