Park Playhouse is moving indoors.
Don’t worry. There will still be free outdoor theater in Albany’s Washington Park this summer, but in a move aimed at reducing administrative costs, Park Playhouse and Albany’s Palace Theatre have agreed to share services to help keep the two venues a major part of the city’s arts landscape. Also, Park Playhouse, solely a summer operation until now, will be producing shows year-round.
Park Playhouse Producing Artistic Director Owen Smith, who has also taken on the title of Palace Theatre managing director, said the alliance will strengthen both organizations.
“Park Playhouse is thrilled to work closely with the Palace to improve patron experience in both venues and expand our own efforts to bring high-quality, free musical theater to the community,” he said in a press release.
The partnership, which will include shared staffing arrangements, was announced Tuesday morning at a press conference by Smith, Palace Theatre Executive Director Holly Brown, and Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan.
Park Playhouse has already expanded its role by creating a traveling production of “Pinkalicous,” a children’s musical that will be performed in front of 2,200 school children next Monday at the Palace.
Smith, whose troupe is scheduled to stage “Hands on a Hardbody” from July 1-26 and “Oliver!” from Aug. 2-16 at Washington Park this summer, said that Park Playhouse’s first major production at the Palace will most likely be this fall.
“We have a couple of different things out there in the mix but I’m not ready to talk about them yet,” he said Tuesday. “But I’m hoping our first show at the Palace will be as early as the fall or winter.
“The productions will look a lot like what you see each summer at Washington Park in that it will be a mix of local and regional talent performing. We have some great people right here in this area, some real professionals, and our first stop has always been with local people. It’s a great opportunity for them.”
The partnership will also help Smith expand the Park Playhouse II youth program.
“There is such a demand for arts education, and this relationship will help us in that area,” he said. “It’s hard to believe that we wouldn’t be able to focus a bit more on the kids. This will give them more opportunities to perform and allow our program to grow.”
The Palace typically plays host to around 100 world-class arts and entertainments events each year.
“Collaboration has become an essential element and key ingredient for vitality in the Capital Region arts community,” Sheehan said in the press release.
“This new partnership between the Palace Theatre and Park Playhouse will lead to additional opportunities for growth and even greater success than what these established organizations have previously achieved on their own.”