Actor Bill Hickman is big fan of region’s vital theater scene

When Bill Hickman first came to Schenectady in 1960 to work for General Electric, he figured he’d be

When Bill Hickman first came to Schenectady in 1960 to work for General Electric, he figured he’d be here for a few years and then look for new horizons.

Fifty years later, Hickman, whose childhood involved a lot of traveling between U.S. Air Force bases, is still in town. Although he has been retired for a while now and lost the love of his life, his wife Fulvia, to cancer in 1998, Hickman has remained in the Capital Region.

“This is a very wonderful theater area, and I think that’s one of the main reasons why I’ve stayed here for so long,” said Hickman, who lives in Niskayuna. “We have two of the oldest theaters in the country right here in Schenectady (Schenectady Light Opera Company and the Schenectady Civic Players), and we have great theater groups all over the Capital Region. It might be nice down in New York City, but in terms of access and availability to the theater, there is no better area in the country as far as I’m concerned.”


WHERE: C-R Productions, at Cohoes Music Hall, 235 Remsen St., Cohoes

WHEN: 8 p.m. today and Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, through April 18

HOW MUCH: $35-25

MORE INFO: 237-5858 or

Right guy for the part

Hickman doesn’t just go to the theater. He performs in it. Beginning tonight at the Cohoes Music Hall, Hickman will be playing Mr. Goldstone, a small but significant role, in the C-R Productions mounting of the classic Broadway musical “Gypsy.”

“I’m really the Marcel Marceau of this show because I don’t say anything, but I am the centerpiece of all their excitement,” said Hickman. “I’m just a moving prop and everything happens around me in that one scene. It’s a great musical. It really is a Broadway classic.”

The story of renowned stripper Gypsy Rose Lee and her mother Rose, the mother of all stage mothers, “Gypsy” earned eight Tony Award nominations when it first hit Broadway in 1959. In Hickman’s scene, Mr. Goldstone, a representative of the lucrative touring company during the days of vaudeville, is sung to by Mother Rose. Hickman didn’t have to audition for the role. C-R Productions co-producers Jim Charles and Tony Rivera were extremely familair with his work.

“They needed somebody with a double-breasted suit, I’m height-deprived, and Jim and Tony know what I can do and what I can’t do,” said Hickman. “It’s a joy to work with them. They’re both so professional and so efficient. It’s a joy to watch them go through the whole process.”

Experienced performer

This is Hickman’s fifth turn on the Cohoes Music Hall stage, having also performed for C-R Productions as Doc in “West Side Story,” Marley’s Ghost in “A Christmas Carol,” Kate’s father in “Kiss Me Kate,” and the Bishop of Basingstock in “Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde.”

Along with a slew of credits at SLOC and the Schenectady Civic Playhouse, Hickman has also performed on numereous occasions with the New York State Theatre Institute and Riverview Entertainment Productions.

Two years ago, he was rehearsing for the NYSTI production of “1776” when a missed step led to him falling off stage and hitting his head on the cement floor. A week or so later, after an ambulance trip to the hospital, Hickman was back in his role as a conservative member of the Delaware delegation.

“I’ve done ‘1776’ three times, and I played Ben Franklin in the 1989 SLOC production at Proctors,” said Hickman, who was a journalist before working in public relations for GE. “It’s a favorite of mine.”

‘Theater feeds theater’

While his ties to the two Schenectady troupes are strong, Hickman feels a strong kinship with anyone trying to put on a show.

“I believe theater feeds theater,” he said. “Jim and Tony have done a great job of helping the theater revitalize a downtown area with Cohoes, just the way Philip Morris and Proctors have done in Schenectady. I don’t sense a competition. What it is is cooperation. Proctors’ success hasn’t hurt us, and Philip is always coming to our shows and comparing notes. What we have is a great theater community.”

Categories: Life and Arts

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