There’s little rest for Owen Smith these days.
The man who infused new life into Park Playhouse and created partnerships with the Palace Theatre and the Cohoes Music Hall, Smith is expanding the Park Playhouse season to include seven fully-fledged stage productions beginning this October. The new lineup will include four shows at the Cohoes Music Hall beginning in the fall, along with two shows outdoors in Washington Park next summer and one more show back in Cohoes.
“Over the last eight years, Park Playhouse has enjoyed a period of growth as a business, and a revitalization of our artistic and production quality,” said Smith. “Since beginning our shared services agreement with the Palace, we have enhanced our offerings in year-round arts education programs and productions. The time is now right to continue that evolution and truly become a year-round producer of theatrical entertainment. We are excited to engage Capital Region audiences with high quality programming all year-round.”
Park Playhouse has offered free outdoor theater in Albany’s Washington Park since 1988. The group joined forces with the Palace Theatre (the Palace Performing Arts Center) in 2012, and then that partnership agreed to take over the reins at the Cohoes Music Hall in 2016.
“We’re not just summer theater anymore,” said Smith, who has considered changing the name of the organization. “We have thought about changing our name, but we certainly do have a brand venue, based on our high quality of production, and we don’t want to distance ourselves from that history. Park Playhouse also has a great name in arts education, so we don’t want to lose that either, but we have discussed it.”
The 2017-2018 season will open in October with a production of “Always, Patsy Cline,” starring WNYT anchor Benita Zahn and Saratoga Springs’ Molly Rose McGrath in the title role. “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical” will take center stage for the holiday season, followed by “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” in March, and then a Park Playhouse II production of “Little Shop of Horrors” in April.
The summer season back outdoors at the Washington Park Lakehouse will offer a special anniversary production of “Damn Yankees” in July. The August show will be “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” and then the 2017-18 season concludes with a youth production of “James & The Giant Peach” back at the Cohoes Music Hall.
“The Palace and Park Playhouse have achieved great progress in bringing quality arts education programming to our city and the greater Capital Region over the last five years,” said Holly Brown, Executive Director of Palace Performing Arts Center, Inc. in a press statement. “We are proud to continue this partnership and to co-present a fantastic series of productions at the Cohoes Music Hall during this special anniversary season for Park Playhouse.”
Park Playhouse opened its 2017 summer season this week with a production of “Ragtime” at the Washington Park Lakehouse. In August, Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man” will take center stage along with a junior production of “Disney’s The Lion King.”