At Theatre Three in Port Jefferson, a trail of mud and property damage was all that was left Wednesday morning of the deluge that flooded the building and forced its evacuation the night before.
Executive artistic director Jeffrey Sanzel, who was hosting auditions for “A Christmas Carol” at the theater when the storm hit, was taking account of what he estimated to be $50,000 in damage. He said the floodwaters ruined lighting and sound boards, a computer and other electrical equipment, as well as leather chairs, a filing cabinet and many of the souvenirs and memorabilia from his office on the lower floor.
“I lost everything in my office. I lost scripts, books, CDs, memorabilia and gifts and things from people that are no longer with us, which is the hardest thing,” Sanzel said. “This is the worst [storm] I’ve ever seen. This one was violent. The worst I’ve witnessed.”
Flooding besieged Port Jefferson Village, forcing at least three businesses to be evacuated, drivers to abandon their cars, and firefighters to call for reinforcements when their firehouse became waterlogged, authorities said.
Mayor Margot Garant on Wednesday said the storm caused at least $500,000 in damages to businesses.
She said the village has more than 16 trucks on the street helping to move dirt and stormwater runoff.
“They’re out picking up a whole lot of yuck,” Garant said.
Ruvo East restaurant owner Joe De’Nicola called the rainstorm a “devastating event.” He estimated $200,000 in damage at his Wynn Lane establishment. Among other things ruined were a refrigerator and furniture.
“We have tremendous damage,” he said. “We’re dealing with it minute by minute.”
Also on Wynn Lane, Old Fields Restaurant sustained only minimal damage.
“A lot was salvageable,” said manager Mike Hernandez.
He said cleanup efforts were underway, and the establishment lost only paper goods. He said the restaurant would probably be closed through Thursday.
At the time of the storm, Sanzel said about 40 children were auditioning on the upper level of the building when it flooded with 3 to 4 feet of water. A window broke, a door buckled and water slammed against the walls, Sanzel said. He said he kept up the auditions on the upper level, which did not flood, until authorities arrived to evacuate the building.
“I said, ‘You know what, we’re going to keep going and we’re going to audition and you’re going to have a great story because that’s what theater is, having great stories,’ ” he said. “We didn’t stop because there was nowhere for these kids to go. This was the safest place for them to be.”
At the theater, several volunteers swept wet floors and removed damaged belongings.
Despite everything, Sanzel said it could have been worse. “We not in the Carolinas. Those people know what real devastation is,” he said.
Village resident Danielle Friedman, 38, was one of the volunteers helping to restore the building. She said her father-in-law is one of the theater’s founders.
The building “is iconic,” and the storm was “crazy,” Friedman said of what moved her to volunteer.
The theater is hoping to clean up in time for its scheduled production of “The Addams Family” at 8 p.m. Friday, Sanzel said. To help recoup its losses, the theater also is accepting donations through its website, theatrethree.com.
Richard Todd Adams (l.) as Don Quixote and Carlos Lopez (r.) as Sancho Panza.
Photos by Michael DeCristofaro Way Off Broadway, but on a par with Broadway quality is the Engeman Theater in Northport, Suffolk County. This theater is worth the trip, especially if one likes the show presented. Note it is practically half the price of a Broadway production.
The John W. Engeman Theater announced the cast and creative team for “Man of La Mancha.” Based on Cervantes’ masterpiece, “Don Quixote,” “Man of La Mancha” tells of the adventures of a delusional Spanish “knight” who sallies forth on a quest to restore chivalry to the world, and to claim his lady love. Featuring such stirring songs as “Dulcinea” and the unforgettable “The Impossible Dream,” “Man of La Mancha” is a poignant and moving story and was one of the first musicals based on a piece of historical literature. Winner of five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, it is one of the world’s most popular musicals.
The cast of “Man of La Mancha.” “Man of La Mancha” is produced by Richard Dolce, the Engeman Theater’s producing artistic director and directed by Peter Flynn (Engeman Theater: “Man of La Mancha” (2008); NY Theater: “Curvy Widow” at Westside Arts Theatre, “Born Yesterday” at Maltz-Jupiter Theatre; Regional: “Ragtime” and “1776” at Ford’s Theatre, “Chess” with Josh Groban and Julia Murney, “Andrea Martin: Final Days Everything Must Go”).
The choreographer is Devanand Janki (Engeman Theater: “Man of La Mancha” (2008); Off-Broadway: “Zanna, Don’t!” “Junie B. Jones,” “Henry and Mudge,” “The Yellow Brick Road,” “Skippyjon Jones,” “This One Girl’s Story,” “Cupid and Psyche,” “Love & Real Estate,” “Romantic Poetry”; Lincoln Center: “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” “Babes in Toyland”).
