Music and Theater at Artpark
When Artpark opened in 1974 the stage of the main theater was among the largest in the entire State of New York and by far the best equipped in Western New York to produce fully staged theatrical productions. As early as 1975, the first full year of operation, Music Theater began to play a prominent role at Artpark with the production of Man of La Mancha. Over 10,000 people attended the five performances of this musical and the glorious history of musicals at Artpark was off and running.
Over the course of the next 40 years, 104 fully staged musicals would be produced and presented on the Artpark stage before audiences ranging from 10,000 to 40,000. Over the course of it 40 year history, over 2.5 million persons have attended musical theater performances at Artpark.
In 2018, Artpark undertook a fresh iniative that gave the spotlight to our Western New York community in a musical theatre production of THE ODYSSEY by Todd Almond and Lear Debessonet. This groundbreaking community collaboration involved over 200 participants including theatre professionals, volunteers and community organizations. Broadway stars joined community actors, students and volunteers. Supporters graciously donated food, rehearsal space and monetary contributions. Months of workshops, rehearsals and artistic collaboration came to a triumphant presentation at Artpark's Mainstage Theater on August 4 and 5, 2018.
In our 40 year’s history, some of the lead artists in the nation had performed at Artpark on both our stages – the outdoor Amphitheater (10,000 capacity) and indoor Mainstage Theater (4,000), including:
Alvin Ailey, Baryshnikov, Bolshoi Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Joffrey Ballet, New York City Opera, New York Philharmonic, Paul Taylor Dance, Twyla Tharp, Pilobolus, Martha Graham, Bale de Rua (Brazil), Lehrer Dance and many others at the Mainstage Theatre;
Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Sting, Aretha Franklin, Hall & Oates, Billy Idol, Steven Tyler, Boy George & Culture Club, B-52s, Blondie, Melissa Etheridge, Chicago, Chick Corea, Flaming Lips, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Jack White, Goo Goo Dolls, Joan Baez, Sting, Jeff Beck, Doobie Brothers, Chris Isaak, ZZ Top, Deep Purple, Wilco, Alabama Shakes, Garbage, Arctic Monkeys, Trombone Shorty, The Flaming Lips among innumerous others at the Amphitheater;
David Brubeck, Ella Fitzgerald, Ethel Merman, Gladys Knight, Itzhak Perlman, Dizzy Gillespie, Van Cliburn, New York Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic in the jazz and classical concerts at the Mainstage theatre.