C-R Productions, a professional nonprofit theater company that has called the Cohoes Music Hall home for 10 years, is in danger of folding.
In a Friday news release, Artistic Director Jim Charles and Managing Director Tony Rivera announced that unless $75,000 can be raised by Aug. 15, the theater company would fold. The same message was posted on the company’s Facebook page Thursday.
Reached late Friday afternoon before the curtain went up on “Guys and Dolls,” their 2012-13 season opener, Charles said the call for help did elicit a healthy response.
“I’m feeling cautiously optimistic,” said Charles. “We received a lot of phone calls, and today we’ve had an outpouring of about $15,000. But the goal is $75,000 by Aug. 15. ‘Guys and Dolls’ is up and running, so that’s safe, but by the time it closes on Aug. 12, we should know about the rest of our season.”
Charles said he first realized the company wasn’t on firm financial ground at the conclusion of last season.
“We were down with our number of subscribers and our sponsorships, but we always felt that we could make that up,” he said. “We figured we would find new people, but it hasn’t happened at the rate that it has usually happened the last nine years.
“Our main issue is our sponsors,” continued Charles. “We had two sponsors who usually give us $10,000 each only give us $1,000 each. They weren’t unhappy with our work. It’s just that they were getting so many requests from other groups they felt they had to spread the wealth around. But that’s $18,000 right there we were short.”
Charles, a Cohoes native, formed the company with Rivera, a New Jersey native, in 2002. Both men had been living in New York City. Charles is a director/actor with off-Broadway credentials, and Rivera was a dancer.
“Guys and Dolls” was originally scheduled for an Aug. 2 opening, but technical problems pushed things back to Friday night. While much of the cast is made up of professional actors based in New York City, Albany’s Patrick White and Mark Burgasser do have supporting roles. C-R’s second production of the season, “In the Heights,” is scheduled for a Sept. 13-23 run.
The Cohoes Music Hall, built in 1874, was one of the area’s top venues for musical and theatrical entertainment until it closed in 1908. It remained vacant for 66 years and was nearly demolished before Gov. Nelson Rockefeller decided to save the building. The city purchased the building in 1969 for $1, and with the help of a state grant, renovation work began in 1970.
In 1971 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and on June 14, 1974, the Cohoes Music Hall was back in action with a locally-based production of “London Assurance.” That was the same show that had opened the theater 100 years earlier.
Various groups rented the facility and produced shows there over the next two decades. Then, in March 2002, Charles and Rivera teamed up to form C-R Productions. Their first production was a musical revue titled “Tonight, Tonight: A Broadway Concert.”
Charles and Rivera do on occasion perform in C-R shows. Rivera played Bernardo in a 2004 production of “West Side Story,” and in 2009 Charles played the title character in “Sweeney Todd” and Lumiere in “Beauty and the Beast.”