Schenectady County

Proctors to host annual theatre society conclave

Local theater buffs are buzzing with anticipation over news the city was chosen to host the nation’s

Local theater buffs are buzzing with anticipation over news the city was chosen to host the nation’s largest meeting of theater historians and archivists.

Proctors and Bow Tie Cinemas will host the Theatre Historical Society of America’s Annual Conclave in June 2013, when about 150 guests are expected to converge on downtown Schenectady. The Hampton Inn will also host part of the six-day conference, which will run June 18-23.

The society was founded in 1969 as a nonprofit group and has grown into the foremost organization in the country dedicated to recording and preserving the architectural, cultural and social history of America’s theatres. Its collection includes information on more than 15,000 theatres.

Schenectady is apparently a popular conversation topic among theater restoration specialists and preservationists, thanks to the “spectacular restoration” of Proctors, society President Karen Colizzi Noonan said in a news release.

“Schenectady will serve as a perfect host city for our national and international attendees due to the resurgence of Schenectady’s downtown area, led by the revitalized Proctors Theatre and Bow Tie Cinemas,” she said.

After many decades of neglect, Proctors was at the heart of major downtown revitalization efforts over the past decade. The former vaudeville house underwent a massive $42 million restoration and expansion — funded in part by the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority — that transformed it into a regional destination for Broadway shows and other entertainment by 2007.

Proctors now contains a main stage theater, black box movie theater and small stage theater for dance and other productions. The most recent restoration at the theater is expected to wrap up in a few weeks, as workers repair, regild and repaint about a third of the 60-foot-high gold, domed ceiling.

“We are very pleased to host the Theatre Historical Society as this event will give us the chance to demonstrate how our community partnerships in Schenectady resulted in both the restoration of a theater, as well as the community surrounding the theater,” Proctors CEO Philip Morris said in the release.

Metroplex worked with the nonprofit to bring its annual event to downtown Schenectady. Bow Tie Cinemas COO Joe Masher also helped bring the event to town.

“They are devoted to preserving the history of theater buildings throughout the world and the Capital Region,” Masher said in the release, “and have a long history of dedication to their mission.”

The society operates from the York Theatre building in Elmhurst, Ill., and oversees the American Theatre Architecture Archive and the American Movie Palace Museum, which contain extensive collections and exhibitions of historic theatre and movie palace artifacts.

The annual conclave includes backstage tours of historic theater venues in the region that hosts it. In the past few years, the event has been held in Sacramento, Calif., Indianapolis and Grand Rapids, Mich.

As part of next year’s conference, guests will tour various theaters throughout the Greater Capital Region and Berkshires and attend a banquet.

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