Hudson Valley Iconic Theatre: Its Importance & Your Leading Role

The darkest days of winter are slipping away quietly and the New Year burns like a bright star on the horizon, whispering a myriad of possible scenarios for 2016; woven from the threads of the past, a beautiful tapestry stretches forward embellished with shimmering threads of vision for the future.

I recall in days past, these 5 years I have journeyed with the team of movers and shakers at the non-profit Woodstock Playhouse, during which I’ve visited the post office box to retrieve notes such as, “I have seen EQUUS with Richard Burton in London and Anthony Perkins in New York, and I was equally moved here in Woodstock!! We were transfixed by its power;” and yet another of many, “I live in the Broadway Theatre district, and I have to tell you I was thrilled and so pleased with the quality of your production and the talent displayed by your cast. Thank you for making my visit to Woodstock a great show-time.”

Les Miserables at the Woodstock Playhouse,

Les Miserables at the Woodstock Playhouse, Photo by Leslie Dawson

I have bid good-night to patrons who have remarked as they were exiting after our Summer Rep Company’s performance, “What you are presenting on stage at the Woodstock Playhouse is equal to that which is currently being presented in New York City; really…bravo;” and even opening the screen to the vast internet, I have been greeted with the words, “The shows that I’ve seen at the Woodstock Playhouse have repeatedly been wonderful. I’ve felt as though I’m seeing NYC Broadway quality performances.”

Along with harvesting the afore mentioned quotes, it is also my annual ritual, in moments akin to those of managers and directors of our regional theaters as the curtain comes down on another calendar year, to light the flame of inspiration to attract the kindest of souls who see the glory and importance of creation in the theatre. For you see, as we work daily in our community while maintaining large buildings, inspiring and educating youth in a focused nurturing environment, hiring professional entertainers, fulfilling expectations of audiences, and so much more without the reward of any allotted taxes dollars one might think would be appropriated, these kind souls, both private and business, are most important.

The glories of theatre which lift up our population are immeasurable; including creating an understanding of those who are different from ourselves, inspiring audience members beyond daily self-imposed limitations, uniting people at live theatre to experience the connectivity of human energy which is truly lacking when one sits in front of a screen, and unleashing voices and strong hearts in rising artists who not only become great performers of our generation, but voices in every corner of loving neighboring homes, schools, businesses and seats of power – each making a difference in quality of life and hope for the future.

The simple act of attending theatre has inspired great leaders to effectively communicate and lead individuals and mass populations through unsure times to clearer visions and better days. In my lifetime, I have heard great leaders from Ulster County Executive Hein to presidents of the United States of America speak fondly of memories of attending theatre in their youth, and citing how important the Arts and homes for the Arts are to each community and region of America.

As this calendar year comes to an end, please consider aiding the inspiration and potential power shed of the theater or playhouse in your community and region. There are many ways you can raise these non-profit theatres to achieve their fuller potentials:

  • Attend performances which present the talent of rising professionals, professionals, performing arts students, and locally or internationally acclaimed personalities. The purchase of your tickets raises revenue for a theater or playhouse, an institution which has far more financial responsibilities than are perceived.
  • Enroll your family’s budding young performing artist in classes and workshops offered by your theater, playhouse or partner school for the arts. Your tuition supports the growth of a new generation who see the importance of the performing arts and the gifts of a new world of understanding and creativity which they cultivate.
  • Purchase theater or playhouse gift certificates or gifts to share with others, to support a love of a playhouse or theater, or to introduce them to the brilliant offerings in their own backyard.
  • Offer memorabilia and historic items you may have to the playhouse or theater with which they are associated. Historic items are the roots of a nurturing strength for a venue; a strength that sheds light on a prolific past and inspires the future.
  • If you are in a position financially, mentally and emotionally, make a donation, sponsor a plaque or performance, roll over a cd or investment, plan estate giving, purchase blocks of tickets to donate to recipients of your choice, etc. Do what you can to support the super-human commitment that the team of your local or regional theater or playhouse has made for the benefit of all residents, families and rising voices of generations that will lift and lead from the stage and throughout our communities.

Year-end giving can truly shift the path of your local theater or playhouse toward a smoother road from which all will benefit. You make a difference; and I know I speak for my associates throughout the region, when I say, “Thank you for each ticket you purchase, each workshop or class you attend, each donation you make, each positive word and thought you share in our region in appreciation of your local playhouse or theater. This is the reason we do what we do: For the honor of you, your families and the place you call home. Above all else, this is our truth.”

Visit the website of your local theater or playhouse often. Whether it is or the theater or playhouse closest to home or heart, get to know more about a bountiful treasure in your community.

Woodstock Playhouse Facebook Page

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A Beginning

My company (Creative Theatre-Muddy Water Players) and I are pleased to be participating in this new blog. For those that don’t know, our organization has operated The Playhouse at Museum Village for the past 20 years. Since the beginning we have always been a “Dessert Theater”, but more about that some other time.
I am also honored to be included in the 4-member team of inaugural contributors. I offer a respectful nod to my other three colleagues; Brendon Burke, Franklin Trapp, and Douglas Farrell. They are all managing successful establishments that operate with various degrees of compensating, equity performers while my organization is an all-volunteer, non-professional (I do so hate that term) theater. Future postings elaborating on these distinctions may be quite interesting.
Another distinction is that my venue is closer to the Big Apple than the others. In this regard, I have come to believe that every mile counts – the further away from “the city”, the more likely less enlightened locals will not see Broadway as the only place to go for performances. Not to disparage Broadway – I still sit like an astounded child in many of the shows I see on Broadway each year marveling in the talent, the technical innovation and the production values. But as so many have discovered, there is much to be said for seeing a fine work of theater in a more intimate, absorbing setting. A lot more about this could be included in future postings as well.
Finally for now, let me just express my amazement of how robust and plentiful the Hudson Valley is with the performing arts. I cringe every time I hear someone mention there is nothing to see locally. In fact, and I’m sure my colleagues will agree, there is more theater around here that you can “shake a stick at”. Maybe too much? (Could there ever be too much?). I travel the U.S. frequently for my day job (my real job) and I always look to see what their weekend offerings might be in that part of the country. Excluding the major cities, I might see 1-2 performances that weekend at the most. That is surely not the case here. Just check the THR’s “GO” calendar and, regardless of the time of year, you’ll usually see much more than that on any given weekend.
Looking forward to future postings,
– Bruce Roman

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