SCHENECTADY — The Addy is finished and ready for business, so now, instead of just luring Broadway quality entertainers to Schenectady, Proctors hopes to create a few stars of its own.
"There is nothing for us as exciting as opening The Addy," Proctors CEO Philip Morris said during a Wednesday news conference at the theater. "This is as laser focused as our mission gets, bringing together education, entertainment and economic development in one wow package. We are beyond proud."
The first order of business Wednesday was introducing the new performance venue (around 90 seats) at the The Addy, which had originally been the third floor of the old Carl Company store before that closed in 1991. But along with the theater, there were large rehearsal spaces and smaller, more intimate rooms where actors, singers and all kinds of musicians will hone their trades. The space is already home to the Empire State Youth Orchestra's CHIME program and, in the near future, Morris sees the space being used almost constantly.
"There's a bunch of rehearsal space, plenty of smaller green rooms and workshop areas that will be used for educational purposes," Morris said. "We're going to have all kinds of programs, some aimed at middle-school children who will come here after school to learn how to play instruments or how to become actors. We're also going to have older children here learning some aspect of the theater business. We're very excited about what this means to our School of Performing Arts."
Proctors CEO Philip Morris during Wednesday's news conference. (Richard Lovrich)
Proctors announced in November 2016 that it was transforming the third floor into a new theater and classroom space called The Addy, named after Adeline Graham, a former Proctors board member. Work on the building began in June and was only recently concluded. Heather Ward, chairman of the Wright Family Foundation, a fundraising arm of Schenectady International, said Graham, her aunt and predecessor as chairman of the Wright Family Foundation, would have been thrilled to see the third floor renovation. Graham passed away in 2012.
"We are celebrating our 20th year of partnership with Proctors," Ward said. "We have been a proud supporter of Proctors and have donated $900,000 to preserve this historic theater. The Addy will be a platform for a regional effort to nurture creative-sector jobs and opportunities for education, artistic expression and civic engagement. Thousands of students will be affected by this.
"It's only fitting that The Addy will be named in my aunt's honor. She had so much passion for many organizations, but she dedicated much of her time and energy to Proctors. She understood the importance of education and training through the arts."
Also speaking at Wednesday's news conference was Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen and Empire State Development Deputy Regional Director Arnold Will.
The public will be able to get a good look at The Addy on Friday night, when the Classic Theater Guild presents its holiday production, "Miracle on 34th Street."
"They've been using our Fenimore space downstairs, so we're very excited about our first outside user putting on something in The Addy," Morris said. "They're going to have this wonderful theater for their shows, and we'll also be using it for other events and lectures. We had been using the GE Theatre, but that space is a little bit too big for certain events. The Addy will be perfect."