SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Spa Little Theater might not be hosting shows anytime soon.
Home Made Theater, which has called Spa Little Theater home since 1986, changed venues for its mainstage 2021-2022 season, citing issues with the building in a letter sent to patrons on Monday.
“The decision to depart from the Spa Little Theater was not an easy one, nor did it come quickly,” wrote general manager Eric Rudy.
While the company announced the venue change along with its new season in September, Rudy found that many wanted to know more about why Home Made was leaving. He also noticed rumors on social media that the theater company had been asked to leave by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which owns the building. Rudy wrote the letter in the hopes of dispelling that notion and providing more of an explanation.
“It should be understood that we were not asked to leave,” Rudy wrote. “We made a proactive business decision that we felt was best for the company to ensure its survival. We had to set aside our feelings, which was difficult, and look at the issues objectively. The primary drivers of that decision were the ongoing issues with the Spa Little Theater itself,” Rudy wrote.
The theater has moisture problems, as well as air filtration issues and leaking toilets; there is a collapsing ceiling in the scene shop, and leaks have damaged some of the theater’s props and costumes, the letter stated.
“Parks has been incredibly generous to us and has been very kind to us,” Rudy said in a call with The Gazette on Monday. “… but their hands are tied. As many businesses were faced with economic difficulties due to COVID, so have all the government departments, and Parks certainly was not excluded from that.”
When asked about plans for the Spa Little Theater, the public information officer for the NYS Parks, Dan Keefe, said “We are doing an assessment of the building’s needs to inform future uses.”
Home Made Theater would be happy to return for a show or two in the future, Rudy said, but ultimately, they’re looking for a new home.
For now, the theater company’s performance venue for its upcoming productions of “Moonlight and Magnolias,” among other shows, is Saratoga Arts’ Dee Sarno Theater. For storage, as well as its scene shop and rehearsal space, the company is renting space in Wilton Mall.
The agreements with Wilton Mall and Saratoga Arts are more cost effective than the company’s previous agreement with the Parks Department, according to Rudy. However, Saratoga Arts’ theater is smaller than the Spa Little Theater, so Home Made’s income will also be diminished.
The company plans to find another venue that can accommodate larger productions and more audience members. According to Rudy, they’re looking for a venue within Saratoga County.
“We regard this as the next step in the evolution of our company,” Rudy said. “We’ve been around for 36 years … we are not unaccustomed to change and moving. We really are looking forward to this as a new opportunity and a positive opportunity. We understand and we sympathize with people who have an emotional connection to the Spa Little Theater and thinking that that is our home but really, as I say in the letter, home is where the art is.”
Home Made Theater’s next mainstage production, “Moonlight and Magnolias,” written by Ron Hutchinson, will kick off at Saratoga Arts on Dec. 3. For more information visit homemadetheater.org.