"Big River” brought a big night to Schenectady during midwinter of 1988.
The musical about Huck Finn and his friends on the Mississippi River played Proctor’s Theatre in Schenectady — now known as Proctors — on Feb. 13. The show became the main attraction for the Proctor’s Theatre Gala.
Cocktails and dinner were served at the Carl Co. department store, where clothing racks were replaced with dining tables and decorations. After the show, first-nighters enjoyed nightcaps at Southern-themed parties at Peggy’s restaurant and OTB’s Imperial Racing Center.
The OTB location was a late substitution. Proctor’s officials had originally planned to hold a “plantation cotillion” at City Hall. Harsh winter conditions, which included a sharp wind and slippery walking conditions near the municipal building, persuaded Gala planners to switch venues.
Salmon and beef were on the menu. An auction was also part of the plan, with artwork; airline tickets to Zurich, Switzerland; a trip to a Broadway show in New York City; and season tickets for Proctor’s 1989 shows among the popular prizes. All proceeds went to Proctor’s.
The celebrations continued benefits that began on the 60th anniversary of the theater in 1986.