The musical director is Julianne B. Merrill (NY Theater: “A Man of No Importance,” “Parade”; Regional: “Smokey Joe’s Café,” “Matilda”; International: “Into the Woods”).
The associate choreographer is Nandita Shenoy.
The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport is located at 250 Main Street, Northport, NY 11768; 631-261-2900; www.engemantheater.com.
Performances began on Thursday, September 13 and run through Sunday, October 28.
For a complete show schedule and more information contact the theater directly at 631-261-2900, visit the box office at 250 Main Street, Northport or visit www.EngemanTheater.com
It’s easy to cringe at the idea of spending more than $44 million to restore a 98-year-old, run-down theater in Holyoke whose last hurrah was a 1979 showing of the film “Every Which Way But Loose,” starring Clint Eastwood.
Given all the other challenges facing this city, from its schools and local economy to crime and abandoned properties, some might say such money would be better spent elsewhere.
But champions of the Victory Theatre in Holyoke believe that restoring the iconic building could help address some of these problems in the Paper City, where a burgeoning creative economy has been stirring for years. We agree.
The Victory is a 1,600-seat, Broadway-style theater located on the corner of Suffolk and Chestnut streets that opened in 1920 and was acquired from the City of Holyoke by the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts in 2009. In its heydey, the Marx Brothers and Bing Crosby performed on its stage, which was originally built for theatrical performances before it turned into a movie house in 1931. According to MIFA, the organization has made it a major goal to return the once-glorious venue to its original role as a live theater for Holyoke, its surrounding communities and the Connecticut River Valley, from Long Island Sound to the Canadian border.
To put the theater in some perspective, it has double the capacity of the Academy of Music in Northampton and more than double that of the Colonial Theater in Pittsfield and Mahawie Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington. It was built by the Goldstein Brothers Amusement Co., and the Victory, with its double-tiered balcony and Art Deco decor, was considered the company’s flagship theater in the region.
Last week, supporters of the project, including local and state officials, gathered at the theater to celebrate the progress made and announcement of Gov. Charlie Baker’s authorization of $13 million in state bonds for the Victory’s renewal. The money is expected to help get the first “pre-construction” phase of the project underway, which involves architects and contractors preparing final drawings. MIFA has set an opening target date of December 2020.
So far, MIFA has raised $28.2 million towards the effort. The good news is that it is drawing on a wide range of financial sources for this project, including private, individual, corporate, and foundation donations, as well as public grants, state and federal historic tax credits and new market tax credits. In recent years, getting political backing for the project has been critical, and that was in full display last week as officials talked excitedly about the opportunities a newly restored Victory Theatre could bring to the region.
State Sen. Eric Lesser, D-Longmeadow, said it was the efforts of western Massachusetts mayors and Donald T. Sanders, MIFA’s executive artistic director, that helped get the project on the Legislature’s radar, including the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, on which Lesser serves as co-chairman. “The arts and culture scenes — especially in the Pioneer Valley and western Massachusetts — are inextricably linked to economic development.”
In addition to leveraging the arts as to help grow the economy and revitalize the city, MIFA is pegging a new Victory Theatre as a regional asset that would bring jobs, tourism and commerce through the arts and historic preservation. MIFA wants the theater to offer Broadway shows and a vocational training program for high school and college students, along with the establishment of a Latino theater company and an international arts academy, to name some of its planned goals.
For those who want to learn more about the project and the people behind it, there is ample information available on MIFA’s website at mifafestival.org, including an 85-page strategic business plan that not only lays out the opportunities but also considers the threats to the project’s success.
Sanders is right when he talks about the power of the arts to unite, and that is evident in the momentum the Victory Theatre project has built already. We believe there is every reason to rally behind it.
DANVILLE – The future of the Fischer Theatre looks brighter than ever.
What started as tuckpointing work on the north side of the Fischer Theatre last month has now sprouted into a lot more activity on the building’s other sides, including a new two-story addition.
“There’s a lot more to it now,” said Vermilion Heritage Foundation board member Phil Langley about the construction.
He said they’ve been given the green light to talk more about all the projects going on.
Langley said Danville philanthropist Julius W. Hegeler II is funding the entire work to secure the exterior of the building.
Scaffolding and other equipment surround the building that started as the Grand Opera House in 1884, and was renovated by Louis Fischer in 1912.
The work being completed is brick work on all four sides; new windows on the front side of the building; new roof for the remaining of the building; new plaster stucco on the south side that will include sealing the old damaged brick wall and a finished professional appearance matching the brick; and a two-story addition also on the south Palace Park side that will include new restrooms, a new staircase and two-story elevator.
The work is expected to be completed the first week of November.
Langley said of the addition, there will be all new plumbing and “it’s going to be a huge benefit.”
