The Saratoga Performing Arts Center and the Spa Little Theatre are a lot like apples and oranges. No one’s going to confuse the two, but despite their differences, both are right at home in Saratoga Spa State Park.
SPAC has been bringing in the world’s top performers and accommodating crowds well into the thousands since the New York City Ballet opened the place in July 1964. While those performances, mostly dance and music, take center stage during the summer, lovers of live community theater head to the Spa Little Theater the rest of the year. A 496-seat venue just a bit northeast of SPAC’s spacious grounds, the Spa Little Theater has been home to the acting troupe known as Home Made Theater since 1986.
Both groups enjoyed successful years in 2013 and seem as firmly ensconced in the park every bit as much as the tall pines that dominate the landscape there.
SPAC Executive Director Marcia White says it will be hard to top 2013, but she has every intention of trying. She happily reported SPAC was able to post a break-even season for the ninth consecutive year.
“We had what I thought was a spectacular year,” said White. “Given the continual challenge with the economy, we’re very happy with how we were able to reach that benchmark once again. We’re grateful to everyone, our audience, our sponsors, our donors and members, and it’s great to be a part of something that improves the quality of life in this community.”
Live Nation, SPAC’s partner, which produces and promotes the popular music concerts held there every summer, generated $1.35 million for SPAC in 2013, with shows that included a sold-out Farm Aid concert in September.
“It was a great honor to have the Farm Aid event select our location, and we were delighted to have them here,” said White. “When you reflect on this stuff, it gets really exciting, and now we’re going to move forward and think about next year.”
White said the SPAC box office was open throughout the month of December and many advance tickets have already been sold for the summer of 2014.
“We’ve already sold 3,000 tickets for the [Russian] Bolshoi Ballet, and we’re also working on a strong program for the New York City Ballet,” said White. “We had a lot of diverse programs, and we’ll have a few new things next summer, so I’m very excited about what’s ahead for us.”
White counted the Philadelphia Orchestra season and the Saratoga Wine and Food Festival as other highlights in SPAC’s 2013 list of events.
Spa Little Theater
During SPAC’s offseason, things continue to happen at the Spa Little Theater from September to May. After being formed in 1985 at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs, Home Made Theater moved to its current home the following year and has been there ever since, producing seven to nine shows per season. According to General Manager Stacie Mayette Barnes, Home Made Theater had pretty good audience numbers in 2013.
“In the fall, we did ‘The Drowsy Chaperone,’ and that show really helped,” she said. “The audience for that show just grew by word of mouth, so we had a decent year. Our subscription base has fallen away, but we got more last-minute sales this year, and we’re three years into doing online ticket sales ,and that has worked great for us.
“This was our 29th season, and we’ve seen some cycles and some things that have shifted solidly in the past 10 years for us,” said Mayette Barnes. “We have a pretty big theater, bigger than a lot of other community theaters, so we can’t say we sold out a lot, but we love our space and we hope to do well again this year.”
Home Made Theater typically produces either four or five plays a year, as well as a few small events during the holiday season.
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or email@example.com.