Last weekend, I found out that the New Phoenix Theater in Buffalo was having a liquidation sale. I was unable to go, but my father went in search of Christmas gifts and some sort of situation for his record player. I have written about this theater before, because that is where I was working when I met both my best friend Sahar, as well as my husband, Mark. He didn’t work at the theater like Sahar did, but he did hang out at the coffee shop around the block, and we met after rehearsal one night. So were I not hanging around that theater every night when I was 20, I might not have met the man I ended up marrying. I know I would not have Sahar, because we came from totally different worlds. I am forever grateful for these two people, and perhaps it is silly, but I am grateful for the building that brought them to me.
I found out a while ago that the owner of the theater, Richard, was putting it on the market. I was instantly sad, and truly desperate for a million dollar lotto win so I could take it off his hands. Alas, that is not reality, though I did hear that local theater folk tried to purchase it to retain it as a theater. Unfortunately, that deal fell through. And so, it will be turned into living space. Sigh.
Now, it’s a pretty cool building as buildings go. I don’t know it’s complete history, but I do know that it was a sort of convent/soup kitchen situation prior to Richard purchasing it. It’s at least 100 years old, and a beautiful representation of old Buffalo architecture. It has a very scary basement, complete with spider webs and leaky pipes and possible ghosts. The first floor was the stage and seating, as well as a small reception area where photos of local stars lined the walls. On the second floor was the rehearsal hall, and a bar area where receptions were held after shows. Passing that were the dressing rooms, and a staircase up to the third floor, which was a full apartment. Richard lived when I first met him.
Richard always owned the theater, but when I was young it also housed a second company called the Buffalo Ensemble Theater. It was BET who posted a flyer on the bulletin board at my school for a youth theater group. It was called the Explorers, and was run by the Boy Scouts of America. It was coed prior to Boy Scouts becoming coed, and was career focused. So. BET put together a group showing careers in theater. I jumped at this, and ended up being the club Treasurer on day three. 5 years later, I stopped doing shows there when the theater started to dissolve.
But God did I love that building.
So, years later: I was fresh off my first stage managing gig and ran into Richard, so I was thrilled when he asked me to come work a show at New Phoenix. The show he hired me for never came to fruition, but I did end up doing another there soon after. I always hoped I would return to work there again someday, but it turns out that is not in the cards.
Richard retired to Florida, and likely the building will become apartments or something. But when we were young, that place was so magical! I know so many people who discovered their talents there and went on to pursue them, and really…we were just kids. We were just having fun, and look what happened! Life skills!
Anyway, I’m very much looking forward to Christmas morning to discover what trinket Dad collected for me from the liquidation sale. And I guess I can muster some excitement to see what they do with the building in the future…hopefully it isn’t terrible. It doesn’t matter though, because I will always be grateful for that place, and everything it brought into my life.
Friends, family, and confidence.