Park Playhouse, a fixture in Albany's Washington Park every summer since 1989, isn't going anywhere, but there are some changes executive director Owen Smith was happy to talk about Wednesday morning at the Cohoes Music Hall.
Smith, who moved his group under the umbrella of the Palace Theatre in Albany back in 2012, has again found a new home for his administrative offices. Heightening a Park Playhouse presence at the venerable Remsen Street venue in Cohoes that began two years ago, Smith announced at a press conference Wednesday that he and his staff have moved out of the Palace Theatre in downtown Albany and into the music hall. Additionally, while already producing two or three plays a year in Cohoes, Smith said that a new division of Park Playhouse, the Playhouse Stage Company, will put on up to seven shows a year at the music hall.
"We are excited to announce this fantastic partnership with the city of Cohoes and our new division, Playhouse Stage Company," said Smith. "We will continue enhancing our popular and growing summer programming in Albany's Washington Park. Our park-based summer programming is our namesake and we are proud of the 30-year history we have built in Albany. But this helps us do more. We're getting bigger and better."
Smith said he hopes the partnership he formed with the Palace Theatre back in 2012 isn't over with.
"We are not sharing services with them anymore, and all of our administrative staff is over here and just working for Park Playhouse in Cohoes," he said. "But our board is talking to them and we are looking to see what we can work together on."
Cohoes mayor Sean Morse was happy to see the the city's iconic structure, built in 1874, draw in another full-time, year-round tenant.
"It's incredible that just two years ago we were a struggling mill town trying to find our identity, and today we are one of the premier locations within the Capital Region, known for our stunning Music Hall and now home of Park Playhouse, one of the most celebrated theatrical organizations in the region," said Morse. "It's exhilarating that to know that such a highly regarded organization as Park Playhouse, with many of the region's top professionals serving as staff and board members, sought out Cohoes to be their new home. It sends a loud message that Cohoes is alive and well, and the place to be."
Along with the two musicals in Washington Park each summer and the seven more shows at the Music Hall this 2018-2019 season, Playhouse Stage will present two more programs at Canal Square Park in Cohoes.
"Adding to that we're going to have three different touring shows going out to schools, so it's going to be a busy season," said Smith. "We're expanding, and that means we're going to get more people involved. We've had people reach out to us in the past, but we've wanted to remain loyal to the team we've had. Now, by way of expanding you're creating more opportunities for other people."
Park Playhouse board president Allen S. Goodman called Tuesday's announcement one of the most significant in Park Playhouse history.
"We are grateful for the generous support from the city of Cohoes and the Music Hall," said Goodman. "We look forward to expanding our presence throughout the Capital Region by establishing a home at the Cohoes Music Hall, launching our Playhouse Stage Company division and expanding our educational programming.