“It’s a huge investment. We don’t know (the final costs),” Langley said of the renovations. “I can’t thank Julius enough.”
Hegeler decided on a scope of work with Offutt Development to fund and will be paying whatever the cost ends up being, Langley said.
“We are truly amazed and blown away by (Hegeler’s) generosity,” Langley added.
Langley said Hegeler had an interest in the project and “he’s been down and he likes our vision.” He said Hegeler wants to see the historic building secured for the theater’s future in downtown Danville.
Any fundraising money the foundation has moving forward will be used to restore the interior of the theater.
Langley said when the exterior work is finished the foundation board will discuss what can it can afford to move forward on a next phase. The majority of the interior work needed to restore the auditorium is cosmetic, he said.
The original plaster and details need to be restored that are missing or deteriorated, in addition to installing new seats that match and updating the electrical in the balcony.
Events at the Fischer are somewhat on hold. Foundation board members still participate in downtown First Friday and other events with concessions.
Langley said after all the finishing touches with the Fischer, “it’s going to transform downtown Danville.”
The foundation board is looking forward to bringing Broadway-style performances to Danville.
“If we have the right facility, we can attract the right performances,” Langley said. “We’re going to give people an option that they’ve not had before.”
The work at the Fischer follows the Fischer’s marquee which was restored last year with new LED lighting, updated wiring and the rusting sheet metal was replaced. An easy way to get to the switch to turn the marquee on and off also was added.
Roofers also completed the first phase of replacing the 30-year-old Fischer Theatre roof in the fall of 2016.
Langley said the city’s been wonderful to work with and has been great partners.
City officials still are working to bring back to aldermen for action a contract for downtown lighting and sound system engineering for a first phase of concept work. It would be an outdoor decorative and pedestrian suspended light arrangement in the downtown area with an integrated sound system to complement the private investment improvements at the Fischer.
Cobleskill rallies around Park Theatre sign | Times-Journal Online | The News of Schoharie County
Cobleskill rallies around Park Theatre sign
Gone for months, the Park Theatre sign may be back as a Cobleskill landmark if there’s enough public support.
And even public support may not do it.
Questions abound about what many consider part of Cobleskill’s history: Whether theatre owner Tom Nigro wants it back, the restoration cost, who’ll be responsible for liability and maintenance, and where it will stand.
Tim Snyder, a board member for the downtown advocacy group Cobleskill Partnership Inc., suggested restoring the sign as a CPI project.
Mr. Nigro said he had the sign, then in poor condition, taken down in late May after “a windstorm had it swaying back and forth.”
And although the sign stood at the corner of Park Place and South Grand Street since the mid ’50s, few noticed it was gone at first.
But then Greg Furlong and Gary Morgan saw the red-and-white sign on the back of James Morrell’s scrap metal truck and bought it from him for $100, Mr. Snyder said.
“Greg called me and said, ‘I think we have something you’ll want to know about,’ ” said Mr. Snyder, who’s active in the Town of Cobleskill Historical Society.
“A lot of people remember that sign and want to see it back,” he added.
The sign and its stand now rest at the Historic Treasures building at the Cobleskill Fairgrounds.
CPI board members are considering taking on the project and raising funds for its restoration.
Still to be determined, however, is the cost; Mr. Nigro said an estimate he got “was over $20,000”––another reason he had it taken down.
Also, Mr. Nigro said, he’s concerned about paying for liability and maintenance if the sign returns to its natural place in front of the theater.
He added that although he no longer owns the sign, he would have to assume the costs if it returned to his property.
CPI or possibly the Village of Cobleskill could assume responsibility for maintenance and insurance. About eight years ago, the village took over maintenance of the Community Plaza at the corner of Main and Division streets, which was a CPI project.
Mayor Linda Holmes, who also favors the sign’s return, wondered about future costs. Convincing village trustees to take on the expense would be necessary, she said.
Whether the public would contribute to restore a business’s sign that would stand on private property is also a question.
But Mr. Snyder pointed out that residents in the past contributed to many CPI projects on private property: the Robin Hood Flour sign, and CPI’s façade improvement program for businesses, for instance.
“And it’s not just Cobleskill,” Mr. Snyder said. “People from all over the county came here to go to the movies. It was the only theater around.”
Mike Piccolo, the village codes officer, agreed that because of its historic significance, the sign should probably go up. But that also depends on Mr. Nigro’s okay, costs and the other issues, Mr. Piccolo said.
Because it’s in the historic district, the sign could be restored but not altered, Mr. Piccolo said.
The next steps are to get a firm restoration estimate and work out maintenance and liability issues, if possible, Mr. Snyder said.
“If the cost is prohibitive, it won’t go up,” he said.
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