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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Chase

Sharon Strait 1942-2023

Actress Loomed Large in Buffalo Theater

Sharon Strait was a major player on the Buffalo theater scene. In recent years, illness prompted her to disappear into her privacy, but those who saw her perform remember her vivid stage presence, her glorious voice, her bold artistic choices, and her gift for accents -- particularly Irish.

Among Sharon's notable stage appearances were her Artie Award nominated turns as the title character in "The Furies of Mother Jones" at Subversive Theatre Collective in 2010, and as the title character's Italian mother in "Marty" at New Phoenix is 2003.

Other prominent performances included memorable roles in Sam Shepard's "Buried Child" (2013), Fassbinder's "The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant" (2007), John Whiting's "The Devils" (2005), all at Torn Space Theater. She appeared in "James Joyce's The Dead" at Irish Classical Theatre in 2010, as well as in their 1996 production of Dylan Thomas' "A Child's Christmas in Wales," about which Jeff Miers of the "Buffalo News" wrote, "As Aunt Hannah, who liked port, Sharon Strait stood in the middle of the snowbound back yard, singing like a full-bosomed thrush, and melted the hearts of audience members, who rewarded her angelic, wistful singing with hearty applause."

Her singing voice was always an asset. In 1983, she had starred at Artpark as Mamma Rose in "Gypsy." She did the "Richard Rodgers Songbook" for O'Connell & Company in 2002. She did "Waxworks" for Summerfare (the predecessor of MusicalFare) in 1994.

She appeared in "Sweet Street" (2009) and in "Three Tall Woman" at New Phoenix Theatre; and as Marie Curie in "Radiation" at Lancaster Opera House. She did "Spiritual America," by local playwright Jane Philbrick for the 1994 Area Playwright Performance Series.

three women
Sharon Strait (right) with Kelly Meg Brennan and Mary Loftus in the New Phoenix production of Edward Albee's "Three Tall Women" in 2010.

For Alleyway, she did Larry Gray's "Upstream Downstream" in 1994; "The Secret Loss of the Empire" in 1996. She memorably played Estragon in Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" for Pandora's Box Theatre at Alleway in 1995.

The 1990s were busy for Strait, who seemed to work everywhere, including "Steel Magnolia's" at Lancaster Opera House in 1996; and even a murder mystery boat tour called "Port Side Homicide" in 1995.

She was marvelous conversationalist with a heightened capacity both for joy and for deep sentiment and sorrow. Many a Buffalo theater person alternately laughed and cried over drink with Sharon Strait at Ray Flynn's.

Born Mary Sharon McCarthy, she was enthusiastically knowledgable of all things Irish.

Sharon has been deeply missed in the theater community and her loss is being felt profoundly.

Family will be present Monday 3-7 PM at HOY FUNERAL HOME, 3855 Seneca St., West Seneca. A Memorial Mass will be held Tuesday 10:30 AM at OLV Basilica, 767 Ridge Rd., Buffalo. Please assemble at church. Online condolences may be shared at


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